How Oportun merged two cultures with Coda

Ron Hanna, Vice President of Technology Operations at Oportun, shares how Coda helped simplify a merger—and brought two disparate organizations together.

Ron Hanna

Vice President of Technology Operations, Oportun

How Oportun merged two cultures with Coda

By Ron Hanna

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Merging with category leadings savings app Digit was an easy decision for Oportun, helping the fintech company boost its AI expertise. But mergers are rarely straightforward, especially when the two companies had very different ways of working. Oportun used a wide variety of tools for individual jobs. And with a sea of spreadsheets and software, they were in a deep documentation silo.

The Problem: So many tools, so little time.

Mergers are rarely straightforward. And, when fintech Oportun acquired category leadings savings app Digit, the two companies had very different ways of working. Oportun used a wide variety of tools for individual jobs. With a sea of spreadsheets and software, they were in a deep documentation silo. Digit, meanwhile, used just one platform—Coda. “​​Digit ran basically everything from the platform,” says Hanna. Despite overlapping tooling and data-sharing strategies, the situation changed when the companies experienced an explosion in organic growth. Recognizing the advantages of org-wide adoption and seeing the need to address security and administration gaps, the team at Oportun worked with the Coda team to close those gaps and ensure a secure environment. This collaboration led to a realization of the benefits of enterprise-wide adoption, and efforts were made to find a solution to the associated costs.

The solution: One platform, one culture.

Organic adoption

“We didn’t press Coda, we just made it available—and everybody adopted it, both top-down and bottom-up,” says Hanna. “I had never seen something like that before. Documentation is sometimes considered a necessary evil. People don't want to do it unless they're forced to. And so to see people just pick up and adopt a new tool speaks volumes to how easy it is to use Coda.” Not only that but people actually wanted to invest in their knowledge of the tool and started asking for more advanced training. “‘I want to be a Coda super user’ was something we heard a lot,” says Hanna. “Coda has this cool factor. It has a certain cachet compared to other tools.” And it’s not just the technical teams that quickly hopped on board. The company’s strategic sourcing team, which is based in finance, successfully conducted an entire proof of concept on Coda, covering stakeholder feedback, documentation, demos, and more.
As Senior Director of IT Operations Danny Gray explains, “Looking at the platform's landscape, the system administration process has seamlessly empowered our staff to evolve into adept "Coda Super Users." Often, the onboarding journey with a new platform or service incurs hidden costs associated with the time invested in deployment and configuration. Remarkably, with Coda, this rollout has proven to be exceptionally smooth and hassle-free, standing out as one of the most effortless transitions we've experienced.” Hanna adds: “You don't need a two-year degree to set up a Coda page. Other tools have more friction and a greater barrier to entry. I've seen some wild stuff, where people who don't even code have stretched the boundaries of what a singular Coda doc can do.”

One tool to rule them all

Coda has replaced two SaaS tools already with multiple additional tools up for review. It has literally paid for itself.
With anyone able to design the solution they need in Coda, the platform has quickly consolidated many of Oportun’s tools into one. “It’s replaced our OKR software and product planning tools—plus gave us space to create templates for documentation and decisioning,” says Hanna. “Now we’re in the process of moving our wiki and data documentation platforms to Coda, too.” Keeping the work inside Coda is a win for the customer, as it makes tasks easy to share and keeps everything in a similar format. But it also avoids additional admin and costs for Hanna’s team. “It means we're not having to manage all of these different apps, while the icing on the cake is when you can take the cost reductions to the CFO,” he says.

Creating a shared language

Now that people are sharing information in one place and one format, Oportun can work in a more aligned way. “We're using Coda to create common frameworks for decision-making,” says Hanna.
Templates are a big thing. For me, that’s the magic of Coda. There’s a shared language that we now have in how we make decisions and discuss things.
Asynchronous collaboration across the teams is flourishing, with more people commenting on each other’s work, tagging other team members, and using Coda to drive meetings. It’s also helping them work more flexibly, with people using Coda documents to iterate in large groups. “Coda is a way into culture and collaboration,” says Hanna. “It’s a way to drive more velocity around that.” By helping people get aligned, work together, and co-create a new culture, Coda has played a key role in helping the two companies merge smoothly. “We went from not knowing the platform, to a rapid sea change with the adoption of Coda,” says Hanna. “And now we’re all in.”

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