Stacking the Odds:

A Product Stack Story


About Me

  • Passion for Technology
  • Background in Web/VR Development
  • Released DodgeblockVR on Oculus Store in August
  • Hackathon Enthusiast
  • I lead the Product division at Agility CMS

About Agility CMS

  • A headless, content-first approach to omnichannel content management
  • The fastest CMS to build, manage, and deploy
  • Built out of necessity to support editor and developer needs
  • Big enough for billion-dollar brands
  • Small enough to care about each user


Mobile Apps

Smart Watch Apps

Smart Fridges

A Few of Our Customers...

Our Transformation

  • From a services company to a product company
  • Launched a free version
  • Solved a lot of problems, created a lot of new ones
    • Influx of new users
    • Increased support required
    • Less direct feedback
    • Inefficient sales team

Some Big Questions

  1. How active are our free accounts?
  2. What were they doing? Where did they fall off?
  3. How do we increase engagement?
  4. How do we know we are on the right track?

The Solution...


The Solution...

  • Fill the gaps
  • Automate where possible
  • No one system is designed for us
  • Avoid building custom software

We needed to re-evaluate our practices and software, and do more with less

We needed a true Product Stack

The mesh of apps, integrations, and other technologies product managers need to be successful

An Effective Product Stack:

  • Do more with less
  • Keeps you resources focused on your product
  • Get things done faster
  • Learn how things 'should be done'
  • Gives you consistency
  • Better cross-departmental collaboration
  • Forces you to use it

Common Challenges

  • Proving ROI
  • Data Silos
  • Administration
  • Training/Onboarding
  • Implementation failures

A Note on Workflow Automation

Our Current Stack Review

  • What systems do we already have?
  • Are they meeting our needs?
  • Rate them

Task/Product Management

Azure DevOps

Azure Boards

Integrates with:

  • Zendesk

  • Azure Pipelines

Task/Product Management: Azure DevOps

  • There are better road-mapping tools out there
  • Has a higher learning curve
  • Great for developers
  • A little too techy at times
  • Meets our basic needs






Integrates with:

  • Google Analytics

  • Azure DevOps

Task/Product Management: Slack/Zoom

  • Slack's integrations are unmatched
  • Slack + Zoom = ❤
  • Great for public communities too




Zendesk Support

Integrates with:

  • Zendesk Guide
  • Agility CMS

Support: Zendesk

  • Best-in-class Saas support
  • Transformed our support division
  • Decent amount of built-in integrations
  • We built a custom integration so users can manage tickets in-app




Zendesk Guide

Integrates with:

  • Zendesk Support

Zendesk Guide

  • Easy to stand-up a turn-key knowledgebase
  • Limited built-in integrations, but has decent APIs
  • Content management and formatting is difficult
  • Hard to customize




Application Insights



  • AI is a great tool for analyzing app performance
  • AI is too technical and requires developer resources for tracking
  • GA is great for websites
  • GA is user-friendly but requires developer resources for tracking
  • Neither are designed to track feature usage or adoption





Integrates with:

  • Everything (kind of...)

Onboarding: Humans

  • In-person/Virtual training
  • Custom walkthrough tour in product
  • Self-guided documentation
  • Lacked consistency
  • Didn't know where users were getting stuck
  • Resource intensive



User Feedback: A Mixed Bag

Azure Boards




Opinionated Colleagues

Feedback: A Mixed Bag

  • Inconsistent management of incoming feedback
  • Limited visibility for everyone
  • Lack of data to support feedback
  • Hard to make decisions



State of our Stack


  • Key areas for improvement:
    • Understanding user behaviour in our product
    • Improve onboarding of new users
    • Iterate faster

A new Member of the Agility CMS Team:

Pendo: Understanding User Behaviour

Added a small js snippet to our app...

Got this:

  • User timelines of exact sessions
  • Clear feature and page usage
  • Easily exportable 

Impact: Understanding User Behaviour

Less this:

More this:

Pendo: Improving Onboarding

  • Using Resource Center
    • Increased knowledge base usage
    • Increased chat engagements
  • New in-app feature Guides 
    • Increased feature usage
    • Increased overall engagement
    • Higher likelihood to convert
    • Less support tickets

Pendo: Iterate Faster

  • Guides can be created/updated without developers or deployments
  • New data every day
  • Product features can be measured with clarity

A Gap in the Stack: a CMS


Hard to manage content across all your platforms

  • In-app text, images, labels, links, etc.
  • Knowledgebase articles
  • Screenshots, Videos
  • Walkthrough Guides

Using a CMS in your Stack

  • Content is defined
  • Content is created and published
  • Content is consumed by the application
    • Agility Content Manager (CMS app)
    • Pendo Guide
    • Zendesk Guide Importer
  • The consuming app has code that is responsible for the presentation 

Agility CMS uses Agility CMS to power its content

Example: Our First Guide

What's Next for Us

  • In-app messaging for subscription limits using Pendo
  • Many more in-app Guides in the works
  • UX Updates
    • Promoting commonly used features
    • Demoting or removing rarely used features
  • Looking for a centralized place to manage user feedback and make it more public
  • Keep on tweaking

Thank You!

Questions, comments?


BACKUP of Stacking the Odds: A Product Stack Story

By James Vidler

BACKUP of Stacking the Odds: A Product Stack Story

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