Part 4 of the Shugo Story – Finally a Name

So I decided to keep the consulting company in business and I laid out the immediate plan moving forward with our team.  But again, we still didn’t have a stitch of code written nor did we have a company name.  If you missed any of this, check out part three of the Shugo story to get up to speed.

First thing on my agenda was a company name and I had tasked a friend who was an expert marketer to help.  Luckily, we had a great relationship so he helped for free and he was about to send me a first round of his thoughts.

Would the first time be a charm?

Rarely is the first time a charm, especially when it comes to something creative and when you have too many people in the decision process.  For our company name, I kept the group small: just myself and my marketing expert.  I still remember the anticipation I had when I saw his “first stab” email.  The only question was if his thoughts would be on point or be a dud.

Remember, my marketing expert was one of the original three partners we were going to have in this venture or so we thought.  This meant he had intricate knowledge of what we were trying to accomplish and probably had already been thinking of our branding long before I asked for his help.

He not only shared with me a company name but also a logo he had designed. First the name: Shugo – a Japanese term he derived from the term Shogun.  In the past, shoguns played a key role leading and securing different regions of Japan.  He felt this connotation fit perfectly into what we were trying to do: leading and securing small businesses on the latest in industry best practices. The funny part is that he went into Japanese history even though he was Indian!

Typically I like to take a little bit of time with big decisions but for this name I thought he hit a homerun.  It felt perfect.  It was short and unique like Google and Yahoo.  It was something people wouldn’t forget.  You could use Shugo as a noun or verb (you should “Shugo” that file). wasn’t available, but was.

Pretty rare feat on a creative project for the first round to produce an extraordinary result without any feedback or change, but he did it.  I have to say to this day I still love our name, what it stands for and the response we receive when people hear it.  I’m sure there are some people who don’t like our name, but they haven’t shared it with me yet.

We have a name, but now we need a logo

Second part of his email was an attempt at a logo. I say attempt loosely.  He’s an expert when it comes to digital and graphic design, but I’m VERY picky when it comes to how things look and feel.  I’ve had no formal training but I know what I like and I’m pretty stubborn to have every detail the way I think it should be.

You may think he was a little presumptive creating a logo since he just presented me with a name.  What If I didn’t like the name then the work on the logo wouldn’t matter? I think deep down he knew I’d love the name Shugo so he went ahead and created a logo complete with a tag line.  Here it is.


My initial gut was “eh”.  It didn’t blow me away nor was I completely turned off.  I loved the font used on the word Shugo and I even liked the tag line “Guarding your business information” (you’ll find out soon that we’re actually looking to change this since we do much more than that).  The colors were OK even though they reminded me of the New Jersey Devils which is a pretty big pill to swallow if you’re a die-hard Philadelphia Flyers fan.  But red and black did match the Japanese culture which made sense because of the name Shugo.

I think the one part I wasn’t sold on was the shield with the funky “S” inside. Let’s break that down:

  • Shield: denotes security which makes sense since FileGuardian was going to help businesses securely exchange data
  • “S” inside the shield: the circles are points with lines connecting each point. This was meant to display securely moving data from point to point which is why it lived inside of the shield

After hearing the explanation, I understood it a bit more but I still wasn’t in love with it.  It was once again, another thing I wanted to stew on for a few days but heck, we made progress.  We finally have a name and part of a logo.  At the very least, I can now replace all the [businessname] placeholders inside of the business plan.

Let’s start coding…

Finally, we could concentrate on what we did best and start development on FileGuardian. It’s obviously the area I felt most comfortable in since I spent my entire career building software.  It was October of 2008 and much had changed:

  1. The buyout of my consulting partner was complete
  2. The architecture and original design of FileGuardian was finalized
  3. We’d scaled back consulting for one of our employees to concentrate on FileGuardian development

I look back at this time and think about one of the best decisions we ever made when it came to FileGuardian.  We knew as usage of the application grew (well we hoped it would grow) there would be a large number of files we’d be storing securely on behalf of our clients. Trying to manage all those files ourselves on our own servers and have proper backups and disaster recovery plans would be a nightmare.  Heck it would probably be more work and cost than supporting our users.

