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How Tractable ramped up onboarding while scaling their business

Tractable develops artificial intelligence for accident & disaster recovery. Their AI looks at photos of damage and predicts the damage and cost measurements. This then accelerates settlement, quickening recovery from the incident and positively impacting people’s livelihoods.

Tractable was co-founded in London in 2014, motivated to take AI breakthroughs to the real world. Since then they’ve grown their customer base internationally across 5 countries and grown their team to over 90 people, with offices globally.

They started using Personably just after their Series B fundraise, of $20 million.

People operations is a bit of everything

We spoke to Gio, the Head of People Operations at Tractable, and Athina, the People Operations Associate. Between them they handle the variety of responsibilities that make up People Ops at Tractable.

As Gio said, “People ops includes a lot of things. Everything that previously was classed as ‘HR’ but also it’s recruitment, a bit of legal, contract, a bit of everything.”

Feeling like part of the team from the first day at Tractable

It’s important that the new hires get to know as many people as possible, “and feel like part of the team from the very beginning,” Athina said.

“We really want them to get what we’re doing here at Tractable, the product we’re building, and actually understand the impact of their work and how they add value from the very first day.”

“Obviously you learn more as you go but to have that great understanding from the start is a big deal.”

Case by case works until you scale

Gio joined Tractable when the team was just 15 employees. “There wasn’t really any onboarding then you know, people were just given a laptop.”

As the team started to grow by a few employees each month, Gio started creating an initial process. “The week before a new joiner would start I’d go to the line manager and ask, ‘what do you want this person to do?’ and then I’d make it happen. I would set things up myself, it was a case by case approach without much structure.”

In July 2018 Tractable closed their $20 million Series B, Athina joined the people team and the volume of hiring quadrupled from one month to the next. They started to develop their process for onboarding into something that could scale with the company.

Athina explained: “First, we put together an onboarding pack - covering the people you’ll meet (with photos), how to book holiday, rooms and a big map of where in the world our customers are. It guides you through your first weeks at the company.”

They also started using Personably to help them provide a more structured onboarding for their new employees. “Every role has its own set of sessions that new starters attend in their first three weeks. It’s typically more codified and they’re always with the same people and at the same time in the week,” said Gio. “It’s very different from when I started. Increasing the volume of hiring means you have less time to spend putting together onboarding on an individual basis.”

“At the same time everyone else is getting busier,”Athina added, “we have more offices so it’s harder to coordinate everyone's schedule and make sure all the sessions align without using some automation.”

“Personably helps a lot because we’re hiring people for similar roles and actually having everything on the platform in one place and using the same sessions makes a big difference,” Athina continued. “It helps us coordinate and makes sure we don’t miss anyone, or any sessions.”

Previously when they were handling this manually it was easy to miss a session and never realise unless the new joiner mentions it. “But even then, they’re not always aware of the sessions we have, unless they’re scheduled.”

Using feedback to improve the process

Having a more structured onboarding process at Tractable has been well received by the new employees. “We get very positive feedback from the new joiners about the sessions and the whole process,” Athina told us. “It’s what we spoke about earlier, they get this understanding of the company from various perspectives, they see how things work, they understand the values and our mission right from the beginning.”

Gio added, “feedback from employees has helped us a lot in improving the process too, we must have changed that onboarding pack 10 times based on what people told us.”

For Tractable it’s really important to have things set-up in advance. It shows employees that they care about their people and “that they’re being looked after. That’s the most important thing about onboarding.”

Using Personably to do this, “helps companies makes sure onboarding sessions are scheduled in a time efficient way,” Athina said. Gio added, “it’s not just time-saving, it’s time-efficiency, it cuts a lot of inefficient things like back and forth with people.”

Growing their team and customers

Since Athina joined, Tractable have doubled their team but also expanded their customers in new regions. “We’ve just opened up a new office in Tokyo, and have two more planned in Europe,” Gio told us. “We might need another process for people not based in London.”

Athina told us that, “more people internally will start being a part of onboarding.” With a set group of people running the sessions they’ll start to expand this list and bring in more team members.