We’re a Product-Focused Company – So What Does That Mean?
At Two Barrels, we’re trying to create the room and freedom for people with all types of skill sets at various stages of their development to USE THEM. What a novelty? The reality is that our company, just like every tech job you’ll get is playing catch up. There’s an endless list of things we need to do. Huge tech companies are always fighting fires and trying to get stuff done that someone else tells them to do. We fight this same battle.
We want to do inspired work. Meaningful work. Work that matters. But how do you do that at scale? How do you remain nimble and relevant when there’s 800 of you trying to keep the company on the rails while pushing forward and raising the bar? We try to do this with being Product Organized. If we’re not careful, we’ll just do project after project, ticking off tasks in a never-ending to-do list. Lots of companies do that. We’ve done that. And it works fine for a while. That is, until your list of completed and ongoing projects is miles long and you’ve lost all perspective on what every product or service could be. What they should be. Why are you even building what you’re building? Do you even like what you’re building?
Our goal here is that you work on a product that is interesting to you. And if we give you the freedom and space to use your brain (not your back to just check off projects and to-do boxes), that in time you and your group will make our products better and dare we even say amazing. Why? Well, if you live and own your product, you’ll hopefully be inspired about it and do it better than anyone else could.
We treat all of our services as products. And we focus on the success of the product as a whole—not just the success of whatever current project is in the works. All in, we run about 55 product groups. And all are severely understaffed or abandoned till we ramp up. We’ve mapped out needing somewhere around 400 more people to truly see a Product Organized company function as products, not projects.
In other words, we follow a Professional Services As A Product or PSAAP model. So, okay, what does all that look like in real life?
What Product Focus Looks Like at Two Barrels
Our parent company and its subsidiaries provide a lot of business services. Registered agent service. Business formation. Virtual office and mail forwarding. Trademarks.
And just like a hair care company might have individually dedicated teams for their shampoo, dye, gel, and spray products, we have dedicated Product Teams for each of our business services.
What Is a Product Team?
Each of our Product Teams is made up of people responsible for their product. A typical team might have:
- Stakeholders: Those who are impacted by the product and influence product decisions.
- Product Manager: The product strategist who sets priorities and tasks and brings all the moving parts together.
- Project Coordinator: The admin for all the product’s ongoing projects.
- Product Designer: An innovative, problem-solving subject matter expert who knows the ins and outs of the service.
- Tech Workers: Designers, developers, writers, SEO specialists—the people who build out everything needed.
- Operations: We organize our entire customer service operations around the product they run. We feel connecting a group of operational folks to the actual product development team helps our tech group understand the problems we’re trying to help with and keeps us more focused on working on what matters the most to help our employees, clients, and the business.
Together, all these key players take ownership of the product and drive it forward.
Product Teams are the WHO behind everything…but HOW exactly does a company with a Product Focus operate? There’s a lot to it, but there are three key pieces that are essential for making it all work:
1. The Product Vision
Long term, what do the stakeholders need this product to do? That answer is your Product Vision. Your vision is a statement that clearly communicates what you hope to achieve with your product.
Will the Product Vision change? Yeah sure. But everything starts with the Product Vision—it’s what drives all the decisions for that product. A vibrant Product Team has a turning point where the coders and actual tech workers on the group start to become their own stakeholders. That’s the nirvana moment. When your group builds consensus and starts to have its own vision of where THEY want the product to go without always following what a stakeholder wants.
2. The Product Lifecycle
Unlike projects, no product is ever done. It’s a never-ending cycle of:
- defining problems
- proposing solutions
- assessing the time, resources, risks and rewards for solutions
- building, testing, launching, evaluating and refining solutions. See if you’re meeting your goals.
- analyzing the hell out of the results
- Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. No moving on to the next project and forgetting everything you did before.
While every Product Team has dedicated roles, anyone can be a leader. And everyone should feel empowered to lead. Now, that doesn’t mean a yelling contest to find the loudest person in the group. It means building consensus and pushing the company forward. It means owning your mistakes and helping your team learn from them the next time around. It means no analysis paralysis. Continual movement forward.
We’ve found that when we give a group of skilled tech workers the focus and space to make their product amazing, there’s no ceiling to how awesome that product can be. Becoming more Product Focused also allows more paths for career growth. Anyone can step up and run and grow a product. There are so many people at Two Barrels who have led others and done much more than code, design, write and optimize.
Growing as a Product-Focused Company
We need tech that can scale fast and grow ahead of us—without losing the grand vision. But we need the structure to build out and scale our tech talent in an intentional way. A Product Focus allows us to do that.
And if a Product-Focused environment sounds like a place you’d want to work…well good news. As we keep growing, we keep having new roles to fill. Maybe one of them should be yours.
Categorized in: Uncategorized