As a result, we chose to use some well-known third parties for file storage. They had first class facilities with backup and disaster recovery plans in place. Their security was top-notch. Why re-invent the wheel when we didn’t have to? Honestly, we couldn’t do it better than they could.  They have dedicated teams and we had three people.

To add a layer of security though, we’d encrypt each file stored with these content providers.  Each file would receive its own unique encryption key though.  This meant that it would be encrypted differently than the next and we’d store the keys in a separate location than where the files were stored.

To this day, it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made along the way.  We’ve gotten many decisions wrong, but this was a grand slam. I’d say it probably was the best decision throughout our history, but there was one other one that proved to be even more valuable.  I’ll share that soon enough but for now we were on our way.  Coding had begun. We had a small group of early adopters already identified.  We were marching toward a beta toward the end of 2008. I finally had a smile on my face confident in the decisions I made but scared to death on how it would all work out and how I’d continue to support my family.

Part 3 of the Shugo Story

In case you missed it, with part two of the Shugo story I shared how my consulting partner left it on me to keep the consulting business afloat or close the entity.  It threw me for a monkey wrench since it wasn’t the response I had expected when I shared I was the one who was going to walk away to concentrate on this new venture.  So once again, back to a few days of thinking: what was the best course not just for me, but for the two employees we had as well?  Honestly, the decision would’ve been easy if it had just been the two owners.

I couldn’t do it…so it remained open

I can honestly say the main reason I decided to keep the consulting entity going was for our employees. They had always poured their heart and soul into their work and represented themselves and the company to the fullest.  They didn’t deserve an immediate “termination”.

I knew they were both super talented and could get other jobs immediately, so it wasn’t about them not having work and income.  It was about their loyalty through the years.  I enjoyed working with them and learned a number of things from each.

I felt having them with me on the start of this journey would be a benefit. It would help:

  1. Minimize the risk by continuing to have consulting income as we started this new venture.  Wouldn’t you want to know that you at least had “x” dollars coming in than nothing at all?
  1. Expedite the first version of FileGuardian.  Remember this was mid-year 2008 and we still didn’t have a single line of code written for the application.  Heck, we didn’t have anything but a product name (we still didn’t have a company name).

Point #1 is an important one to review. Remember I had a young and growing family I needed to support. My wife was a teacher but once we had children, we decided she would stay at home.  It’s a decision we both felt strongly about but that meant fully supporting the family financially fell on my shoulders. Pretty big burden as I had this brilliant idea to start a new venture and change the course of my career!  Like I said before, if she had known the revenue we were generating with consulting, I’m not so sure she’d be 100% on-board with me!

Side Tidbit: I have the utmost respect for any stay at home parent.  It’s more work than I do on a daily basis and is worth a much higher salary than most in the workforce make. I could never do what my wife does daily; she’s an absolute saint with a great deal of patience, something I severely lack.

Ok, so what’s up next?

I now had two main items to complete immediately…one was something I had no clue how to approach but that’s why you surround yourself with good people:

  1. Buyout my consulting partner – we were 50/50 partners in the business so I needed to buyout his remaining ownership.  This was the item I had no clue on what to do, but it’s why we have lawyers to help. As much as I’ll b!tch at the hourly cost we’re invoiced for their services, they’re  really a huge help.  So I immediately called up Kevin our business attorney and shared the situation.  There’s some legal stuff I don’t need to share but he helped us get through the process rather quickly.  Since the business was cash rich, I didn’t have to pull anything out of pocket to buy him out so it was relatively painless.
  1. Share the news with our employees – all this was going on with our employees oblivious to the fact. Obviously they needed to know so they could decide if they wanted to continue on with me or find other opportunities elsewhere.  I’d support then in either path, but had hoped they’d stay and support my objectives.  For this conversation, I prepared a PowerPoint sharing my vision moving forward and how each of us fit into the plan.

One employee would be responsible for defining our network architecture (servers and other hardware) we needed to support FileGuardian and participate in the application design and architecture.  He would still consult a high number of hours per week as well.  The second employee would scale back his consulting hours and concentrate on FileGuardian’s overall application design.  His goal would be create a prototype within a few weeks.  Scaling back his consulting work back a bit would provide him more time to concentrate on FileGuardian, but this put some pressure on me since it would reduce the revenue he was generating.  I knew I’d be taken a pretty big loss on his time, but felt hey, this would be my investment into the beginning of this new venture.

