Every January, the Samsung Ads team attends the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV. CES has turned out to be a great
opportunity to meet clients – content providers and advertising agencies – and showcase Samsung's ads platform. For
effective communication with clients, we needed a portable demo tool that could present featured ad
placements and post-clicks, with ad creatives customization supported. Thus, a web-based application - Ad Simulator - was born.
Being a project manager for Ad Simulator, I am at the center, leading a cross-functional team and guiding the success of the project.
My duties cover collecting needs and use cases from stakeholders, defining project scope and roadmap, creating and prioritizing tasks,
binding and coordinating functions, and more.
How I Lead
Break Down into Steps
Confluence is the major tool I use for project management and team collaboration. Before the first team meeting, I prepared a
document with very detailed product requirements, covering the goals, use cases, timelines, etc. Additionally, I set up a table
of all the use cases and assigned priority to each. This was a preparation and initiation of engineering tasks.
Communication with the Engineering team ahead of implementation is almost always a necessity. In the first conversation, project goals,
scope, and an initial timeline were addressed, as well as a walkthrough of all the use cases and related design guidelines. We also
discussed potential technical challenges, which is an important consideration to include in the big picture.
Create and Prioritize Tasks
Beginning the implementation work, a master Jira ticket was created with a set of prioritized sub-tasks corresponding to the use cases table.
In the following Sprint planning meetings, tasks were assigned to the engineers based on prioritization.
Check-in and Update
In daily stand-ups, engineers address questions from two aspects: progress and impediments. Attending the stand-up meeting
was helpful for me to get updates from the team, and clear up any confusions and obstacles, keeping the project in a healthy status. On top of
that, a bi-weekly meeting was scheduled with end users – marketers and sales – to provide them with a live demo and collect feedback.
Testing and Bug Fixing
Testing was a continuous effort in parallel with product development. When a new feature was released, engineers gave
demos that allowed me a user-like hands-on experience. If the feature was not matching Product Requirements Document (PRD) or design guidelines,
a bug report ticket was created to be fixed later.
Tradeoffs and Plan Adjusting
Plans don't always stay as originally conceived. On the one hand, unexpected engineering difficulties may occur. On the other hand, new needs
and requests may come from the users. When the plan doesn't match the new conditions, tradeoffs and reprioritization are often inevitable.
Within a limited amount of time, a new balance could be needed between getting the product right and getting it released in the scope timeline. Although the
plan may change, the final goal stays the same.
Ad Simulator is a powerful demo tool part of the sales kit. It is presented every year at CES and is used in client meetings
through the year. Instead of reading pages of descriptions, or struggling with the idea behind static images, Ad Simulator helps
people understand ads products easily through its dynamic and interactive design.
Home Screen Video Ad in Ad Simulator
App Store Video Ad in Ad Simulator
Music Carousel Ad in Ad Simulator
Effective communication is the key to leading a cross-functional team and shipping products successfully. In a cross-functional team,
people come from many different backgrounds. When someone has a question, I may not know the answer, but I find out who can answer
and get the asker pointed in the right direction. In other words, I've learned to be able to communicate multi-directionally: translating
engineering jargon into something that business folks can understand, and translating user questions and concerns for the engineers.
I've also learned to communicate regularly, setting everyone's expectations correctly and keeping everyone on the same page. Sending out a
quick note or updating stakeholders regarding questions or requests they brought up prevents any anxieties and misconceptions.
The most challenging part I found was communicating negative news. When progress has slowed or stalled from delays or prohibitively expensive feature
implementation, communicating promptly before it grows into a big crisis is vital. Preparing one or two workarounds to overcome the obstacles helps reduce
the negative impact skateholder expectations.
The new outcome can possibly be even better than what was expected from the original plan as well.