How IonQ uses GRID to support strategic decision-making
IonQ is ready to tackle the world’s most complex problems. Founded by Dr. Chris Monroe and Dr. Jungsang Kim in 2015, IonQ is at the forefront of quantum computing, firmly committed to developing a revolutionary technology that has the potential to change the world.
We spoke with Jordan Shapiro, IonQ’s Vice President of Financial Planning & Analysis and Head of Investor Relations to find out why he thinks GRID is the perfect tool for collaborative analysis.
Prompting action-oriented conversations
Jordan describes GRID as a “key drawing board” for IonQ’s management team. He initially introduced GRID to IonQ two years ago as a tool to assist in navigating major decision-making processes related to taking the company public.
A core function of FP&A is to report out to the rest of the organization so that we can make strategic decisions informed by our financial data.
After constructing and sharing a complex financial model with his team, Jordan noted that the tactile nature of the GRID model was highly beneficial in leadership meetings. Since GRID makes it easy for viewers to switch back to the original scenario at any time, executives could re-orient their thinking based on the preliminary model and still feel confident about manipulating variables on their own.
Through interactive exploration, IonQ’s executive team was able to arrive at a deeper collective understanding of the different scenarios at play in the model, along with the implications of each. This alignment also had a positive impact on the efficacy of team meetings, where communication became distinctly more collaborative and action-oriented.
GRID was a key tool for allowing us to decide what to do and it allowed our leadership meetings to be less informative, and more collaborative. We were able to quickly build intuition around our financial models, which saved us time to focus on more strategic topics, like fundraising.
The financial model created for this case was in fact the end-product of multiple GRID documents created over the course of more than a month. GRID’s flexibility as a tool facilitated the iterative process required to update scenarios and account for changing needs over time. The resulting model “accomplished the goal of giving the executive team everything we needed at once,” Jordan explains, and the dwindling number of requests for further analysis was a key sign indicating how well the model was serving its purpose.
Supporting strategic decisions
Another important use case for GRID at IonQ centers on supporting candidates and new employees in understanding their offer packages.
IonQ’s recruiting team uses a GRID-built equity calculator to present and explain specific compensation scenarios to incoming candidates. The tool addresses a commonly-voiced need for further explanation as candidates attempt to fully understand the package’s extensive offerings. “Often,” Jordan says, “offers can appear complicated since they may include base salary, potential bonuses, and equity packages.”
With the offer calculator, IonQ’s recruiting team can guide new employees through the variables interactively, change sliders and input fields to create show scenarios, and empower candidates with knowledge that had previously seemed inaccessible. This strengthens the candidates’ position during negotiations and clarifies the exact value of the assets IonQ offers. “You really want to communicate this to your candidates so that they appreciate the full value of what you're giving them,” Jordan explains.
At the same time, the calculator saves recruiters at IonQ a significant amount of time and energy, making it easy for them to create customized scenarios for each individual.
…we used to take a lot of calls to explain equity packages – and in part because we've delivered this calculator to the recruiting team, and in part because we've provided it to candidates, we don't see as many of those calls happening. So that's a big benefit to our team’s time.
GRID has played an important role in helping to explain equity to new employees at IonQ. As a result, they’re joining the company with greater confidence in the compensation they can expect to earn.
Keeping high-achieving teams informed
A third case where GRID helps teams at IonQ better align behind the numbers comes in the form of an interactive pricing calculator. In order to accommodate the highly specific needs that arise in an emerging field like quantum computing, the sales team at IonQ needed a solution with the flexibility to make occasional updates to their pricing structure.
The sales calculator that the team is currently building with GRID works to simplify the communication of a complex pricing model and keeps the team apprised of important developments. Perhaps most importantly, the completed calculator will act as a powerful tool to help the sales team explain potential deals and relate costs to individual customers in the terms that are most relevant to them.
Customers vary in how they want to talk about the quantum compute capacity they are buying – we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our sales team to go sell.
Discussing the building process, Jordan relates: “the pricing model started as a large model in Excel, and then we built a GRID calculator layer on top of it to make it really easy for the sales team to go articulate to the customers what they're getting.”
By illuminating a complex and evolving set of variables with GRID calculators, IonQ’s sales team is keeping at the forefront of an exciting field.
Anticipating multiple futures
With a steadily increasing number of his team members building with GRID, Jordan anticipates that IonQ will have several GRID projects to develop in the near future.
Asked if he sees other use cases for GRID at IonQ, Jordan’s response is immediately affirmative: “Definitely.”
We provide monthly reports to our CFO and CEO and that's a great opportunity for GRID as well. Today, the report comes in the form of a Google doc that collates multiple spreadsheets from our accounting and FP&A teams – combining them via a GRID document would make it easier to adjust every month.
GRID’s strength as a reporting tool is particularly relevant for CFOs, people working in financial planning and analysis, and potentially in any department where there is a need to visualize spreadsheet data, add narrative, and share it with other teams across the organization.
Jordan takes particular note of how effective GRID can be in reducing the chances of human error in reporting at IonQ, saving team members time and effort, and tying numbers and narrative together in a way that’s helpful for people. “Currently,” he explains, “our reporting documents require a lot of manual effort to tie together numbers from Excel and narrative from Word – that could be much better done in GRID.”
So where does GRID really set itself apart? According to Jordan, GRID particularly shines in cases where complicated decisions need to be made, and where all of the variables are known – but due to the multitude of those variables, it’s necessary to discern which are most important, and by extension, which scenarios matter the most.
Another area of excellence? With a defined model to be shared and discussed, GRID is an ideal means for spreadsheet experts (members of finance teams for example) to present such models to non-experts in other departments in a friendly, accessible way.
The best option for sharing with non-experts is not to have a spreadsheet where they might accidentally break it or they have to open it in Excel in order to use it – the best way to do it is to populate it into a web browser via GRID and send it to them as a calculator or a model wrapped with narrative.
As a final comment on how his team feels about working with GRID, Jordan shares that many on the team have been pleasantly surprised. “The reactions we get from the team are excitement and amazement when they see the tool – and relief” he reveals. “That's the type of reaction you're only going to get with a GRID document and you’re not always going to get with a static Excel or PowerPoint. That dynamic use of the numbers is something that everyone benefits from and it's only getting better and better.”