Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 196. Today we have Ian White on from ChartHop about the business case or use case for why his customers use Charthop.
Ian’s leadership superpower is solving complex problems with speed, vision and creativity.
ChartHop delivers a fresh take on People Analytics, bringing disparate sources of people data together in a dynamic platform that’s visual and actionable. They are designed to be used by the whole organization, helping companies improve organizational health, drive alignment and accountability and save time and money.
Show length: 25 minutes
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Music: Welcome to RecruitingDaily Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William: Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Ian White on from ChartHop. We’ll be learning about the business case, the use case, cost benefit analysis, et cetera, for why his customers stay customers, why his prospects become customers of ChartHop. And, and without any further ado, we’re going to jump right into it. Ian, would you do us a favor, the audience in favor and introduce both yourself and ChartHop?
Ian: Sure, great to be here. William, my name’s Ian White, I’m the founder and CEO of ChartHop. We are a people analytics platform that helps strategic people leaders make better decisions and plan better. And one of our core use cases is headcount planning, helping understand and manage the painful process of understanding where your org is today, the roles that you need to hire for, and integrating that with both your HRAS and your applicant tracking system.
William: So a lot of years ago, people would’ve probably put this somewhere, not just in the analytics side, they would’ve put this in workforce planning so that they understand both what they, where they have skills, et cetera, but also understanding the future of what they need in terms of a mix of employees, but also the skills that were kind of around the corner, not to be blindsided. Do you find that a lot of folks use ChartHop in that way to understand kind of what they have inventory wise? Here’s what we have now, current state, future state, this is, this is where looks like we’re going, these are the skills that we need and so they use it for people analytics, and I want to get deep into kind of what they use it in people analytics specifically. But do they also find that they use it for workforce planning?
Ian: Exactly. In my view, at least the way I started and tackle this problem. I was a former startup founder CTO of a company that scaled relatively quickly. We had to hire a couple 100 people in a couple of years. And what I found from the active workforce planning or planning, or trying to understand where we’re going to understand where you’re going. You need to understand where you’ve been and where you are. And so foundationally, I think that every people leader needs a central source of truth analytics platform that can answer every question about all of the data that is usually fragmented and spread out among many different systems. And so once you have that data centralized, integrated, and syncing from the different people and financial platforms that you use, you have one place to answer questions. Just today, internally at ChartHop, I was looking at, I was looking at our head count plan for the year and looking at answering questions, “How many sales reps do we have?
Ian: And what’s the ratio of sales reps to CSN and what does our quota attainment look like?” I could answer all of those questions right in ChartHop. And so being able to have the right answers at your fingertips is where we start with people analytics. Being able to consolidate the data and share the data and not just put people data in the hands of HR or a couple analytics people, but to actually make it access controlled in a secure way, available to every manager at the organization so that they have the resources at their fingertips to understand what they need. And so once you have this sort of analytics basis for knowledge, a share, now you can plan with much more information instead of guesswork. It starts to become a much more data informed process. And instead of making the sort of painful annual planning cycle, you can actually move to a much more continuous framework because it’s not so painful to pull all the data and information together.
Ian: I’m sure you’ve done the process that we’ve all lived through of the annual planning process. Where you have a ton of upfront work, just to assess where you are and a whole lot of trading and horse trading and budgeting and planning usually takes the course of months. And by the time you’re done with the plan, there’s already been some big shift in your organization or people. So by making it much more accessible to data, you can actually make a much more efficient and much more real time approach to people planning and organizational design.
William: I’ve joked about this before, but I’d love to have been in the room at Zoom in 2019, Decemberish in their hiring plan, meaning “Oh yeah, probably get about 50 engineers and this, that, and the other.” Then COVID hits. So when, we talk about…
Ian: Yeah, I mean, we’ve just seen the most vivid illustration of how plans changed over the last couple of years. One could possibly imagine nobody hit their planning either direction in 2020, that’s for sure.
William: And that’s the need for flexibility.
