April 9, 2018

Becoming customer focused

Transform an engineering-led culture to a product-led, customer-first one.

Expertise provided

Product excellence

Leadership support

Organisational development

Organisational agility




The Challenge

APNIC manage the Internet Number addressing space for Asia Pacific. Within APNIC the responsibility for discovery, design and delivery of products and services was within the remit of the engineering team. Engineering were excellent at delivery but were not (rightly so) that interested in owning discovery and design. Many different parts of the business had a little bit of involvement in the product, creating confusion and a lack of accountability. Other pain APNIC experienced included:

  • Little or no product traction due to minimal focus understanding users, their pains and needs
  • No one knew what was delivering value. Whilst lots of things were being delivered, there was little validation, minimal prioritisation and they had no metrics or measures in place
  • Frustration from communication breakdowns and silo behaviour between departments because everyone yet “no one” had accountability for product value
  • Highly capable engineers were under utilised due to their carriage of product activities like discovery and design, backlog prep and product lifecycle management.

The Turnaround

Throughout the transformation to becoming a product-led company, our first experiment was to coach an existing employee (tech policy background) into a Product Manager. Liking what they saw, another two folk (engineer and data scientist) were coached into Product Managers. Adding to this we coached in a couple of scrum masters and along with their first UX capability, product quality at APNIC started to improve 

Wanting to transition their approach from Product Managers working on their own, we experimented with dedicated product teams. When that worked with one team, it expanded to three, now four in total. 

Mashing agile ways of working with solid product-led disciplines and frameworks, APNIC now has dedicated cross-functional product teams creating and delivering products and services for their users. 

They've loved it so much, in the 4th chapter of our partnership, and along with staff that are now agile product specialists and evangelists, we are taking these news ways of working into their business teams, HR, Training and Finance amongst the first teams to going. Stay tuned for this new chapter and story!

Project Results

  • Customer (member) engagement and satisfaction up
  • The funnel leakage with onboarding new users dramatically improved
  • Leadership and staff mindset has shifted towards customer-first
  • Staff within product teams are happier and more effective.

“Becoming product-led is perfect for us”

"I quietly knew this would be a good thing but have been more than delighted with what's been achieved. Our teams are happier, more effective and we've had solid feedback from Members. Sandy and Sarah have deep and sound agile and product experience that we've been able to draw upon. Their depth and breadth means they're highly adaptable as our needs grow and change."

Anton Strydom

Head of Product and Engineering
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