Ownership, Empowerment, and Innovation…It’s How We Roll!

What’s your company’s culture? If someone asks you to describe it, can you? Do all teammates in your company know it? And more importantly is everyone living by it?

It can be challenging to actually put pen to paper in articulating a company’s culture. You may kind of know it, but to actually explain it…that can be tough. Even more challenging, getting the team to buy into, agree with, and live by it.

At Scivantage we’ve spent the last year or so reinventing ourselves, and ultimately our culture. We’ve put a lot of thought into it. We considered what might have been missing to take us from a good company to a world-class company. We wanted to be a company not only world-class in delivering value to our clients, but as a place to work as well. After a lot of thought and focus, we boiled our culture down to three important components: Ownership, Empowerment, and Innovation. Let me explain.


Picture1So when we thought about our company culture, we wanted it to be, in part, one that ensured all employees had and took ownership.

As we transformed our company, one of the things we put into place, was equity for all full-time employees. Everyone is an owner, and as such we all pull together. Everyone is expected to perform individually however ultimately as owners we win together and we lose together. We work as if we own the company…because we do.

In addition to equity ownership, ownership as part of our culture means each employee owns his or her task or issue. While we have defined roles for areas like Client Services, ultimately no matter to whom a client reports an issue, that teammate owns the issue. If the client happens to report a problem to a Developer, he or she doesn’t throw it over the fence to Client Services and forgets about it, he or she follows up to ensure it got addressed. “Who owns it?” is something you’ll hear regularly asked in meetings. The team understands why it’s being asked and ultimately there is a single owner to every task or issue, ensuring that what needs to be addressed, gets addressed.


Picture2As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, The 2nd ‘S’ in SaaS, clients who subscribe to a SaaS solution not only expect great things from the technology but also of the people of that SaaS solution. If the client is doing it wrong they should expect us to tell them, which ultimately provides value in the SaaS offering.

For at least a period of time we were failing on that value-add service. The reason? Employees didn’t know they were empowered. They weren’t clear on their roles. They weren’t clear that part of their job was to say no or provide other solutions in some cases, in the best interest of the client, and maybe most importantly, they didn’t know management had their backs. It’s hard to feel empowered when you think you’ll get in trouble for taking action. For the 1% of things for which an employee may make the wrong call, why risk not executing on the 99% of things they’ll knock out of the park?

Empower the 99% and use the 1% as lessons learned and a training exercise.


What does a culture of innovation mean? Well part of it is obviously being innovative in our product. Again both in the technology we provide and the value-added service provided by our people. Thinking innovatively allows for things like self-service functions to be added to our products when the frontline service folks see clients repeatedly asking for the same query to be run for example.

Picture3The clients may have been fine calling, opening a ticket, having it run, and getting the results. However a culture of innovation results in the clients being pleasantly surprised when they see us add the functionality proactively to the product, allowing them to do it themselves.

Innovation also applies to other things within the work environment. The latest tools for which the Developers work to create the next great piece of production code, the tools used by the Quality Assurance team to provide more robust testing, and the CRM used to track client interaction across the company are all examples. However it can and should extend beyond that to the things like the Open Vacation policy as an employee benefit, the company after hours socials that inspire interaction across the teams, as well as a culture that includes both employee ownership and empowerment as examples.

Culture is extremely important, and no one culture is necessarily right or wrong; it’s what’s best for a particular company and its people. Your company culture is a roadmap. It’s what you live by and sets the tone by which you operate, and can be the common thread that unites across the teams. Define your culture. Promote it. And let your employees and your clients know…how you roll!

By Alex Sauickie  As Chief Operating Officer, Alex Sauickie has overall P&L responsibility for all Scivantage business and technology operations, ensuring we meet our clients’ needs. A veteran executive in start-up and high growth enterprise software, Mr. Sauickie joined Scivantage from SaaS billing platform Billtrust. As Billtrust’s SVP of Client Operations, Mr. Sauickie was responsible for the award-winning Client Services team, Relationship Management, Implementations, Project Management, and Business Optimization units. – See more at: http://www.scivantage.com/vantagepoint/our-mission-create-referenceable-clients/#sthash.sEoioA8j.dpuf

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