Start-up human resources and payroll system ERMLive has got off to a great start after launching in New Zealand in March and has already signed contracts worth over $1 million, says its chief executive, Donald Hastie. Christchurch-based ERMLive secured a big Australian customer in its first year, 2005, and developed the original application for that customer. That customer has since implemented the system in Melbourne, Scotland, India and Singapore. One of the benefits of the application is that it is a multi-geography payroll solution, says Hastie.
“It doesn’t matter what country you are in — we can configure the application to process that country’s payroll and HR requirements,” he says.
Hastie was sidelined as a director of PayGlobal in a management revamp in mid-2005 by the controlling shareholders, Wellington investors Infratil and No. 8 Ventures. When he left PayGlobal he felt he had some “unfinished business” in the HR and payroll software space. He started developing the employee relationship management application in 2005 and it has turned into the HR and payroll solution he had always dreamed of, he says.
Now the plan is to take the software to the global market, leveraging the multi-lingual, multi-currency and multi-geographical capabilities of the system. Hastie’s goal is for ERMLive to be a $100 million company within five years.
After establishing the system in the local market, Hastie plans to target the Australian market. He has already based the development centre and helpdesk in Australia, in order to start building a culture over there, he says.
The success of the company, and how quickly it has developed, is “beyond my wildest dreams”, he says.
The modular ERMLive is a fully integrated system which includes payroll, recruitment, health and safety, training and development and performance management — all the parts you would expect from a comprehensive HR application, he says.
It is a strategically focused HR application, of which payroll is a significant part, rather then being a traditional payroll-focused system, he says.
ERMLive is built inside Microsoft CRM and is fully integrated with the Microsoft stack. Microsoft has been very supportive, in every step of making his dream reality, he says.
With five staff doing the core development and a development partner in India, Hastie runs a lean operation. The code is very low-maintenance, he says, because it consists of only 12,500 lines of code. “We haven’t changed our core processing code for the last nine months,” he says.
The team is primarily configuring the application for clients, not necessarily building code anymore, he says.
He puts this efficient code down the opportunity he had when he left PayGlobal, when he could start again, “with a blank whiteboard”, he says.
He had all the experience and knowledge from growing PayGlobal from one person to 150 staff, and from implementing systems for around 800 customers.
There was also no pressure of having to satisfy an existing customer.
“Freedom, experience and Microsoft tools — that combination is pretty hard to beat,” he says.
ERMLive customers include the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, Intergen, ASP Ship Management, P&O Maritime, NZ Correspondence School, Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Wellington Institute of Technology, Loyalty NZ and Westland Co-operative Dairy Company.
Support and service are provided by partners Intergen and HR Solutions.