Values, Beliefs and Goals

This page gives an overview about what drives our work and is the content that forms the foundation of our Alignment Framework. Everything we do and think as a company is powered by these ideals.

Values

Values are expectations how VSHN and all VSHNeers should behave.

People

We care for and value people. We show this in different ways but at the core of all of these are people:

  • We want to provide stability and security for VSHNeers.

  • We’re excellent, communicate excellently with blamelessness and accountability, take ownership.

  • We’re tolerant, apply the Robustness principle to communication by being well-considered in what you say and accept different belief systems, personalities, quirks and emotions when you listen.

  • Value people’s experiences and concerns, for example in decision making.

  • Voice opinions and tensions actively; discuss and challenge objectively, positively and constructively; adhere to a decision even in case of disagreement.

  • We might be nerdy. We see it as a strength, not as a weakness.

  • People make mistakes. We help each other to fix and learn from them to prevent them in the future.

  • We strive to be replaceable through standardization, automation or documentation.

Transparency and honesty

  • We value transparency both in documentation (open source) and in actions.

  • We actively share our know-how publicly.

  • We believe that collaborating with other experts over company borders produces win-win results.

  • The way we present ourselves is the way we really are - we’re honest in what we do and say and we actively fight against politics and deception.

  • No politics in hiring and compensation: salary system and diversity.

  • We’re honestly proud of our accomplishments.

Sustainability

  • We want to be successful in the long-term.

  • We want to create value for and have a relationship with our customers that makes them successful in the long-term.

  • We value feedback loops over complex planning and promises.

  • We strive to find the balance between iteratively delivering value early and finding "the perfect solution."

  • We innovate to find new, more effective solutions.

  • We minimize waste.

What do we do?

This is a no-marketing one sentence explanation what we do. If someone asks you "what does VSHN do?" this is a good answer.

We automate software build, deploy, provisioning, backup, observability, alerting and incident management for production applications on any cloud with 24/7 support.

Fundamental business principles

Most VSHNeers are engineers and don’t have a business background. We’ll repeat some business basics here (inspired by The Personal MBA book) to set some context for beliefs & goals for any business and that’s not specific to VSHN:

  • We create value.

  • We attract customers.

  • We complete sales.

  • We deliver value.

  • We bring in enough money.

Beliefs

We call Beliefs the direction we’re heading and the intentions we aspire to achieve. Other companies call them "vision" and "mission."

We want our customers to not have to worry about operations of their online business. This gives them:

Freedom

Being able to freely choose what to do in evenings/weekends/vacations because they know we’ll watch their back.

Order

Structured GitOps reduces (manual) chaos.

Power

The customer is in control of their application, we empower DevOps.

By default everything will be OK; if it’s not, we’ll contact them and we’ll be there to help them fix it.

We help the customer to achieve that by
  • Establishing and sharing best practices in software operations, security processes and tooling.

  • Providing trustworthy tools enabling the shift-left in responsibility through self-service.

  • Enabling the customer to focus energy on their core competency, improving their (online) business, without having to worry about generic tooling.

  • Being close to the customer, being 24/7 reachable and approachable for the customer, establishing personal relationships, collaborating.

  • Helping to integrate innovative technology.

  • Solving problems using existing tools and products from VSHN and partners whenever possible, or creating new ones should they better align with our goals and beliefs.

We believe that this means technology wise
  • Applications belong in containers by default.

  • All manual recurring effort is reduced as much as possible through automation.

For that we use
  • Kubernetes both as a common control plane for service provisioning and for container orchestration.

  • Kubernetes offering from the cloud provider. If there is no usable Kubernetes available, we provide Kubernetes in virtual machines.

  • Services (Database, Cache, Search, Queue, etc.) offered by the cloud provider. If there are no matching services available, we provide them on top of Kubernetes.

    • If there is no way to run a service on Kubernetes, we can make an exception and run it directly on virtual machines.

  • Infrastructure building blocks (for example storage, shared file systems, load balancers, etc.) from the cloud provider. If not possible or available we provide them on top of Kubernetes ourselves. If not possible or feasible we provide them ourselves using Managed Servers on virtual machines.

beliefs technical.drawio
Figure 1. Technical Beliefs

We believe this collaboration creates benefits for the customer, thereby making them more successful:

  • Higher speed of delivery enabling lower turnaround time for features, faster time to market and higher business agility.

