I spent my summer here at TriNet Inc. as a Product Management Intern. It was indeed an insightful and remarkable experience to have worked in a welcoming as well as a challenging environment and I am thankful to have gotten this opportunity.
First, I am immensely thankful to Mays Business School, Texas A&M University for imparting the necessary knowledge via means of courses, activities etc., it was applied throughout my stint at TriNet Inc.
I am also thankful to Mr. Ravi Awate, Director Platform Strategy and Process Innovation, of TriNet Inc. for his mentorship during my tenure. His feedbacks were very insightful and helped me improve every time. His style of work and thoroughness inspired me every day to deliver my best. My regular meetings with him helped me advance my domain knowledge.
I also extend my gratitude towards my team members Mr. Prashant and Mr. Avinash. They were always approachable and helped every time I was stuck in some problem.
Lastly, I would like to thank my recruiter, Ms. Jessica Johnson for the smooth onboarding process and for conducting various fun and engaging activities and meetings throughout my time here at TriNet Inc.
Human Resource or Human Capital Management is a vital function of an organization. Quantitatively speaking HR occupies 17% share in a company’s vital functions. TriNet solutions provides a well-rounded solution to a company’s human capital management activities. It provides solutions tailored and customized with respect to an industry and vertical e.g. Financial Services, Healthcare, Lifesciences etc.
TriNet has bundled the core HR products into one package called ‘Full-Service HR’ which cover the core services of HCM like handling payroll, benefits, risk and compliance and HR. TriNet tailors this package to deliver various HCM solutions according to the industry. Delivering HR in a unified solution is what makes TriNet one of the biggest player in the industry.
Founded in 1988, TriNet was initially headquartered in San Leandro, California which is now moved to Dublin, California. Being a PEO model, TriNet is an ‘Employer of Record’ responsible for activities like issuing payroll checks and managing federal, state and local taxes for its ‘employees’. Headquartered in California, TriNet has its corporate and sales offices present all over the United States. As of 2017, TriNet has processed $37 billion USD in payroll and has partnered with 17,000 clients and customers coming from various industries.
Preface of the Project
‘Market’ plays a very big role in growth of a company. Knowing the market thoroughly well provides a key to gain actual success in a company’s expansion. Before venturing into a market, a detailed market analysis is required. Market Analysis which involves looking into the potential market size both in terms of volume and value, reading and evaluating about competitors, coming up with a competitor’s landscape in the similar space and finally coming up with recommendations tailored to you company’s setup. Detailed market analysis paves a path for a good strategic growth plan for a company.
All the functions in Human Capital Management like payroll, benefits etc are reported e.g. Payroll via means of pay stubs, budget etc.; benefits via means of detailed list of health plans opted. These reports make it easier for HR personnel to view things at a glance.
Until recently, TriNet was partners with IBM Cognos ReportNet for the reporting purposes but in Nov 2017 it has launched its own reporting tool called Workforce Analytics. WFA is a reporting tool that is currently in the development phase and does mostly what is called as transactional reporting. Transactional reports like payroll stubs, benefits etc. can be viewed. WFA has dashboards which enable us to navigate through various reports available and create our own custom reports using an integrated tool called ‘Report Builder’. It has visualizations on the landing Home Page that give you a glance about various Key Performance Indexes like total FTE, No. of Hired Employees etc. so that it is easier to understand.
As we can already infer, human capital management systems / solutions deal with huge amount of data that gets generated on a daily-basis. But what happens with this data? Are we putting this data to its right and most efficient use? The answer in case of HCM is NO. ‘Big Data’ is the latest buzz word and has encapsulated many organization’s functions like: finances, retail, banking etc. Big Data and Analytics have seen its major application in financial domain where it is used to find trends, practices which help drive better business decision. But Big Data has not seen much innovation in HCM.
