Customer Superstars: Aaron Vernon, CTO of Two Bulls

Notion is designed to help good teams be great. Our mission is to give teams and their leaders the insight they need to continuously improve their health, happiness, and performance. And because our work is all about our customers' work, we decided to start sharing their stories. We have shared stories from the incredible teams at Avid and Upside. Today we talk to Aaron Vernon, CTO of digital product agency, Two Bulls

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Tell us about your product.
 What do you spend your days building? What’s the coolest thing about it? Why do your customers love it?

At Two Bulls we build innovative digital products for our clients. This is great because it means we the have the opportunity to keep adapting to and working with the latest technology.

Products our teams are working on include a global telco’s smart cities infrastructure & product, a multi-country industrial IoT system connecting and monitoring remote sensors over a low power, wide-area LAN (LPWAN), a smart appliance ecosystem for a partner who installs over 400,000 kitchens a year in Europe, rethinking & building new technology to improve the school food ecosystem for a company that covers over half of all the children in America. For each of these platforms we connect intelligent edge devices to each other, to the cloud, and to front end interfaces on mobile, web, and custom hardware.

Our clients love that we do everything in house with fully-integrated teams. We also push them to embrace the latest technologies, whether that be serverless infrastructure in the cloud, modern languages like Kotlin and Swift on mobile, or edge technologies like LoRa networks, device-to-device connectivity, and distributed intelligence at the edge.

Tell us about your team. Why are they amazing? What is your favorite thing in working with them? If you could do anything to help them, what would it be?

Our entire team gets excited by beautiful solutions, solving difficult problems, creating great user experiences and being at the forefront of everything that we do. I love working every day with intelligent, ambitious and product driven people. As the technical leader of the company, my goal is to always enable engineers to have the environment and context to do their best work.

Tell us about data, numbers, metrics. What sources do you track? How does data help your team be successful? What’s your biggest struggle in using data?

We use JIRA for our project management and are very disciplined in each team's implementation of Agile, be it Kanban or Scrum. Usually all of the data we ever need is available in a raw format but it can sometimes be extremely difficult to transform it into a form that can be easily communicated and digested by managers and stakeholders. This has the flow on effect that metrics will often end up out of date.

I tend to be heavily inspired by the quote "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." This means data, numbers and metrics are obviously instrumental to any sort of improvement. 

Tell us about Notion. When do you review your Notion data? How have you incorporated Notion into your team workflow/processes? What problems has Notion helped you solve?

Our teams review Notion data daily and we review it with our clients at least every two weeks. The phrase "if it is not in notion, then it is not done" is something I say increasingly around the office. Notion has allowed us to completely automate the process of formatting our raw data in JIRA into a form that presents a holistic view of the project and allows us to make informed decisions. At this high level it is also not unusual to discover counterintuitive information. 

We track things like rolling average sprint velocity, burnups for particular releases, bug counts, projected remaining time for releases. Teams also get a lot of value out of tracking the current sprint cumulative flow.

What would you say is the greatest benefit to using Notion?

The greatest benefit of using Notion is that after you set things up there is zero overhead in maintaining daily high quality data, numbers and metrics. A big part of this is the seamless integrations with 3rd party services such as JIRA and Github.

In one sentence, tell us what would happen if we took Notion away?  

Our team members would have to spend more time on laborious tasks rather than working on stuff that really matters.

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