How Finance and Ops Teams Are Making Data More Useful With Zenefits

March 1, 2016


FiscalNote is building a platform that allows organizations to better plan and execute their government risk strategy by leveraging real-time legislative and regulatory data, as well as cutting-edge machine learning analytics. As Fortune recently wrote, FiscalNote is aiming to use its software “to predict the future of law,” augment human predictions and, save businesses from needless worry.

Internally, FiscalNote also mitigates human error in its own operations. “As we grew, we found more compliance matters to take care of, and we recognized that it wasn’t something we could hire a full-time individual to do,” says Mike Stubbs, Senior Director of Operations. “As issues became more complex and larger in quantity, the driving force was to automate.”

Integrated, Automated, and Centralized HR

When Mike joined FiscalNote, the company had nine employees and no HRIS. As the organization entered the double digits, it became difficult for Mike to focus on his strategic work. Mike remembers the early days of HR as “a lot of awkwardly photographing documents with phones and stringing them together in a Google Drive folder.” He’d log into several disparate systems, go through a painfully manual process, and use Word templates to send out offer letters. He found life unnecessarily manual… until he found Zenefits.

“The problem with a lot of startup companies is they don’t have an ERP or HRIS, and therefore the experience can be very disjointed,” adds Rob Bailer, FiscalNote’s Senior Director of Finance. “Zenefits solves this problem by giving an HRIS to a small company and having one source of information.”

With FiscalNote tripling its staff over the past year, the company is no longer small. There’s a lot more employee data to manage, and Zenefits collects it all in one place. FiscalNote now onboards new hires in minutes—not hours—and the data is automatically cascaded. “From allergies to emergency contact info, I can’t imagine having to aggregate all that without an HRIS that puts it where it needs to be,” says Mike. “I don’t even have to tell someone to bring their ID anymore. It happens naturally through automation.”

Mike and Rob keenly understand that information is only as useful as it is accessible, and Zenefits makes employee data more useful. “It’s a really smooth platform,” says Rob. “It doesn’t feel like the clunky old systems that people are used to dealing with.” Adds Mike: “If employees want certain documents, they’re accessible to them—whether that’s an execution of an exercise form, medical, 401K, or the handbook.” It’s not just employees who favor the central repository; Rob and Mike frequently refer to employee documents—like offer letters and employment history—as they build the business.

A Stock Options Tool for Savvy Employees

While Mike and Rob enjoy the overall efficiency of the HRIS, there’s one feature that stands out as indispensable. “We have a lot of very savvy folks here, and we leverage the stock options tool,” says Mike. “We did one round of exercising options before the tool, and I can’t even tell you how difficult it was.” Now, even employees who frequently exercise their options create no additional work for Mike. He no longer has to send off DocuSigns or handle any money. “It’s one and done,” says Mike. “During onboarding, I identify the equity allotment and the vesting schedule, and then I hit go. Zenefits takes care of everything else.”

Rob is also a big fan. “The expense reporting tool for stock options is a really, really cool tool. It’s flexible, but it’s done 90% of the work for you. Being able to get info into excel is very nice. I’ve never seen a tool that spits out a spreadsheet like that.” He plans to use it for an upcoming audit. “It ties into our financials all the way down to the source documents, and it’s going to save us a lot of time.”

Focusing on the Future

The sheer absence of paperwork saves the company a couple hours a week. Employees can change their information and seek out answers directly through the Zenefits HRIS, eliminating questions and tasks that used to fall to Mike and Rob.

Now, Mike is able to focus on company culture, performance reviews, and hiring processes, while Rob zeroes in on financial analysis and growth strategies, rather than manually aggregating compensation information and stock option exercises. “At the end of the day, everything that’s within the HR world for employees exists within Zenefits,” says Mike. “And we can just point to it.”


Jeremy "Sprout" Brautman is a writer, problem solver, and big fan of growth. When he's not trying to solve problems to help small businesses grow, he can be found developing amenities to increase occupancy at his urban Ladybug Hotel.

Category: Small Business Success Stories

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