The Spaceship Is Ready For You | Handbook Part 2
Who is the customer?
METRO.digital is the software house of METRO AG. We host many applications and have different user types for our solutions. In order to prevent confusion about the term "customer" we use the following logic to distinguish between our users:
Customers: Someone who is paying in a store (online or offline) for the products and services we offer. Usually, they can be divided into three segments: HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants and Catering), Trader and SCO (Service, Companies, Offices).
Clients: Our colleagues in the countries that we enable with digital solutions to drive their local businesses.
Stakeholders: Our colleagues from METRO AG and other entities for overarching topics/ projects.
Partners: Anyone outside of METRO.digital who either needs or receives anything that generates value for a customer, client or stakeholder.
Colleagues: Anyone in METRO.digital who either needs or receives anything that generates value for a customer, client or stakeholder.
Focus, alignment, value: Prioritized Objectives & Key Results (POKR)
A common challenge at METRO.digital is the complexity created by the high number of products and the many inter-dependencies between them. Oftentimes, these products have their own separate purposes to fulfill. Gaining alignment between products and reaching efficiency and focus is challenging.
POKR manages the software development portfolio of METRO.digital for six months. The aim is that the whole company focuses and aligns on the same strategic objectives and hereby generates business value. POKR combines the strategic directions from METRO AG with bottom-up objectives of the product teams at METRO.digital. It is all about alignment, focus and customer value.
Communication is key
In a corporate organization, we contribute to the overall business objectives of METRO and the specific customer needs in 24 METRO countries. The framework "Prioritized Objectives & Key Results" helps us stay on our strategic track, improves the quality of communication and fosters the product teams to achieve a common goal. Moreover, POKR helps the organization to focus on outcome by defining objectives and measuring with key results. Product metrics complement this approach, as we always want to understand, how "healthy" our products are.
Output vs. Outcome
We do not want to be a feature-factory. We want to solve the problem of our customers while creating a business value. The OKR framework helps us to focus on the outcome (how can we positively impact our customers/ clients/ stakeholder goals) instead of "just" generating output like a bunch of features. Within the six months iterations the team aligns on maximum three ambitious objectives and up to three key results per objective. After agreeing them within our chapters we kick-off the cycle. Every two weeks during the check-in the teams inspect their key results, as well as their learnings, impediments and plans for the next weeks. At the end of the POKR cycle we inspect and adapt together in a review and retrospective how to improve for the next cycle.
Data beats opinion
We are a data-informed company. Data is crucial for us to make informed decisions. As customer needs and behaviors are changing so fast, we must adapt even faster. Data is our ally, who makes our life easier. Therefore, we strongly encourage each other to measure the improvement our products and services. In short: If an argument has no data, it is just an opinion.
How we generate insights
Here is a quick summary about everything you have learnt about METRO.digital so far: The long-term vision is our corporate north star. It is the one big thing we want to achieve together. Objectives are our short-term goals that help us to improve on our north star. Key results measure if we are on the right track to achieve the objectives. OKRs change from cycle to cycle; KPIs remain the same over a longer period. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are our vitality monitor. It shows us how “healthy” our products are and of course we want to maximize value while minimizing risk. It comes naturally to our product teams to engage with the metrics dashboard on a daily basis. This facilitates insight and drives actions that feed into generating customer value. This implies that we also always look out for better metrics.
How do we gather data?
The monitoring of data and constant adaptation through the continuous data feedback loop is the blueprint of METRO.digital. Product teams focus on discovery and delivery activities at the same time. They collect customer feedback, validate hypothesis, do A/B testing and balance the goal of the business (e.g., increase total number of orders) and the needs of our customers (e.g., increase usability of check-out process).
Through data-driven actions, we have better conversation and decisions. We track and act as a team to create products our customers are passionate about. We make a habit of assessing our key metrics as a team within each iteration.
Iterations or our shortcut to add product value
At METRO.digital we work in iterations. It is one of our core principles to add value to products and solutions regularly and, more importantly, to receive from our users (e.g., A/B Testing)! In times of uncertainty, it is not possible to plan farther in advance than a maximum of two iterations. These, however, we plan in great detail. Since the business environment is quite dynamic, we want to stay flexible and be prepared for change.
Ok, it's a sprint?
At this point, you may be wondering why we do not refer to this strategy as a sprint or as cadences as it is called in Scrum and Kanban, respectively? Our product teams have the freedom to decide what framework fits to their needs. We care about learning loops and the "Build-Measure-Learn Cycle and, as long as, the teams ensure they learn together with their users, they choose the name and the length of the iteration. Most of the teams work in one to three weeks iterations. The only promise we make to ourselves: We will deliver.
In our chapters, we operate in three to six months OKR cycles and bi-weekly check-ins. It ensures alignment on our objectives and transparency through a work break-down in the value stream. Furthermore, we also find a pattern to encourage the product team to explore their product opportunities. Innovation is everybody’s job and practicing it is a definite/certain part of our iterations (e.g., Design Sprint).
Agile Road Maps
We are eager to explore the path that lies ahead. Some teams utilise road maps for this purpose. Here, we focus on goals first and then on deliverables. When synced with the OKR cycle, a road map helps to anticipate change and have always a plan B at hand.