  • Higher availability and reproducibility and less risks.

  • Higher software developer happiness.

North Star Goals

North Star Goals are long-term, high-level, aspirational goals. They’re more tangible than Beliefs but it’s still highly unlikely we’ll ever get there.

VSHNeers are the happiest employees

As per our Values we care about People. We care about VSHNeers because we believe they’re our most valuable assets. Even though we’re a technology company we know tools and code is ephemeral, people aren’t. Therefore we want to provide all VSHNeers an environment for them to be happy, thrive, grow, develop new skills and self-actualize.

We do full stack operations of application, platform and infrastructure management

We believe all our customers shouldn’t have to worry about operations even though they’re responsible themselves for the full Dev & Ops of their application. To be able to successfully do that we believe they need to limit their scope of attention to the fields they’re experts in (Software Development) and leverage existing, proven tools and processes that we can help them with.

Zero effort needed by customer to get started working with us

We want to absorb the complexity of tools and processes needed to do operations well. We know there is a learning curve in the shift-left of responsibility in DevOps, therefore we want to help our partners to get started as smoothly as possible.

Operations are fully automated

We believe one of the benefits of establishing best practices and the tooling required for them is to be able to scale operations, that’s provide bigger benefits at lower cost, for our partners. To reach that, we need to continuously work on automating ourselves out of our jobs so that additional customers don’t generate additional technical operations effort for us.

20% net operating margin (EBIT profitability)

Every business needs to be profitable to be sustainable and to be able to afford investments like product development. The owners of VSHN have set 20% net operating margin to be the north star goal for the ratio between Earnings before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) and total turnover.

Two Year Goals 2021 & 2022

Two Year Goals are what we want to achieve in the next 2 years.

NPS 90 employee satisfaction

According to our goal of VSHNeers are the happiest employees we think the Net Promoter Score, the happiness to promote VSHN as an employer, is a relevant way to represent the happiness of VSHNeers and we should strive to get all VSHNeers to become promoters of VSHN. Being a promoter of VSHN is of course not the only happiness aspect but we feel it represents a valid derived metric for happiness: only if VSHNeers are happy at VSHN will they also become promoters of VSHN.

Be profitable enough to increase base salary by 20%

Compensation isn’t the only motivator for working for VSHN. According to VSHNeers are the happiest employees we still want for VSHNeers to be able to afford having a family, house, travel or doing whatever they want and not have to worry about their personal finances.

Double revenue but only hire 50% more VSHNeers

To be able to afford paying higher salaries (see goal above) we need to scale, specifically scale revenue without needing to proportionally scale employees. Doubling revenue in two years means approximately growing 40% per year, which is challenging but a rate at which we’ve already grown in the past - so not impossible. The goal is to be able to double revenue without needing to double the number of VSHNeers while keeping VSHNeers are the happiest employees.

5 highly scalable products in product catalog

To be able to scale the business (see goal above) we believe we need highly scalable products. Product management and product engineering including innovation is a field we thus need to invest in.

Allocate 20% of time for innovation

As per our value of sustainability and not accepting a bad status quo we need time to find better solutions to problems and "the next big thing." We should work towards being able to afford dedicating 20% of our time.

NPS 90 customer satisfaction

Just as with VSHNeers we want all our customers not only to be happy with us but to become active promoters for VSHN. We believe happy customers are more fun to work with and stay with us longer - being in line with our value of sustainability and stability.

Document all customer solutions: Clarity about expectations and responsibility

We’ve organically grown with custom solutions for our customers. Most of these solutions have evolved over time with the changing requirements and the growth of our customers. This has led to a mismatch of expectations from us and the customer and in some cases unclear responsibility. We want to achieve clarity both for customers and the solution team supporting them.

10 documented solution blueprints: Process, examples, ballpark numbers, ideal customer profile (for sales)

Tailor-made solutions that are based on our products are still an important business for us. To be able to attract more customers for certain solutions that we see the potential to become products later needs documentation for sales to be able to work.