I would still concentrate on consulting – much to my chagrin – and I’d start building the business plan for this venture.  I’d also share the FileGuardian concept with a number of local accountants and other professionals I had known to start spreading the word.  I knew we wouldn’t have a large marketing budget (frankly we didn’t have one at all) and that word of mouth would be our guerilla tactic.  We’d offer perpetual free usage of the product in return for their feedback.  Luckily, I had a couple bite even though we hadn’t written a stich of code!

But we still didn’t have a name yet

As I was starting to craft the business plan, I kept putting in placeholders for the name of the business.  You’d see paragraphs in the business plan with “[businessname]” embedded since I still didn’t know what we were going to name the company.  I knew we needed a name and that I wasn’t the right person for the job.  I didn’t have dollars to spend on hiring someone either to help.

I thought why not ask the original marketing partner (remember from the three amigos) to help.  He and I were still great friends, there was never any bridges burned and marketing was his specialty.  Luckily he agreed to tackle the task! My only preference for the company name was that I wanted it to be something short and catchy like a Google or Yahoo.  Remember I wanted something like that for the product name but he thought better of it based on our target market but agreed we could be a bit creative for the company name.

Within a few days he emailed me sharing a concept and wanted to see what I thought.  Would this be it? Would our company now have a name or would we be going back to the drawing board?


Part 2 – Uh-Oh, Tacos…what happened next?

If you missed part one, the headline about tacos may not make sense. If you have five minutes, you can read about it here.

If you did read part one, let me explain what happened after that infamous lunch. Like any big decision, I didn’t rush but instead followed my 24 hour rule.  This situation though fell into the “sometimes longer” category. I honestly wasn’t sure what to do next, but was more convinced than ever that I needed to lead the charge on this new venture.

After a few days of going back and forth, I was sure of my path.  It was time for me to go out completely on my own, move on from the consulting side and build a product business. More importantly, I needed to do it on my own terms without initial partners. The hard part though was sharing my decision the other “amigos”.

Sharing my decision…marketing partner first

I thought it would be easier to start with my marketing partner since he and I were on the same page of me leading the charge. He also had a marketing firm he was still running and deep down I wasn’t sure if he was 100% committed to this new venture.

Just as I suspected, he completely understood and agreed that he wasn’t 100% all in. He had some plans to “product-ize” his marketing business already and would concentrate on that. We both agreed that was probably the best path for him since it’s where his passion lied and it’s showed.  He’s done an amazing job; his business s is thriving with a nice list of clients. Many of them are folks you see on TV today since he works with a number of food industry and celebrity talents.

I did leave that meeting with one request for him though: could he help me name this new venture (remember we had a product name in FileGuardian but still not a company name)? He’s more creative than I and that’s his specialty: marketing.

Sharing my decision…my consulting partner

Of the two, I knew sharing my decision with my consulting partner would be a bit more difficult. Not only were we “in bed” together with an existing company, but we had worked together for years prior to that. I met him when I was interning in college so I had known him for close to ten years. In fact, he was one of the few that helped me learn technology when I was starting my career. I had picked up a number of best practices and early programming techniques from him.

Since we were both actively consulting, I asked him if we could chat at the end of the day at our office. We had a small 650 square foot office space we worked at while not at a client’s site. Being away from a client’s office would be best since I didn’t think it would be an easy conversation. Plus I wasn’t sure how long of a conversation it would be.

I wouldn’t say I was nervous since I was confident in my decision but I was anxious for the conversation. It’s one of those things that you just want to happen so it’s over with and you can move on.

Like I do with most things, I was thinking about my approach. Going over and over in my head how I would share that I would leave the consulting company to start this new venture on my own. As I shared, it was a difficult decision but was made more difficult because we had two employees. I was close with them and really enjoyed working with both, but I knew for my own happiness it was time for me to chart the new course.

The conference room…the scene of the crime

Part of our small office space included a conference room. It was approximately 250 square feet where we had a table we bought from Ikea and a few small chairs. Sure I had some butterflies as we entered the room but again but I was confident in my path.

