Pennylane’s Product Management 6 Key Principles

If you share the following principles, are humble, curious, and want to change the day-to-day lives of thousands of business owners and accountants across Europe, please consider joining our team. You can find all our open positions and benefits on our website.

User First

We are convinced users’ involvement in the development of Pennylane is paramount to its success. Business owners and accountants will use our solution daily. We need their feedback to make sure Pennylane answers perfectly their needs and that using the platform is not a chore.

As a consequence, there are no barriers between the Product Management Team and Pennylane’s users. We don’t need to ask Account Executives to put us in touch with users, nor do we need to fill a form to contact them.

We speak with Pennylane users — both SMEs and accounting firms — every day. On the phone, by emails, on Slack. Some accountants even hang out in our office so it’s easier to chat with other users — our own accounting team — and us.

Audacious Prioritization

Pennylane’s mission is to enable business owners to make the right decisions at the right time with the help of reliable, accurate data. Thus, when they receive a new piece of information, they can be quick to respond.

We apply the same principle to our team: we are constantly revising our roadmap and priorities to make sure we are always working on the feature that has the most impact.

For instance, we realized this summer that we had been doing massive progress on our invoicing tool. Although there is still a long way to go and we could have kept improving it, we collectively decided to temporarily refocus the purpose of this team and have it work on accounting features where we were lagging.

For this team, it meant familiarizing itself with very different problems and starting all over again — but they knew their impact would be more significant this way and they made the switch happily. Our team is highly functional and we were confident they would be able to change their focus without losing their velocity.

Data-Driven but not Data-Obsessed

As Arthur Waller, Pennylane’s CEO, wrote in his inaugural article, data is another way to listen to users — that’s why we pay so much attention to it.

We’d rather rely on data than on our perceptions but where data is missing — when we’re developing a feature from scratch for instance –, we trust our common sense and users’ feedback.

Fail Fast, Learn Fast

Although we pay a lot of attention to quality and user experience, we are comfortable with a few bugs on the platform — as long as it enables us to move fast and quickly deliver new features.

We do not blame anyone if an error is made and ends up in a bug somewhere on the platform.

That does not mean we are content with crappy code, poor design, or are being inconsiderate. It means we acknowledge we can make mistakes: this is a price we are willing to pay as long as we learn from it and keep iterating.

Small Steps

We are huge fans of MVPs and iterations: it’s the best way to gather feedback, learn and set things right if needed. It also prevents us from investing too much effort in the wrong direction.

We roll out new versions of Pennylane 20 times per day on average. These rollouts might be minor but we would rather do small iterations to help users and gather their feedback than break the entire thing — or do nothing.

Pragmatism

We would rather focus our resources on where we do have an edge: we favor simple solutions over sophisticated ones that do not offer extra value.

We use an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to automatically read our users’ invoices and turn them into structured data (amount, VAT, date of issue, due date…). OCR is quite a complex technology. Instead of spending months building our own before even hitting production, we initially chose to partner with another company, Klippa, which provided this solution. This partnership enabled us to deliver a good user experience from day 1, start learning, and figure out what parts could be improved along the way.

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