Q&A with Valiantys CEO, Lucas Dussurget
What does Valiantys do?
Valiantys is the leading global consultancy in the Atlassian ecosystem. The company has helped more than 5,000 customers worldwide accelerate business transformation by digitizing processes and modernizing teamwork, using the best Agile methods and tools on the market. Valiantys has partnered with Atlassian for more than 15 years, and is a specialist in Agile transformation, IT service management modernization, cloud migration and managed services. The company operates in North America, Western Europe and India.
Can you bring that to life with a few customer stories?
Our clients are mainly blue-chip firms like Bosch, Honeywell, Airbus and the Bank of England. Recently we led a transformation program at a leading manufacturing firm where we trained and coached hundreds of teams on Scaled Agile practices, while also transitioning their work management processes to Atlassian. We’ve also helped a capital markets leader cut their spending on IT service management solutions by 60% by moving to Atlassian and streamlining their processes.
What is Valiantys’ origin story? Why Atlassian?
Valiantys started in France in 2006 with one core idea in mind – focus. We wanted to be the opposite of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, and our belief was that by being laser-focused on a specific domain, we could become a global leader recognized for excellence in our field.
The field that we started with was test management and test automation consulting. We looked for partnerships with the leading software vendors of the times – companies like IBM, HP and Borland, but they weren’t a great fit. As a young startup, we weren’t really designed to work with these behemoths. When we came across Atlassian and Jira, which at the time was mainly known as a bug tracking system, it was love at first sight.
We loved the product: the fact that it’s a universal workflow management platform which you can use for any process and any team, and with a really quick time to value. We loved being able to delight customers. We also loved Atlassian’s partnership model. There was no competition from Atlassian on services, lots of freedom to innovate, and a real co-selling approach. Finally, we loved the company’s culture and values, and trusted the founders and their vision.
So we thought: we’ve found it. Our area of focus. And we decided to dump everything else and go all-in on Atlassian. And for 15 years we’ve kept Atlassian at the core of what we do.
What’s the Valiantys mission and how do you live those words?
Our mission: “We accelerate enterprise ambitions using technology that unites teams.”
Technology is what propels change in modern businesses. But when you unpack all the key drivers, you’ll find that the blueprint for a successful business is designed by its people. It takes a team of professionals to drive an enterprise’s ambitions, but how can they do this without the right tools? This is where Valiantys steps in to lead the way. We are ‘work futurists’ who evolve the ways of working, using Atlassian solutions to unite teams.
How do we live this ourselves? First of all we eat our own dogfood: we use Atlassian solutions (Jira, Confluence, Trello) every day and in every team of the company, from managing onboarding of new employees in HR to tracking payment approvals in finance. In our delivery teams, we also use the Agile practices we preach, with our own SAFe-based delivery model. We also have a culture of distributed and connected teams. While we have offices around the globe, most of our team members work remotely and can work together effectively no matter where they are in the world.
We are ‘work futurists’ who evolve the ways of working, using Atlassian solutions to unite teams.
Valiantys has been named by Atlassian as a Partner of the Year seven times. What do you think makes your partnership so strong?
We are honored to have received the Atlassian Partner of the Year award seven times, including most recently in the Enterprise Services category. Valiantys has been a dedicated Atlassian partner since its founding in 2006. We have grown up together, experienced the waves of business change together, and transformed the concept of ‘teamwork’ together.
As we grew together, we made sure that we would remain fully aligned with Atlassian’s strategy and culture. We regularly have sessions discussing how we can add more value to Atlassian’s business, how we can help them further their ambitions and how we can make ourselves easier to do business with. As the CEO, I spend a quarter of my time just developing the Atlassian relationship, and this cascades down to all the members of the team. It’s like strategic account planning on steroids, and we see it as crucial to our success.
But our partnership also goes into the product: Valiantys built Atlassian-specific apps to extend the capabilities of Jira and Confluence and in 2013, Atlassian acquired our leading product to create the first version of Jira Service Management.
Not only is our Valiantys DNA part of Atlassian’s core product suite, we helped found the Atlassian Partner Council that year, of which we are still an active member. Atlassian is more than a partner to us; they are an extension of our Valiantys team.
What do you do better than anyone else when it comes to customer relationships?
We are 100% dedicated to Atlassian. That makes things very clear about what our role is and isn’t. When companies engage with Valiantys, they know that they are getting access to the largest and most experienced team of Atlassian specialists in the world. This is what our customers recognize and admire most about us. It’s why we are trusted by more than 65 of the global Fortune 500.
The way we approach client relationships is also meaningful and is guided by our values: talk straight; never stand still; be mindful of what matters; make every interaction remarkable; and share and take part.
Talking straight is particularly important to me. Our customers expect that we stand by our commitments, that we stand by the solution we recommend, and that we help them meeting their ambitions — our goals are their goals.
A lot of leaders in fast-growth businesses struggle with focus, but it’s been a big key to Valiantys’ success. How do you decide when to say no, and when do you know you’re ready to take on something new?
I read somewhere that in business strategy, the hardest thing is not deciding what to do, but what not to do. As a leadership team, we regularly review our business strategy and part of this iterative process involves engaging with dozens of people within the company to hear their views. When we update our strategy, we explicitly describe all the things we’re not going to do. We know that to be successful we need to differentiate, and we can only differentiate through focus.
Atlassian solutions are used in all industries from finance to government, in all company sizes from small businesses to the Fortune 100, and in all teams from software development to marketing. Valiantys itself operates in several countries across North America and Western Europe, plus India. In this context, it’s easy to spread ourselves too thin — so we choose to be hyper-focused on one technology: Atlassian.
To sharpen our focus, we also made the choice to spin-off our former Atlassian app business, so we are 100% focused on consulting services. It’s incredibly hard to be both a successful product company and a successful IT consulting firm. They’re different DNAs, and when you look at global leaders in each of these fields, they are all focused on either services or software. Not trying to do both.
What advice would you give to other services leaders who are looking to scale a truly global business?
Before scaling globally, make sure your culture is ready for it. In our case, we had to learn to transition from being a French company to a being a global organization where dozens of nationalities co-exist happily without a dominant one.
Second, local autonomy is important. The biggest hinderance to international growth is having a head office which controls everything and stifles local innovation. We lead by example here. While we do have an official headquarters, the senior leadership team operates as a virtual team spread across all the countries we operate in, as do central functions like HR, marketing and finance. We give a lot of autonomy to local leadership.
Third, having a strong remote work culture helps too, and leadership needs to be an example here. I work 90% of the time from home, in part to avoid creating a feeling that everything happens in one location or office, and that the others are just satellites.
Finally, you have to look at your key differentiators. Will they apply in other countries? How can being in multiple countries help you differentiate even more?
Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you in this journey?
We chose to partner with Tercera because of the team’s first-hand experience scaling professional services organizations in high-growth cloud ecosystems such as Salesforce, as well as their very strong network in the Americas – a strategic market for us. We’re especially excited about tapping into their network of advisors, and fantastic connections in the cloud professional services world. It’s so great to be partnering with people who’ve already ‘been there and done it’ and can guide us on our journey to scale.