BCGDV Social Venture Program Part 3: Technology
In this instalment, we find out the Plan A and BCGDV team went about building the software to make their goal of an end-to-end environmental impact reduction platform for businesses a reality.
We’re nearing the end of Plan A and DV’s 8-week collaboration sprint. After checking in with the team to see how they’re approaching issues of design to enable companies to understand and reduce their environmental impact, it’s now time to see how they’re making it all happen on the tech side.
Plan A only began working on a self-serve software platform relatively recently. In switching from a consultation model, Plan A’s CTO, Eva Schilken, had already started to work out how to realize the goal of a software platform that users could engage with directly.
Martin Stadler, Lead Engineer at DV, worked with Eva to evaluate Plan A’s tech stack and the work that had been done already. “We had a tight timeline — an up-and-running platform within 8 weeks,” said Martin. “We wanted to work with their existing stack if possible, and move quickly.”
The stack Plan A had in place was simple and powerful enough to build what was necessary. The team decided to leave the stack in place, a pragmatic decision that would enable them to get a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) up and running to adapt later where required. Essentially, the team needed to update the front and backend structures so that users could input their data, get an accurate carbon footprint output, and receive their action plan tailored to their most pressing environmental shortcomings.
The team worked closely with the design and data teams, sitting together to put together the user journey and align on decisions. Each team continued to work on longer term projects such as design systems and datasets, but the main product work was cross-disciplinary.
The DV team introduced a few new ways of working that Plan A hadn’t explored before. “We did a daily standup, but the weekly retros and demos were new for us,” said Eva. “They were really useful.”
Given the time constraints, the team worked quickly to put together an MVP, ensuring that all core features were in place. They have achieved their goal, and Plan A now has a functional software platform through which they can offer clients insights into their environmental impact.
Initially, the platform will run a closed beta with select early clients. This will enable testing and also mean user insights can be gathered and implemented for future versions. From there, there will be a “soft launch”, open to the public but with limited promotion. Once Plan A is happy that they’ve tested the platform extensively, the full version will be opened to the public.”
The team is excited about what they’ve been able to build, and what they’ve learned along the way. Plan A’s platform will soon offer valuable sustainability insights informed by data to companies looking to reduce their environmental impact — the original goal of the collaboration.
“Working together went super smoothly and we had a lot of fun,” said Eva. “We’re excited to get the new version of the product out, and when we do there’ll be a big party for sure.”