No matter how many times I practiced that day, I didn’t follow “the script”. I just blurted it out: I was going to leave the consulting company to start this new venture on my own. I didn’t share the details of the “tacos” lunch, but focused more on my thoughts and feelings. It was my dream since college to run my own company and build a great organization. Sure we had a consulting company, but that was really building something great for others not myself. I wanted something more, something “tangible”. I was ready to take the risk and go all-in even though my life was changing day by day and I was expecting another child.

Looking back now I may have been foolish and boy would it have been easier if I made the decision a few years prior. Unless you’re a parent, you don’t understand the time, effort and money each child requires. Luckily, I knew I had the support of my wife. Since day one she’s always said she trusts what I’m doing, though I keep the gory details away from her. I’m not sure she’d been 100% on board if she knew the success the consulting company was having and that I was ready to walk away from it all.

The reaction and unexpected twist

The reaction to my decision wasn’t what I expected. I knew he’d be professional, but I didn’t know he’d be so agreeable. I guess deep down he was feeling the way I did, not 100% happy. I also think the prospect of a new venture was a bit scary. See he had done something on his own before but it didn’t work out as planned. I think that experience plus the pressure of starting a family himself made the “safe” route more appealing.

One thing did catch me off-guard though and it’s the twist I’m referring to in the headline of this section:  he wanted to walk away and leave the consulting company to me. He was going to pursue a full-time job, again for more security. Plus, I think deep down he had genuine concern for our two employees and he would’ve closed the consulting company if I had left leaving these guys without a job.

Most of the consulting contracts we had were from relationships I had built so it made sense on his part, but left me scratching my head since I wasn’t expecting this. Time to go back to the drawing board, clear my head and decide what I was going to do: keep the consulting company or shut it down?

What do I do, keep the consulting company?

Well this decision I now had to make wasn’t one I was expecting. What made this more difficult is that we had two employees who gave their heart and soul to us and our clients for years. Since my partner was exploring the full-time route, it was on my shoulders to keep the consulting company or close it for good.

It was another decision I didn’t want to rush into so I took a few days to mull it over.  On one side it did bring in revenue since most of our contracts were open ended.  On the other side though, the business was extremely profitable with zero debt and a nice sized bank account.

Part 1 – How did Shugo come about…

Seems like yesterday, but it was six years ago when the idea for Shugo hatched — though the vision then is much different than where we are today.  Yep, six years ago we started devising the initial business plan and design of FileGuardian, our core product that was going to change our lives.  I thought it would be helpful (and amusing) to share how it came came about.  Give you the background on where we started, how we tried to minimize the risk as much as possible and where we are today.

Why create a start-up…my dad thought I was crazy

The question I was asked over and over again: why create a start-up when we were already running a successful consulting company?  We had a nice client list paying us well over $100/hour for our software development expertise.  In the late 2000′s, we had four employees and the business was generating revenue of over $500,000 annually.  We were extremely profitable and had long term commitments of additional consulting work year after year.  In fact, many of our consulting contracts were open ended with no end date because of the tight relationship we had with our clients.

Then why rock the boat?  Why disrupt what we built over the years?  Why take an unnecessary risk?

Yep that’s me, I rock the boat

It was mid-2008 and my life was great but changing.  My wife and I had married in 2007.  We welcomed our first child (Taryn) in January of 2008 (we didn’t waste any time eh).  We were expecting a son (Brayden) in March of 2009.  So why risk a business generating revenue of a half a million dollars a year for a start-up?  My dad, a banker his entire career, thought I was crazy.

The answer: I wasn’t happy.  I enjoyed building software, but not building software for other businesses to profit long-term from.  Sure I received near-term profit but my client received the long-term reward.  It may sound selfish but I poured my heart into the work we did for our clients.  Our entire team did.  We treated it as if the software was our own and the clients of our clients (the end users of the software) we ours as well.

What really tugged at me was when I’d hear about the level of support the end clients of the software received from our consulting clients.  We’ve built this great software only to see it not supported all that well. It bugged me…the software that we spent hours developing wasn’t receiving the level of support I felt users deserved.

