This is our fifth 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 sat down with Ashik Ahmed Co-Founder and CTO of Deputy a Sydney based scheduling, time and attendance, and performance management solution.
The story behind Deputy
Deputy was co-founded in 2008 by Steve Shelley and Ashik Ahmed based on their work at an Australian airline ground services company owned by Steve – Aero-Care. At Aero-Care Steve and Ashik developed an in-house system that focused on the scheduling of their staff and according to Ashik “saved the company millions of dollars in wages and administration overhead”. Following Steve selling Aero-Care the pair founded Deputy in 2008 to commercialise their ideas.
Ashik explains the high level vision of the system:
“We realized that every system has to start somewhere in doing something trivial and then adding the value on top, hence our first job was to make sure we build an accurate attendance system with effective rostering and time-collection. Once the employee is there for their shift, a process should be there to tell them what they are going to do (tasking and todo). On completion of their shift, we will do some performance review for them on the day.”
Today Deputy is a comprehensive platform covering rostering, time & attendance while leveraging the current trends in social, mobile and cloud technologies.
Currently most of their 1,500 customers have between 15 to 1,200 employees in the industry segments of Healthcare, Retail and Transportation/Distribution. However they have no specific industry focus and according to Ashik “the ideal customer would be a small business where managing people keeps the owner up at night”.
Early on in their development they realised that to run their own SaaS infrastructure would require significant expense in data centre technologies and skills. As such Deputy is 100% hosted on Amazon Web Services using an impressive selection of Amazon’s product offerings. Australian customers are served out of Sydney, and USA/Canadian customers are served from California.
A look at the product
Deputy is offered in two version – Regular and Enterprise. Both products are based on the same code base giving customers the ability to scale up without any need for data conversion. However there is a requirement for professional services to implement the Enterprise product due to the additional complexities.
The Regular product has the functionality needed by small businesses for Rostering, Time & Attendance and Communication supported by basic award rule interpretation.
The Enterprise product provides advanced features expected by the most complex of organisations – including rostering, costing, budgets, clock in and off, fatigue management, pay rule interpretation, employee communication, and standard operating procedures. Additional functionality can be created by Enterprise customers through their open API and DeXML Scripting (Deputy XML) language.
The functional scope of Deputy is
- Basic Employee Information
- Timesheet Collection
- Task/Todo delegation
- Mini Performance appraisals
- Journals for recording activity
- Pay calculation
Deputy has out-of-the-box support for many payroll systems including chris21 KeyPay, MYOB, Xero, Meridian and CSV files for other payroll systems.
In line with their focus on leveraging newer technologies they have Deputy Kiosk, an iPad app where employees log in using a PIN to start and stop shifts or meal breaks, see their tasks, read announcements and set their preferred working hours.
Deputy also provides a comprehensive mobile app allowing managers to see who’s working, make announcements, create tasks and contact or replace missing people. Employees can complete all relevant activities from their phone including but not limited to clock on and off, indicating availability, and completing tasks.
Architecturally Deputy runs a single code base with individual databases for each customer. Those interested in the complete setup can read Ashik’s blog post and Amazon’s case study on the Deputy setup.
Deputy is a good example innovative development coming from Australian start ups. With a team of 13 people they have built an impressive product offering.
The Deputy user interface is clean and modern looking, taking inspiration from consumer tools.
One of the impressive aspects of the system is their open API and the DeXML Scripting (Deputy XML) language. With DeXML customers can extend the Deputy offering to cover feature gaps. For technically focused people this will allow your organisation to build fully functioning custom HTML5 web applications on top of the Deputy application.
However organisations looking to use Deputy need to be aware of a few potential pitfalls.
For many organisations their Basic entry product will struggle to meet the complex award interpretation needs. As such we would expect organisations above 100 employees to need the Enterprise version, however this of course depends on their award conditions. That means in additional to the pricing on the web site you would need to include professional services as part of your setup costs.
In addition the workforce management sectors is very crowded at the moment. We track over 20 “best of breed” vendors in this segment currently operating in Australia, and Deputy will need to continue to innovate. Doing so using organic growth can be tough when you are facing off against well funded competitors such as Kronos, RosterOn, Workforce Software/RosterLive and Comops.
Overall another good example of a locally built HR technology platform.
Disclosure: Workforce Software/RosterLive is a customer of Navigo Research.