Ian: That’s exactly right. And when you have I think ready access to information and ready access to planning can give your organization that kind of flexibility and that kind of anti fragility in a way, against the many things that are always changing even within an organization and not a global pandemic.
William: So one of the things that’s going to resonate with all the practitioners listening to this is data being and disparate systems. And again, we don’t even need to use names just from your HRIS your onboarding tool to your performance management all across the spectrum. I like people analytics platforms being kind of a layer above all of that. Just always kind of a… I’ve always appreciated people that have kind of taken that approach so that the data rolls up. You pull it from those disparate systems, and then you can make decisions based on real time data coming from whatever number of 14 different payroll systems. If you’re a global company that’s fine, you can come from whatever, but you can then look at one place to then make those decisions.
William: I’ve been critical of people analytics products that are contained within suites. And I’ve been on a record for being critical about this because they don’t play well with the other systems. They play well with the systems that they’re in, but they don’t play well with the other systems that are still disparate. I know that your customers struggle kind of with this going backwards and forwards, because some are going to be large customers. They might be using these larger ERP type systems, et cetera. How do you explain this tool?
Ian: Well, I think everybody understands the value of integration and being able to swap out the systems that make the most sense for different stages in the company’s life or different geographies or use cases. So we see that all the time. A company will have one payroll system that is for their domestic US based workers. And they’ve got some other payroll system or set of systems that they’re using for their internationals and we can pull it all together in one place. And so I think the value of being able to sort of pick your tools and make sense of it together is pretty compelling for people.
Ian: I think where we’ve probably taken things a little bit further than maybe almost anybody else. We really have built our system as an integrated data platform first and foremost. I think a lot of systems in this space historically have sort of locked down or siloed data. And the API is often a little bit of an afterthought. The way that data exchanges or can flow in and out, we really try to make it as easy as possible for ChartHop, to talk to any systems out there. And that’s philosophically how we think about it.
William: That’s just smart. It’s just when Greenhouse came to market as an ATS, they had a similar approach with their API. It was well documented. They had a team behind it and just easy peasy to integrate with them. I mean, super, super easy to integrate with them because they made it easy. And you find, in some cases across the spectrum sourcing all the way across that some systems are just very, they purposely make it difficult. Which I fundamentally don’t understand, but I did have a question as we were as thinking about this is with your customers, is there a facet to people analytics that they’re using in terms of modeling or forecasting?
William: Because again, you and I both kind of use the past president and future and it got me thinking about the future. Well, what if they’re going to do an acquisition? What is that change in terms of their dynamic and how do they model it? Well, I know finance will model it. I understand that they’re going to model it and they’ll model it differently, but HR there’s a utility there. Do you find that customers also use ChartHop for that type of functionality?
Ian: Yes, I mean, people leaders understand that there is much more to… M and A is one example. There’s much more to an M and A process than just the numbers on the spreadsheet how the budget adds up. You have to think about roles and you have to think about competencies and how different parts of the org are going to interact together. And so we’ve actually had a few customers run a fairly large M and A processes through ChartHop using the sort of org planning and planning features. We call them scenario planners where basically you can create scenarios, which can be as simple as “Let’s move this one person over to this other manager. Okay, let’s approve it. And merge that in.” But you can also run large scale scenarios with thousands and thousands of changes and you can roll all those up.
Ian: And so we’ve actually had, I don’t know if I’m able to close the customer. We’ve had a few customers run M and A processes where they were in a couple cases, they were absorbing smaller companies. In another case, the company was being acquired. In all cases, they were able to run scenarios of different ways of integrating the organizations that when you plan a scenario in ChartHop, you can visualize it. You can see what it looks like as an organization. You can super superimpose any kind of data on it. So understanding things, maybe you want to look at what the total compensation for a particular group would look like, and just visualize that and pull that up. So you can visualize everything. You can also pull it into a spreadsheet and you can also see the impact of any scenario.
