Before airfocus, EQS' product development process lacked transparency. There was no product direction or proper method of prioritization. The lack of prioritization and alignment has caused significant mistrust between teams and stakeholders, and the teams were overpromising features and weren't able to deliver them on time or at all.
airfocus' native apps streamlined a new transparent process for EQS and helped open discussions amongst teams. The teams now can understand the difference in each market's needs and how it fundamentally affects the way the product should be built. Everyone is aligned on what to do and in which direction the company is going.
EQS Group is a leading international provider of Corporate Compliance and Investor Relations regulatory technology. Thousands of companies worldwide use EQS’ products to fulfill complex national and international disclosure obligations, minimize risks and communicate transparently with stakeholders. With offering such sophisticated products for their customers, they needed to keep track of their products, know and align their product strategy in and out. For that, they turned to airfocus. To understand how EQS uses airfocus, we spoke to Claudia Ferber, Senior Product Manager of EQS.
EQS offers different products in two main areas, which are Corporate Compliance and Investor Relations. Claudia is in charge of a product in Corporate Compliance. When Claudia first started at EQS, she had the expectation that a 20-year-old company would have defined structures and product processes internally, but to her surprise, there wasn't what she found in her area. She was then responsible for creating and implementing the entire product prioritization process for her team.
There was no product direction or proper method of prioritization. The lack of prioritization and alignment has caused significant mistrust between teams and stakeholders, and the teams were overpromising features and weren't able to deliver them on time or at all. EQS had offices in 8-9 different countries at that time, and before airfocus, there were constant questions amongst teams on what to build next, how long it will take, and why they build certain features first before others. There was no transparency.
When asked how the product workflow works, Claudia said that some teams were using in-house solutions to plan out what to do next. In her team, since it was a relatively new product, it was that whoever demands more gets to have the feature first. Another issue that Claudia pointed out was that there was no way to track all the features on one platform. There are many incredible developers within the team. However, most of them did not know what they were supposed to do next, so they took the next project and wasted time building features that are not properly prioritized. 'It's not the team's fault. It's just that there weren't an actual product and prioritization workflow in place.' said Claudia.
The first question Claudia had in mind was how they can gain trust from the stakeholders again. To gain trust, transparency is needed, and stakeholders need to understand the 'how' and the 'why' of a feature. Claudia used airfocus in her previous job, and she knew that airfocus could bring change to EQS. She was thoroughly impressed with airfocus' customer success team as they helped out a lot in onboarding and assisted whenever they could to get all the internal approvals needed. When Claudia organized a video demonstration for EQS' Managing Director of compliance and the other departments, airfocus was so well-received that other teams started to adopt airfocus as their single source of truth for all-things product.
The first use of airfocus was a huge success. Every quarter, the new workflow begins with collecting all feature requests from the international teams and customers on airfocus. Then, they start a Priority Poker session and rate items asynchronously. After voting, Claudia and the team rely heavily on the priority matrix to understand and discuss each feature's actual value. They go through all the feature requests to see whether everything is feasible or not. This new process helped open discussions amongst teams. The teams now can understand the difference in each market's needs and how it fundamentally affects the way the product should be built. Once everything is prioritized from the bucket, Claudia adds them to the timeline view and easily shares them through share links. With clarity, the development team delivered even more than expected since they understand what they need to do and the reason behind each requested feature.
airfocus enabled us to build trust amongst the teams. This is the most important aspect for me. Everyone is aligned on what to do and in which direction we are going. There are no longer questions during sprint review such as 'what will we be working on next,' 'when will certain features be finalized' because, at any moment, the teams can look at airfocus and see what they need to do.
For Claudia and her team, Priority Poker is an indispensable part of their workflow. She described that,
If you don't have Priority Poker, it's a pain. You have to use other tools such as Google docs or SharePoint, which is never as clear or as confidential as it is on airfocus. What's great about Priority Poker is that there are no biases or groupthink because you can vote on each feature anonymously. You are ensuring that the decisions are made in an informed and objective way.
Claudia tried out product management tools before airfocus in different companies but found them difficult to use and did not fit perfectly into her team's workflow. From customizing the prioritization matrix to how she'd like to rate an item, she appreciates that airfocus is a highly-customizable tool that fits how the company works. After all, every company's workflows are unique and airfocus adapts perfectly to each of their needs.
Reflecting on EQS' product prioritization journey, Claudia mentioned that everything added on airfocus is settled and confirmed. In addition to the compliance teams, Claudia recommended airfocus to different teams within EQS. 'It's great that many teams are now using airfocus because there's transparency, and you can see that there is trust amongst stakeholders. That for me is the most important,' she concludes.