In this post I’ll share the story of how I moved to Copenhagen to work for a high-growth SaaS company, and how that led to moving to a new position internally.
I started working at Planday in Copenhagen in February 2015. Before that I lived in Oslo for 8 years, and a change of scenery was long overdue. It wasn’t without excitement that I packed my backpack and bicycle and left for Copenhagen.
Leading up to my move to Copenhagen, I worked in PR, teaching, product training, and customer relationship management. I was excited to bring my experience to Planday, and to help the company improve and develop onboarding of Norwegian customers, as well as contribute to building a stronger position in the Norwegian market.
What is Planday?
A bit of background on Planday is necessary for all of this to make sense. Planday is a workforce management and employee scheduling software that helps businesses with scheduling, time tracking, communication, and payroll. Planday is a tool that sits at the heart of our customers’ businesses, and therefore it is critical that we understand the markets we operate in, the needs of our customers, and how Planday’s features can help customers in the best possible way.
Be it hotels, bars, restaurants, or security companies, they all have employees that work irregular hours, and who are highly dependent on the changing activity level in the business. This means changes are often made on short notice, shifts run longer than what they were planned for, and unforeseen events can have a huge impact on staffing needs on a daily basis.
That is why our customers need Planday — to keep track of staff, hours worked, and payroll.
Understanding the Labor Market, Key Industries, and Payroll Routines
Among the most important success criteria for Planday is ensuring we understand local labor markets, working environment acts, how our customers operate, and how we can setup Planday. We utilize a wide range of features to ensure our customers get the greatest possible value from our product, while also helping them stay within the boundaries of the law.
For a long time, I was the only Customer Activation Consultant that focused on the Norwegian market. When I started, Planday had already operated in Norway for a couple of years, and had a substantial customer base there. But to continue to grow, and to handle more complicated cases, we had to up our knowledge of the whole ecosystem for hourly paid employees in Norway.
This is complicated stuff. I remember after a few months at Planday, I had a meeting with a chain of hotels. I was still new to Planday, and it would take months before I understood everything we need to consider — from labor laws, industry regulations, tracking and reporting needs, to providing correct data for their payroll provider.
Luckily, it wasn’t all on me back then. To give you an idea of some of what all of this entails, you can have a look at the National Collective Agreement for the hospitality industry in Norway (it’s 125 pages long). On top of that, I also had to teach myself the logic of their payroll providers’ system in order to figure out how hours registered in Planday should be transferred to the payroll provider to secure correct pay for all employees. It was incredibly overwhelming.
Now, two years later, we have that knowledge in our organization for the Norwegian market — and many other markets as well. This is just one example of how we’ve built knowledge in areas stretching far beyond our own software in order to grow steadily in the Norwegian market.
With this in place, I’m very happy that Planday welcomed my initiative to create a new role for myself that will hopefully mean we can take on the challenges ahead with greater confidence, and more robust processes that can sustain ever increasing growth.
And, as a bonus, I’ve made a venn diagram showing the intersection representing our sweet spot. I’m sure our designers are proud:
From Customer Activation Consultant to Product Education Manager
One of the biggest challenges at Planday is finding the right balance between being a self-managed software that customers utilize without any 1-on-1 consulting, and offering our industry expertise that stretches far beyond our software.
It’s hard to find that balance, especially since we’re going through a phase where we can’t get things done fast enough. It takes great strength to take a step back and acknowledge that we need to make changes to reduce the number of hours spent on advising larger customers individually.
Last fall, we started talking about the role I could move into to help Planday give customers all the tools they need to take full advantage of our product. This process concluded with me moving to the role of Product Education Manager. I officially started on May 1, but of course there’ll be a transition period where I focus on ensuring no knowledge of the Norwegian market is lost as I move into a new role.
Product Education Manager: The Challenges Ahead
So what now? The tasks ahead are both big and challenging. Luckily, I am surrounded by great colleagues, and, of course, I can’t do everything at once either. The key for the first few months will be identifying projects with a clear scope that can add real value to the business. I already have a few ideas.
As for the job description, it sets out a few areas in which I’ll have the opportunity to both build on my current knowledge and explore new areas of growth. Here’s a list of some of the things that will fall under my new role:
- Develop and optimize customer education, with a goal of driving self-service channels and reduce the time Planday spends on customer requests.
- Own the structure and management of content for Planday’s knowledge base on all platforms, in all languages, and with a goal of increasing traffic.
- Ensure Planday’s education material lives up to the standards of the brand guidelines, and explore a range of channels to find the best ways to educate customers.
- Continuously manage and improve the use of services like Zendesk and Intercom, with the purpose of empowering Planday employees to create new content and improve existing content.
- Develop and manage internal education for new and existing employees, both in Planday’s Product and Customer Success / Activation teams.
- Support Product Managers in communicating new features and product updates to customers.
- Continuously learn and maintain industry best practices for customer retention, onboarding, and support.
Come Along for the Ride
I’m excited for what will follow, and hopefully I’ll want to share a bit of it. And when I do I want to share the whole and honest story of how it is to move to a new role internally. I’m sure it won’t be easy, I’ll make mistakes, get frustrated, and struggle. But I’m pretty sure there’ll also be a few big wins, efforts with the rest of the team that will lead to great leaps forward for Planday, and learnings that’ll stay with me for life.
These are all stories I want to share.