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December 02, 2021

Metapack: Going from manual updates to automated flexibility and clarity

Gantt Project Management WBS & Backlog Structuring
BigPicture Team

Metapack is a leading provider of e-commerce delivery management technology for enterprises. It has the world’s largest carrier library and pick-up/drop-off (PUDO) network. The company works with over 500 of the world’s largest retailers and brands to help them improve their delivery experience, conversion, and lifetime value. Metapack offers a wide range of personalised services, from delivery tracking to returns, via a catalogue of over 400 carriers and over 4,900 services available in every country worldwide. The company’s teams are located in the United Kingdom, Poland, United States, Netherlands, Germany, and France. There are around 30 teams, and all are managed through the use of BigPicture.

We use BigPicture to support the planning and delivery of our complex product transformation roadmap. Our portfolio representatives regularly meet with each engineering team and use the BigPicture Gantt module to facilitate discussion on how things are progressing to identify dependencies between teams and make smart decisions on prioritisation and potential disruptions. Without the flexibility and clarity provided by BigPicture, this would be a much more difficult and time-consuming task – Flavio Damasco, Metapack.

The road to BigPicture

Prior to the BigPicture implementation, Metapack had been using Jira for around 10 years, as well as Agile methodologies, mixing Scrum and Kanban as appropriate to each team’s adopted way of working. Metapack’s decision to use BigPicture was the result of extended research for a proper tool to track and plan its product roadmap.

Before using BigPicture, we relied on the master spreadsheet for tracking and prioritising our product roadmap. We handled our portfolio and product management by conducting recurring meetings with the relevant stakeholders and using a shared spreadsheet to support the conversations. As a result, the master spreadsheet was growing, had to be constantly manually updated, and as it was not synchronised with our Jira, it was always out of date – Flavio Damasco.

As Damasco described, the credibility and accuracy of the roadmap planning was more difficult than it should be. It took a lot of time to even keep the manual tooling up to date. The constant challenge for Metapack was managing access to the latest updates and providing planning data to prioritise business decisions. Therefore, decision-making at Metapack wasn’t as nimble as it could have been.

We conducted extensive research into which plug-ins and tools that use Jira data were available on the market. We chose BigPicture, as we found it to be the most accessible and reliable, and able to meet our requirements. The ability to manage cross-project and team dependencies was a key advantage. But most importantly, the main reason to use BigPicture was that it actually delivered what was promised – building live roadmaps out of thousands of Jira issues and making them consumable by a large audience. Furthermore, the price of BigPicture was reasonable. On top of that, the app is embedded in Jira and does not require visiting other platforms – Flavio Damasco.

BigPicture at Metapack

The implementation of BigPicture was conducted by Metapack’s in-house experts and was linked with the modernisation of the product team’s way of working. The team responsible for the implementation of BigPicture consisted of three core people and a few more Subject Matter Experts. The company relied on documentation, trial-and-error, and some support.

The initial application process took around a month across the full organisation. Prior to that, Metapack undertook some internal restructuring in their way of working. Once the company started using BigPicture, the employees applied a few minor adjustments to their main program. And after around a year, the whole organisation was fully transformed by BigPicture.

Metapack benefits mostly from teams’ work alignment and roadmapping. BigPicture supports the avoidance of bottlenecks, hidden dependencies, lag times, and unclear future objectives. The main BigPicture feature they use is the Gantt chart. By providing a visual representation of the delivery plan, it supports the company’s roadmap conversations and offers self-service opportunities to the whole organisation. It is thanks to these aspects, that Metapack has early access to future risks and difficulties, can prepare for them in advance, and plan the portfolio accordingly across both Product and Engineering functions.

Metapack’s benefits from BigPicture

Since BigPicture was applied at Metapack, their teams have been using the Gantt module extensively with no other task management app. The effect? Metapack’s KPIs have improved by 90%!

This enormous growth was possible thanks to the three key benefit factors mentioned by Metapack: the ability to avoid bottlenecks with BigPicture, visual representation of delivery plan with the Gantt chart, and support for the company’s roadmap conversations.

BigPicture allowed the company to have a clear product roadmap on display, detailing when work is planned and will be delivered. Planned work is directly linked to Jira issues, making it possible to delve deeper if required. Finally, the roadmap can be accessed securely by anyone in the organisation and is always up to date. Metapack spends less time on having to keep the roadmap updated and this time is instead used more efficiently on discussing and dealing with future risks and issues. Consequently, making the conversations more meaningful and effective.

We are always on the lookout for expanding the use of BigPicture within the company. One way that we are looking into achieving this is by creating a new simplified program that is aimed at a less technically involved audience, by only displaying the key achievements and milestones in our plan. This scope will essentially allow our colleagues to easily self-serve and find the information they require on their own – Flavio Damasco.