Blend reduced their Finance and Success team’s reporting time by 50% with unified data
Blend uses Hightouch to send contract and product data to Asana and Slack to help their Services team stay on track
Blend’s Finance department is able to close out service team books four days earlier, cutting the team’s financial reporting time in half
The Operations team merges data sources together to provide powerful, business-wide data analysis
Hightouch enables alignment between teams and tools, driving better alignment and impacting Blend’s bottom line
Blend's Data Stack:
Reverse ETL: Hightouch
Warehouse: Amazon Redshift
SaaS Tools: Salesforce, Marketo, Asana, NetSuite, Lever
At Blend, velocity is vital. Founded in 2012, the fintech startup has undergone a rise to prominence in the banking software space, announcing their IPO in July of 2021. In the last year alone, Blend enabled financial services firms to process nearly $1.4 trillion in loan applications, handling an average of more than $5 billion in transactions every day.
On the face of it, Blend’s vision is simple: to re-architect banking software around the consumer. Customers move fast and increasingly expect their bank to provide a customer experience in line with the service offered by other disruptive, digital-first applications and businesses. But delivering that experience and agility requires massive internal coordination – something that is central to the roles of Ryan Dunlap and William Tsu.
Ryan and William work on the Customer Success Operations team at Blend. Their team’s purpose is to build out large, innovative business systems to enable the business to move quickly: whether that involves Salesforce, SQL, Databases, or Asana.
From its inception, Blend had adopted a modern data stack approach, with Redshift at the core of its analytics operations. Getting data into and out of the data warehouse, however, was another challenge entirely.
The convoluted approach to data ingestion was costing the team time and money. Pulling just a single column from Salesforce or changing a field could take the team weeks, limiting access to time-critical data. Without the ability to prototype and rapidly iterate, the team had to release straight to production to be able to test their solutions – creating more headaches for the operations team. And with rapid expansion came the onset of new tools to manage workflows and processes, like Asana, Marketo, or Lever. Each of those tools also required data to be synced inside them to be more effective.
For Blend – a business built on agility – any level of slowdown was unacceptable. With the data engineering team’s limited bandwidth, they did not have the capacity to expand their scope to maintain a rapidly expanding list of SaaS platforms. William and Ryan faced a decision: commit to in-house tooling, or look for external providers.
William and Ryan laid out clear criteria for their decision-making process when assessing ELT and Reverse ETL solutions:
Ease of use:“How easy is it to use, in particular in the context of velocity?"
Connector support: What connectors do these products support? If they don't support the tools that we're using, then they're not really what we're looking for.”
Infosec requirements: “Very important because we're a financial technology company. For any tool that we use, we need to be able to store the data within our own country. You can have as many bells and whistles as you want, but if you don't support that paradigm, we just can't do it, full stop.”
Alerting: “When things are down, do I have the ability to troubleshoot to know why things went down? Is there a team that supports us to get it back up? Alerting is definitely key. Having an audit trail when something goes awry is pretty important.”
From an operations perspective, Ryan was looking for a tool that was self-serve and would allow the team to deploy rapidly, with little to no dependency on data engineering.
Fivetran was a clear frontrunner for Blend in handling the extract, load, and transformation process. When it came to Reverse ETL, Hightouch’s impact was immediate and transformative. The Hightouch debugger and Slack integration are now used by the Blend team to understand when the Reverse ETL process has failed, enabling a greater degree of trust in data accuracy across the board.
One area of the business that has benefited from access to reliable data is the finance team. Before Fivetran and Hightouch, mandatory revenue calculations would take up to seven days.
Thanks to Fivetran and Hightouch’s Asana connectors, Blend’s finance team is now able to holistically monitor and enforce time entry, understand project timelines, and ultimately close out services team financial reporting in three business days, where it previously took up to seven. The Professional Services team – responsible for integrating Blend’s solution with banking customers – is now equipped to better forecast capacity, allocate resources, and make staffing decisions based on historical data.
Blend operationalizes their Asana data using Hightouch’s Slack integration. Members of the Professional Services team are automatically reminded via Slack of upcoming deadlines (based on the task deadlines in Asana), and potentially erroneous deadlines are also flagged. Since senior management isn’t checking Asana regularly, major project milestones are automatically communicated in Slack on completion of key Asana tasks, which provides visibility to leadership and helps them know when to get involved.
The process of creating net-new pipelines used to take Blend’s engineering team up to a month; the Blend Operations team estimates that the self-serve process now takes the Enablement team just under three working days, and time to modify existing pipelines has gone from an estimated two days to just a minute. Before Hightouch, Blend didn’t have the ability to create new pipelines out of the business – but modifying existing Hightouch pipelines now takes a few days.
Historically, Asana data was siloed within the platform. If teams wanted to connect project timeline data to Salesforce, they would be forced to manually copy fields and values between the two. Rather than being forced to context switch between tools multiple times throughout the day, data is now shared between the platforms. “Our Professional Services Team lives in Asana, not Salesforce. To provide them with the data they need, we pull that Salesforce data into our warehouse via Fivetran, and Hightouch pushes from the warehouse straight into Asana,” says William.
By connecting contract data from Salesforce with hour logs from Asana, the Blend team can accurately assess the holistic ROI of projects – understanding where the business over or under-serviced an account, or even predict shortfalls in staffing before they happen.
The ability to connect product data to Salesforce data using Hightouch is also vital in ensuring visibility between teams and establishing the warehouse as the single source of truth that all teams can access in their tools of choice. If a customer is trialing a new feature within the platform, that information can now be persisted to Salesforce, giving sales and customer success teams a clearer picture of account health and activity. This also encourages Sales and Customer Success to work together, as a sales rep can’t close an opportunity until they actually see the product usage flag updated in Salesforce.
By driving adoption of the product, the enablement team is able to efficiently increase the business’ bottom line.
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