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SmartHR makes HR simpler for Japanese companies by replacing spreadsheets and paperwork with a user-friendly online solution. When SmartHR was founded in Japan in 2013, onboarding and offboarding employees was a tedious process, especially since employers had to apply for social insurance and healthcare on behalf of employees using a process that had not yet been digitized. Today, SmartHR delivers massive savings for companies across diverse segments from high tech to retail by decreasing the time to complete HR processes like employment contracts down from one month to just 1-2 days.
After catering its initial offering to startups and small businesses, SmartHR is expanding its business to serve more enterprise customers. As Vice President Product Marketing, Masaomi Takahashi is responsible for devising, releasing, and driving adoption for new add-on products like online contract management and HR Analytics. In this role, Masaomi faces two big challenges — gathering insights from diverse product feedback sources and keeping a large group of stakeholders informed about new feature releases.
Product managers at SmartHR receive a large volume of competing feedback from different sources. Organizing and making sense of that feedback is a big challenge. Although SmartHR’s software replaces HR spreadsheets and paperwork with a sleek online solution, spreadsheets used to dominate their product management process. The 45-person team of product managers, engineers, designers, and customer support staff used a spreadsheet to capture feedback and a weekly stakeholder meeting to discuss and prioritize features.
Masaomi decided to look for a better solution — a platform that would do for product management what SmartHR was doing for HR. When he discovered Productboard on Product Hunt, he immediately found it familiar. “It was easy for me and the other product managers to visualize our current workflow, replicate it in Productboard with minimal effort, and see that it would be better.”
“It was easy for me and the other product managers to visualize our current workflow and replicate it in Productboard with minimal effort.”
Now they can easily gather feedback from anywhere using the Productboard inbox, label it according to feature, customer segment and customer impact, and easily reference it when making prioritization decisions. “Being able to funnel everything from Intercom, Slack, emails, direct meetings with customers — all of that was why we started using Productboard,” said Masaomi.
One of Masaomi’s key values as Vice President of Product Marketing is delivering a product that users want. This ethos has helped make SmartHR so popular with end user employees and HR professionals that when management at one company tried to cancel their contract, their employees protested.
By funneling and organizing feedback through the inbox, Productboard helps SmartHR better understand and address user pain points. Product managers can look into the direct feedback and quickly make decisions about how to make the product better. “One dramatic change for us is that we have become a lot more efficient when making decisions about new features since consolidating insights in Productboard,” said Masaomi. “Whenever we want to make a decision about a feature, we have tons of customer feedback from different segments and different channels so product managers can look at the product feedback in Productboard and quickly make a good decision.”
“Whenever we want to make a decision about a feature, we have tons of customer feedback from different segments and different channels so product managers can look at the product feedback in Productboard and quickly make a good decision.”
Additionally, SmartHR’s product managers can have more confidence that they are building the right solution. “I like to figure out what the underlying pain points are for users,” said Masaomi. “Users will say they want a feature to do this or that, but often that’s not what the user wants — they want a solution to their problem.”
“One dramatic change for us is that we have become a lot more efficient when making decisions about new features since consolidating insights in Productboard.”
In addition to the inbox, Masaomi uses the Portal to showcase the new product to internal stakeholders in sales and customer success. The Portal makes it easier for product managers to communicate vital context and save time by having a single place they can direct internal users looking for more information about a feature or release. “Product managers now don’t have to spend as much time communicating outside of Productboard” said Masaomi.
“With Productboard, product managers don't have to spend as much time communicating outside of Productboard. They can just look into the direct feedback and make quickly make quicker, faster decisions about how to make our products better.”
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