In our modern and connected world, the task of moving vehicles and people goes hand in hand with moving data. As cars and mobility networks become smarter, there is more scope than ever to improve efficiency, processes and customer experience. SIXT, one of the world’s most profitable mobility companies combines global car rental and local share solutions with sales of over EUR 3 billion and 8,500+ employees worldwide as of 2019, and the SIXT app connects customers to 280,000 vehicles and around 1.5 million drivers in more than 110 countries worldwide.
Fabian Schweiger, CPO Finance and Head of Tech Delivery at SIXT, is responsible for making sure all financial processes support the customer experience. In this interview, we discuss his roles as a CPO Finance & Head of Tech Delivery, how he created agile solutions and how one can “live the start-up dream at scale.”
- Steven Truffley’s Career Journey
- About Back Market
- Implementing 6 New Wave of CRM in Back Market
- The Balance Between CRM, Sales and the Back Market Mission
- Lessons Learned
- Who is Steven Truffley?
Fabian Schweiger’s Career Journey
I began my career at SIXT in 2016 and started in the in-house consulting unit at the company, working for the CEO. The projects I ran were very decoupled from the business structure, which consisted of fleet management, pricing management and all the normal business units you might see in a car rental business.
Our unit received projects from across the business so prioritising was always a challenge. This led to the project I am currently working on. First, I restructured the entire IT setup, after which we doubled the tech resources from 300 to 600 people, removed the existing structure, and rebuilt the technology structure around the actual business.
Applying Your Business Background
I must admit I’m not a born and raised product person. However, I have a strong business background, which is why when I joined SIXT in 2016 I built an internal KPI Cockpit for upper management and a fully integrated financial planning system. Based on this experience, I got the opportunity to oversee all product developments within our Finance Division:
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
Transforming SIXT Finance into an “Active Enabler” by migrating our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system
Make payment a key reason to choose SIXT, covering payment methods, transaction management, billing and invoicing.
Damage & Repair
Data-driven system to manage damages and repairs that are fully transparent to our customer and cost-effective
Best and fast decision by providing right business insights in the right format to the right audience
Process revenue commissions to excite our partners (airports, booking platforms, hotel etc.)
Building an Engineering Team for Agile Solutions
Our internal IT department was a classical “closed shop” organisation that was structured into technical domains, including several official tech teams building on a parallel tech stack. Unfortunately, this structure led to disconnected priorities between the business and the IT department, and ultimately to a constant blame game instead of actual project ownership.
At SIXT, we consider ourselves a tech company with an attached mobility business; hence, we reorganised our approach to software products.
We’ve introduced three main changes to prioritise speed and agility in our work.
1. Transparent Organisation, Roles and Ownership
The first and most challenging step was to break up the existing IT structure and allocate them along our value chain. We have defined 8 product divisions from demand to pricing, mobility operations to Finance.
Every division is managed by a dedicated Chief Product Owner (CPO) who defines the Why-and-What of the development plans and reports directly to the business owner of the division.
Furthermore, a dedicated Division Engineering Manager is responsible for a How of a division and reports to the IT organisation. Every division consists of 5-10 product teams, including a strong product manager, with 5-10 people per team.
With this setup, every team, especially the product manager, is responsible for the roadmap and the business impact his products create. In addition, every business owner accountable for their P&L has dedicated tech resources that create ownership and accountability, ultimately driving value orientation and motivation.
2. Clear Motivation, Priority and Budget Allocation
Not every idea can be narrowed down to a detailed business case, as this can kill creativity. But most of the ideas and projects can very much be measured or supported with assumptions. A solid understanding of your product’s business value is the best way to motivate engineers and is the basis for successful cross-divisional projects.
The way we approached our strategy was to break topics into five levels. First, 20-30 board-level initiatives outline the plan for the next 2-3 years. Initiatives are then structured into programs on the division level that are typically software elements released every 1-3 quarters. This allows us to create epics, user stories, and tasks that help prioritise the next sprints at the team level.
On the level of our scaled agile framework, we have a team of delivery managers from each division going through the roadmaps quarterly, to check the business value and dependencies on other business units and align them with other groups.
3. Solution Design in Practise
We offer customers a cheaper rate if they paid us upfront, called a prepaid rate. This means you have two options: pay later or pay at a lower price immediately. The challenge was that this wasn’t possible in Italy due to specific regulations about how you issue the invoice. Our IT system, built 20 years ago, could not fulfil these requirements. This issue was too big to solve; it had a few million Euros of business value but was never prioritised.
The old way of doing this would be that the business proposed the solution. In practice, this demotivates the engineers, and they focus on what will fail and why this task is impossible. Instead we had the teams work on clarifying the exact challenge and business value and backed the case up with data. We thought about what our customers expect, how much money are we losing by not having this, and if we did implement this, how would we measure success?
Once the problem was clear enough, our team came up with the solution called ONE Payment Flow, which is a flexible cloud-based payments solution based on APIs. We fully migrated some of our processes to the new API and were able to handle prepaid reservations in Italy as the first of many use cases the Product team was empowered to identify themselves
Living the Start-up Dream at Scale
SIXT is at an ideal size and scale, such that we are nimble enough to work directly with the board to make quick decisions. We’re also large enough to have a considerable impact. It means we can do all the cool stuff that start-ups dream of but might not have the resources to accomplish.
The main challenge we face in the world of mobility is that most B2B SaaS businesses are still too focused on the companies they serve instead of the end-users experiencing the service. These businesses will need to modernise and think of personalisation and customer lifecycles to continue to be relevant in 2022.
- Before developing anything, consider if there is a compelling reason why customers need it and the required effort needed – minimal effort and very high impact is the ideal outcome
- Create an organisational structure that values empowering teams and giving them budgets, motivation and tools needed to deliver on high-impact projects
- Develop a 2-3 year vision for your products. Let 80% of your team’s capacity go into this big vision and assign the other 20% to smaller projects.
- Before changing a product, have accurate data to double-check that the customer wants the transformation. Don’t risk investing in a change that nobody asked for.
Who is Fabian Schweiger?
Sign up for our newsletter, participate in future articles or get help with Data & CRM.
Join +2000 Product, Marketing, CRM, Data, Analytics & Engineering Professionals Building Next-Generation Experiences Around The World.