In the world of watersports, ours might not be considered the most glamorous job. We’re not instructors, we don’t own a school or build epic equipment and our days are spent sitting behind a laptop long, long hours. Still, we love what we do. We love it because we’re helping people get more out of their work and, in a way, out of their life. It makes us proud, it makes us want to be better, and it makes us want to build VIKING to be the best it can be.
Who better to show you how deep that love goes than founder Thijs van Westing? Our head honcho has such passion for improving that even something as seemingly bland as product improvement seems interesting when he talks about it.
So, how do we do it? How do we improve VIKING to be the best it can be? Thijs, take it away.
“You know, I’m reading this book that just sums it up perfectly, called The Growth Frequency. ‘We live in a universe where everything grows. Everything is always moving,’ it starts. It talks about this idea that we’re born with the desire to grow because that’s the way nature is. A tree either keeps growing, or it dies. That’s exactly why I want to keep making VIKING better. It doesn’t come from some sort of greed, or because I have to be the absolute best, no matter what. It’s because VIKING either grows or disappears. And believe me, VIKING isn’t going anywhere.”
And with that deeply-held belief at our core, suddenly something like product improvement becomes wonderful. It can even become something we enjoy; to see what our customers want and need out of VIKING and make it happen. “That’s why I spend every day in Product Board and can love doing it,” Thijs says.
Product Board is the place where all our clients’ wishes come in. Imagine you’re using VIKING and suddenly you have this great idea for a feature, you shoot us an email and we get it into Product Board. That’s when the fun starts (for us, at least.)
“All these features get divided up into categories and we spend a lot of time to find out which of these features are most important – for our clients and for us.” That’s because some of the ideas take a lot of time to build, but might add a ton of value to the VIKING system. Others might cost almost no time to implement, but if they also don’t add much, those just aren’t worth it even if they seem easy to do.
“What we end up with is a big list of features ordered by something called the value/effort score and now we know what we will have to get done. That’s when our team starts building, building, improving, testing, and finetuning. And make no mistake: even a feature that seems tiny to our user can take us a lot to get exactly right.”
“The great thing,” says Thijs, “Is that all our clients have a voice. They have a say about what VIKING will focus on next.” The big way we do this is the yearly survey we send our clients in European winter. “That’s where you can just let loose about what you want to be added to VIKING. The more people fill this out, the better we know what to do next.”
Every step from idea to feature in VIKING is a meticulously thought out process. Sometimes it’s tedious, other times stuff takes longer than we think, or don’t end up the way we like. We always just keep going – back to the drawing board, back to work. It might not be the sexiest job in the world of water sports, but damn if we don’t love it.