How to build a fast-moving webteam
Despite internal frustrations and challenges, the results show that we’re moving fast in the right direction. During the last 18 months, we see that Hurtigruten web traffic increased (37%) and online sales has increased (3300%). In addition the most important conversion rates have increased significantly. When reviewing our progress I wanted to briefly review the “how” and the “why”. This blog will summarize how I think you can build a fast-moving webteam and keep momentum.
A recent Skype conversation with the Global Web Manager, Robert Isaksen lead to the agreement that autonomy is the best asset we have within the Hurtigruten web team. Autonomy is defined as “self-government, or the right of self-government; independence”. Being able to work on projects freely is a wonderful thing – It brings confidence in your work as you are able to take ownership of success and failures. I have found that previously in my career, autonomy was the reason for my growth. As soon as other people started putting restrictions on my activities, I became less proactive and eventually, less motivated. Being autonomous is the reason I have maintained my levels of motivation for 18 months at Hurtigruten.
The freedom to choose when, where, with who and how work is performed is the key to success. A recent presentation by Dan Pink supported the fact that autonomy is a critical factor, highlighting Google’s 20 percent rule and how some employees of Google use 20 percent of their time to work on whatever they want – Resulting in half of Google’s new products.
Consistent communication is key
Every two weeks, the global web team holds a 1-hour meeting with news from each market and web traffic, online sales and search marketing results. We also share individual updates on what we have been focusing on the previous two weeks, and where our focus lies for the upcoming two weeks. All of this is documented in the project management tool, Basecamp.
Basecamp allows us to track all of our projects and is the best communication tool we use at Hurtigruten. Each web project is added into Basecamp and we are able to follow up on all projects that we are involved in, thus reducing the need for additional internal emails. It also provides management an overview on what where the focus in the web team lies.
Another key tool in communicating on a constant basis is Skype. By creating Skype chat groups we are able to be involved with live discussions in various projects without the need for tens of meetings per day. I am able to actively write emails, participate in multiple Skype discussions and communicate with my team all at the same time. And with the integration feature that SnapEngage has recently launched, we are now able to conduct live web chat sessions with travel agencies and clients while we are logged into Skype.
“Implement like hell” – Jack Welch
Being able to do things without going through bureaucracy and company politics is key. Even if not 100% ready, don’t be scared to launch a page or function. Customers and Google Analytics will tell you what needs reworking or updating. Our “Beta launch” principle has made this a lot easier and acceptable internally and for the end user. By launching in beta you avoid setting too high expectations and if we are to wait until we are 100% ready, then the expectations quickly rise.
We recently created an Online SalesCycle process with Test, Launch, Sell, Repeat – Making it clear the need for testing and developing should never discontinue and that we are never 100% ready (Thanks to our Chief Information Officer, Frid Fastbø for reminding me of this process!).
A competitor has been working on its booking engine for five years, waiting for it to be 100% ready whereas Hurtigruten have launched our booking engine in English, Swedish, Norwegian and more recently French and German within the space of a year. We know it is not the best booking engine in the world but with customer feedback, we are developing functionality on a monthly basis. and with each release, we move closer to making the booking process as smooth as possible(we still have a loong way to go…).
Driving Key Activities
Assigning drivers to key activities gives the driver ownership and thus increases their will to commit to the project. We have also used a common method of high/ low value and easy/difficult complexity for each functionality. This approach allows us to focus our priorities and not be pulled into projects that are not in line with the Hurtigruten web strategy. Here is a look at where my focus lies within the Hurtigruten web team.
We will continue with this approach throughout 2011 and early figures show we are on target to surpass our sales and web traffic results for 2010. However, the real pleasure comes from enjoying what we do and the above will not be of any benefit if it wasn’t for that.