Headcount planning
Hiring Manager

IonQ accelerates earnings growth with a data-driven headcount planning

increase in hiring velocity
est. annual cost savings
IonQ is on a mission to build the best quantum computers to solve the world’s most complex problems. Behind the scenes of this ambitious mission is Dean Kassman, Vice President of Engineering at IonQ. Dean's mandate is clear: hire world-class talent in multiple engineering disciplines, build the world’s best quantum computers, and do it all within tight budget guidelines to protect profitability. In this story, you’ll hear about why Dean and his colleagues at IonQ ultimately gave up on manual headcount management, including how much time, money, and energy it was costing them. You’ll also see how a connected platform provides the visibility and workflows they need to shift priorities quickly, make better headcount decisions as a team, and hire great talent on time and within budget.
No single source of truth for headcount
Lack of trust in headcount data
Inaccurate headcount forecasts
Uninformed headcount decisions and missed opportunities to adjust headcount plans

IonQ (NYSE: IONQ) is a publicly traded company, so they are committed to delivering value to their shareholders. They’re also an engineering-led company, meaning IonQ’s number one investment is its world-class team of physicists and engineers. 

Dean is charged with providing leadership for this talent, in order to maximize the company’s ability to deliver financial performance, and ultimately, value to IonQ’s shareholders. Simply keeping track of the plan, let alone delivering on his mandate to hire great talent and hit ambitious operational goals, brings challenges.

No single source of truth for headcount

Deans’ biggest challenge stemmed from the lack of a single, reliable source for headcount data, which led to inefficient and siloed processes relying on spreadsheets. Consequently, he regularly spent far more time than necessary reconciling headcount information. 

Dean wasn’t alone. Headcount planning and management requires detailed collaboration between executives, hiring managers, Finance, Talent, and HR. Dean was working closely with his Finance business partners, Omar Hamade and Jessica Hocken Allen, on a regular basis to attempt to wrangle headcount plans, measure budget impact, and accurately forecast future headcount and headcount spend. 

But without a single source of truth for headcount, they were struggling. Despite how much time they were spending on headcount, they all felt disconnected from operational reality. They were working out of different spreadsheets that had to be manually updated and carefully shared, so as not to share sensitive information with the wrong people.

They ended up with copies of copies, lengthy email chains for approvals, and other inefficiencies that dragged on productivity. 

Headcount planning is a costly process

It’s no secret that Dean’s time is valuable. So is the time of hiring managers within engineering and other departments, and the Finance and Talent business partners who were guiding the process. 

For the average company of IonQ’s size, overhead costs for headcount planning can reach over $1 million a year, just to run the process!

In addition to costs, there are other major consequences to manual headcount planning:

  • Lack of trust in headcount data
"It was always wrong. The more we would dig into the sheets, the more we would find mistakes and errors." – Jessica Hocken Allen, Finance BP
  • Hiring too fast, or too slow, and not meeting the needs of the business
"There was confusion around who owns what because transparency was lost." – Omar Hamade, Sr. Finance Manager
  • Inaccurate forecasts
  • Uninformed headcount decisions and missed opportunities to adjust headcount plans
  • Six-figure costs in lost time and unapproved headcount spend
"We want our teams to run lean, which means our Executives, Hiring Managers, and Employees are all time constrained. We can't spend valuable time on the everyday details of hiring – that is very low ROI work that should be automated. ” – Omar Hamade, Sr. Finance Manager

Dean was fed up with constantly feeling the process was complicating the amount of time and effort required to hit his hiring goals on time and on budget. After a few discussions with Omar and Jessica, they went out looking for a better way to plan and manage headcount.

Our solution

In December 2022, IonQ turned to TeamOhana’s Headcount Planning Platform to streamline IonQ’s  headcount planning process. Dean, Omar, Jessica, and the entire IonQ team now have greater visibility and control of the process and can work together in a collaborative workspace purpose-built for headcount planning and management.

Improving accuracy and visibility in a single source of truth

The first thing that IonQ did was connect its HRIS and ATS, plus upload their existing headcount plan, to make TeamOhana the single source of headcount truth. With these integrations set up, Dean and other budget owners no longer rely on Finance business partners like Omar and Jessica for the most up to date headcount information. 

"It removes us [Finance] from the process and gives ownership back to the hiring and reporting managers."  – Omar Hamade, Sr. Finance Manager

The entire organization can access information for both current team members and future headcount at any time in TeamOhana, and they can visualize it in a variety of ways. This includes a dynamic org chart, hiring tracker, and budget tracker. 

Where they used to have to log in and out of systems, download and reconcile data, then share it out in multiple spreadsheets, now IonQ’s team can simply login to the platform, which automates headcount reconciliation and unifies data in an easy-to-use interface.

"Our original process using spreadsheets led to errors and confusion. With TeamOhana, we have a single source of truth, eliminating mistakes and ensuring accurate information." – Jessica Hocken Allen, Finance BP

Workflows to streamline headcount planning

With a single source of headcount truth, IonQ’s headcount planning process could then become much more agile and efficient. 

The Finance team, after setting the annual budget, assigns budget envelopes to budget owners like Dean. He is then empowered with a custom and private environment to build his bottom-up headcount plan within the set budget. IonQ’s compensation bands, leveling framework, hiring locations, departments, and initiatives all are housed in TeamOhana, which enables him to move quickly and see corresponding budget impact as he goes. 

Dean, and all managers, can also see his team’s org chart, where he can visualize both current team members and future headcount and all of their key attributes. This helps him make informed decisions around org design, span of control, and leveling as he builds new headcount plans.

But Dean and his colleagues can’t plan alone. They need input from hiring managers, as well as Finance and Talent partners to ensure the plan is actionable and achievable. Unlike the challenge of trying to collaborate in spreadsheets, TeamOhana built collaborative features into the platform to drive more effective teamwork.

