Reroute in Progress: Challenges to Drive Adoption through Product Led Growth
Imagine this: you have a big pitch to a client and have to hop on a flight to get there. Right as you get to the airport, your flight is canceled. You already experience a light headache; instead of preparing for your meeting tomorrow, you’ll now need to spend hours on the phone with the airline to rebook.
Navan is business software designed for people, built to make business travel and expense easy, seamless, and stress-free. It can handle everything related to travel, corporate cards, and expense management, from rebooking flights to automatically submitting expenses to the right cost center. Thousands of customers, all over the world, trust Navan with their team’s business travel.
Zoran Kovačević, Senior Director of Product Management at Navan, inherently understands the importance of building a seamless product for Navan’s users. He leads the Admin product, which covers onboarding, user management and integrations.
“The Admin product is all about getting your employee data in and out of Navan to run an analysis such as, ‘How much did this cost center spend?’ Getting high-quality data ingested is extremely important to Navan, since more people in the platform means more of a revenue opportunity. To do this, ingesting data has to be done in the most frictionless way possible.”
There were various methods the team considered in pulling data, including manual uploads, secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), or integrations. When they considered the ultimate goal of being as frictionless as possible, they decided integrations would be the best approach.
Five years ago, the Navan team started developing HRIS integrations based on customer requests. However, Kovačević began to question whether managing and creating integrations was a productive use of developers’ time and the scalability of building integrations in-house.
“When we came to the third or fourth HR integration, we were like, ‘What are we doing?’ This doesn't make sense. We don't want to maintain all of these things.”
Customer Demand for Integrations
Yet these integrations couldn’t be ignored. Customers were constantly asking Navan’s sales teams whether Navan integrated with various HR systems. Navan’s sales team would then pass these questions along to Kovačević and the Admin product team.
As Navan began to move upmarket and sell to larger companies, customer demand for integrations grew, as manual uploads would be unfeasible. Unfortunately, Kovačević and his team could not develop and manage every integration required due to developer constraints.
Navan wanted to increase product-led growth by making it as frictionless as possible for admins to onboard employees to Navan.
To do this, they needed:
- HR integrations at scale
- High quality and accurate data
- Low-touch, guided, onboarding experience
Three questions remained. How can Navan drive product growth by:
- Building and managing HR integrations at scale?
- Ensuring high quality, accurate data was being pulled into the Admin product?
- Developing a low-touch, guided, self-serve process for Navan customers to seamlessly connect their HR employee data to the Admin product?
The Destination: Integration-Powered Onboarding with Merge
With the growing pressure to support integrations, the Navan team made a swift decision to move forward with Merge to solve its integration challenges. Merge was able to offer 30+ HRIS integrations. Kovačević, who was part of the evaluation process, felt that, “Merge stood out in its perceived simplicity at that time, was well documented, and had a great team.”
To validate its hypothesis that integrations would improve its self-serve process, Navan rolled out its HRIS integrations, powered by Merge, to newer, smaller customers. They proved out success in 12 weeks, which enabled Navan to introduce integrations to its larger customers.
Feature Spotlight: Field Mapping
Navan ran into a challenge when pulling in cost center data from each HR platform. This data was crucial in allowing Navan customers to easily group together trip costs from the same department or project for finance and reporting purposes.
The conundrum was that Merge’s default Common Models don’t cover every single data field that a customer might need and “cost center” was one of them — and cost center data can be configured differently by each Navan customer.
Luckily, with Merge’s Field Mapping feature, Navan was able to map “cost center” into Merge’s Common Model easily. Field Mapping can also be configured by Navan’s customers, creating a seamless self-serve experience.
According to Kovačević, “Field Mapping allows our customers to override our default mapping with how they define ‘cost center’ using Merge’s simple UI. If the customer skips it, then it defaults to how we have mapped ‘cost center’ to Merge's Common Model.”
Merge’s API gives Navan the flexibility to customize Common Models in a way that makes sense for their use case — in this case for cost center. Field Mapping is a key feature that Merge offers to solve custom use cases.
Jet Setter: Complete and Accurate User Data, Thanks to Merge
Navan is now able to accurately and automatically pull in 100% of user attributes data after powering its HRIS integrations with Merge. Here’s how Navan’s partnership with Merge produces results:
Integrations unblocked sales deals: Conversations with prospects weren’t held up anymore by the common question if Navan integrates with an HR platform. Merge offers 30+ HR integrations that pull in employee data into Navan’s product.
Developers can focus on the core product: Developers’ time can now be spent on building the admin product rather than building and maintaining integrations.
Integrations pull accurate employee data: With a Unified API, employee data is continuously synced and normalized. An admin doesn’t need to do any data transformation and deal with outdated data when reporting travel expenses by employee, team, department, and/or project. There are no more manual uploads, risking inaccurate data due to human error.
Seamless self-serve user onboarding: As Navan grew, its team couldn’t have every single customer onboarding experience be high-touch. Navan built a custom page to introduce Merge to their end users before Merge Link appears. Merge Link is a drop-in UI friendly component that Navan has embedded into its product as part of the onboarding process. By following a few guided screens, authorizing an integration between Navan and an HR platform has never been easier.
Navan’s business continues to grow in a rising market, as business travel is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13%, topping $1.8 trillion by 2028. Navan’s partnership with Merge enables it to meet this demand. Kovačević sums it up best: “Merge should make you and your end users’ lives easier: less work in building multiple integrations, real-time data syncing, and accurate data.”
Just like how Navan used Merge to make their customers' lives easier, businesses can leverage Navan to make business travel and expense management less of a headache. Now instead of stressing on how to rebook that flight, you can focus on jet setting and closing that deal.