Software Solution Provider ZenTao has partnered with Skechers to help it become the world’s most popular footwear brand, with sports functionality and a casual lifestyle at its core. ZenTao has improved the operational efficiency of Skechers’ IT department and opened up new opportunities for profit growth.
Skechers is a company specializing in the manufacture of shoes. Founded by Robert and Michael Greenberg in 1992 in Manhattan Beach, California, it specialized in boots and skateboard shoes before becoming a generalist in the field of sports footwear.
Skechers originated from a south California slang, “energetic youngsters”,: representing the young mentality of pursuing fashion and publicity. Skechers hopes to convey a healthy and active living state through high-quality products so that millions of consumers can feel the brand concept of “Comfort for all, all for Comfort”. Skechers is now the 2nd largest footwear brand in the US market after Nike.
Rapid business growth has led to the expansion of Skechers’ product lines, and Skechers China has more than 1,000 employees, while the IT department has reached more than 200 staff. Facing the increasingly large production business lines and the growing team size, Skechers chose ZenTao as the company’s work platform. Through the new collaborative working methods brought to the product, R&D, operation and other departments, ZenTao has shortened the development iteration cycle by 2/3, effectively improving the R&D efficiency.
Sketchers China PMO Christine Mo gave us an interview last month.
“Before we launched ZenTao, the rapidly expanding production team made it very difficult for us to keep on the path of growth. ZenTao project management software completely connects our front, middle and back ends, creating an integrated process from user requirements to R&D management. The Agile R&D templates and workflows allow dozens of business lines and thousands of employees to work together and efficiently, and it has allowed the R&D team to improve the efficiency far beyond our expectations, enabling faster and make the business grow faster and more steadily.”
In brief, the delivery process of Sketchers’ IT department is as follows: Business department → ITBP → IT requirements (R&D requirements) → Review → Iterative development.
The Business Group represents the user side of the product, and its responsibility is to translate user requirements to the IT Business Partner (ITBP). The ITBP is based on market needs and connects vital departments in a diversified management company. They must do project feasibility analysis, risk assessment, project planning, project investment and revenue, digital information management, after-sales information feedback to improve customer satisfaction, etc. The purpose of this function is to make the internal cooperation of the company closely, and finally, to achieve the smooth operation of all departments. ITBP is responsible for converting user stories into IT requirements and transferring them to the IT department in time. After the final review by R&D staff, the IT requirements are converted into product development documents for product development.
The Sketchers IT team used Teambition to manage the company’s R&D process. However, as Teambition could only support the development of small teams, when their IT team exceeded 100 people, the traditional waterfall model with long and inefficient processes became more evident. To ensure that more work was done in an organized manner and to continuously stimulate the creativity and potential of the team, the Skechers R&D team decided to improve the project process, restructure the team, and carry out the agile transformation. After several contacts with the ZenTao Business team, they finally decided to use ZenTao Max for project and product whole process management!
“ Using professional R&D management tools for refined management is not only to better implement agile methods, but also to build an efficient team that always responds quickly to users and supports the company’s development. After communicating with ZenTao team and learning the Scrum framework, we tried to reorganize and adjust the process. It works great, every Scrum team is more dynamic and responsible, and the efficiency of the entire software center is naturally improved.” Christine told us.
Q1: Whole Lifecycle Solutions
Since its opening in China in 2007, Sketchers China has started its rapid expansion path. In recent years, the increase of capital boost and market competition pressure has put extremely high demands on the internal management of the Sketchers team and the rapid product iteration. From the product side, the whole process, from original demand collection to design, development and release, should respond to the market more agilely. From the team perspective, all teams should work together to improve team efficiency and be ready for the product release.
Sketchers’ business departments represent product users. They do not understand the details of the product development process, so there are often omissions or misunderstandings when passing user requirements to developers. Many times the final product doesn’t exactly meet the user’s expectations. Thus, ZenTao helped them optimize the workflow by adding the role of ITBP to help the business group translate user needs into professional development requirements. The benefit of this optimization is that the feedback time between the business and the technical implementation is immediately reduced, which not only promotes the technical agility of the product development team for rapid iteration but also achieves business agility.
In addition, the Skechers R&D department used various tools in the R&D process, but the data between the tools were not connected. The various aspects of R&D worked separately, so they could only progress manually and collaboratively, which lowered the efficiency of R&D. The use of ZenTao integrates the R&D toolchain so that all links of product, design, development, testing, launch and validation are completed on the same platform, building a total lifecycle solution for Sketchers team.
Q2: Smooth and transparent workflow with efficient collaboration across departments
ZenTao has always insisted on transparent and efficient product delivery, keeping team members agile, self-driven, and collaborating efficiently.
Every requirement of each Sketcher’s product line will be recorded and assigned to a stakeholder, and the deadline will be confirmed. Engineers can easily break down the information barrier, get a clear view of upstream and downstream progress, and ensure the requirements are on the ground. For example, statistics on labour hours in each step: response time statistics for each phase from business requirements to final conversion into product development documents, with customizable approval flow by the specified date.
Visualize the entire lifecycle of an order and the stage each order is in through the ZenTao project’s Kanban. After the testers find product bugs, they can plan them into the related projects for management so that the development team can quickly plan to fix them in iterations according to the severity of the bugs.
Q3: Understand members’ task load and work progress and make timely adjustment s
In an R&D team of 200+ employees, it’s important to know “who” and “what” they are doing. By opening the “Statistics” function in the project, the Project Owner can view the total number of tasks for this product, the finished and delayed tasks, and the task completion status of each project member. In “Report Management”, you can filter the data you want to view according to your needs. The “Statistics” feature provides statistical data in multiple dimensions and visualizes these data in various forms, such as bar and line graphs. By checking these data, the project owner can re-evaluate the project schedule, identify problems and make adjustments in time.
Christine shared with us, “In the past, I used to be very worried about the products making, usually starting with the product requirements and asking people one by one for progress. The progress of each step was very slow. After using ZenTao, as long as the product requirements are confirmed, the overall structure is determined, the product roadmap is confirmed, and the tasks are broken down in the project Kanban board, I can basically feel at ease. The system automatically notifies me every day of the task progress , and I can save a lot of time to deal with more important things”.
At the end:
In ZenTao, all processes are smooth, transparent, and goal-oriented, which helps the team keep abreast of the details and progress of each requirement and stimulates each member’s creativity and potential, enhancing their performance and sense of responsibility for the product. In such a challenging working atmosphere, every small team works towards a clear goal and devotes itself to polishing the product with full combativeness.
ZenTao has helped the Sketchers team build a new organizational operation with high efficiency and collaboration. On the one hand, it ensures the cross-team focus on user needs to create fast iterative products; on the other hand, it comprehensively improves team efficiency and performs digital management transformation.