REBORRN for G4S: A Case study on how we made ourselves obsolete
I m quite new in the “Consulting” world, and coming from the Agency world I quickly realised how hard it is to showcase work. If you work for an ad agency, all you need is a video showing the result of your work, you probably publish shortly after your work goes live. When in consulting it’s a bit more tricky. Your work is not visual, and it takes months of hard work to start realising the results of things you did months or years ago. So here we are, sharing our first case for a project that started early 2018 (!).
G4S is the world’s largest Security Services Company, and one of the world’s largest employers with more than 570.000 employees around the world in 90 countries. The company offers a range of services, including the supply of security personnel, monitoring equipment, response units and secure prisoner transportation. G4S also works with governments overseas to deliver security solutions. Most of the company’s business is B2B, having a relatively small part of the revenue coming from security solutions for consumers and small businesses.
G4S CEO for South Eastern Europe hired REBORRN to help him launch and develop an ambitious product in the market: a smart home security solution from scratch.
Now there are many different engagement models to respond to such a request.
Route A: wearing our old agency hat, we would get ourselves involved in building the brand from scratch along with addressing the product key proposition then build an amazing website, and finally launch a communication plan focusing on customer acquisition. All the above offered in fixed project scope.
Route B: responding to such a request like top-notch consultants we would get ourselves involved in a thorough assessment of the market the company is about to enter, the company’s capabilities, and we would come up with a study on how the company should approach such a product launch. Furthermore, we would deliver a 6 months go-to-market plan on what needs to be done to get the product out there and a business plan for the first 24 months. All these offered with a combination of fixed project scope and time & material for ongoing support.
However, one of the key reasons we launched REBORRN was because we believed that in order to stand by the side of visionary companies and help them thrive in the digital economy, we would need to bring the best of both worlds and create a hybrid of consultants & makers.
Teams that can both work closely with the C-Level on business strategy and goal setting but also be there all along the way to provide knowledge & expertise with a hands-on, “can-do-anything” mindset.
So we picked an alternative approach to respond to this engagement which summarised in the following:
We are building this together and we’ll stand by your side as long as it takes to make ourselves obsolete.
And here we are 21 months later. In the following lines, I will try to go through this amazing journey and all the learnings we got down the road.
Scope of work
Before anything we drafted a scope of work, that would enable us to do two things:
- Make money as the product makes money.
aka Performance-based agreement
- Have the freedom and time to work for what is important.
time & material instead of a fixed scope
The end result was a flat retainer covering our direct cost to work closely with our partner, and a revenue share deal, based on the product’s performance.
Learning: It’s really tough to come up with a transparent performance-based model that makes everyone happy. It’s complex, messy, and has a lot of guesswork especially when it comes to a line of business that doesn’t exist. If we were doing this again, we would pay more attention to that part of the deal, although looking back at it, the deal we agreed upon is still good enough.
After drafting the scope we got right into work.
Setting up the business.
To land the product in the market we chose to follow a lean approach, while at the time there wasn’t a product team in place, nor a huge budget for the launch, we asked ourselves what is the fastest way to get the product in front of consumers using the company’s existing resources?
Our approach proved right for one reason: When launching an entirely new proposition in a market you have little to no idea of the amount and kind of resources you will need down the road. It saved us from unnecessary investment and waste of time. So we always prefer to start small and fast at the same time
To kick off the go-to-market process, we ran a 58 Session which is our 3-day version of design sprints. Following a 2-week lighting fast assessment, we set up a 3-day intense working session with all the key stakeholders with an ambition not to come up with the plan but also deliver all the important work that was necessary to launch an MVP of the product.
A team of REBORRN makers & consultants consisted of Business Strategists, Designers, developers, marketers were locked in a room with the company’s CEO, and a team of key stakeholders from G4S to deliver the following:
- A detailed business plan for the year to go (8 months)
- A detailed acquisition plan to the cent.
- The products key proposition (why buy it)
- The product offering (pricing, packages etc)
- A full-blown product brand with Real-time approval from the Global team (logo, brand guidelines, iconography).
- The final design of the product website, with all its content. Final. 1 week later it was live.
If this sounds unbelievable, you can read this detailed piece on our methodology. “58 Session” is our 3-day version of Design Sprints which we most commonly use for problem-solving.
Wearing our agency hat we would need a minimum of 2 months to come up with the brand, the website and the acquisition plan. Sure, it would be a better more scalable website, the brand development would be the result of a more informed and carefully studied process, but as you’ll see on the following lines we would have wasted months of work and tens of thousands of pounds of our partner’s budget.
Learning: For greenfield projects, where benchmarking information is scarce the initial planning is rarely the actual case. It’s better to move forward with quarterly planning and budget rather than commit to ambitious annual goals. That‘s one of the things we learned the hard way after failing to estimate growth and key metrics at the very beginning of the project.
Launching the product
A month later the first version of G4S iTOS was live to the world, along with all the parts of the plan that needed to be in place. We had a product offering in place, a process to deal with customer leads, a full-blown digital presence with digital content, profiles on major social media platforms, commissioned teams to produce content, maintain the website, and handle programmatic buying for lead generation. While doing this we were performing A/B testing experiments on a weekly basis that resulted in creating personalised landing pages, or building an AMP landing page that had load times in milliseconds.
