This week, DISCO rolled out its 100th product release in just more than three years to all its customers.
We live in a world where SaaS (software-as-a-service) and cloud infrastructure enable software companies to innovate rapidly and deliver software features more efficiently than ever before. Putting aside the obvious examples of companies that were born in this new era of software development (Facebook, Google, etc.), even old stalwarts have moved their software architecture and delivery to take advantage of the benefits of SaaS and cloud infrastructure, such as scalability, speed, and security. Some examples of this are Microsoft’s Office 365 and Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Now companies can seamlessly update their software and continuously provide new features and enhancements. Gone are the days of waiting for years for new features to get built, getting software updates only once a year or so, and only then waiting a few more months for an expensive and disruptive upgrade process. Remember those AOL CDs? Unfortunately, there are still ediscovery software vendors that operate like that, stuck on version 9 instead of being on version 100.
But just building your software on the cloud with a SaaS delivery model is not enough. Look at the innumerable startups that have failed to succeed in Silicon Valley and beyond. Without a deep understanding of the relevant domain, the user, and the problem you’re trying to solve, even a well architected software is bound to fall short. Again, we see this in the ediscovery space with newer cloud-based vendors that noticeably lack the lawyer or legal professional’s point of view.
Great software marries great domain knowledge with a great delivery model deployed on great infrastructure.
The Art of Innovation
Every year since being founded in 2012, DISCO has released several dozen major new features and capabilities, each with industry-disrupting ease of use and speed. DISCO’s product roadmap is informed by relentlessly prioritizing strategic product features, customer requests, and internal requests. One of the secrets to DISCO’s ease of use and intuitive, yet powerfully functional user interface is our Law Review process, which injects legal domain expertise into every part of our product development cycle.
Before any code is written for any new product, feature, or enhancement, the product manager and product designer must seek the DISCO Law Review team’s approval to move forward. This team of former practicing attorneys and experienced litigation support professionals must approve the initial feature specification and approach, followed by high-definition interactive designs, before our developers can start coding. Once the feature has been built, this team gets to perform hands-on testing of the feature.
The Law Review team looks for whether the feature solves the problem they expect it to solve, in an intuitive manner with minimal required guidance. At any given point during this entire process, this team maintains veto powers leading the product team to start the process again. For more complex features, this process can take weeks and months with several Law Review meetings.
But as our customers have themselves pointed out, the Law Review process has resulted in software that is intuitive and simple, yet powerful.
The Science of Delivery
The DISCO engineering organization seeks to rapidly deliver features to our customers and end users that provide user value, while ensuring quality. Hiring the best and the brightest engineers, designers, and product leaders helps DISCO make sure we have the best team on our engineering bench. Combining this with Agile software development methodology lets DISCO deliver value and excellence fast.
One of the key strategies to delivering software quickly is to break up large features into smaller pieces called MVPs, or Minimal Viable Products, that deliver value to the end user. So instead of waiting a whole year to complete building a large feature, we seek to release natural chunks of capabilities that quickly add meaningful value to the user. Not only does this process get features into the hands of users faster, but it also eliminates massive changes in the product that might require retraining.
Law + Engineering
When you put these together, you get a well-oiled organization that is efficient and effective in releasing features that bring tons of value to end users at a rapid clip. At DISCO we believe that the key to building great software for lawyers requires both engineering excellence and legal domain expertise.