Building a product in 12 weeks - An oral history of Trust Assessor

By Talend Team

Not to sound like Cosmo, but sometimes it seems like a project was meant to be. Talend Trust Assessor is one of those projects.

In 2020, a creative plan to share Talend Trust Score™ with the world grew into a full-fledged product developed and released in record time. Stephanie Yanaga and Gray Hardell, the project’s instigators, had a shared vision: giving everyone a taste of the Trust Score with very little effort. They wanted anyone, regardless of data expertise, to be able to fill out a simple form, drag and drop a dataset, and get a personalized report on the trustworthiness of that data.

Since the Talend Trust Score™ launch was already approaching, they had to race against the clock to bring this idea to life.

What is Talend Trust Assessor?

Gray: The Trust Assessor is a tool to validate whether you have an issue in your data. It’s a great way to see immediately, at a glance — I think it’s about four seconds — if you have a quantifiable problem with your data.

Stephanie: Put simply, it’s a diagnostic tool. The report gives a few options, for example, “You had this issue, and here’s the product that can help you solve that.”

Gray: Then there are a lot of capabilities within the Talend suite of products that can address those issues. Talend can resolve a lot of errors inside of Data Preparation, or you could send those records to be validated inside of Data Stewardship.

You can use it to prove that data can be trustworthy, as well. For example, we ran the Trust Assessor on a lot of COVID-19 data and showed that people could trust that data.

How it all started: twin flashes of inspiration

Gray: It was funny because our two teams had the same idea at the same time.

Stephanie: We just had it separately.

Gray: I was leading launches in Product Marketing, and we were announcing a variety of functionalities to expand the trustworthiness of data. I had pitched an idea for something interactive, where anybody could take an Excel document, upload it, and get a “Trust Score Lite.”

That way you are validating that there’s a problem, you get to interact, and we get to show off our product functionality. The idea was for it to be custom, so the report would be specific to that person.

But then Stephanie, you had also had kind of the same idea, if you want to elaborate.

Stephanie: That’s pretty much the exact same thing we were thinking. Back then, I was a product manager for our Growth team. Our charter was to get people to see the value of Talend really quickly and easily. The trial takes a little time, so we were thinking, okay, what is the easiest way to show value faster than that? If you can just upload something and you can see the Trust Score right away, then that takes very little effort. There’s very little friction there.

Gray: The actual Trust Score launch was in September of 2020, but we probably started talking about this in June.

Stephanie: I checked it once, it was about 12 or 13 weeks from our first conversation to launch. That’s insane.

Igniting a major cross-functional effort

Stephanie: This is technically a separate Talend product that we built — it’s just a free one that is public-facing on our website.

Gray: We had to have custom terms and conditions drawn up. It was an extremely cross-functional project, with all the people signing off on it.

Stephanie: I made a list of all the people we had to talk to for this: it was over 45 people.

Gray: It was a lot of work.

Stephanie: And legal issues impacted the product development as well. We had to be able to store certain data in certain ways so that it could be retrieved and it could be looked at, from a legal perspective as well as for security. And then there was the whole thing with the trademarking…

Gray: The web team did so much work to make it happen, too. There’s also a data trust video that went into production…there was just a ton — a TON — that went into it to actually get it going. We had a really fantastic team working on it: a designer, a front-end developer, and Sizhao Liu, the backend developer. He was great.

Trust Assessor was one of the best demonstrations of collaboration and cross-functional effectiveness we've had at Talend. Everybody showed up to make it happen. We hit our deadlines, we communicated really well, we had a lot of buy-in on what it was and everyone showed up to make it happen. As Stephanie said, we had about 45 people to make it happen, and everybody did it with a smile on their face and with a common goal that it was going to be something cool. I thought that was pretty great.

It shows that, while it sometimes feels like projects take so long, we built a customer-facing product in 12 weeks.

Postmortem: what made this incredible project possible?

Several key elements made the ambitious Trust Assessor project a success:

  • A shared vision “It made it very easy to work together!” — Gray
  • A hard deadline “I think it really helped that we had a set date. People showed up, they all did what they needed to do — and if they didn’t there’s no way we could have made it.” — Stephanie
  • Supportive leadership “My boss just asked me, ‘How much money do you need, what resources do you need, and I’ll make sure you get that.’ ” — Gray
  • Teamwork across the organization “We got help from so many people, in departments ranging from the web team to R&D and product management.” — Stephanie
  • Freedom to aim high “Due to the amount of work, I was basically warned ‘You’re not going to make it in time’ and I was like, ‘I will, as long as no one gets in our way.’ And everyone was incredibly helpful, and we got it done.” —Stephanie

The moral of this story? If you can dream up an idea around data, Talend can make it happen! Building a product doesn’t have to be a slow process. You can be fast and agile.

So when you have a great idea, share it. You could spark something unforgettable.