ModCloth is an apparel company with a mission to merge vintage style with modern technology.
As it's grown from an indie boutique to one of the top destinations for stylish, kitschy clothes on the internet, ModCloth has had to grow their technical teams to keep up with demand. After trying out several other solutions, they’ve switched to Clubhouse, which is the perfect mix of flexibility and structure for them.
Finding a Smart Solution
Before switching to Clubhouse, some of the teams were using Trello and Pivotal Tracker. “Different teams were using different tools, and essentially we got to a point where we needed something smarter than Trello, without forcing us to do things in a certain way,” says Mia Judkins, lead project manager at ModCloth. After testing out a few different things, they discovered Clubhouse.
“It’s been really great so far — we came in just as Teams was introduced. We couldn’t have used Clubhouse without this feature, since we have a different workflow for each of our teams. As more and more of our teams get into Clubhouse, it becomes more useful.“
- Mia Judkins, Lead Product Manager
Mia doesn’t have a specific methodology that she follows dogmatically. “I appreciate the cadence and all of the structure of the rituals with Scrum, but I find that it can be too rigid depending on the team and what you’re trying to build.” While she tends towards a loose Agile framework, with some of her vendor implementations, she almost always uses waterfall. “It’s more about what’s going to work best for the team, get us the results that we need the fastest, and also ensure a sustainable pace.” She is happy to find that her approach dovetails nicely with Clubhouse’s loose structure.
Keeping Track of Stories
Stories in the ModCloth Clubhouse can start in either a bug triage workflow state, a Product idea backlog, or the development team’s engineering queue.
Since the team uses several Agile processes in their workflow, they have a backlog grooming session once per sprint, where they go through each of the cards in any of these columns, make sure it has an appropriate description covering acceptance criteria, has all of the assets or attachments needed to begin, and then create an estimate for it.
“For one team, we’re just using a straight Fibonacci point scale for level of effort, and in another team we’re using time, where every point relates to one day,” says Mia.
After a Story has been through this grooming process, it’s included in potential Stories to tackle during the next sprint, which is another column the teams use. From there, they have developer and progress columns, including “code review,” “ready for staging,” “staging QA,” etc.
One of the strengths of Clubhouse is that it’s easy for them to tweak the workflow as needed. “Because our devops team has been incredibly overworked in the last couple of months, we created a specific column called ‘waiting for dev ops,’ which gives us a way to stay organized while waiting on them and acknowledging the bottleneck. When things are less busy, we can just delete that column and go back to our usual workflow.”