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Developing a ‘customer first’ solution (really)

It seems like a fairly obvious insight – create your product or service around the customer’s world…not yours. Yet, this insight is stunningly absent from a fair number of business strategies. In reality, it’s not hard to do but it is a choice and, for Heads-up creators WattsNet it was an easy choice.

Heads-up is business management software and it’s deliberately focused on professional services firms. It has its origins in, like many innovations, a search for a solution that came up with no results.

So, the team at WattsNet took their software development and project management expertise to create a platform that plugged a gap in the market. Heads-up combines the features of timesheets, project management, business development, invoicing and human resources functions.

Here’s what I found particularly smart about their product development approach:

Meet someone else’s need…not just your own

If you are developing a solution that meets your needs, it might become the next Nike, but you are likely to have a degree of myopia about it. Find someone that shares your pain/need/gap/opportunity and then you’re in a position to take a step back, really understand what’s missing, challenge your own thinking, including the bounds of what you are creating (and whether they are big enough), and create a solution that has more ‘emotional intelligence’ to it.

Connect the solution to their present

A good solution has a sense of journey to it. It works with where you’re at today, rather than forcing you to make a step change immediately. In the case of ERP-style solutions, some of the big brands in the market can create superb growth potential for clients (I’m not questioning that for a minute) but leave them inadequately geared for their current size.

WattsNet built Heads-up so that features like invoice numbering and project coding could be adapted to match the existing systems and processes of their clients. Rather than making the client fit the world of Heads-up, they created Heads-up to mirror the client’s world.

…as well as support their future

As you grow, you have to sharpen, expand, develop and implement systems and processes in a way you haven’t had to before. WattsNet created Heads-up so that you can start to introduce new rigour and procedures to your team without a dramatic (and sometimes damaging) light-switch approach. You can bring functions online as needed and limit the functions available to most team members, while giving more responsibilities to managers and leaders.

It means the system isn’t overkill for a small team and yet has in-built capacity to grow with each client. And, if there’s a feature Heads-up doesn’t offer, the team can create custom functionality designed, you guessed it, around the client’s needs.

Embrace collaboration as part of being competitive

WattsNet has clearly defined what Heads-up is…and isn’t. It isn’t accounting software. That means it seamlessly integrates with platforms like MYOB to avoid double entry and lost time and to give clients essentially an end-to-end solution. It isn’t customer relationship management (CRM) software. That means it has the ability to lock into CRM platforms to enable project management insights to ‘speak’ to client databases.

The developers are making Heads-up a more ‘complete’ solution by collaborating with complementary systems. It also creates a much richer offer for clients who can continue to use systems they may have invested in while gaining a much more diverse range of business management functions through Heads-up.

Make it 21st century savvy

Heads-up clients particularly love the ‘anywhere, anytime’ benefit of web-based accessibility. Professional services, by nature, is a world where you move your assets (people) to where your work is. Web-based solutions create flexibility that matches the kind of work most businesses are engaged in. It’s not always possible, but if you can develop your product or service with that kind of accessibility it can add huge value to your clients.

I could say a lot more about the benefits of business management software. In a world where people are generally a business’ greatest asset, having real metrics around their time is central to success. But you can decide for yourself. Visit

Marketry supported WattsNet in creating the brand identity and website for Heads-up, in conjunction with designers and developers Silver Pistol, and continues to support the business in establishing a nimble approach to marketing alongside the creation of tailored marketing collateral.

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