Introducing Brandon Sheppard, Chief Product Officer (CPO)
Meet Next Technik Chief Product Officer (CPO) Brandon Sheppard. Brandon joined Next Technik in June 2021 to help our field service management (FSM) software, NextService, become the most exceptional option on the market. Brandon brings with him impressive experience and expertise in guiding SaaS products to fulfill their potential, and his impact is already apparent in our product and company. We could not be more excited to welcome Brandon onboard. And we think everyone, current and potential users alike, will be equally excited about what Brandon will do to make NextService a better product that takes FSM software in innovative and exciting new directions.
What is a Chief Product Officer?
Brandon gets this question a lot. The answer, he says, boils down to a deceptively simple question, “What do we build and how do we build it?”
As the CPO, Brandon is responsible for defining the product vision and making it universally understood so everyone involved understands and is working toward the same vision and goal. To that end, he ensures Next Technik teams operate without friction or bottlenecks by drawing on agile best practices that make it possible to scale quickly with minimal disruptions. Brandon works to synthesize and optimize all points in the software development lifecycle. Though much of his work is technical or strategic, an equal or greater amount involves coaching team members to achieve goals or overcome obstacles while instituting a culture of continuous improvement and product excellence.
Another way to describe the CPO role is that they build the best products possible based on the resources available and user requirements. That does not mean adding on endless bells and whistles. It means understanding what users really want and need from FSM software, then bringing that product into existence by whatever means necessary. And while CPOs wear many hats, their overarching objective is to build software that is more accessible, impactful, and valuable for users.
Adding a CPO to leadership signals an exciting new phase for Next Technik. We have proven our market fit and built a loyal following of field service providers. We now seek to scale and mature our product. (More details on this below.) Brandon was brought on board to do exactly that – and it is hard to imagine a better person to take the lead.
Before Next Technik
To say that Brandon is on the forefront of Australia’s once burgeoning and now robust startup scene would be an understatement.
He was an early employee – the 6th employee, in fact – at Neto, an Australian startup that built an innovative ecommerce platform. Brandon was initially hired as a developer, but he quickly expanded into leadership on the product side of the company. Meanwhile, Neto grew into an early success story for the Australian software industry, and Brandon was instrumental. “I got a front row seat for the entire lifecycle of a startup,” he shares.
Since Neto was acquired, Brandon has served as an advisor to Australian startups, drawing on his background to help new companies find their footing and assist more mature companies scale successfully. From this experience, Brandon has gained even more insight into building valuable products, optimizing internal teams, and exceeding user expectations.
Few others have the same depth of expertise or breadth of experience as Brandon, making him a natural standout when Next Technik began recruiting for a CPO.
Brandon felt equally optimistic about the prospect of joining Next Technik. He quickly saw in NextService a product with realistic potential for growth. He also felt a strong synergy with CEO Annaliese Kloe, with whom he would work closely to align the company strategy with the product vision and execution. The opportunity to work with another Australian startup growing from humble beginnings into something special played a role in his decision as well.
Philosophy of Product Development
Brandon’s time at multiple startups has given him keen insights – and strong opinions – about what does and does not work. He is so passionate about subjects like product development and startup strategy that he blogs about them.
Brandon stresses that product strategy and product development operations are critical for success in the software market as great product decision-making can make everything else easier, and bad decision making can make things more difficult in other departments. If a product works well, for example, it minimizes the need for marketing (because it sells itself) and support (because it never breaks).
That emphasis on excellence comes through in Brandon’s firm belief in outcomes over outputs. His team is focused on delivering real outcomes for those who use the product, rather than vanity metrics. This means we spend our time working to improve customer adoption, satisfaction, and engagement and valuing the quality of our work based on these measures rather than simple productivity KPIs (key performance indicators).
Crossing the Chasm
Brandon joined Next Technik at an important time for the company and the field service providers we serve. Our growth has been swift and steady. We have expanded outside of Australia, into North America, and now we are serving customers globally. That is a testament to the strength of the NextService product. However, scaling our company and product to meet that demand comes with many challenges.
Within startup circles, this phase is known as ‘crossing the chasm — when companies have proven they have a viable product and now want to scale to serve more customers and new markets. It is a sign of success for a startup to reach this point, but it is also a point when many companies lose their way because their ambitions outrun their operations: They promise outputs they do not have the resources to deliver. Getting bigger is difficult enough but doing so without compromising the product or customer experience (and instead improving it) makes it vastly harder.
Next Technik is crossing the chasm right now, and we understand what is at stake. One of the biggest reasons we brought Brandon on board is because he has made this trek many times before, learning each time how to maneuver and bypass hazards. He brings that hard-won experience to Next Technik to help us scale our company worldwide without losing sight of what made our team or product appealing in the first place. We are deeply committed to maintaining our high standards. Brandon will be instrumental in helping us become both bigger and better.
What’s Coming for NextService?
The short answer is a lot. One of Brandon’s first priorities was building up engineering operations. It started as a small team occupied by the loudest request. Now, that team is exponentially larger, with enough staff and skills to handle all that goes into scaling an optimal product. With the technical team behind NextService at full strength, we can meet the diverse needs of a growing customer base while also constantly refining how our software works. Expect to see NextService change and grow extensively in the coming months. Brandon has an ambitious vision for the product, including three major initiatives:
- Scheduling at scale – Scheduling only gets harder as field service providers grow. Brandon and the teams he leads will be working to significantly enhance our scheduling tool to serve the needs of bigger workforces, while serving smaller workforces just as well. Our goal is to make scheduling run like a fine-tuned machine, expediting and automating more of the work involved while keeping all the moving parts working in perfect sync.
- Mobile experience – People increasingly expect the same user-friendly experience from business apps that they get from personal apps. We understand the importance of intuitive design and pleasing interfaces, and we have big plans to upgrade the look and feel of our app. Usability, both for techs in the field and managers in the office, will be a major priority according to Brandon.
- Developer support – The quality of a product comes down to the developers behind it. Brandon is putting measures in place to integrate and automate efforts across our six developer teams. This will free them up to focus on improving and customizing the product. It will also close and accelerate the feedback loop so developers can address customer requests or concerns in minimal time. A better experience for developers results in a better experience for users.
The Best is Yet to Come
With Brandon Sheppard as chief product officer, our present and future customers can be assured of two things.
First, the quality of our product will not decline in any way due to the growth of our company. As the popularity of NextService picks up and our partner network grows, it will be Brandon’s responsibility to keep the vision and value of the product front and center through effective practices and committed leadership. What people have come to love about the NextService FSM software will not change.
Second, the quality of our product will improve on a regular basis. With the expansion of our engineering team, the improvements to our workflows, and the introduction of Brandon’s vision and experience, NextService is positioned to become better than ever. Expect to see regular rollouts of new features, updates, and improvements, all of which will make the software more accessible to new users and more valuable to existing users.
The choice is clear for anyone who needs FSM software. Get a tour of what NextService can do for you by contacting us.