Unleashing collaboration between all headcount stakeholders

When Dean is ready, he invites collaborators to view and contribute to his plan. Typically, this would include Omar in Finance, Rebecca Demarest (Talent BP), and all of his hiring managers. But this is not like sharing a spreadsheet, which has no access controls, no audit trails, and no easy way to track all the comments. 

Instead, each collaborator sees only what they’re supposed to see, and can give feedback directly. Along the way, Dean and his collaborators can see all of the changes and feedback because everything, including the budget impact, is tracked in the Changes tab. 

Additionally, as Dean’s hiring managers build or modify their own plans, they can leave comments on the plan or on an individual headcount. Any user who is “@ mentioned” in a comment will be notified and will also see the comment on their TeamOhana home page, so the comment never gets lost and always has context within the larger plan. 

Together, Dean and his team can now build the strongest and most informed headcount plan possible.

"TeamOhana allows us to collaborate across departments and make informed decisions. We can easily see hiring plans, trade requisitions, and understand the impact of each hire on the budget." – Omar Hamade, Sr. Finance Manager

Bringing transparency for agile decision-making and smart org design

IonQ can also modify plans and adapt faster to changing business needs. Although Dean has an approved plan, he often needs to replan when a new initiative comes down the pipe. 

Thanks to real-time visibility in the TeamOhana Hiring Tracker, Dean can see the exact status of every approved headcount in his plan. He doesn’t need to ping the recruiter to find out if an offer has been sent or find out a start date from a hiring manager. 

Most importantly, he doesn’t need Finance to tell him how much headcount budget he’s used and how much he has left. This information, along with a real-time projection of the budget variance, is automatically reconciled and made available to him in TeamOhana.

In addition, IonQ’s headcount stakeholders can get “View” access into other hiring managers’ plans so that they can understand the hiring plan and org structure of other teams. This is important for executive leaders like Dean, who need to work with other execs and contribute to the overall design of the org so that it’s set up to achieve the company’s objectives. 

It’s also valuable for hiring managers, who are now empowered to “horse trade” headcount between each other and design the best plans they can, before sending it up the ladder for approval.

“I am now able to get a quick view of other leaders’ plans and suggest swaps when it makes sense. Those conversations can now happen more easily thanks to the visibility in the platform.” – Dean Kassman, VP Engineering

Finally, in the TeamOhana Dashboard, every IonQ user with the right permissions can also see headcount analytics and insights that are not available in any other platform, including their HRIS, ATS, and financial planning system. These live insights include effective headcount, annualized salary burn, attrition rate, hiring pace, and much more—all made available to help IonQ make strategic, cost-effective headcount decisions at the right times.

"With TeamOhana, we can easily re-forecast and adjust headcount plans. This flexibility allows us to respond to market demands and strategic initiatives, ensuring responsible growth." – Jessica Hocken Allen, Finance BP
Key workflows

Approval Desk

Rather than rely on back-and-forth email chains, which often lose context or get lost altogether, IonQ now uses the TeamOhana approval desk. The platform’s powerful process orchestration streamlines complex cross-functional approvals so that hiring managers get new plans, modified plans, and incremental headcount requests approved within the platform. Every headcount includes a detailed audit trail so no information is ever lost.

1-click job creation in Greenhouse

Thanks to TeamOhana’s integration with Greenhouse, recruiters are able to see all approved roles assigned to them and open the job directly into the ATS without any duplicative work. All job details, description, and compensation are automatically transferred over. As hiring progresses, TeamOhana pulls in updates so that hiring managers and Finance folks have complete visibility.

Headcount reconciliation

IonQ’s team used to spend hours reconciling headcount spreadsheets to get an accurate picture of the existing team and the hiring plan. Now, they login to TeamOhana and review the real-time tracker. TeamOhana syncs and reconciles the HRIS and ATS data automatically into a format that the Finance and Talent teams can use to do their jobs more efficiently and make better decisions.

"We didn't realize how much time we were spending just reconciling spreadsheets until we didn't have to do that anymore." – Jessica Hocken Allen

Bottom-up Planning

With TeamOhana, the Finance team sets the budget for the year and gives out the envelopes to each budget owner. The budget owner can then create different plan scenarios while seeing the fiscal impact of their plans. This gives ownership for planning back to the hiring managers and executives, reducing the workload on the Finance team and empowering the entire organization.

Impact & results

With TeamOhana, IonQ’s team now makes data-driven headcount decisions that directly affect their ability to hit technical targets on time and drive higher revenues.

In fact, according to their August 2023 press release to announce Q3 earnings, IonQ had met their technical targets seven months early, brought in a record-setting $28 million in bookings in Q3, and increased their earnings forecast for FY23 by 33%.

  • 2X increase in hiring velocity
  • 75% reduction in manual spreadsheet updates
  • $594K est. annual cost savings – $236K of time-dollar savings + $358K of unapproved headcount spend

Single source of headcount truth 

  • 100% compliance on budget-impacting changes approved in the system
  • Real-time hiring plan status for budget owners

Saved time for Finance, Talent, and hiring managers

  • Over 80 hours saved monthly
  • 75% reduction in manual low value work
“For me, it's a tremendous amount of time savings, definitely in terms of the low value work, making sure that the data is up to date and not needing to crosscheck a lot of different sources.” – Dean Kassman

Cost-savings for the company

  • 6-figure savings in unapproved headcount costs
  • Accurate forecasts and predictable budget variance
"By eliminating manual work and providing ownership to teams, TeamOhana saves time and reduces costs. Teams can make cost-effective decisions, and we can better understand the impact of headcount on the overall budget." – Omar Hamade
increase in hiring velocity
est. annual cost savings

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