The future reimagined

Improving one of the most important customer touchpoints of ecommerce

Future of Growth

Written by Miikka Roine

Today’s consumers expect services to be increasingly personalized and tailored to their needs. But how to keep up, when the needs can change in a matter of days? I would argue that the answer can be found in the way we build teams.

I work as a product owner in a project called the value stream of receiving parcels. Our team is improving one of the most important customer touchpoints of ecommerce. We are organized around creation of value by constantly launching functions that improve customer experience. Our job is to understand consumer needs, and with this understanding we can enhance Posti’s digital services and the systems behind them. And on the other hand improve Posti’s logistic processes.

In the beginning of the project, we realized that our customers didn’t have enough control over our parcel delivery chain. There was also clear yearning for a more transparent process. We started by making our deliveries as trackable as possible and finding ways of giving the customers opportunities to modify them in various ways. For example, we’ve made it possible to adjust the delivery time to fit one's own timetable and to direct the item to a parcel locker near one's daily routes. Control also means control over the channels through which we communicate with our customers. We want to be able to communicate to our customers in the channel we know they can be reached, be it OmaPosti app, SMS, email or even paper mail messages.

Fast changes need fast reactions

So, the task of my team is to react to evolving customer needs and the changes in the parcel and ecommerce business. But specially to react as quickly as possible. This spring has truly shown us that huge changes can happen in a matter of days – COVID-19 pushed us to make quick developments. Now our customers can, for example, ask our drivers to leave the package to their door without having to sign it. 

In a big organization like Posti, there is always a challenge of different development processes taking a lot of time. Over time this can lead to a misconnection between customer needs and experiences. In our everyday work with the parcel receiving process we want to erase this sluggishness. What makes our team special is that we are organized in a way that is new to Posti. Let me reveal our secret.

A diverse team equals agile team

In my opinion the structures need to be rebuilt so that the teams are given a real opportunity to succeed by minimizing their dependencies to other teams. This way one team can create something from the beginning to end as independently as possible and introduce it to customers as quickly as possible.

We call this approach Large-Scale Agile. In our work it materializes especially in the diversity of our team. In large organizations it is common that one team designs, maintains and improves only one system or service. There are a lot of different systems and logistic processes at Posti, that affect the parcel receiving experience, and those usually were also developed by separate teams or units. We have torn these silos down and built a team around the customer journey as a whole. The result is a self-sufficient team that has all the skills needed for making changes in any part of the journey.

Our team has a strong mandate to make decisions and solutions without being bogged down by bureaucracy. The management team has backed us up from the very beginning and erased potential obstacles so that we get to work the best way we can. We work in iterative two-week sprints and aim at launching something new every second week. To us, being able to work independently means everything. We have a massive workload to deal with since the circumstances change constantly, and there is no time to wait.

Reaching goals calls for doing things differently

My role as a product owner is to make sure we always put customer value first, meet our goals, build a vision that is far-reaching and, last but not least, to support the self-direction of the team in every way I can. I am responsible for giving the team the opportunities and tools to get the solutions into the finishing line. 

One of my favorite parts of the process is to introduce the team to a problem in customer experience or a challenge in our business, and then getting to solve it together. I’m very proud of the way my team works. I might be asked to support with a problem, and when I join the meeting, I may notice that they have been working on it for hours already. All I need to do is ask “how would you do this?” and the answer will pop out soon.

Our new way of doing things has definitely been worth it. We have defined goals and metrics for both customer satisfaction and business development. It has been great to notice that this approach has a direct impact on our results. For example the customer satisfaction numbers in receiving parcels have clearly been on the rise.

I can with a 99 % certainty say that Large-Scale Agile will be the way customer value will be produced at Posti in the future. The system needs to adapt to the changing world fast, and our cross-functional model definitely makes development faster. Even if people had the best ideas and the greatest drive to produce value, nothing would happen if we stayed put in our silos. It’s the best feeling to recognize that we have all the tools and possibilities to succeed.

Would you like to be a part of making the lives of Finns smoother? If so, you should definitely join us! Check out our open positions here.

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