September 28, 2021


The hipages Group secret sauce? Freedom within boundaries and a cross functional approach

I recently had a great chat with Andrew Birmingham of iTnews about the transformation of our business over the past few years. It got me reminiscing about our start-up story and how we’ve transformed the business to set ourselves up for continued growth and success.

When we began hipages back in 2004, we were more or less on our own. Like all start-ups we began with a tiny team, doing everything ourselves, from sales, marketing, and operations to building the app and ideating new technology improvements.

As hipages began to grow, from 10 to 100 people, we gained a management level and functional teams of sales, marketing, engineers etc. However, as we developed our product offering further, formed hipages Group, and neared a team of 200, we started to feel that the way we had always done things was actually limiting our growth. This was a real wake-up call that happened around 24 months ago. It was a catalyst for change that saw us shift from a siloed approach to cross functional teams.

We felt that, as a technology company, our functional structure was too siloed, creating inefficiencies and barriers. It was holding us back. We were being too slow.

Our new cross functional teams consist primarily of eight people across divisions including sales, product experience, marketing and engineers. Each team has a lead and a sponsor who funnels up to myself and the board.

I believe the cross functional model enables our teams to more closely execute on our strategy, while keeping everyone accountable. It’s a collaborative and efficient environment allowing us to keep up with our technology and to deliver better outcomes for our customers. It’s also hugely improved the way our teams and our leaders communicate and prioritise what’s needed, particularly on commercial business ideas.

At the end of the day, that’s what we encourage –business acumen amongst individuals and teams. And it’s our teams that ultimately guide our strategy. Those closest to our customers are best able to identify problems and trends, and to creatively come up with solutions. This is what guides and shapes our strategy. And this is where freedom within boundaries comes in.

Our cross functional teams are free to develop ideas and solutions to meet our customers’ needs, but there are boundaries that ensure each idea is grounded in a sound and commercial business case. We have a process and a template for how ideas are presented to our leadership team, and those that have a strong business case make the cut and shape our strategy.

We’ve found that by putting in place this structured cross functional approach to selling ideas upwards, we’ve been more efficient in getting strong quality ideas delivered even more quickly, which ultimately solves our customer challenges and builds our business.

And if we ever need proof that our new structure is working, just look at our results!

I’m sure one day, when we get to 1,000 people, we’ll evolve and adapt again to a new environment, we’ll consider new ways of working, and we’ll add some more kick to our secret sauce!
So what’s your recipe for success?

If you’re interested in hearing more about how we’ve transformed the business and how our cross functional approach has turbo charged our growth watch my interview on iTnews.