A new post in our vendor profile series focusing on HR Technology vendors who service the Australian market allowing them to talk about their products and what’s coming up.
Disclaimer: Navigo Research works with many different vendors across the Australian marketplace – we also provide our own frank opinions. This is NOT a paid advertorial nor should it be seen as an endorsement of a particular vendor.
This time I am catching up with Ari Kopoulos National Sales & Marketing Manager for EmployeeConnect, to discuss their product and some of the technology trends they see in the Australian market.
Who are EmployeeConnect?
EmployeeConnect have been in the Australian market for over 15 years starting in 1998. They were one of the first vendors offering Employee Self Service and Workflow tools for HR.
Today they have over 280 customers with 22 staff across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Over the years the leadership team has undergone a couple of changes, today EmployeeConnect is led by Co-Founder Craig MacDonald also the organisation’s Chief Technology Officer.
EmployeeConnect has evolved from being a primarily on-premise business to now having 60% of its customers using SaaS/hosted offerings and constantly growing. “The take up initially was slow for end to end HR solutions. But this is now changing as the arguments around security & performance are being resolved.” says Ari. This is supported by our recent research that found less than 1% of organisations are using SaaS for their core HRIS. Ari indicated that they still encounter organisations that have staunch, ‘NO CLOUD’ policies, again something Navigo Research also sees in the market.
The Product Offerings
While EmployeeConnect does not target a specific industry they do have two distinct product offerings depending on your HR/Payroll needs:
EmployeeConnect have always provided a workflow engine to support the enablement of HR processes. Ari feels that “workflow has & always will be a strong element of EmployeeConnect’s value proposition. The ability to configure & customise processes based on client specific business rules is still quite unique in the marketplace.”
EmployeeConnect offers functionality across various areas of core HR, all supported by their workflow technology.
It should be noted that EmployeeConnect do not have their own payroll engine, instead they partner with several well known payroll vendors here in Australia and New Zealand.
Like a majority of the industry EmployeeConnect have also invested in an analytics platform. They have built a set of dashboards and reports based on MS SQL Reporting Services and Dundas data visualisation tools.
The Future Direction
EmployeeConnect release product updates every 6 months and minor patches and bug fixes on a monthly basis. They are currently working on version 3 of their HR offerings. Ari told us that HR V3 is currently in Alpha testing with full release expected in November 2013.
A key feature in HR V3 is the ability for clients to edit their own workflows native within the administrator’s toolkit, removing the historical reliance on EmployeeConnect Consultants undertaking this work.
Following the release of this product they will be upgrading their existing mobile offerings including more traditional HR processes. Their current offering ECanywhere, available on iOS, only extends the decision making of high volume transactions to mobile devices.
EmployeeConnect is also in the process of assessing the integration of their products with established social media platforms. However Ari said this will only take place where they can see clear value being added to traditional HR processes.
EmployeeConnect has been offering browser based HR solutions for longer than most other vendors in Australia. This has provided them with a good understanding of how to deliver workflow enabled HR services on the web.
EmployeeConnect do not have their own Payroll engine, instead they have an open integration approach and formal partnerships with several well adopted payroll vendors. This gives them the ability to bring workflow enabled HR functionality to organisations without the expensive and time consuming process of replacing your payroll engine. This approach introduces additional integration and complexity into your HR Technology landscape. Our research has also shown that organisations using a separate payroll solution to that of their main HRIS are overall less satisfied with their payroll solution.
Again like many vendors EmployeeConnect are also facing architecture challenges with a portion of their customers using on-premise versions of their product with others embracing the cloud. This will be further emphasised when they release HR V3 and need to migrate their on-premise customers to the new version.
EmployeeConnect has taken the approach of using a specialised data analytics tool instead of building their own. We are seeing this as a trend in the market. Local vendors who OEM a specialised tool tend to deliver a better analytics toolkit to their customers.
The delivery of workflow enabled HR process is a key component to helping HR departments become more efficient in their HR Service Delivery. This efficiency can create the necessary available resources to allow HR to begin focusing on the higher value add tasks around talent management. EmployeeConnect are well placed to assist organisation achieve these goals.
Disclosure: I have previously been both a customer and an employee of EmployeeConnect.