TriNet being a HCM solutions provider wants to venture into Analytics domain and want to utilize the advantages Big Data and Analytics offer and integrate into HCM domain. Next step for TriNet’s WFA which is currently only supporting transactional reports is to include HR Analytics. As mentioned earlier, before venturing into any new market a detailed market analysis is required.
My project during my internship was to carry out a detailed market research and come up with strategic recommendations for TriNet before it ventures into Big Data and Analytics for their HCM solutions and finding HR Analytics Opportunities for TriNet. I was responsible for carrying out various phases of a market analysis like: Current state of HR Analytics, Target Market, Market Need, Market feasibility, Competitor landscape, finding venture capitalists who invest in HR Analytics, the amount invested in HR Analytics, Go-To-Market strategies etc. to name a few.
Market Research and Strategy
Market Research and Strategy is a detailed process that requires to follow a framework and documenting every step of the process. This side of product development was new for me, but I was fortunate to have worked under a great mentor and a great team which was readily available and guided me throughout the process.
I was the part of the Workforce Analytics in the Platform Innovation team. Platform Innovation teams are focused on market analysis and strategy, go-to market approaches, detailed feasibility study etc. for various TriNet’s products and solutions.
As a Product Management Intern, I was on keen on understanding all these basics and bridging the gap between client / customers and the engineering team and laying out a product vision for the coming fiscal years. I started off my market research about ‘HR Analytics Opportunities for TriNet’ with understanding the state of Analytics in HR, the advancement and the level of maturity analytics has achieved, and the future scope and growth predicted with a quantifiable CAGR . I came across various articles, blogs and newsletters about how Analytics will revolutionize how Human Capital Management works and functions in next 5 years and how HR Analytics market is projected to reach a whopping 3 billion USD by 2022.
The next step in my research included a detailed and thorough study about the levels of maturity of HR Analytics i.e. the various phases in HR Analytics. I was also responsible for identifying various use case, KPIs in each phase and challenges associated with each of them to come up with a well-informed recommendation in the end.
I also carried out a comprehensive competitive analysis. I was responsible for coming up with a ‘Competitive Landscape’ which dealt with understanding various competitors of TriNet (PEO and Non-PEO model), their financials, their products and services, their pricing methodologies, their upcoming product strategies via various press releases, markets they are targeting and their advancement in field of HR Analytics. I categorised TriNet’s competitors like Insperity, ADP, Namely, Paychex etc. with respect to the maturity in HR Analytics domain. Competitive Landscape helped me to understand the real picture of advancement of HR Analytics and identify potential growth areas and opportunities which TriNet can capitalise on in coming up with a ‘Strategy Plan: 2019’.
Venture Capitalist Portfolio
After competitive analysis, the next step I worked on was to build a Venture Capitalists’ Portfolio. My job responsibilities included finding the biggest venture capitalists [see Appendix] who are or have actively invested in Big Data and Analytics. Gathering and understanding this was very crucial as the team did not have a holistic view about the investors and this information will be helpful later in future when devising a go-to-market strategy. I conducted various interviews with TriNet’s officials who have previously worked in different HCM solutions companies to get a personal view on the investors that they knew of, read various newsletters, tracked their investment activity via crunchbase and PitchBook and watched many podcasts of the ‘HR TechExpo 2017 San Francisco’. I identified and came up with a full-blown list of the biggest venture capitalists and tracked their investment activities with the funding amount invested in Analytics initiatives. I further narrowed this list to the investors who have invested or all looking to invest in HR Analytics. Building this portfolio helped me to get acquainted with the entire funding process that goes on before venturing or dwelling into an entirely new market, ‘HR Analytics’ in TriNet’s case.
