Aussie SaaS offering helps small businesses with people management

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Aussie SaaS offering helps small businesses with people management
Managing Director Adrienne Unkovich said that in April 2006, her company identified a gap in the market: small businesses had little access to information in the employment relations client space.

“The difficulty for small businesses is that they’ve got so many hats on, how can they be experts in client and employee relations?”

Unkovich set out to create a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that allowed customers to manage their employment relations. Customers create employees and attach documents, notifications and events to each employee account.

The program offers contract- and letter-writing wizards, event trackers which notify managers about upcoming events like probation reviews, and a database of all documents relevant to each staff member. It contains over 1600 pages of employment relations content, with extensive information about how to handle employees – from hiring to dismissals.

From its launch in November 2007, Workforce Guardian now has 120 customers in every state and territory, representing 30 different industries, with client companies ranging from one employee to 600.

Customers pay a flat annual subscription fee, which accommodates businesses of any size.

“We don’t charge a fee per contract, or a fee per user: we want people to use the product, not be afraid of the costs,” said Unkovich.

She cited the example of a firm that grew from 17 staff to 88 over the course of a year.

“The chief financial officer was able to quadruple their staff levels without hiring additional accounting or HR staff," said Unkovich.

Even experienced managers were seeing the benefits of Workforce Guardian.

“One of our clients in Melbourne said that he created 24 new employment contracts in four hours – and usually he could create four," she said.

Unkovich herself had worked in the HR industry since 1987, so she was able to contribute her knowledge to the software’s framework. The company also has employment relations experts on staff, and all employment advice is verified by Joe Catanzariti, an employment relations lawyer from Clayton Utz.

When there are legislation or common law changes, Workforce Guardian notifies its customers. Clayton Utz are then brought in to ensure that the website is compliant with the changes.

“In many ways, we provide a compliance product: we enable small businesses to comply with the relevant legislation at any point in time, in a cost-effective manner,” said Unkovich.

Unkovich said that the website was designed with business clients in mind. “We’re reaching out to people who want to handle events, be compliant with the law, and properly manage their people – but don’t know anything about contracts or employment legislation.

“We’ve tailored our language to make it easier to read. Our contract-writing wizards don’t refer to sections of legislation; instead they refer to outcomes or requirements. We don’t dumb down the matter, but we don’t use needless jargon either.”

The biggest challenge for Workforce Guardian in the future was raising awareness, said Unkovich.

“In the year ahead, our challenge is to create an awareness that this type of service is available, and cost effective. We want people to know that businesses can manage themselves with this type of tool," she added.
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