But we were generating revenue of half a million dollars a year, shouldn’t that have made me a little bit happy?

Well it didn’t.  I dreaded leaving the house every day (ask my wife, she could see it in my face).  I wanted something more.  I wanted to control my own destiny, even if that meant I failed.  Of all times, newly married, one child with another one the way, I was ready to make the jump.

The three amigos…

In June 2008, I broached the idea of starting a SaaS based business with my partner in the consulting company and a good friend who ran his own marketing firm.  Gone would be the days of hourly billing.  We’d welcome recurring monthly revenue with unlimited scalability.

I came up with idea of allowing small businesses to securely exchange data.  Wouldn’t every accountant in America want a simple and secure way to send tax returns back to their clients?  Wouldn’t they also enjoy the idea of being able to securely receive QuickBooks backup and other setup files from clients as well?  And yes I explicitly say accountant since it’s who we felt our target market would be — the low hanging fruit my father always mentions.

We had to think of a product name and I wanted something fresh like Google or Yahoo.  Something unique that no one would’ve heard before but would stick in their mind. Well our marketing partner decided that probably wasn’t the best approach, especially if we were marketing to accountants (of course he was right).  We needed a name that was simple to easily describe the product.  His idea: FileGuardian.

What — no business plan?

So we had a concept and a product name.  We had our target market defined so let’s start crafting a business plan.  It was the next logical step since I went to business school for Entrepreneurial Studies (graduated with my MBA in 2001 and had written a few).  At least I thought it was the next logical step but my two partners didn’t agree.  They both thought it was a waste of time but I held true and started my market research and crafting the plan.  I thought at a minimum, we at least needed an Executive Summary.

Part of what we needed to decide would be the structure of the organization, specifically who was going to responsible for what and what our titles would be.  More importantly though, we had to define who would be the leader, the end decision maker of the three, the one who would be the face of the business moving forward, for better or for worse.  My marketing partner and I both felt I should be the one.  My partner in the consulting company disagreed and felt he should be the leader.

Typically, I would’ve figured out a way to work out a compromise but this was one situation where I knew I couldn’t.  See, I already had some reservations with my consulting company partner from the years of being in business together.  We thought differently, but overall I felt that was a good.  We had varying viewpoints which helped challenge us both.  But, there had been a few moments when he completely dismissed my differing view.  Those moments really tugged at me.

How Tacos changed my life

Randomly, I decided to take one of our employees in the consulting company out to lunch.  I hadn’t had a chance to interact with him much in the recent months since he and my partner worked tightly on a contract and I was busy on another part of the contract.  I thought it would be good to catch up and learn what was new in his life and ensure we were offering him the opportunities he needed.  It was a lunch that changed my life.

We entered the restaurant and sat down waiting for our food to arrive.  I asked this employee how things were going in life and how things were going working with my partner.  Immediately (even before we had a glass of water on the table), he pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket.  It wasn’t just a 3×5 or 4×6 piece, it was the full 8.5×11 variety with bullet points from top to bottom, left to right covering the entire sheet.

He reels off point after point at the difficulty he’s had with my partner, how my partner takes credit for all his work and how unhappy he truly is.  Point after point I could see and understand where his frustration lied.  He concluded by sharing how he appreciative he was for my ear so he could share his viewpoint.

The light bulb really turned on for me after this experience.  Some of the concerns he had with my partner I shared as well.  It was these reasons and this lunch that sealed it for me: I need to be the leader of this new company no matter what.

I hope that doesn’t sound selfish but I knew if we were going to shake up our lives, I need to lead the charge.


Part 2 to come soon…

HUB Rewards

When we first announced our HUB concept a year ago at the TPG conference, I shared our goal to do all we can to reduce its per employee per month (PEPM) cost in any way possible as long as it didn’t infringe on the platform’s integrity.  In fact, I hoped that one day we could offer it for free – though that may be a pipe dream since my three growing children do need to eat (and believe me, they eat like crazy!). I’m excited to share that recent announcement of HUB Rewards is our first way to accomplish this goal.

What is HUB Rewards?

