Fast forward a year later and a lot has changed. The good news: we still have our primary client using the system. They are happy and continue to request customizations that have made the software even more powerful for their firm. In the last year we have:

  • Integrated with the time-entry system (Bigtime)
  • Synced their staff with Bigtime and increased revenue to ~$700/month
  • Built out a fully-functional performance management system, that allows them to conduct reviews 2x a year. More on this later.
  • An attrition module to analyze how long staff are in a given position in average
  • Time compliance reports which help them corral time entry submissions, improving revenue cycles (beta)
  • Dynamic manager assignment based on an intensity ratio - the number of shared hours each staff member has with a managing member of the practice
  • Bonus module which automatically calculates bonus based on utilization figures, staff level and partner contributions to individual bonuses
  • Lifetime promotion tracking, which also feeds into the attrition module to look at career progression of staff
  • Better controls for HR staff as a central manager of the system

So these are all great things. Our client is happy as we’ve been able to expedite their year-end review process, building in notifications to staff to input their mid-year and year-end reviews and just generally keeping all year-end review information in one place for each staff. Using the intensity ratios, we can assign staff to each manager who is responsible for thier reviews. They can of course, be shuffled to other managers using a trello-like board. I’d estimate it’s saved each partner a week of time each review cycle. When you have partner’s billing clients $500+ dollars an hour, the savings / ROI is clear.

The system has also become a repository for these reviews, with the HR manager / staff able to go back in time to see previous year-end reviews. Imagine being able to print your reviews and taking them with you to your next employer. Opening this up for staff is great way to provide career continuity and a footprint for what’s been accomplished.

You’re probably thinking - how the hell can you do this all for $700/month? Well, that’s where our customization clause comes in - for general purpose updates we do not charge. That’s a change that we think will apply to other customers. For things that are specific to our customer (e.g. like calculations of specific bonus criteria or compliance with a specific policy), we charge by the hour. That allows us to keep up with their demands, sharing the load for development cost, and allowing Staff Mapper to continue to serve their resource management needs in a unique way.

Our core philopshy here is that each firm deserves a custom approach to resource management because people management is unique to each firm and tools that help these firms should reflect their management style. Our goal is to make firms more internally transparent and to increase communication potential and to provide tools that make everyone’s jobs easier.

This year we will be focused on streamlining the customization of our product so that each firm can have a unique experience on our platform, while continuing to serve our current clients with the quality they expect from us as their organization grows.

I’ll continue to write about this approach - writing custom software for clients presents a couple of challenges. For instance, how do you scale custom code? The short answer, is it’s really hard. Almost no one does it outside of a platform-as-a-service like Salesforce.

At one point we had a conversation with an investor who told us to avoid it all costs. But that wouldn’t be the right move for our current client. He’s not wrong but we need to find a way to accomodate our current clients while keeping our growth prospects strong, which means, more easily scaling. I’d consider our scope of work to be more aligned to “Productized Services”, rather than a pure SAAS play. And I’m ok with that for the moment - we have a paying customer and we want to do anything we can to make them happy. Disagree? Leave a comment.