Scaling a success

Bringing award-winning innovation to a “boring” business problem

The Company

Employer Services Ltd (esl) is a leading payroll company that works with some of the best-known UK organizations, providing them with bespoke payroll, HR and payment solutions. It prides itself on using the latest technology to deliver a high quality and cost effective service.

As a high-growth company, with ambitious targets for expansion over the next few years, they identified an opportunity to expand their market beyond their larger corporate customers.

Starting from the proposition that “Payroll is boring” (which no-one is disputing!) they asked us to come up with an innovative concept to allow people to manage their payroll with one-click, and deliver a cloud-based self-service solution which they call esPay.

Our approach

We started the engagement with two workstreams: one focused on strategic innovation, the other a platform migration and development project.

The ability to approve payroll whilst on the move could help take the pain out of the process.

Part 1 - Mobile Innovation

Businesses large and small need a simple, manageable payroll system. The ability to approve a payroll run, wherever the responsible executive might be, could help take some of the pain out of the process.

Traditional payroll systems involve eyeballing large tables of very dry information. We wanted to know if we could distill this down to the essentials, and bring it to a manager's smart phone.

We worked with esPAY's business team to brainstorm some ideas, and test them for the kinds of person we'd expect to target.

We then worked up the best ideas into complete user journeys, wireframes and full-fidelity designs, and testing again with our user personas.

Finally, we built a prototype iPhone application which was so impressive it won the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals Award for Innovation!

Part 2 - Migrating to the Cloud

esl already had a tried-and-tested desktop application for payroll. So, we started by carrying out a full technical, architectural and performance analysis of this solution to understand where we were, and how we could take the system towards a cloud solution.

HMRC Recognition Scheme is of paramount importance

A key part of any financial system is accreditation by the relevant regulatory authority - in this case, HMRC. Payroll calculations are complex, multilayered, and change every time the tax regime is altered - from basic rate tax, to maternity / paternity leave, sick pay and adjustments.

In order to ensure that any system we built was robust and effective, we worked with esl's payroll experts to define a comprehensive set of executable business specifications that cover all of HMRC's scenarios - including their validation test suite.

With those in the bag we could migrate the code from a classic “Windows Forms / Code Behind” design, to a modern, layered cloud application architecture, confident that our changes would pass muster.

espaypayroll multichannel

The result

We delived a complete, HMRC validated payroll system within three months from concept to delivery. We also improved the scalability of the system by more than two orders of magnitude, while running on the same hardware.

Not to mention an award-winning mobile application that brings genuine innovation to a “boring” business problem.

In August 2014, PaySuite was acquired by Intuit and will be integrated into QuickBooks Online, which has over 1.7 million users worldwide. endjin is very proud to have been involved in this journey.

endjin were the perfect partner to help us to realize our payroll innovation programme.

Not only did our project deliver on-time and to-budget (which is not the industry standard), but we have continued to develop our partnership. A year or so down the line they continue to advise me, and I plan to work with them in the next stage of growth, including the creation of PaySuite which is the next evolution of the esPAY product family.

Stuart Hall

Managing Director, esl

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