Big ambitions for payroll system

Last updated 08:43 08/12/2008

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PayGlobal founder and former chief executive Donald Hastie has sold his 42 per cent stake in the award-winning software firm to other shareholders in the business, three years after he was sidelined by the company's majority owners, Infratil and No 8 Ventures.

Mr Hastie says he is very happy with the confidential arrangement. It allows him to concentrate on the development of his rival payroll software business, ERMLive, which he aims to turn into a $100 million company within 10 years.

"I have moved on. I have the opportunity to start again with all the learnings, but without having to take with me all the baggage."

PayGlobal is meanwhile searching for its fourth chief executive in three years, to replace Chris Radley, who is now head of sales. Mr Radley succeeded Melissa Clarke-Reynolds, who resigned in May 2007 after 16 months in the job.

The Christchurch firm won the top accolade at the Hi-Tech awards in 2004, when it employed 110 staff and had revenues of $20 million.

It went on to claim a 32 per cent share of the payroll software market among employers with more than 200 staff.

A confidential briefing document published by headhunters Sheffield said that the company later faced "a half-year result with losses of $1 million and a cash position which was unacceptable".

But Sheffield said PayGlobal's business was turned around after it opted to sell through distributors in Australia, rather than direct.

Mr Hastie's original vision for PayGlobal was that it would become the first truly global payroll software company, allowing multinationals to manage pay in subsidiaries around the world using a single staff database. He has a similar ambition for ERMLive, which has been "absolutely modelled" on Microsoft's customer-relationship management suite, CRMonline.

The software is a radical departure from traditional payroll systems and could easily be distributed by Microsoft channel partners and configured by customers, he says.

"I am a complete Microsoft fan. Our ability to deliver rich, functional software that is cost-effective and easy to use has improved exponentially in the past two or three years."

Whereas the last product he developed for PayGlobal had more than one million lines of code, ERMLive has no more than 12,000.

The software integrates with Microsoft Outlook and the Web, and is designed to let people easily analyse payroll data to spot trends in sick leave, workforce demographics or any other variables.

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Mr Hastie says ERMLive has secured more than $1 million of business in nine months. Customers include the Westland Co-operative Dairy Company, WelTec, Australia's ASP Shipping and software company Intergen, which is a sales partner.

WelTec human resources director Mark Stirling Broadbent says the polytechnic chose ERMLive because it wanted a flexible product that could be easily configured and integrated with other systems.

He has had experience with four other systems. Most systems can pay people, but many require specialist developers to get the most out of human resources (HR) modules, he says. "ERMLive is based on a Microsoft platform and it is a tool that is not unknown to many people."

WelTec did its first payroll run on the system last week, which he says went smoothly and was done in record time.

Westland Co-operative Dairy bought ERMLive for its HR modules, says IT manager Darren Wilson. "We are using it for our core HR records, performance management and recruiting. We want to be the employer of choice on the West Coast, and to do that, we need to get our HR processes tidied up."

- The Dominion Post

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