From 300 to 2,000 employees: executing a product scale up plan with AppNexus and Payfit

By July 18, 2019 Product, ScaleUp
A book with Goals and Notes to represent the OKR during the scale up process.

I spend a good part of my workday speaking with leaders of growing companies. The size of these scale ups ranges from a few employees to a thousand. This means that the challenges vary greatly. In order to impart the best insights to them, context is crucial.

In our most recent episode of the ScaleUp Valley podcast, we had two companies of different sizes join us to discuss how their companies handle scaling their product and share the context of their company organizations. Listening to this episode, you’ll come away with interesting take-aways that you won’t want to miss.

The discussion was led by Max Eskell, Head of Product at Monese, and he’s joined by Florian Fournier, Co-Founder & CPO at Payfit and Tarun Bhatti, who was working at VP of Product Marketing at AppNexus but is now focused in Customer Engagement and Customer Experience.

Read on for a few of my highlights from the conversation with these 2 scale ups or listen to the full episode here.

Turning plans into action with a large team

As Eskell pointed out the beginning of the episode: a lot of people have ideas about execution. But scaling up is about putting those ideas to work. For Bhatti and his team over at AppNexus, they’ve managed this challenge pretty well, as they’ve recently been bought by Zander and now have 2,000 people within the entire organization.

With a team that big, planning needs to be a deliberate process to keep the teams aligned. How do they manage? The Zander organization is made up of three overall business units. The buyers side, the sales side, and the market businesses. The three are driven by a yearly plan made up of OKRs.

What starts as high-level strategic objectives is turned into OKRs for the product. Then OKRs for the departments, and finally personal OKRs. Though team objectives are developed at a high level, how to achieve these objectives can come from anywhere within the structure, giving flexibility for the company to continue to scale up.

Growing in a large team brings along its challenges, especially when you start to reach internationally. This is something that Payfit team is learning with their European Payroll and HR technology.

Bringing technology across the world

Because of the nature of their technology, the Payfit team has different rules for each country that their solution enters. This calls for quite a complex system of planning that they achieve on two levels.

On the country level, each team develops their own plan – which is only distributed within that country. Then any feedback is sent to the global team, who creates a separate level of planning on the global level.

From their, they develop solutions that – no matter if only one country is experiencing that issue – could solve the issue in any country. This ensures that the future of their product is bright, and that they’re not searching for new solutions to old problems in future countries that the company acquires.

Of course, that’s not all we learned! If you’re interested in hearing more, check out the whole episode here. Then quick listening and keep scaling!