Becoming a product-led business

Small talk, big meaning

We’ve all been asked “What company do you work for?” Invariably followed by Oh?! And what do they do?

There’s a reason it’s called small talk. Small, common conversation starters, you hear them every weekend at parties and social events, almost always as a way to get you off conversational first base.

One evening a few years back, I started to think about the answers I was giving to people, particularly the significance of them. I realised my answers weren’t really saying much. Offering up company names and sectors, though perfectly acceptable (and largely expected), meant passing on the chance to REALLY get across what my company did.

Here at Qrious we have started to describe ourselves as a “software product company”. If small talk at a party can have an impact, then the words you choose to use in describing your organisation have real power. “Software product company” is still aspirational, but every day we are working on the transition. Those three words imply how our company might be organised, how we operate, how we think and act. And when we use them to describe ourselves to someone outside the business, say at a conference or an event, they convey all the ways we want to present ourselves in the market.

Transitioning through actions

Transitioning to a product-led business means living and breathing it daily. All of us at Qrious have a real pride in what we’re doing, we have an agile mindset, and we understand what we need to do to reach our aspiration.

First of all, we’re organising ourselves into autonomous teams. With end-to-end capability and ownership of product components, each team makes decisions themselves - un-reliant on wider business structures. This delivers time for innovation and means our teams can go fast. Our teams are in control of their destiny, and have cradle to grave responsibility. But this doesn’t mean they are left to sail totally free. Strong product representation on the leadership team means we have top down support when required. And each team understands product profitability is one of our KPIs.

Next we’re transitioning to product-led thinking. That means we spend less time thinking and building based on the world we see today, and instead ponder the world many years from now. We use the market evidence and data available today to plot and predict the world of tomorrow. And we don’t aim to just solve problems for a few customers. Software product companies aren’t led by sales strategies - they live and breathe product strategy, thinking about and building products suitable for a multitude of customers, not just one or two.

These operational changes will give us the right foundation, but to truly become a product-led company we need to back this up with discipline and focus; the discipline to commit to a single, master product strategy and commit only to features that align to and enhance that product strategy; the focus to deliver product updates with speed and precision. And the courage to stay the course.

Staying true to your intentions

Keeping to a path aimed at much larger long-term success, sometimes giving up on shorter term revenues, and sometimes leaving behind ideas that don’t fit into the strategy is not easy but the payoff can be significant. If we can optimise the software engineering engine (the Qrious way of working) then we can quickly iterate and deploy many, many times and safely scale. We need perseverance and a long term commitment to those three words - software product company.

So what does this mean if you’re outside of Qrious? How will you experience this change and what can you expect to see when you look to the truly transitioned software product company Qrious? On the product side we’ll offer compelling software products that:

  • Are simple and easy to buy, deploy, and adopt
  • Are fast and easy to use and offer great value
  • Do a great job of solving our customer’s problems
  • Deliver on their promise, and are proactively monitored and improved through seamless product updates
  • Are built in such a way to simply and elegantly scale as the end user base accelerates
  • And finally a Qrious touch I call “software smarts”… built-in analytics and machine learning

From a brand perspective we’ll have:

  • A clearly communicated, product-centric brand
  • Impactful launches of new or updated products
  • A suite of relevant consulting services, wrapped around our individual products, and helping unleash value for customers
  • Useful, opinionated, thought leadership

There’s still a bit to go for us. Internally, we’ve almost finished the transition; externally it’s just beginning. Success might actually be as simple as small talk at a party, where someone says “Oh yeah! I’ve heard of Qrious - the software product company, right?”.

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