My thoughts on tech.
Podcast at Subscriptions: Scaled held at Online on 22 January 2022
In this week’s episode of Subscriptions Scaled, we sat down with Kenny Baas-Schwegler, Strategic software delivery consultant at Xebia, and João Rosa, Interim CTO for hire & Principal Consultant of the same company. In the episode, we learn everything from how Xebia works to all about its company culture and how the business has dealt with the pandemic. To learn more about the episode, keep reading. Kenny Baas-Schwegler The episode begins with Kenny and João introducing themselves and sharing information about their expertise and roles at Xebia. Kenny has a background in electrical engineering, and he moved from this to software engineering. For five years, his main interests have been domain-driven design and architecture. Kenny's last company was also a subscription-based business, and he coded there. Today Kenny’s expertise is in collaborative modeling, which is part of domain-driven design. It involves putting stakeholders together with engineers to create a shared language and products and to get insights from the entire group for the product. João Rosa Like Kenny, João is based in the Netherlands, except he’s Portuguese. It’s been a few years that João and his family have lived outside of Portugal. João works at Xebia with Kenny but works in a different role. He’s a software engineer at heart and works on coding and has many managerial responsibilities. He’s also worked as an architect and did pre-sales. Four years ago, João joined consultancy. João specializes in digital companies and acts as a senior advisor. João usually advises on what he calls enterprise architecture. He advises clients on strategic implementation and what options they can take. There are various factors beyond software, such as how you set up your teams, how this affects policies, and how processes affect recruitment and João advises on these. Working remotely through COVID-19 In the episode, we learn how Xebia operates and how it deals with working through COVID-19 and moving to a fully remote workforce. Kenny and João are both based in The Netherlands, which is currently on a tight lockdown, so nobody based there is traveling at the moment. João explained that at the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, the company suffered, as nobody knew what was going to happen. Of course, the company went remote, and like for many other businesses, things began to pick up. In this part of the episode, João discusses the dilemma of creating a remote and flexible work environment that, at the same time, doesn’t make a burden on people always to be online. Kenny also talks about the importance of check-ins during online meetings to see how everyone is doing and what their upcoming plans are. He believes it fosters better connections and helps you learn more about your colleagues. Because of these catch-ups, Kenny believes they have better work collaboration. Building bonds with clients Kenny and João give their advice on building and maintaining bonds with clients. João explains that he uses many coaching techniques on reflection for a slower pace with clients. He notes that with remote working, you don’t have those moments in the office where there are more natural conversations because you may get coffee or something similar. Instead, it would be best to be intentional with your work actions. He says that most people are open and relaxed toward these ideas, as everyone in the pandemic is in the same boat worldwide. Kenny talks about the importance of collaborative modelings, like co-designing together, listening to people, and letting them do the work themselves without micro-managing them. Business agility Kenny and João also discuss the importance of business agility in a company. Business agility uses the principles of agile development to the entire organization. This enables companies to be more responsive to change, hasten the time to market, and lessen costs without sacrificing quality. Five elements combine to make a business truly agile: leadership, strategy, governance, people, and culture. Types of subscriptions The pair also talk about major operations or themes that have stood out to them in how they see a successful subscription organization work compared to a more transactional one. They discuss the difference between recurring revenue businesses versus traditional retail or transactional companies and how they operate differently. João highlights the importance of a subscription with recurring revenue to keep the business alive. If a company has a product with two different subscription levels, it’s possible to treat these as two products. However, sometimes you need to go to other business lines. João recommends picking up recurring revenue and distributing to new business lines because they’re products in a different life cycle. He also talks about the power of cross-selling and upselling. If you’re successful with one product, you need to create more. Kenny adds that from an architectural point of view, it’s really interesting looking at the different types of subscription models. For example, if you’re looking at other SAS subscriptions, as an architect, you can easily say, ‘we need a user management system, which we’re not building ourselves.’ The episode wraps up with Kenny and João sharing their social media handles and João sharing information about his Software Crafts Podcast. Catch Kenny and João on Twitter at @kenny_baas and @joaoasrosa to hear more about their expertise and roles at Xebia.