Evaluating technical feasibility is a process of collecting, finding and identifying the technology stacks used and then mapping it with your organization’s currently used technology stacks. The next part I worked on was to find out and come up with a ‘Technology Landscape’ which comprised of identifying the predominant technologies used in various steps in Analytics and how they can be mapped to HR Analytics. I adopted the approach of research via example and hence identified one of the TriNet’s competitor for reference. I took Workday as my reference and did a detailed research about the Technology stack that they are currently using. I interviewed many industry experts within TriNet to get a personal view about the technology stacks that they knew of and recommend. I understood various factors that are important while choosing a technology or tool in every single phase of Analytics from Source Data to Model Execution. I recorded my findings and came up with a stack of my own tailored with respect to technologies TriNet works or deals in. Coming from a technical background, I believe preparing a technical portfolio from scratch helped me developing a well-round view point of what it takes before adopting a technology.
No part of Product Management Market Research and Strategy is complete without coming up with some real-life case studies. Case Studies help in contextual analysis and provide us with the real-life information giving us a well-rounded view point. A part of my job responsibilities included coming up with comprehensive ‘Case Study Modules’. For Case Studies, I focused especially on the up and coming start-ups in the field of HR Analytics. I took the examples of companies like Gusto, Namely and ADP in Human Capital Management and created a detailed case study portfolio covering their journeys in HR Analytics, the challenges they faced, VCs who have invested in them with every round of funding amount, key people in the company, their roadmap in reference to HR Analytics, the level of Analytics maturity they are aiming in future etc. Case Study formulation method will help TriNet to have a clear idea, close to real industry standards, about its close competitors and identify gaps and potential growth opportunities.
After carrying out a detailed and comprehensive Market Research, the final leg was to recommend a go-to-market strategy for TriNet’s WFA. Creation of a go-to-market strategy requires an understanding of pros and cons of various go-to-market strategies options like going to market by either ‘building a product’, or ‘buy’ or ‘partner’ with a third-party vendor. As a part of TriNet’s ‘Strategy Plan: 2019’, I created a go-to-market strategy finding proper channels to deliver the HR Analytics product to the end customers; laid out a detailed plan evaluating economical, technical, resources feasibility of adopting any of the above three mentioned options. The go-to-market strategy will help provide TriNet the competitive advantage it needs in HR Analytics market.
Working as a Product Management Intern this summer with TriNet was indeed an enriching and a remarkable experience. I have always been a product management enthusiast and this internship with TriNet taught me various intricacies of the same. My projects during summer internship were so well-rounded and brilliantly designed that they taught me so many aspects of Product Management which would have been impossible to learn via the means of classroom courses.
I dealt with many facets of Product Management like: Market Analysis, Competitive Landscape, Venture Capitalists’ Portfolio, Technology Landscape, Case Study Modules, Go-to-market strategies etc. Understanding how Big Data and Analytics in HR will help drive better business decisions, various KPIs important to Human Capital Management domain and prioritizing with respect to the organization’s products and solutions. This internship taught me how to drive a product from its inception to realization, what steps are involved and how to go in-depth with all different phases. This internship laid a very good foundation in my career as a Product Manager.
TriNet has a very definitive 5-year strategic plan and to have worked as a Product Management Intern for a company which is at a cusp and will be growing manifolds by launching many products in coming future was indeed a very fulfilling experience. I am very thankful to my team who were readily available whenever I needed them and guided me along the way and to everyone who was a part of this wonderful journey here at TriNet. Overall it was a wonderful summer and a great experience.
1. PEO: Professional Employer Organization; it’s a model of employment under which the employer outsources it HR functions like payroll, benefits etc. and become a part of the PEO company thus making them ‘employer of record’ of taxes and insurance purposes. This is also called co-employment model.
2. IBM Cognos ReportNet: It is a software product by IBM used for creating standard, ad-hoc and custom reports.
3. Key Performance Indexes (KPIs): It is a quantifiable value which helps in determining how close an organization is to its defined objectives. KPIs vary from organization to organization.
4. Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR): It is the measure of an investment’s annual growth rate.
CAGR formula = (final investment value / initial investment value) ^ (1 / no. of periods) -1
5. Venture Capitalist: A venture capitalist provides funding to small businesses and start-ups who do not have access to equities market and in return ask for stake in their companies.