OVO Tech Blog

Why we have taken a Product approach at OVO?

Introduction

Gavin Wade


Why we have taken a Product approach at OVO?

Posted by Gavin Wade on .
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Why we have taken a Product approach at OVO?

Posted by Gavin Wade on .

OVO’s always had a customer-first mindset. It's why Stephen started the business in the first place, to try and make customer service exceptional.   After 5 years, great customer service in the UK energy sector was becoming the norm with the likes of Octopus and Bulb also driving the charge. 🙌

Next came changing the world. Not just with great customer service, but growing a business without damaging the planet, and leaving it in a better place then we found it.

We couldn’t achieve this by selling kWh alone. We had a belief that through technology we could put the power back into energy consumers' hands to decarbonise their world. We certainly didn’t and still don’t have all the answers, but we had a mission - and from that came a plan.

In order to achieve this ambitious plan, we needed to create a technology platform that could be used by any energy retailers globally to connect with their customers. A platform that provided a level of insight not possible without real time data streams, and the tools to innovate and build whatever the retailer’s imagination allowed. We wanted retailers to be able to concentrate on their customers first, and achieve a decarbonised world together.

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Stephen had always found that problems could be solved by getting a small group of really smart people working together and focussed on only a few things. It all started around his kitchen table 11 years ago. In turn, this spawned OVO’s cultural values and attracted people who loved finding a way to do the right thing by customers.  

It was clear that if we wanted to achieve the ambitious plans of Plan Zero, we couldn’t employ a way of working which relied on us being able to predict how the problem could be solved before we're even started. We needed to allow for constant learning and the ability to pivot quickly based on the outcomes of the work we were undertaking and the understanding we found as we went along.

If you practice the science (& art!) of product management, you’ll likely agree that as well as being ‘customer focussed’ it relies heavily on not having the answers, but proving hypotheses and iterating towards valuable and viable solutions.

We don’t follow any particular framework - not every methodology suits every problem and the practice of product management is constantly evolving anyway. But we do follow some general guidelines:

  • Be clear on the problem you’re attempting to solve, it helps to state it as a hypothesis
  • Back-up as much as you can with data (quantitative and qualitative), there will be gaps, so back this up through testing
  • Research, research, research - listen to your customers
  • Empower the your people to own and solve the problem from the start, but be clear on the desired outcome
  • T shaped teams are essential - every role in the team is involved from the start
  • Learn as quickly as possible through iteration. About the feature or product you are building, and also about yourselves as a team (our teams use throughput and cycle time as feedback mechanisms to reduce their learning cycles)

It’s been a wild ride in the 11 years since we decided to try and change the world. We now have over 45 product teams across Bristol, London, Edinburgh and Lisbon, releasing code changes every 8 minutes. The learning will never stop and we hope that everyone will join us in achieving Plan Zero together.

Gavin Wade

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