With the myriad of SaaS companies out there vying for the attention and ultimately the adoption and usage of enterprises, it is sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees and identify the truly innovative, thought-provoking, and game-changing applications. As someone who follows the industry, I read about up and coming SaaS companies every day, but something about BetterWorks caught my eye. BetterWorks is a cloud-based platform that helps companies set and manage their organizational goals in a transparent manner, where everyone can see each other’s goals, how they are progressing against them, and how they fit in to the overall organization’s wider goals. In my personal experience, it can be a huge problem, particularly for large corporates, to have all of their employees singing off the same hymn sheet and working towards a common goal – so it’s of little surprise that BetterWorks is setting out to infiltrate the market and starting with Fortune 500 companies.
Clarity of Purpose
With multiple departments, divisions, product groups, geographical markets, etc. the ultimate goals and objectives of large enterprises and how each employee’s personal objectives form a part of that can often become unclear. The idea of defining a strategy and set of objectives at the top level and each department, team, and individual developing a subset of objectives that feed in to the overall goal is standard fare in most large enterprises – the problems arise in the clear communication, progress tracking, and engagement with those objectives. A system like BetterWorks is interesting because of its transparency – the very idea of which might scare the pants off employees who might not particularly want all of their colleagues knowing how they are progressing against their objectives, but the clarity of purpose it brings about could be well worth the trade-off. If it were to do nothing else but to act as a constant reminder of what we are all collectively working towards and how we are progressing along that path, the concept should lead to better decision-making, improved focus, and the agility to change things quickly if sufficient progress is not being made.
Make it easy to use
Elegant though the concept may be, the process of creating and tracking the progress of goals manually may be quite cumbersome and time-consuming, and the difficulties associated with the accuracy of self-reporting could become problematic. As a solution to this, BetterWorks recently announced integrations with Salesforce and Workday which allows it to pull data related to an employee’s goals from these platforms and update their progress automatically. This takes some of the manual input away from the employee while also ensuring consistency in the data and reporting across platforms. With an Apple Watch app and further third-party platform integrations apparently in the pipeline, BetterWorks seems committed to making it as intuitive and natural as possible for goals and achievements to be tracked and shared. Nevertheless, the ability to do so is very much dependent on the extent to which an employee’s work can be quantified.
The quantified work movement
Led by giants like Google, there is an increasing trend of quantifying and measuring work at a granular level in order to create actionable data and insights that managers can then use to inform their decision-making. BetterWorks is embracing this movement but its success in driving the adoption of its platform will depend on the extent to which enterprises also embrace quantified work. Therefore, BetterWorks finds itself with the unenviable task of not just selling a product that solves a problem for its customers, but also selling an ethos and way of thinking about productivity and a fundamentally different way of organizing and incentivizing work. Further to this point, the success of BetterWorks will also depend on the availability of data. The Salesforce integration, for example, is a big step in the right direction but this will only really provide relevant data for sales, marketing, and customer success functions – defining ways to quantify the work of traditionally less hard metric-based functions will be another driver of adoption for BetterWorks.
It is still early days for BetterWorks, who have only been around since October 2013 and count the likes of GoPro and NerdWallet among their 75 customers, but it has already managed to raise $15.5 million and CEO Kris Duggan has partnered with John Doerr who famously funded Google before it was cool back in the 1990s. And it’s a long road ahead for a platform that requires such a shift in its potential customers’ mindset in order for it to be successfully adopted. Nonetheless, what BetterWorks has shown us is that SaaS is not only capable of enhancing productivity at an operational level with solutions like Slack, Quip, Office 365, and many, many others, but at a strategic level by changing the way we think about the goals and objectives of organizations.
by Michael Cullen @michaelcullen87