CTO leads ‘snowflake’ team in driving multi-million proptech venture

Guest Opinion: The idea of delivering a successful commercial product to market within a two-week period sounds like a pipedream for most, a dizzying whirlwind conjuring visions of grandeur and magical realism, but for tech visionary, Jason Turnbull, that’s more than a cloud-nine reach.

The Chief Technology Officer for Console Cloud has been with the business for almost five years and has brought with him over 25 years of subject matter expertise. 

His department is brimming over in both people-power and collective energy, as his team of nearly 100 continues to grease the gears of the real estate portfolio software business boasting over one million properties.

Big business is no stranger to Turnbull; the trained real estate agent has previously held the role of Chief Information Officer at Ezidebit through its crucial scale-up and growth stages, laying the foundations for acquisition, and has also held executive roles in Transaction Network Services (now Mastercard) and Q4 Technology.

“I’ve been through business transformations in highly regulated industries like online banking and fintech and have seen the benefits in how tech could elevate businesses in those highly regulated industries that tend to stagnate due to the slow rate of change,” said Turnbull. “Those mindsets never needed to question or challenge those processes but suddenly a tech solution comes along and is the catalyst to trigger real change through early adoption.

“I saw this clearly in the property industry and wanted to help the property agents in the field by giving them the tools to support the acceleration and growth of their net profits and efficiencies behind their operations.”

Turnbull said the industry has long been fragmented by a mixed bag of technology programs and needed new ways of recording, storing and analysing data.

“We needed to move away from the inefficiencies that had crept in since the 90s. The introduction of computerised trust accounting packages split the source of information between the computer and hundreds of manilla folders in the compactor archives in the back of the office and it was compounding issues – each new computerised solution for on particular task was so transactional and time thirsty that it took agents away from building relationships with their clients and having quality conversations.

“Sometimes I can’t believe what this team of experts has managed to do,” said Turnbull. “We have reduced transactional activities from 5 weeks to 72 hours.

“We have created a system that simultaneously speaks with all parties regarding inspections, lease renewals and arranging repairs – that’s a lot of reduced effort and increased mental space for agents.”

Turnbull said the product delivery teams were the beating heart of Console Cloud, now representing approximately 50 percent of the business, having grown from a team of 15.

“It wasn’t always smooth sailing; we scaled very quickly and released that while we scaled up development capacity, we needed to see more efficiency.

“The tech stack that we chose to start this product on was a key part of this journey and was a very aspirational choice of architecture that most businesses could only have dreamed of.

“We had a 30-year demonstrated knowledge of the industry and the in-house capability to build tech that could have millions of viewers using it simultaneously – we took those architectural principles and brought them in the cloud,” said Turnbull.

The CTO said the tech stack provides a number of benefits to their customers, from automatically scaling to meet demand when it’s required, to allowing Console to have so many teams simultaneously working on different solutions for their customers, reducing wait times for new features and improvements.

“Building this required the smartest group of engineers – and absolutely the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life, and I tell them that all the time.

“The big driver behind this team is that they are empowered to be creative in sharing their ideas and learning – this attitudinal alignment in our business is core to success and something we test rigorously for when hiring talent.

“The best mindset for us is demonstrated by a person who likes to challenge the status quo, roll up their sleeves until the job is done, commit to continuous learning and fit in with the cadence of the team and wider business streams,” said Turnbull.

The product delivery team is made up of autonomous squads who work independent of each other, and the members of each squad also belong to guilds that represent the skills that they bring to their squads to ensure knowledge and idea-sharing within their disciplines.

“Their product thinking is measured against the snowflake test – is this customer’s needs one of a kind like a snowflake or are they truly representative of the majority – and subsequent feature updates and designs are informed by the needs of the majority, but part of keeping them engaged is making sure they are able to see their thinking in action in an agile and tangible way.

“We were proposing solution designs that could yield customer outcomes and provide validation of investment…In a period of two weeks…” Turnbull said with a laugh. “We realised we needed to move away from investing in 8–14-week project cycles as they posed a high financial risk.

“Instead, we chose to go to market harder and more quickly, establishing the true market need, and then refining the processes for customers afterwards; this was a win-win in challenging the hungry minds of our engineers and proving our commitment to cost and risk management. 

Turnbull is keeping his latest project feature a little close to his chest but plans to reveal in the coming weeks upon successful market entry.

“We have been working with about 50 agencies in beta-testing our newest tech innovation which addresses a very real pain point that nearly every business will face in its lifetime.

“This is a six-week sprint from initial consultation through to UX creation and testing, with the outcome being a first-in-market,” Turnbull said. “We’re going to see significant transformation in our capability by driving this short and sharp ideation process in direct consultation with our customers…and that’s exciting for all of us.”

About Console: 

Console has been the leading Australian and New Zealand provider of real estate, property management, and trust accounting software for 29 years. Its flagship product, Console Cloud, is the fastest-growing cloud-based property management software platform.

About Console Cloud:

Console Cloud powers successful real estate agencies by helping property management teams do less, make more and grow their businesses more. It’s designed differently, with an intent to optimise every aspect of property management and trust accounting services within one platform. Console Cloud also helps owners and tenants to access key information 24/7 and communicate more easily with their agency. As one system with many integrations, apps, portals and other services, Console Cloud offers the most complete real estate business software services in Australia.


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