A Little Post on Wired Sussex about 15gifts / by James Heywood

Recently our company was asked to contribute to the Wired Sussex blog, largely because we have been on a such a huge recruitment drive that we've had at least two live adverts on Wired Sussex for the last six months or so. So a couple of my colleagues and I answered a few questions and these were edited into a post.

Part of the role I was hired by 15gifts to perform was to help restructure the organisation to allow us to scale effectively, so I have been responsible for spending a fair amount with Wired Sussex since I started. Now that we have a more suitable structure and larger team in place it seems a good time to comment about this, before I do though head on over to Wired Sussex and check out our blog post.

The Challenge

It was difficult summing up my role in only a few hundred words, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to add a bit more background to one part of this, the reason for doubling the size of the company in six months. When I arrived at 15gifts I found a great team of smart dedicated people, the main problem was that the team was too small for the amount and variety of work required. 

As is often the case in small and young companies several people each had more than one key role, which causes several problems which if you have worked in a small or start up company I am sure you will have experienced; 

  • Too much knowledge was locked up in too few heads, information sharing was fairly poor
  • People were unable to focus on tasks and complete these in a timely fashion due to having too many things on the go at once
  • Planning was almost impossible as any one of several things would slip and have a severe cascading effect on work
  • Setting and meeting customer expectations was very, very difficult
  • Team morale was suffering due to the lack of confidence in the ability to deliver and meet expectations

How to fix it? Hire to Grow

Having worked in companies facing this same challenge before it was clear what was needed, create new roles to recognise the work being done and then hire the right people into these roles. That sounds easy when put like that, however defining and separating the responsibilities, then finding people for these is not always straight forward.

Some hires were obvious, Tester, Project Manager, Scrum Master are all easily identifiable and I managed to find some amazing people to fill these roles. One role that we created, our Engine Producer, was not so easy to define, it turns out the role requires skills in several areas including Copy Writing, Psychology and User Experience Design. Luckily we found the ideal candidate and they are helping to make a massive difference after only a short space of time.

At the same time as I was building out the delivery function of the company our Head of Partner Experience was growing our service function by hiring Partner Experience Managers and Data Analysts to help provide the touch points and day to day services for our customers.

The Outcome

The net result of all this hiring is a much larger team with well defined job roles and responsibilities. This in turn give us the ability to better plan our workload and therefore set and meet customer expectations, which in turn makes both our customers and ourselves happier, as we have started to see that we can now more consistently deliver quality products to our customers in the expected time frames.

The first eight months of my time at 15gifts has been a roller coaster, but now that we have a larger and better organised company we are in a great position to scale our offering beyond just the UK market, we are already looking at opportunities to take our products into Europe and the US and with our great team I have no doubt we can rise to the challenges these new markets will present.

Thanks for reading folks.