HUB rewards is an integrated employee reward and discount program offering employees exclusive offers and discounts on entertainment, meals and everyday services.  Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a 30% off coupon on movie tickets or 15% discount on your cell phone plan? These programs are typically special perks large corporations offer their employees, but why shouldn’t it be available for small businesses as well? At least that was our thinking!

Plus, many large payroll providers have similar employee discount programs offered to their clients. We thought we need to do all we can to provide our clients, the independent payroll provider, the same offering but make it better. One way we’re doing that is the direct integration of the reward program into HUB.  The programs offered by the “big guys” are separate systems for employees to sign into.  This means another website URL, username and password to remember — can you hear the support headaches mounting?

In fact, I was visiting a new Shugo partner the other week and they mentioned how their payroll is run by one of the “big guys”. Obviously I shared my disappointment in their choice but we got to talking about the reward program. They shared their employees never take advantage of it for the simple fact it was another system to access. If it had been integrated, employee usage and adoption would occur.

Customize HUB Rewards to your needs

One unique feature of HUB Rewards is that it’s completely customizable. It follows an opt-in model both for the payroll company and down to the individual end client level.  Shugo will be providing a macro list of available offers. Each payroll company can customize the offers to include in their own program. Don’t want to include restaurant offers since it may compete with some of your clients, then put the kabash on them in your reward program. You can customize down to the end client level so you don’t include hospitality offers to employees of a local hotel you service. And don’t worry, it won’t take much to manage since we’re doing all we can to make it easy.

Plus, each payroll company can add additional local offers to their reward program for a small monthly fee per offer. This is a great perk to offer current clients and close deal with prospects. Heck, it may even help build your sales pipeline by offering local businesses the opportunity to include offers in your reward program…”oh and by the way, who runs your payroll?”. For the local business itself submitting the offer, they’ll pay a small monthly fee (in the range of $50/month), but we think that’s one of the cheapest marketing options they’ll have.

HUB Rewards Timeframe

We’re on pace to launch a pilot program of the reward program in the summer. We have a few more spaces left in the pilot program so sign up asap if you want to join. Remember, it’s another perk you as a payroll company will now offer. Another differentiating feature that will help you increase customer satisfaction and sell more payroll.

Register now for the pilot program



HUB’s Digital Timesheet

A few months back, I spent time with a client and their team (executives, customer service and sales) reviewing HUB. They’ve been a client for a number of years and were really interested to see what HUB was all about, especially because they weren’t overly thrilled with the time and attendance solution their new payroll platform offered.

The good news: they wanted to start offering HUB immediately to their clients! Their sales team was even asking if they could show a prospect the following week!

The bad news: HUB was still not fully integrated with their new payroll platform (it is on track though by summer). As much a I wanted to say “Yes, share with your prospect”, it didn’t make sense yet.

Now why would I start a blog post titled “HUB’s Digital Timesheet” with that story? Because we wouldn’t be talking about a digital timesheet within HUB without that client session. I profess daily about how 75% of new features are directly attributable to our clients and this is just one example.

What’s a digital timesheet?

A digital timesheet is giving employees’ the ability to enter hours worked into HUB’s time and attendance solution without having to clock in/out each day. See many companies still use paper timesheets. At the end of the period, employees print out a paper timesheet and fill in the times they worked that week. That paper must then be approved by managers and sent to payroll for processing.

Now the poor payroll administrator has to type in each employees hours. This process is prone to errors (mis-keying 9 hours instead of 8) and takes a bit of time to complete. Imagine a 20 employee company processing payroll weekly where most employees work five days a week. This means that every year, there’s the chance for the payroll administrator to miskey hours a total of 5,200 times.

With digital timesheets, employees record their hours digitally. There’s no manual data entry by the payroll administrator since HUB can send approved employees hours over to payroll immediately! Can you hear payroll administrators rejoicing already?

Why a digital timesheet vs. clocking in/out?

The world of time and attendance strictly through clocking in/out may be a big change for many organizations. Employees are not use to clocking in immediately when they enter the office and clocking out right before leaving for the day (or even worse, before lunch and then clocking in again after lunch). And as we all know, we as humans are resistant to change!