Ian: So you can say, “Okay, if we made this set of changes, what would the cost forecast, or what would the average span of control look like? Or what would the geographic layout look like if we did it this way.” And you could create any number of scenarios, merge them together, the sort of model that I used as a technical person building this as sort of the way that engineers have modeled source code changes in GitHub. You can create revisions and versions and branch the sort of code. I felt that you should be able to manipulate the organization as easily as engineers can manipulate code.
William: I love this. So a 100 years ago, I did a show in Miami. It was around people analytics and metrics in particular. And I forced the audience to pick one metric. Just one thing you can only measure one day, of course, you’re measuring thousands, but I can measure one thing. What is it and why? We went around the room. It was about 300 people. We went around the room, people would stand up and they’d tell their bit. And it was just fascinating that I don’t think we had the same answer. In the entire audience I don’t think we had the exact same answer. We got certain things that kind of came out turnover, this, that, and the other, but it was just fascinating to think of the tapestry of what people look at it. And so the frame up for the question is, again you’re pulling this data up into a dashboard and they can look at anything. What are you the people analytics, people leaders, what are they looking at right now? What it’s like? So what’s top of mind for them early 2022?
Ian: I would say retention is one. I want to repeat the great resignation cliche, but it is absolutely the case. The turnover is up. People are switching jobs. Compensation is the other understanding how… Is the comp that we’re paying competitive. Can we get a view of total compensation? How is the market moving or shifting with remote work, higher inflation, the [crosstalk 00:14:34] crazy job market.
William: Real quick on comp, are they also looking at, from a pay equity or inequity perspective?
Ian: Absolutely. Companies really want to understand, “Where do we stand today?” If there are inequities, “How can we solve those?” And measure the way comp is distributed across any number of metrics understanding by gender or race or age, but also being able to understand by geography or role and…
William: What do you look at because you’re using chart hub for ChartHop you’re using it for yourself. What do you tend to find yourself looking at the most?
Ian: Well, we look at a lot of the real time feedback and eNPS and employee sentiment scores because we’ll have… ChartHop allows you to create any kind of data collection forms, fields, surveys, anything you want to do. And so in ChartHop, we do one on one check-ins where people rate how they’re doing on a scale of one to five. And if that is sort of, if we see there’s part of the org where people are unhappy, then that’s something we want to look at and address and try to solve for sooner, rather than later.
William: And again you got the finger on the pulse. If you got finger on the pulse, you can do something about it. If it comes up annually or twice a year or something like that, it’s harder to respond and people are quicker to move on, especially today. [crosstalk 00:16:18]
Ian: And ultimately turnover is a backwards looking metric. What you want to… You obviously turn and retention is something that is critical to HR teams. But if you’re looking at what’s happened, you’re already a little too late in the sense. What you really want is what are the factors that are going to allow us to prevent turnover.
William: Yeah, that’s your rear view mirror. It’s kind of hard to go backwards at that point. Let’s move over to the buy side for just a second. Questions that you think that buyers should ask of people analytics vendors, things that you love hearing, you just love hearing these types of questions and maybe questions that you would like to kill off if you could.
Ian: Well, I think one key question with the analytics vendor is, “Do you have an open API? Is everything…” Because you don’t know if you select a vendor, you could be with them for a long time and you want to make sure that you can build on top of it, that you can the system is going to be robust and not lock everything down and prevent ways of you using your own data. So I think that’s one thing that’s really critical is making sure that there’s an open platform that you can build on. I also think it’s important to make sure that the analytics platform has a good way of sharing data across the organization.
Ian: Because if it’s just going to be a handful of people in the people team who are the only people who can generate reports or understand any of the data, then you’re just creating a ton of work for your team. What you really want to do is have a platform that allows you to empower all the managers and everyone in the organization with access to data. So delve into what do the data access controls look like? Can it work for my organization? And the needs that we have “Is it configurable enough that we’ll be able to support the ways in which we want to share data and not just have to lock everything down?”
