Pivotal (NDA)

Transforming the way large enterprises build software

Product Design Internship, Agile & Lean methodologies

In Summer 2018, I had the opportunity to work in the service and consulting branch of Pivotal, Pivotal Labs. Pivotal Labs works with mid-to-large enterprises to change the way these companies design and deliver software to production. Pivotal's main product offering, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, is a cloud-native platform that allows companies to deploy and run their applications faster and more efficiently.

During the 12-week internship, I worked on shipping 3 different projects, delivering a range of cross-platform experiences for web, mobile and email. I collaborated with product managers, designers, full-stack engineers, and client teams to define and develop end-to-end digital products, while introducing our clients to new practices grounded in lean and agile methodologies, user-centered design and test-driven development.

Huyen and Labs design team Huyen working on affinity map

My takeaways

Balancing product needs with business objectives

Being a great designer means being able to concurrently zoom into the details and zoom out to consider how a workflow fits into the macro business objectives at hand. I also gained significant experience partnering with stakeholders to better define business needs in order to understand the 30,000-foot view of the product.

Defining and testing hypotheses with small experiments

I also learned how to use stated assumptions to uncover missing information and “unknowns”, and worked with team members, including the product manager, to test these assumptions with small experiments. At Pivotal, I also furthered my understanding and practice into delivering incremental (and oftentimes “vertical slices” of) value to the user by incorporating lean and agile methodologies.

Enhancing collaboration in cross-functional teams

I facilitated workshops and led design studios to collect ideas and input from team members, as well as identified key patterns and insights that led to product design enhancements. Additionally, this collaborative design process enabled our team to have a shared understanding of what to prioritize and develop in future sprints.

This internship experience made me appreciate the impact that design consulting and strategy can have on supporting both business objectives and user needs. Moreover, I saw first-hand the value-add that working closely with an in-house technical team brings to the software design process. Great design comes not only from hard design skills (e.g. Sketch, Framer, InVision, Photoshop, etc.), but also from a strong team of people with a diversity of skills and perspectives working collaboratively.

* Due to strict NDA, I cannot disclose the details of my work during the internship. Feel free to email me at huyentp@umich.edu if you'd like to know more about my experience!