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An online platform for the future of consulting

by Vasiliki Tseperka on 23 Jun 2020

Riverflex has just launched an exciting new platform where independent consultants can connect with like-minded professionals and share job opportunities. On this journey towards developing the platform, we were lucky enough to work with one of our c

Riverflex has just launched an exciting new platform where independent consultants can connect with like-minded professionals and share job opportunities. The platform was built to further carry out our vision to ‘do consulting differently’ and offer more value to our current community of over 450 independent consultants which we are hoping to grow further. 

On this journey towards developing the platform, we were lucky enough to work with one of our consultants, Simon Kilroy, who stepped in as the Product Owner. Simon is a Strategy and Transformation consultant who also specialises in Programme and Product Management with almost 10 years of experience working for top-tier consultancies. 

We recently caught up with Simon to discuss the Riverflex Platform and the learnings, challenges, and advice that have come out of this project. 

Firstly, can you tell us about yourself and your role as a product manager, developing the new Riverflex Platform?

The new community platform is something we’ve been building as the central facet of Riverflex from a technology perspective. It’s going to be the entry point for all of our new consultants. When you first join Riverflex, the platform will be the central area from where you will interact with the Riverflex team and also interact with other independent consultants. 

For the first release, we built the platform with four main components. This includes a profile for consultants so that people know who you are and what expertise you have; the functionality to connect with other independent consultants; a place to publish opportunities where consultants can either apply for jobs or post their own jobs if they need people to work with; and lastly, for rewards, which is about how we incentivise our network to help us grow as a company and also help their companies grow. 

My role as a product owner has been looking at the strategy, managing the scope and managing the development of the day-to-day tasks with our remote development team. Especially thinking about how we can work towards the consultants’ core journeys on the platform and set out a strong deliverable roadmap for the coming years as the central component of Riverflex as a company.

What are the main benefits that this platform will provide to its users?

The first benefit that we tried to deliver to our users was to make the signup process as seamless as possible. When new consultants join the Riverflex community, they can join us very quickly and easily. And that’s what we’ve delivered as phase one. 

We are hoping that in the future, the platform will be the launchpad for consultants’ own independent business. We’re hoping that it will be a central platform where they can come and find work and connect with other independent consultants.

As an independent consultant, I myself can see this being a really useful place where I can come meet new people, find work and ultimately grow myself professionally. 

 

What have been the biggest challenges in developing the platform so far?

There are always challenges in this kind of project. For me, it’s been limiting the scope because there are so many ideas and directions we could take the platform in. The real challenge was to carve that down into what we actually want to do now and deliver something within a reasonable timeframe that we can then test with our users. 

Ultimately, we want to get the platform out there, get consultants using it as a central component of what Riverflex offers, and start getting that feedback and react to how they use it. We need to understand what they want from this kind of platform and take it in the directions that our users tell us.

Do you have any tips or advice on developing and project managing a digital product like the Riverflex Platform?

As we’re developing all of these additional digital journeys and digital platforms, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the user to understand the journeys. “What’s the core journey that you’re trying to deliver”? “How do you make it so simple and so effective for them to go about completing that task and delivering them the value through that platform”? That would be my main tip. 

What skills do you think are most relevant for a Product Manager to have while working on digital platforms/products?

It always helps to be an all-rounder in this kind of role. You work with a lot of different stakeholders in a product owner role, both from the business side from marketing, and the technical side: developers, designers, and solution architects. You need to have an idea of how they all operate so that you can put it together. 

It’s also good to have patience. You don’t know everything to start with and things will change as you move on. The awareness and the vision allow you to react when things do change and moves things in the right course in reaction to the information you gather as you go down the road.

How do you see the Riverflex Platform developing in the future?

Ultimately, we want to get feedback from our consultants as to what’s useful for them. What do they want from this platform? How can this platform be that basis from which they can build their own businesses and also help us build Riverflex as a business?

We’ve got lots of ideas all driven by what Andre and Victor are trying to do here with Riverflex – doing consulting differently – and bringing independent consultants together so they can work together and ultimately build their own businesses.

There’s lots of really exciting stuff lined up. And I’ll just say watch the space…

 

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