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Hypergrowth and Research Operations — How Personio is building better research processes and driving growth while staying close to its customers.

Sofia Quintero
Feb 17 · 6 min read

Efficient, inclusive UX research reaches a new level of complexity and importance for a company in rapid growth. To handle this complexity and leverage the growing streams of user insights, the right tools are crucial for scaling UX research.

Innovative HR solutions provider, Personio, is just that company. Founded in 2015, and already valued at $500 million, Personio is working very hard on continuously improving their product while expanding into new markets internationally. They needed a UX research solution that could keep up.

We spoke to Caroline Rathgeb, UX researcher at Personio, to understand the nature of the problem they were facing and the measures they took to maximize UX research and make it genuinely accessible across the organization.

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Sofia: Why don’t we start by you telling me a little bit about what Personio is and what you do there?

Caroline: Personio is a SaaS company that provides an HR software for small to midsize companies. Our software is a holistic solution that supports HR professionals by digitalising their work. After having focused on the German market in the first four years, we recently expanded to further European markets, such as UK, Spain, Nordics and Benelux.

With additional offices in London and Madrid besides our headquarters in Munich, we’re in a state of hyper-growth at the moment, which is presenting us with the challenge of scaling UX research across multiple offices.

I’m currently a UX researcher at Personio. Before that, I spent six months in a recruiting position here, using our own software to recruit. Having been a user of our product myself gave me valuable insights when I then made a switch to UX research. Additionally, UX research has allowed me to use my educational background in psychology with a focus on academic research in work and organizational psychology.

Sofia: What was the problem that Personio wanted to solve when you started looking for a solution like EnjoyHQ?

Caroline: Within our strategy to scale UX research, the first step was finding a proper tool to make all insights and research both visible and accessible in one place.

Before we decided to search for a new solution, we were using multiple kinds of tools (document management systems, roadmapping tools, wikis and spreadsheets) within Product & Engineering to handle user insights.

Outside of Product & Engineering we are using Zendesk in customer success, and our sales team is currently going live with Salesforce. So we had a multitude of tools which weren’t properly connected. Therefore, we didn’t have an accurate representation of all the research and insights that we get daily from different teams.

For instance, our sales team and customer operations and success team generate precious insights, but we didn’t have a structured process in place that allowed us to utilize them. This led to understandable frustrations on their side because they felt we weren’t delivering the product that customers and the market actually needed. We wanted to find a solution that could combine all the tools we already had and make all data easier to access. For this purpose, we needed a tool that’s able to integrate with all insight streams across the company.

Sofia: Now that you have access to all this data and research coming into one place, can you tell me a little bit about how you use EnjoyHQ to look at the data, and who is actually using it in the company apart from you?

Caroline: So, the core users of EnjoyHQ are UX research, product design, and product management. At the moment, we set it up so that we use projects based on our development teams. For instance, our dev team who works on our recruiting vertical has one project that functions as an entry point into insights related to their vertical of the product.

I’ve set up rules to automate processes. Everything related to recruiting topics goes into the recruiting team project. Then we use tags and properties to structure it a bit more and give them more detail relating to where the information is coming from.

Within this team project, everyone is encouraged to really work with the insights: highlight, tag colleagues or cluster insights into groups. Right now they have an extensive list of insights they’ll need to structure into subtopics to have an even better overview of everything they get from our customers.

Sofia: So far, based on your experience, what are the main benefits the company has enjoyed since getting EnjoyHQ?

Caroline: I think EnjoyHQ helps create research projects that can capture holistic, cross-team topics. Sometimes we’re challenged when topics concern multiple teams. For instance, research on time tracking in our web application might be just as relevant to the team working on time tracking on our mobile app. So we need to collect the information in one place and make people aware that the research applies to them, so that every team can draw from it as needed. Having that holistic view of the feedback we are getting and the research we are doing is crucial for prioritization and collaboration.

Sofia: Are there plans to grow the research team, and if so, how do you envision EnjoyHQ helping you?

Caroline: We have asked ourselves this question, and we found we can grow UX research in two ways. We can either hire more researchers or we can facilitate a research mindset by enabling the people within the product team to do more research autonomously. While we are looking for more researchers to join our team, we are very focused on enabling product managers and product designers to conduct their own research as well.

For this, EnjoyHQ helps because it makes everything accessible. So whenever a product manager, for instance, is wondering “How might my users do X or Y,” they can go to our repository and look for everything we already know from previous feedback and research. Before, product managers may not have been aware those resources were there.

In addition to making existing insights transparent and accessible in EHQ, we also provide guidance and tools to enable colleagues to do high-quality research themselves, even when they are not researchers by title.

Sofia: What is your advice to other researchers who are still struggling with aggregating data from a multitude of tools, but who may be resistant to change?

Caroline: What I found valuable in the whole process, even though it takes time was that we had to map out all insight streams and talk cross-department. This meant going to customer success or going to sales and saying, “Hey, we really value your input, and we want more of this. Help me understand how you use your tools and how we can connect it with our processes.”

That creates a good atmosphere in terms of collaboration in the company, and it also streamlines processes and makes everything run more smoothly. That’s a real opportunity in implementing a new tool like EnjoyHQ.

Sofia: How long did it take you to have those conversations, and was there anything surprising that you discovered as you talked to other teams?

Caroline: These conversations will hopefully never stop, since our company is constantly moving forward and things will always need to be adjusted and improved. It did surprise me how open other departments were to adjust their customer feedback processes as we adjusted ours. Not only were they open, they were genuinely excited about this new tool and its possibilities.

So, in that sense, EnjoyHQ not only improved our process but also processes in other departments. That was a nice effect.

Originally published at https://blog.getenjoyhq.com on February 17, 2020.

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