Last week was our Harvest Summit, a time when our team, both near and far, gets together in NYC for a week of work, fun (read: karaoke and drinks) and learning. One of the activities this year was a visit to 3 of our customers’ offices. Being in NYC, planning the customer visit was simple. We have a large base of customers here to choose from. Happily, the nice folks at Alexander Interactive, Barrel, and Moment were kind enough to open up their offices and calendars to small teams of Harvesters.

I, along with everyone at Harvest, believe that a strong customer focus is critical to everything we do. It’s much easier to develop, design, support and market a product when you have a sense of who will be using it. When we debriefed on the visits, a few notable themes came up that I wanted to share with all of you.

1. Our customers (at least the 3 we visited) have been growing rapidly. As a point of example, Barrel has grown from 2 founders to 16 people in just a couple of years.

Harvest Developer Matt Beale and Peter Kang, Barrel Co-Founder chat in the Barrel office

2. Environment matters. Moment’s new office space is still under construction but they’ve allocated a large amount of space to their kitchen. They are investing in the creation of a physical environment that breeds a collaborative culture.

3. Resource planning (staffing on projects) is done differently everywhere, and seems to get more complex as a business grows.

Moment Resource Planning

4. It’s important to know who you are and what you do. Identifying your target customer is critical, and it’s not just an exercise for consumer brands. Professional services companies need to know who they want to serve. Managing a Fortune 50 client is very different from managing a “Mom & Pop” client. The 3 companies we visited had all recently spent time thinking about their target customers.

5. Harvest and our tools are adaptable beyond what we imagined inside our office. Barrel used the Co-op API to develop a status board in their office. Moment exports data from Harvest’s Detailed Time Reports that they use to optimize their hourly rates. Alexander, the largest of the 3 companies, uses every single feature of Harvest. They define the term “Power User”.

Team status updates courtesy of Co-op

Our days are spent designing, developing, supporting and marketing products that we hope our customers will get excited about. To do this well, we need to get out of our office every now and again to meet those customers. The goal of our visits wasn’t to conduct a usability study, it was to learn about what makes our customers tick and think creatively about how we can better meet your needs. Spending time together as a team is great. Doing it while getting to know our awesome customers is even better.

Thanks again to Alexander Interactive, Barrel and Moment for the hospitality.