William: Let me ask a new question here, getting back to the dashboard and also data, is it ChartHop’s mission right now is to pull the data and then render the data? Is it now, or is it in the future? You see it data inside action those as separate things, “Okay, now you have access to the data, which is you didn’t before. Now you do fantastic.” Now there’s a layer of insight that comes from seeing the data. It might be human insight, but in the future, it might be AI, it might be machine learning, et cetera. I can’t connect the dots. The machine helps me connect the dots, et cetera. And then that third layer last layer is then, “Okay, now what to do with the data.” You’ve got it, you’ve got some insight now it’s an Amazon recommend recommendation engine. You’re, “Okay, here’s five things that you should do.” Do you see it playing out that way? Let’s again, a very simplistic kind of way of thinking about it, but do you see it playing in that way or do you…
Ian: A 100%. And so as, as an example, because we already today allow you to automate and even push to other systems we can do things, for example, automate a 90 day survey of how people are doing. And we have ours wired up. If you give a nine or 10 on your 90 day check-in, then it asks you, “Hey, can you give us a review on Glassdoor?” And so there’s a lot of actions like that. If you approve a headcount plan, we can push it out to Greenhouse. You mentioned Greenhouse is a great API. So do Jobvite and Lever, and many of the others. ChartHop can actually automatically push the approved roles out to the applicant tracking system and then track the status of candidates and hires and have that float back into ChartHop. So we look at it, not just, I don’t think of people analytics as let’s just warehouse the data and look at some dashboards somewhere, but how can we make data? How can we automate and empower and have data driven decisions, drive everything that we do.
William: I think that’s… I love that. And I love your vision because again, it’s one thing to have… Because for so long practitioners haven’t had, because the systems don’t play well in the sandbox, they haven’t had access to the data. So just doing that, if we stop there, that’d be fantastic. But if we then push forward with insight and in action, my goodness, it’s a different world for HR NTA. Let me ask you about a little bit about your demo. When you show ChartHop to somebody that’s never seen it, or maybe even never seen people analytics, what are they turned on by? What’s that aha moment? What do you find? They’re “Go back to that page or go back to. I want to see that.”
Ian: Well, one thing I always love to show just because I don’t think there’s anything quite like it is, we have of our, we have a timeline on everything, because data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A history of an organization is a history of change past, present, and future. And so you can actually, when you jump into ChartHop, you can use a timeline slider. And when I’m demoing mean, I just usually show our own organization. Because we were one person two and a half years ago, and now we’re 170. And so just showing the timeline slider going back and forth, you can actually see the organization grow and change and animate. And it brings to life I think the power of data for people in understanding how data can start to manage change.
Ian: So when I show that it’s a jump out of the seat moment and then showing from there, “Okay, this is how we can look at the past. Now let’s visualize data on top of it.” So let’s pull up total compensation, including equity and put that and visualize that on the org. And now let’s start planning and showing how fluid it is to jump from visualizing data, to planning to say, “Hey, I’m going to think about my sales team. And I’m going to add a spin up a new group. Let me create a new scenario, add a manager, add some directs, look at the budget impact, look at the impact it has on BDR ratios. And now I can merge it in and send it straight to my recruiting team and send it straight to my applicant tracking system.” That becomes when people see that, that’s something they’re never able to achieve today without a ton of spreadsheets and manual work. So it’s a pretty exciting demo.
William: Is just a kind of a anecdote. I remember talking to a practitioner around a global company, probably 3000 employees across the globe. And she had, I think, 14 different payroll systems. And when the CFO would ask her a headcount, when she mentioned at the very beginning of the show, it took her two weeks. Literally a two weeks to get back to them with a number. Because she’d have 12 analysts in a room trying to figure out, pulling these things out of all these different systems. And it’s two weeks and you’re talking about seconds. And so I love this. Ian, thank you so much for your time. And thanks for coming on the Use Case Podcast.
Ian: Thank you, William. This was great.
William: Absolutely and thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.