Trade Me's vision is to 'make life better for Kiwis through online experiences they love' and it is one of the most used, most trusted and most loved brands among New Zealanders. By mid-September 2017, the business had grown to 4.1 million live member accounts and 4.9 million listings in a country of 4.7 million people. One of the keys to Trade Me's success is a strong emphasis on trust and safety - the company employs a team that works to ensure users are not ripped off by scammers.
Trade Me has 550 team members and plans to continue hiring aggressively to help scale the business. Throughout its rapid expansion, the business has maintained the culture and practices that have delivered success to date. "For example, the aggressive development approach that characterized Trade Me as a startup less than 20 years ago is now reflected in Agile Development methodologies that see teams deploy regularly during weekdays," says David Wasley, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Trade Me.
Until early 2017, Trade Me had relied on a traditional suite of applications for tasks such as email, calendar management and document creation. "However, we had a number of versions of documents attached to emails and sent around the business," Wasley says. "We really wanted to speed up document collaboration. Furthermore, we wanted to address videoconferencing as we were experiencing challenges finding a service that was cost-effective and good quality while being user friendly and easy to set up. On our existing platform, we may have the executive team in a meeting and it would take up to 10 minutes to get a videoconference up and running," he adds. "That would cost us time and money."
Trade Me decided to deploy a cloud-based application suite and set a target of a 5 percent productivity improvement - equivalent to adding 27 new employees -across the business. The business ran a trial of G Suite and another product for a month each with the same group of 60 employees. "We undertook short but appropriate training for that group in both products and once the trials were completed, we followed up with surveys that rated the various features of each product," Wasley says. "The survey results showed G Suite ranked significantly better from a user perspective for ease of use and reliability. With these results and once we completed our due diligence around security, we decided to go with G Suite."
Trade Me engaged Google Partner Fronde to undertake the change management program, including managing project timelines and training. The business combined the standard process of migrating the core IT team to G Suite first to educate them about the new product with the comparatively rare approach of cutting over the executive team at the same time. "Normally on an IT project you migrate your most expensive people across at the end when any issues have been ironed out," Wasley says. "However, our executive team was determined to show leadership on this move and be part of the solution."
Three weeks later, Trade Me moved 52 early adopters to G Suite to act as expert users across the business.
Fronde's assistance and the simplicity of G Suite enabled Trade Me to go live with the apps two weeks ahead of schedule. "Fronde played a key role in that migration process, including moving information, emails, documents and files over to G Suite," Wasley says. "They managed some late changes very well, for example, Google's release of Team Drives created a scramble for us to include it in the project."
Six weeks after the cutover to G Suite, Trade Me had achieved productivity improvements of 4 percent. With some exceptions for specific tasks and roles, Trade Me's workforce is using the full range of G Suite applications.
Wasley puts his personal productivity increase from the use of G Suite at 10 percent. He and points particularly to the ease of collaborating with multiple users on a single document through Google Docs rather than emailing a draft out to six or seven people and aggregating their feedback himself. Furthermore, the executive team now opens a Google Docs document during meetings to allow minutes to be created and amended 'on the fly' with input from team members. "When the meeting is finished, the minutes are done," Wasley says. "There is no cleanup afterwards."
Using Google Hangouts Meet has also eased the process of conducting videoconferencing at Trade Me. "We don't experience any more of the five to 10 minute delays in starting calls now, so there are a lot more video calls going on," Wasley says.
"Moving to G Suite is very much in line with our priority of improving efficiency and effectiveness," he concludes. "We are hiring quickly and the more changes we can make to boost productivity or make life easier the better."