Using PeopleGoal, PAVIR has been able to roll out a custom performance evaluation app that has turned a complex, multi-step process into an easy-to-use, automated workflow.
The Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research (PAVIR) is a not-for-profit research organization based in California. Its team of +200 Principal Investigators divide their time between veteran-focused research and patient care. PAVIR’s research - conducted by its team of world-class scientists - is often carried out in collaboration with leading institutions such as Stanford University, and research topics span everything from PTSD and trauma, to the health benefits of yoga.
PAVIR’s HR Manager, Nora Thomas, joined the organization in 2014 to oversee the entire HR remit. One of her first projects involved transitioning PAVIR from manual HR to technology and automation.
Using PeopleGoal, Nora has been able to roll out a custom performance evaluation app that has turned a complex, multi-step process into an easy-to-use, automated workflow - something that has since received positive feedback from across the organization. Here’s Nora's story.
HR processes at PAVIR were largely manual prior to Nora joining, and the organization had only one HR technology solution that was failing to meet organizational needs. This had created high levels of complexity and administration which was not only time-consuming and arduous for Nora, but also frustrating for PAVIR’s researchers who resented the administrative burden that came hand-in-hand with performance reviews.
Adding to these challenges was the fact that PAVIR is based in California, a state known to have especially stringent employment laws. TriNet, the incumbent technology solution that Nora had inherited, wasn’t sufficient to ensure compliance and protect PAVIR from legal liability. As Nora explains:
I knew it would be impossible to ensure legal compliance without moving to a different HR tech solution. There was simply too much complexity and given most processes were still manual or part-manual, I had no complete view of the bigger picture.
When it came to running PAVIR’s annual performance reviews, Nora was experiencing significant challenges:
I was living in a spreadsheet nightmare and it was made all the more complex because the majority of our Principal Investigators are self-employed. It was like managing 80 different companies at once - all without the requisite technology to support me. To say it was arduous and work-intensive would be an understatement.
Worse still, PAVIR’s existing performance processes were failing to engage its Principal Investigators and had become a tick-box exercise that delivered little value:
I would go as far as to say most of our Principal Investigators hated the performance review process we had before. It was adding to their workload in terms of administration, yet not delivering any meaningful benefits in return.
Shortly after joining PAVIR, Nora oversaw the implementation of HRIS and payroll solution, ADP. While this served to solve many of the pre-existing challenges, it still didn’t give Nora the ability to map performance reviews against compensation data - something she says was a must-have.
I realized that we’d need a more nimble solution for the performance management side of things and I was set on finding a solution that would enable me to compare performance review data against compensation data. That was a key thing I had to have.
Nora began her search for a performance tech provider in 2019, reviewing a total of 5 vendors before deciding to engage with PeopleGoal.
Nora connected with PeopleGoal Founder & CEO, Nikolaos Lygkonis, at a time when the platform’s version 2.0 - an industry-first HR app engine for SMEs - was still in beta testing. Intrigued, Nora wanted to know more - an interest that later led her to become the first customer on PeopleGoal’s 2.0 platform.
I hadn’t yet found a solution that could link performance reviews to compensation data but when I broached this, I was surprised by PeopleGoal’s ability to make that happen. Ultimately the team delivered on exactly what I needed. That really blew me away - it’s very much a platform built on customer feedback.
The ability to modify or build completely custom apps in minutes was also a key factor in Nora’s decision to engage PeopleGoal 2.0 over other providers:
Being able to customize reviews in line with specific job roles was very appealing to me. I could see the potential to create really relevant experiences because the platform can be configured to ask specific questions to certain groups but not others - it’s completely customizable in that way.
Talking about the key benefits being seen to date, Nora says that previously painful processes have been resigned to the past:
The time-consuming, multi-step processes that I used to deal with are no more and I now have a one-step solution. That delivers huge efficiency savings. On top of that, I can also customize the solution to ensure performance reviews are relevant for our Principal Investigators.
Using PeopleGoal’s ‘Reviews’ app as a starting point, Nora has also been able to add custom supervisor assessments and compensation evaluation steps using the no-code workflow builder. The platform’s flexible user relationships model automatically assigns the relevant managers, supervisors and other stakeholders to an employee’s review, so there’s no manual follow-up or tracking down of who needs to complete what.
Using the configurable profile templates, I was able to map our entire employee database from ADP into PeopleGoal with one upload. The employee profile fields are then automatically linked to the performance review which makes the individual employee compensation data easy to see and use right within the evaluation itself. That’s exactly what I’d wanted to achieve.
Another big benefit according to Nora is PeopleGoal’s ability to stay relevant, irrespective of employee job role or seniority:
It works for everyone - from the CEO right down to junior researchers.
Building upon this - and central to her goal of delivering better performance experiences - Nora has been especially pleased with the feedback from Principal Investigators:
Now that we have PeopleGoal onboard, the entire review process is much easier - both for me as the HR Manager, and for our Principal Investigators. Feedback so far has been really positive and that’s not something we’ve had before.
Nora also loves her new-found ability to view employee self evaluations side by side with manager evaluations. She explains that this makes assessments easy to compare, which has helped to increase visibility and understanding:
This is the star I’d really been shooting for and it’s another example of how Nik and the PeopleGoal team delivers a solution that satisfies my specific needs and wants. This side-by-side comparison unlocks a much deeper level of understanding and visibility.
Elaborating on her experience as a PeopleGoal customer, Nora says she was surprised by how quickly a partnership evolved between herself and the PeopleGoal team:
The way I work with PeopleGoal is very much a partnership. They’re clearly very capable of listening to feedback and using that to shape and develop their solution in line with customer needs. Most big companies aren’t nimble enough to do this so that’s been a really pleasant surprise for me.
To learn more about PeopleGoal’s HR app engine for SMEs and how it can support engagement, development and performance in your organization, please get in touch with our team - we love talking about this stuff.
Company: Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research
Industry: Healthcare, Research