Case Studies

Building Workforce.com: An interview with Leon Pearce

By Staff Report

Dec. 3, 2020

Organizations have countless options for workforce management vendors, making the vendor selection process overwhelming and complicated. But Leon Pearce, software engineer at Workforce.com, knows it’s more than just features and functionality a platform must have to be relevant to the workforce both now and years in the future. 

Workforce: How does Workforce.com technology help HR?

Leon Pearce: Human resources and workforce management professionals need to be so much to so many people. On a surface level, many people, whether it’s inside or outside the organization, tend to underestimate the sheer volume of work HR professionals and frontline managers have to do just to keep the status quo of a business running smoothly.

Workforce.com technology exists to support that. In essence, we build the software with the purpose of improving workforce compliance, automation, engagement and productivity. This helps HR stay compliant with ever-changing labor regulations, automate administrative processes, build trust with frontline staff and improve business productivity.

We want to help tackle these complex problems and streamline those processes so they can focus on the essentials of managing their workforce: worker happiness, welfare, and efficiency. People are the most significant competitive advantage any business can get, so they need to be engaged for long-term success.

WF: Where does Workforce.com technology fit into the big picture of people management?

Pearce: For me it’s all about where the world of work is heading, and where HR is heading alongside it. Technology is changing how people approach their work and their relationship with work. So we’re engineering to build a future where teams can perform better through improved workflow and feel empowered with the right technology.

For frontline employees, it means intuitive mobile apps to see future work hours, swap shifts, provide company feedback and apply for things such as time off and unavailability. For managers, it’s being able to easily build, send and optimize schedules against forecasted demand while tracking actual hours worked. And for HR and workforce professionals it means being able to manage and oversee this in one place that they can customize perfectly to their way of doing things and integrate with their existing payroll and technology stack.

On the whole it means building a platform that leverages the very best technology to help the workforce win and reach its potential.

Leon Pearce

WF: What are the key questions people should ask before implementing any software?

Pearce: Software and technology really is only as good as you can use it. You could own Thor’s hammer, but it’s not very useful if nobody can lift it.

The first question I think should be asked is: What problem are we trying to solve? Do we need to move away from paper-based workforce management? Are we changing to a more intuitive and user friendly system for better engagement? It’s crucial to hammer out the details of what needs to be addressed first and what outcomes are expected.

Software is fundamentally going to change how your business operates. It’s also important to make sure the partner you choose aligns with the vision you have for your teams, especially with the emergence of software as a service as the future of technology adoption. You are not necessarily buying into what this product is today, but its ability to improve and help your company reach its potential in the future.

Questions to ask about potential vendors include:

  • How many features did they ship in the last 12 months? 
  • Who’s their chief technology officer? 
  • Do they understand the future of work and what’s your product road map for the future? 
  • What improvements to the user experience have been made recently? 
  • What percentage of revenue do they commit to new research and development compared to supporting old infrastructure? 
  • In essence, are they going to grow and improve their product as you grow and improve your business?

In terms of implementation, one of the most common complaints we hear about HR software is when it purely serves management, not the rank-and-file employees. Is there a trial or demo period for the solution you’re eyeing? Ask to see it live in a demo. Test the software by placing it into the hands of the end user and get their honest feedback.

In my experience in the software world, there are lots of techniques you can use to understand if users like a product. Most of these techniques are flawed. For example, you can compare companies based on revenue — but then are you evaluating how good the product is or how slick the salespeople are? 

The most objective and useful metric I’ve found is app store ratings. It gives a voice to the people who actually use the software. Often these people didn’t choose it, so they will be very honest with their opinion.

The biggest mistake we see is when software is chosen because it ticks the boxes of a proposal and not how it works and is used by the frontline employees. Make sure to evaluate whether it enhances or detracts from the employee experience.

WF: When software is working really well, how do you know?

Pearce: My definition of it would be that you’re genuinely enjoying the process, learning better ways of doing things and everybody around you is enjoying the outcome. Does this technology make my life and the lives of my team easier and happier?

Happy, engaged staff will result in a more successful team, so you should be able to feel the pride of getting work done and discovering how you can optimally manage your time to do it even better. 

WF: What would you tell people who are apprehensive about technology becoming too intrusive in their work lives?

Pearce: I’d say that like anything, technology can either consume your time or produce more time for you. You have to evaluate each technology that you and your teams interact with and ask if this is helping or hindering you.

Fortunately the workforce management software industry is built around the idea of streamlining processes and doing things like building schedules faster, making sure people are paid correctly, and completing core administrative tasks. 

Technology should be there to replace those things and make them quicker and easier to do, giving people more time to be present, involved and human.

WF: Talk about competitive advantage. What, in your opinion, makes one product — specifically HR technology software — better than another?

Pearce: The benchmark for software in this space would be a solution that can follow best practices for each particular industry and help teams get to where they want to be, while being fun and easy to use.

Going a step further, the benchmark is a solution that supports an organization while they find their way forward and enables them to operate in ways that create new competitive advantages. 

Our strategy is to build our software that provides adopters with a starting point of industry best practices but also is flexible enough to evolve with these standards. Stagnation always ends in failure, which is why enabling our users to keep tweaking their functions and improving the way they operate is so important to us.

WF: Please explain how Workforce.com technology integrates with research and content.

Pearce: When building the Workforce.com platform, we’re faced with many decisions about where we’re going to take it next and what the future is like for particular features. We’re very active in pursuing feedback from current customers and prospective customers.

One important way we can go about this is through our industry research and content teams as they analyze the future of work. Being integrated into these teams allows us to not only solve the problems of today but also  move the industry forward by building the features our clients may not even know they want or need yet. It’s all about distilling the theory down into hard science and engineering the future of work.

WF: We all understand the pride an artist gets when their artwork hangs in a gallery. What is it about creating software that gives you a big sense of pride?

I do agree that it’s like art. You’ve got to have a creative vision for where the product is going to end up. However, what we’re wanting to build and the outcome we deliver for our clients is very much the opposite. We think about it as turning workforce management into an exact science. Taking the guesswork out of labor allocation and delivering predictable and scalable results so businesses can grow, achieve their vision and have the confidence to employ as many people as they can.

Seeing people use the software I helped build definitely gives me pride, but I think more to the point is the knowledge that I was involved in hopefully making people’s lives just a little better. I thank our customers every day for giving us that opportunity.

Interested in learning more? Watch this two minute introduction to workforce.com here.

About Workforce.com

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We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

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