How we define roadmaps for 2,500 employees: QRWeek
The tech sector is transforming at breakneck speed. To stay ahead of the race, you need to be agile and able to continuously adapt to new innovations and customer needs. Super-agility and a customer-centric vision are essential to sustain OVH’s hypergrowth. At OVH we work transversally, i.e. across functions and not in departmental silos. But we are expanding rapidly, and are now operating on four continents. So how do we maintain this mindset and stay efficient?
The 'what' and 'why' of QRWeek
OVH’s horizontal organisation means that teams need regular strategic alignment. That is the goal of the Quarterly Review Week, or QRWeek.
Although OVH has always sought to “liberate” work within the company, we initially had a classic corporate setup, with separate Finance, Marketing, Technical departments, etc. These were all managed by members of the Executive Committee. But in fact, many of our projects need multidisciplinary teams in order to be carried out successfully. So we have gradually evolved, pivoting our organisational structure from vertical to horizontal.
Our projects are now managed horizontally by six Business Units, or BUs: Commerce EMEA, Commerce US, Product, Industry, Corporate and Operations. These work transversally across different functions. Business Units are divided into Units, and Units are divided into Squads. This reorganisation has consistently and profoundly transformed OVH. It means we can confidently scale our business and carry out all our strategic projects. But it also poses the major challenge of how to keep the teams in sync. And so QRWeek was launched.
What is the aim of QRWeek?
First and foremost, QRWeek is an opportunity to debrief everyone on the previous quarter, sharing feedback and lessons learned. Business Units go over what they did in the previous three months, analysing what worked and what didn’t. This forms the basis for looking ahead to the next quarter, adjusting objectives and priorities and aligning all the teams around a unified quarterly plan. So basically, our two end goals for QR week are to plan and prioritise our work for the next three months.
What goes on in QRWeek?
The two key events during the week are the “speed dating” and feedback/prioritisation sessions.
Before a new quarter starts, we need to talk about how each Unit’s projects fit together. Only when we have a clear picture of these interdependencies can we form a global strategic plan. The 66 Unit Leads gather together for a day of 20-minute discussions about their respective projects and roadmaps for the coming quarter. These discussions are modelled on speed dating, but the aim is more serious: to draw up a solid, unified roadmap for the whole company. By bringing expertise from different areas together, we can refine project timeframes and delivery dates.
This planning exercise needs a significant amount of advance preparation, but it’s worth it. It’s vital to gather the individual roadmaps from each Unit and get the teams in sync. Credit must go to our Lean team for their hard work designing a robust process to ensure that this exercise is a success. After a whole day of meetings and discussions, the result is a master document that sets out all of the company’s projects for the next three months.
After the speed dating exercise, it’s time for the feedback session. Octave Klaba, Chairman, and Michel Paulin, CEO, address all employees. This key session is all about setting priorities for the coming quarter. The priorities of the CEO, formerly Octave Klaba and now Michel Paulin, are presented to the whole group. Members of the Executive Committee (COMEX) then take turns going over the final roadmap and add additional priorities, emphasising projects of particular importance and flagging those that are not quite as high up on the list. This is a significant moment for OVH, as it presents a global vision of all upcoming objectives, and allows BUs to time the delivery of each project. Everyone knows exactly where the company is going and what role they have to play.
Finally, the third element kicks off: execution. Based on the roadmap defined during QRWeek, Unit Leads meet every week to give progress updates on each project, resolve any issues and share successes. The aim is to quickly find solutions to any problems that come up, so that we can stick to our timeframes and share new product releases with our customers. Every two weeks, Executive Committee members get a progress update on the global roadmap, and evaluate the situation accordingly. Based on this, they may adjust the quarter's priorities, launch a new project, or put something on the back-burner.
It’s hopefully clear that this week is vital to keeping the company running smoothly. Transversal teams discuss, identify and share priorities, allowing us to plan our future work carefully, but also stay agile and adapt our plans when necessary.
What place does innovation have in QRWeek?
QRWeek is also an important time for promoting innovation – which OVH is constantly driving in all its areas of business. Innovations that have been developed and deployed at OVH are celebrated throughout the week, as Octave Klaba and Michel Paulin present them to everyone and present Innovation Awards to their inventors. This is a chance to thank the teams and show appreciation for their work. In a future article, we will go into more detail about innovation at OVH.