But as expected the world wouldn’t care less for our launch. For the first weeks following the launch, nothing moved the needle. No leads, no sales.
We were far before cracking the product offering recipe, as well as the acquisition funnel. For that, we appointed a product lead from REBORRN to work with key stakeholders from G4S and coordinate all external partners working for iTOS.
Note: The plot twist is that we chose that person to be someone that had no prior experience in product management, with a background in Design. Mike Polizos (today our VP of Experience Design at REBORRN) is an award-winning creative professional, that has led with success large creative teams. He had nothing to do with launching complex security solutions in the market. That risky choice delivered our promise to follow an experience-first approach in everything we do at REBORRN, but also save valuable time by having a leader that could pull his “maker” hat whenever necessary
So this is where the real work started. We chose to work with a hybrid agile framework that suited our needs and looked more like Scrumban.
We worked with weekly experiments. At the end of each week, we were creating a backlog of changes testing a key hypothesis. Based on the experiment we were setting a test period that would get us statistically significant results. On the Thursday of each week, we had actionable results that were feeding Friday’s backlog.
Using this framework, we tested dozens of assumptions, from pricing and sales scripts to acquisitions channels and fixes on the website (UX, Performance, messaging etc).
We used Asana and Slack to communicate as a team (Client team & REBORRN) and monitor progress sprint by sprint. If you work in the tech or agency world that may seem a no brainer but for a big corporate in the security industry it is not. It is impressive though how the leadership embraced such a way of working that was out of everyone’s comfort zone.
Let me share some notable experiment results that we wouldn’t believe in our eyes.
The Website experiment.
We build the v1.0 of the website, having in mind to build an amazing user experience, to introduce the product transparently in terms of features and pricing and provide the answers to all the possible questions one might have for a proposition that was entirely new to the market.
However, despite the fact that we did all the right things nothing seemed to move the needle. A random morning while discussing alternatives a consultant not involved in the project suggested to direct all the traffic instead of the website to a typeform questionnaire(!). It took us less than 30’ minutes to set this up as an experiment. The visually poor result looked like this:
To our surprise the results were astonishing. This visually poor landing page, that provided minimum information about the product, aggressively asking for the customer details, performed almost 10x better to our beautifully crafted product website.
Trying to understand the user behaviour it started to make sense:
- This page was performing significantly better in terms of “page speed”
- Our customers were mainly 45–60 years old, and a straight forward call to action made a difference
- Most importantly, consumers were in a different part of the consumer journey than the one we thought they were. They were looking for information, and a call with an agent would help. We had created a website to sell our solution to people that weren’t ready to buy.
Such experiments fueled the team with learnings that fine-tuned our product strategy week by week. Our weekly experiments focused on the following areas:
- Product offering
- Product Pricing
- Channel strategy for customer acquisition
- Content production for ad variations
- Conversion rate optimisation
- Sales Scripts — Telesales
- User experience
We have conducted more than 50 experiments up to this day, to end up to what we believe is today a recipe that works. This is an ongoing process and there are still plenty of challenges to turn around.
Learning: The lean approach we followed in developing the product saved hundreds of thousands of investment in technology and marketing that we would have to make following a more waterfall approach. We wouldn’t be able to follow such an approach if there wasn’t a carefully crafted scope of work in place when starting the project.
Building a product team.
Following the product’s launch, we had a pretty good idea on the resources that were necessary internally to maintain and further grow the funnel. Our People Operations team took on to hire the key roles that would further grow G4S iTOS starting from a product manager and a telesales lead, after realising the importance of telesales in this line of business.
After placing the hires inside G4S we gradually delegated part of our work to the iTOS’ high performing product manager, while making sure to stand by his side all along the way keeping an agile framework that worked in weekly sprints.
Working with openness and transparency we got into a continuous knowledge transfer journey to make our presence obsolete, leaving behind us a high performing team that would grow iTOS without REBORRN.
Learning: Setting up a way of working that looks more like a partnership and less like a client-vendor relationship, is crucial when it comes to knowledge transfer.
19 months after our first meeting and during a business planning session, we were excited to delete all the rows including our fees from the 2020 Business plan Xls file for G4S iTOS. Such a bold move brought even our happy client to a surprise, but for us, it was a milestone achievement that was worth celebrating.
When we realised that the team was autonomous and in some cases better than we were, it was a no brainer for us to get ourselves fired from this project. If we kept the partnership going intact we would secure some 2020 revenue but they wouldn’t actually need us, You see, we shared with them all the knowledge they needed to now do it themselves.
G4S was the very first organisation that trusted REBORRN to drive business and cultural transformation even before we had a name for our newborrn consultancy.
The reason we chose to share this one as our first-ever case study was that “Making ourselves obsolete” was one of our founding promises when we started REBORRN.
G4S is one of our most important partners, and we keep working together on a wide range of super exciting engagements. We’d like to thank Andrea Paterakis CEO for Southeastern Europe for the trust he put in our team.