Flexible attitude: How FlexiTime is helping employees get paid right with Azure

 |   Microsoft New Zealand News Centre

In the age of flexible work, remote workforces and regulatory change, ensuring employees get paid right is a major challenge. Kiwi SaaS business FlexiTime has captured the zeitgeist, providing seamless, reliable workforce management solutions for payroll, rostering and contractor management, all built using the power of Azure. It has big ambitions to become the platform of choice for freelancers and employers, making it easy for workers and businesses to find their perfect match (without the payment headaches).

If there’s one thing all businesses have in common, it’s payroll. No matter what their size or core business, all organisations need to ensure their workers get paid correctly – and mistakes can be extremely costly. With more and more people choosing to work flexible hours, and Holidays Act changes on the horizon, ensuring every cent is fairly accounted for has become increasingly challenging for Kiwi companies.

Wellington-based FlexiTime has been helping businesses navigate the labyrinth of payroll for 12 years. While payroll is relatively straightforward for salaried employees who work consistent hours, the FlexiTime team quickly identified that there was an opportunity to work with businesses with variable-hour, part time and casual workforces, helping them manage timesheets and calculate leave correctly.

Leave calculations have proven to be a major challenge for businesses of all sizes. Even government agencies and large organisations with dedicated finance teams have struggled to interpret the rules correctly, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid out to cover employee holiday underpayments.

Many payroll software solutions still don’t get it quite right in every situation, because the default approach is to accrue leave based on the hours (or days) worked by an employee, or the standard hours of work agreed when the employee first started. This means that when an employee’s work pattern changes, they may no longer receive their entitlement to 4 weeks’ annual leave each year.

In 2017 the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment released updated Holidays Act guidance that specifically discouraged this approach.

FlexiTime quickly decided to incorporate the guidance into the design of PayHero, their new NZ payroll system.

As Robert Owen, Chief Executive of FlexiTime says: “Our mission is to make sure employees get paid right.”

Getting the right amount of flex

The breakthrough for FlexiTime was making the decision to store leave balances in weeks, rather than days or hours.

That may seem like a small distinction, but it means that PayHero calculates leave correctly not just for employees who work traditional 40-hour weeks, but for the increasing number of staff who work flexible hours, too.

Flexibility is baked into FlexiTime’s products – it’s in the name. Over the years since its first product launched, the world of work has changed dramatically, with flexible work becoming a core component of almost all businesses.

Changes to software standards and products meant FlexiTime’s own platforms needed to evolve as well. In 2017 FlexiTime took the opportunity to diversify its offering, rebuilding its original payroll system from the ground up, this time future proofed on Azure’s cloud stack to take advantage of ongoing upgrades and scalability.

The legacy FlexiTime app was split into three new products. Whereas it had once provided payroll, rostering and invoicing in a single system, FlexiTime took the opportunity to remove complexity and build more targeted products, two of which had global reach.

PayHero, a New Zealand payroll solution, Invoxy, for invoicing and contractor management, and Droppah, for rostering, were born.

Best of breed in workforce management

PayHero calculates and automates payments for employees, allowing staff who work on an hourly basis to record their timesheets across different work and cost centres. There’s even the option to capture exact start and finish times using an app that enables photo clock in and clock out at the door, or using GPS stamping from the employee mobile app. When it comes to processing payroll, it’s as easy as a click of a button.

While the PayHero platform is New Zealand-focused, Invoxy is aimed at the growing global external workforce, allowing contractors to record time worked, while allowing employment agencies to create automated invoices and see a unified view of their extended workforce’s productivity, revenue and costs. The ability to see this data for each contractor at a glance removes the headache of matching invoices against time recorded, and ensures that all time is approved before being invoiced.

FlexiTime also introduced Azure tools such as PowerBI to enable employers to draw insights from work patterns and enable easy reporting.

Says Robert: “We now offer customers the ability to connect to Power BI reporting alongside our standard offering. This tool has also been useful to our own internal teams, in order to monitor key metrics across the business. We asked ourselves, why are we developing our own tool when we could just use best of breed software?”

Microsoft helped train the FlexiTime team in making the most of cloud technology and software, advising on further refinements that would deliver the best for customers.

“Microsoft has been amazing in terms of helping train our staff in Microsoft technologies and providing advice. There’s a lot of new technology out there and Microsoft has been really helpful in demonstrating best practice and making it really easy for our team to learn,” adds Robert.

“Azure also offers best-in-class security, which is hugely important, to ensure the privacy of employee data. Those employees own their data, and they need to know it’s safely stored. And of course, the database can scale as our company grows.”

Conquering the world of work

For FlexiTime, no longer managing virtual machines has made system management a breeze, and Azure provides best-in-class security and scalability.

PayHero is now used to pay 60,000 employees across New Zealand, while Invoxy is now used by 11,000 contractors around the world. Their success has enabled FlexiTime to venture into new markets, seeing the opportunity to help organisations with scheduling as well as payments.

New app on the block Droppah provides a real-time view of whether staff are in, on break, or working overtime. Droppah’s AI-powered auto-scheduling can build an optimised roster with a few clicks, adjusting for skills, availability, wages and other requirements, ending the need for complicated spreadsheets or paper systems.

Taking Flexi to the next level

FlexiTime has been around for a long time in software terms, but it’s only getting started.
Building on the global success of Invoxy, FlexiTime is turning its attention to helping companies build an extended global workforce of highly-skilled freelance workers, recognising the massive growth in remote and flexible work spurred by both Covid-19 and generational change.

It’s building a new workforce management solution that gives the contractor and employer the tools they need to work together and ensure that contractors are being paid accurately for time worked. The goal is to create a global network effect, to make it easier for people to find reliable work as well as reliable workers.

“Contractor management is a very exciting area at the moment,” adds Robert. “Businesses have got used to working with employees remotely and they are looking to improve processes and leverage technology to access skilled workers in other countries. That means contractor management software’s moment has come.”

“We see contractors and freelancers as a crucial part of the future of work, in all sectors. This new product will make sure that all of those workers get paid right, and give peace of mind to managers who are contracting their work out.”

Robert is excited about the possibilities, even enabling payment using cryptocurrencies (something else FlexiTime is exploring).

“Payments have traditionally been through bank transfers, leading to loss of value through currency conversions. We predict payments in crypto are going to grow hugely,” he says.

This dedication to innovation hasn’t gone unnoticed, being recognised with a Highly Commended at the Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards in the Emerging SaaS category.

“As the world is moving quickly to more flexible ways of working, FlexiTime really is a Kiwi SaaS company for our time,” says Matt Bostwick, Partner Director at Microsoft New Zealand. “The FlexiTime team has an incredible vision to help freelancers and employers worldwide make contracting fair and payroll easy, enabling employees everywhere to get paid right. Their recognition at the Microsoft NZ Partner Awards was thoroughly well-deserved, and we can’t wait to see where they go next.”


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