We’re getting around to doing our FY21 planning for the Excel team, and I thought it might be worth looking back a bit and sharing the high level FY20 plans and how we’re doing against them. For folks who don’t know me, my name is Brian Jones, and I lead the Excel PM team. I’ve worked on a number of things in Office over the years including Word, File Formats, Extensibility, and Access. I’ve been leading the Excel team for the past 4 years, and every year we have an internal framework around how we organize the team around a set of top level goals. I often considered posting those frameworks in this community, and decided now is a great time to give it a try. This is the beginning of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation with this community on the direction we’re taking the product.
We don’t plan out the full year down to the level of specific work items - instead, we identify the top level goals we want to focus on and identify a collection of initiatives that we fund where each initiative is tasked with hitting one or more of those goals. We “ship” daily at this point across multiple platforms, so the groups are constantly rolling out improvements, and each initiative adjusts their plans throughout the year as they learn through customer interactions and usage data. We use a framework that looks a bit like Objectives & Key Results, but I wouldn’t say we use OKRs in the strict sense.
This past year we had 5 key goals - for each of these we have about 3-5 key measurements, as well as 2-5 funded initiatives. Below is a slightly modified version of the framework I used with the team this year. I had to pull out a couple initiatives that aren’t public yet, and removed the specific metrics from the goals for now (I’ll look into which ones we might want to share publicly over time). I’m sure there are a number of terms in here that won’t be familiar but as I plan to spend time in future posts drilling into each goal, and I’ll be sure to clarify those terms and provide more context:
For accessibility purposes, here’s the text from the image for the top level goals… I will spend time later drilling into each one in future posts for the folks who find it useful:
Web – customers can use our web app for all their work and should never feel they need to fall back to using the rich client
Value – customers of our premium subscription offerings feel that Excel gave them great returns on their investment (ROI)
Modern – customers are on the latest version of the product and able to use Excel for all modern teamwork
Engagement – everyone finds more value in modern Excel, using it for a wider variety of tasks
Culture – people love working on the Excel team, and feel they can be their authentic selves.
We’ve made significant progress against all of these this year, and are on track for hitting many of the targets we set (but not all). If you’re on the latest builds, you’ve probably seen a lot of these improvements roll out, or will soon.
In future posts, I’ll drill into each of the goals and talk more about what we’ve delivered to help hit those goals.