Once you start putting embedded analytics in your product or service, you never know where they will lead or what they will reveal. I sat down with Pooja Hoffman of project management software provider Hive to dig into just how people are using their embedded analytics offering and what their reports on the state of the workplace are revealing.
Check out our full podcast chat here:
And here’s a little taste of what we talked about:
Jack Cieslak (JC): It looks like analytics are an important part of your offering. Where do analytics fit in inside of Hive? How do users analyze their projects and data? (What KPIs are they looking at?)
Pooja Hoffman (PH): It’s funny: people focus a lot on the planning and execution of projects, but often just ignore looking back on them and saying “how did we do?” Either that, or it’s a retrospective meeting and they’re looking back on what they did way after the fact and they’re not actually making those changes as the project is happening which would help you have a more successful project!
Analytics was something that we were talking a lot about with our customers about. We heard a lot of use cases where it would be useful and decided to make it a core feature of the project itself. You don’t just plan and execute a project in Hive, you also can monitor on it and get insights and have predictive analytics to let you know how you’re doing and to be able to improve along the way.
Organizations want to see potential problems before they occur. One of the use cases we see a lot is “How are projects tracking?” This can be either for major companies goals or for a specific client. They want to know if they were planning X, Y, Z deliverable on this date, are they ahead, are they behind, what are the blockers? What projects are at risk of falling behind? How are resources looking? Is one person super over-booked? With our analytics feature, people can go in and see this in real-time. They can also use alerts to be predictively notified about stuff.
JC: What are the ideal visualizations for project management issues and status? What kind of dashboards are people using?
PH: We have a couple of standard dashboards. One is overall project status or health. These tend to be arranged around major goals, specific departments, or by clients the tasks are related to. This allows you to see across the health of the business at a higher level: how are things looking, what is moving, what is behind.
You can also drill down further into what is your team’s productivity looking like. Are there certain team members who are being overused? Are there certain projects that have certain blockers? Do some projects have more overdue tasks than others? This allows you to drill deeper to determine why these things are happening and see what’s going on a lot faster.
The visual aspect has eliminated a lot of that weekly status message where you just run down what you’re doing or writing that long weekly email where you explain what you’re doing to all the stakeholders. They’re able to go in and see where everything is at any moment in real time. It allows the team to focus on the execution and lets senior leadership feel like they can go in and transparently see what’s going on at any time.
JC: Are lots of clients using the analytics offerings?
PH: Yes, they’ve been really happy to engage with the offering. It’s been wonderful: from our standard dashboard to the custom ones we’ve created, just seeing how people use them. You never know how it’s going to go until you actually get it in the hands of users.
One of our earliest major customers who used it was a global IT manager from a large organization. He was able to use our dashboards to see how each of the independent pods reporting into him from all across that world was doing. Sitting in an office in London, he was able to get a worldwide view of what was happening.
That was really fulfilling to see that we were crossing physical boundaries. It didn’t matter where people were working. As we become more spread out, you can still get that transparency into your team’s work without physically being able to turn around in your chair and talk to them.
JC: Does having analytics in your platform differentiate you from other players in the space?
PH: It definitely does. If you take a look at the project management landscape, there really isn’t a robust analytics offering like Hive analytics in the space right now. Other tools do have great reporting, but it’s more of an after-the-fact reporting and less of an actual monitoring as a project is going.
Hive analytics is real-time and it’s predictive so that you actually have the ability to positively impact the success of a project, as the project is happening and I think that’s been a really big differentiator for us vs a lot of the other tools. Even more so when you go into some of the other abilities for the system to let you know, based on past performance, when there are some anomalies that indicate that an assignment might go overdue. That predictive element is just something that doesn’t really exist in any of our competitors.
JC: Another big analytics use case for Hive has been doing these big research papers. Let’s dig into those. You just did a paper about men and women in the workplace. Where’d you get the idea and how’d you do the analysis for this?
PH: One of the awesome thing about Hive analytics and the tool is that we’re able to pull anonymized data across our different users and their workspaces and pull trends and ideas and cut the data in different ways. As a company that’s concerned with workplace productivity, it’s really important to step back and assess what’s going on with the landscape.
We decided to start a “State of the Workplace” series and dive into a couple different topics. The first one we decided to approach was the differences between men and women in the workplace. We were able to take a data sampling of about 3000 people and really see how they were working and communicating, how men and women behave at work and are there any takeaways that could help us change the way we set up workplaces and take more progressive action?
It’s a very timely and relevant topic and one of the best things about the data that we were able to pull is that so many of the workplace surveys out there are self-reported, so there’s a certain amount of bias that comes with that. We just analyzed the raw data of how people were behaving in the system. For us, that was something that was really valuable and helped us get some of the bias out of the data.
JC: What are the biggest points that people really seem to be seizing on from this paper?
PH: People have seized upon a couple of key takeaways. One was “Does chatting at work take away productivity at work?” There’s a stereotype that women talk more around the office, but does that reduce productivity? Or are different ways of communicating just part of how people get stuff done?
We took a look at our messaging platform within Hive and women actually send 20% more messages than men do, but they complete 10% more work in the week. I think it led a lot to the fact that we constantly hear about how important collaboration and communication is in the workplace. People lose about 15 minutes every time they switch tasks or switch platforms, but communicating within Hive, they stay in one place and in one context, and that could help a lot with maintaining focus.
A couple of other interesting findings:
We’ve heard a lot in recent years about the language that women use (in Lean In and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office), about how it can undermine how they are perceived in the workplace. I was really excited to just see how people were communicating. We looked at a bunch of the words people were using, the use of exclamation points and emojis, just to see is there any difference between how men and women are communicating. It was really interesting that it was about the same! There’s not much difference between how men and women communicate. Men say “thanks” more than women, but they both say “sorry” pretty much the same amount. It just raised an interesting point: should we be policing the actual language of women or is it more about how these words are perceived in the workplace and that there are some other things going on?
One of the last really interesting findings was that for whatever reason, men and women were both just more comfortable or just predisposed to assigning tasks to and messaging with members of the same sex. Part of it comes from the fact that certain departments or fields tend to be sway more heavily in a certain gender, so that is just who they tend to be working with. But it also raises the question of how do you encourage more cross-collaboration and letting people feel more comfortable with communicating with people across the organization?
Want some more?
So that’s just a little taste of our chat with Pooja Hoffman at Hive. Definitely check out the complete podcast to hear more of our conversation about the state of the workplace, what else Hive has in the pipeline for research, and more.