We at Shugo endured this ourselves. Before we offered HUB, our employees didn’t utilize a time and attendance system. All are salary or paid for a flat number of hours each week. We decided to use HUB though to understand what it was like using our own designed system, plus understand the “change” it placed on our users. It’s really helped though! We’ve already made changes based off our own usage and in the end, I think it’s only going to make the product better.

Can you imagine an employee going from a paper timesheet to now having to clock in/out daily? Talk about shock! The good news is HUB’s digital timesheet will help with the transition. It acts as a replacement for the paper previously used so it’s not much different for the employee. Instead of writing on a piece of paper, you use the electronic version! Sign in to HUB and enter your hours for the entire week. Do it daily if you’d like or procrastinate to the last day of the pay period. It’s your choice!

And remember, payroll administrators will rejoice!  We’ve just saved them the potential of 5,200 data entry mistakes!


Pretty exciting that a few weeks ago we released HUB!

I best describe HUB as a company’s intranet — the one stop shop for their employees which includes:

  • Access to pay stubs and W2s
  • Company message board
  • Company document and link library
  • Time and attendance (employee can clock in/out)
  • PTO (employee can request PTO)

With HUB, an employee doesn’t need to sign into multiple systems to complete their payroll related tasks.  HUB provides that “single platform” that many payroll providers are searching for — especially for their 0-50 employee clients — and is accessible on any internet connected device: PC, Tablet, Smartphone, etc…

HUB HOmepage

HUB Homepage


Not just any Time and Attendance system

If you know us, you know we don’t want to just do the “norm”.  We like to spice things up a bit and provide optimized ways to simplify key tasks.  After talking with a number of clients, we found that the employees missed punch scenario occurs far too often and can be a source of pain for both the employee and their administrator.

That got us thinking — there has to be a better way to resolve those situations which resulted in the birth of HUB’s MULLIGAN process.  If you play golf, you’re probably familiar with a mulligan, if not check out it’s definition here.

So think about it – I, as the employee, go to HUB at the end of the day/shift to clock out but realize I completely forgot to clock in earlier.  Or I go to clock in at the start of my shift and see I forgot to clock out last night before leaving.  What am I to do?  Contact my supervisor to have them manually fix my missed clock? Sounds like a time drain eh?

Not with HUB — I just request a mulligan.  This process enables me to share when the clock should’ve occurred which is routed to my supervisor for immediate approval.  Best of all, HUB facilitates the entire workflow for the employee and supervisor.  A picture/video is worth a thousand words, so check out the process for yourself.

Not just any document and link library

There’s plenty of payroll related systems that have integrated document and link libraries — so once again we wanted to find a way to be different.  We know that sometimes a company will share very important information with employees and would like to have the employee acknowledge that they’ve received/read the information. So with HUB, a document or link can be tagged to require employee read receipts.

When an item is tagged this way, the employee will be prompted within HUB to download the item and then verify that it’s been read by clicking the “I acknowledge I’ve read this item” checkbox (they can choose to ignore the prompt — but the next time they enter HUB they’ll be annoyed again!). HUB will record the read receipt with the current date/time, employee’s IP address and browser utilized.

We felt the read receipt would be perfect for employee handbooks, internal policy changes, notification of new benefit plans, etc…

Not just for PCs

As I shared above, HUB was not built just for PC usage. We view mobile access to HUB as extremely important and something that will grow with the continual increase of smartphone usage. HUB can be accessed on any smartphone and we are nearing completion of iPhone and Android apps which will streamline the process of accessing HUB mobile.

We realized though that not every company would want their employees to be able to use HUB’s time clock capability on mobile phones. As a result, HUB administrators can turn on/off mobile clock in capabilities.  The good news is that turning off mobile clock in will not restrict the employees from accessing HUB on their phone — it’ll just restrict the ability to clock in/out from that device. The employee may still want to access HUB for their pay stubs, W2, etc…

If mobile clock in/out is available, the process is simple for the employee. Again a picture/video is worth a thousand words so here’s a short clip.

Pretty simple isn’t it?  Oh and maybe in a later post I’ll describe how an employee could clock in/out of HUB via text messaging (yes I said text messaging but once again only if it’s allowed by their company administrator).

Ready for a HUB demo?

If you’d like to see a demo of HUB, let me know and we’ll get it scheduled!