I have been performing many roles and done a few different things at Merpay, but for this time’s post I would like to talk a little bit about how we have decided our focus points until now, and how with some recent changes we want to improve our process as well.
Just last month, on November 20th of 2022, Merpay celebrated its 5th anniversary!
Wait a second though, wasn’t Merpay launched in February of 2019?
Merpay was launched in February of 2019, but it takes time to actually launch something as big as Merpay, and to launch a financial service, you need to get the appropriate license, and conform to various regulatory requirements.
Along the way, we overcame various challenges and delivered an even better, and safer, experience for everyone using Mercari.
The most recent big feature we launched is the Mercard and point-back reward system!
We continue adding new features and offer new services, so with the advent of such a big new release, we believe it is now a chance to again focus our development efforts towards certain key areas we believe in.
It’s not like we didn’t have focus until now, so let me first give a brief explanation about how we went about developing and prioritizing new features until now.
At Merpay we use an OKR (Objectives and Key Results) based approach for setting quarterly goals for the company, and in turn each team then defines their own OKRs that align with what we want to achieve as a company.
There are many articles about how to set good OKRs. A lot of it depends on the company/team, as well as individuals and their thoughts, so I won’t debate on what good OKRs are and whether we have good OKRs, but a company of sufficient size usually needs a system to focus on delivering results, whether that be by using OKRs or something else.
Not to go into too much detail, but usually we have 1 company objective with 3-4 Key Results, which represent the focus points of that quarter.
Below you can see an example of that, but not exactly what we actually have, to prevent disclosing too much information.
Objective: New Merpay for all Customers
- KR: Mercard launch
- KR: Mercard growth by X number at the end of December
- KR: Smart Money numbers in-line with estimates
- KR: Fraud kept in check
Usually most KRs have some KPIs/numbers associated with them which we track and report, as well as handle if not as expected.
Example of potential KPIs:
- number of incidents by severity level
- number of customers who activated their Mercard
- amount of money lent
- amount of damage due to fraud
You can see the numbers we actually disclose on our IR page.
But actually, we work on much more than just what’s shown in the OKRs!
There are many projects, some related to company OKRs, some more team-specific, or even just engineering-specific (e.g. QA optimization).
Until now, to decide project priorities that required cross-team collaborations, we had a big discussion once a quarter, for which every Product and Engineering Manager listed up the projects they are considering for the next quarter, and then the Director/VP/CxO decided the priorities after considering various factors.
As you can imagine, this was a rather daunting task.
While it made it possible for the company to show our focus, reality was that usually there was way more work than what could be shown in the OKRs, or even in the company-wide project list, and priorities were sometimes a bit hard to see overall.
What a person worked on was some combination of either being related to the company OKRs, the company-wide project list, the team’s backlog or roadmap items, and sometimes handling a request from another team that requires help, but didn’t come up during initial planning.
You can read a bit more about what we’ve been focusing on during the past year in the opening post made by our VPoE.
This system more or less worked, but we thought, could there be a better way to do this?
With the launch of Mercard and the point-back rewards system, we are entering a new era for Merpay, so we considered now the best time to show our new focus and empower teams to do even better!
As such, we have decided to create a structure that focuses on certain key areas for Merpay.
We call this system the Program structure.
Each program has a certain focus area and owns the priorities, strategy/roadmap and KPIs for itself.
The main two people responsible for each program are the Product and Engineering Heads.
As you can imagine, based on the names, the Product Head is responsible for the product direction, while the Engineering Head is responsible for the engineering direction of each program.
While each Program and Engineering Head have certain ownership of their areas, overall strategy and focus alignment is still needed, between all the Heads, as well as the CPO and CTO to decide the overall direction.
This quarter we have been defining how the new structure will work and with January it will be our first quarter using the Program structure.
There may still be a few unknowns until we try it out, but as with everything, if you don’t try something, you will never learn and improve.
Hope you enjoyed reading a brief explanation about what we’re doing in terms of the Product & Engineering organization at Merpay.
The next article will be by shuuk. Look forward to it!