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Ahead of the SaaS Curve: From CRM to HR ERM – The EmployWise Story

Keeping HR running smoothly and focusing on people management while ensuring the other functions occur is of import in any organization. As an industry that is heavily dependent on the skills of its workforce, it is not surprising then that several Indian infotech players have focused their attention on building systems for Human Resources (HR) management. The challenge for such systems has now moved beyond functional coverage to business models that will help their customers derive the most bang for the buck. Treading this line, and most successfully so, is Gurgaon-based Global Groupware Solutions Limited.

A to Z with EmployWise

Global Groupware Solutions Limited’s EmployWise is an end to end HR product that provides companies – big and small – the ability to automate their HR function. EmployWise covers the entire lifecycle of an employee, from Hire to Retire. Sumeet Kapur, ‎Founder & CEO at EmployWise started on the journey back in 1999, when he founded a software product company with a licensed CRM product called Smiles CRM for customer management. Within a couple of years, the company shifted gears to the application service provider (ASP) model, which is a precursor to today’s SaaS model. Kapur proudly says this move made them one of the first, if not the first, product company in India under the SaaS model.

EmployWise, the product that today has come to define the company, came into being in 2010. Across the board, the system to date holds 40,000 employee records and 20,000 alumni/candidate records. Despite the earlier US-focused marketing and sales, today over 95% of EmployWise’s customers are Indian. Kapur points out that a large number of them are MNCs, who use the product in India but have different systems for their locations outside India. It is also noteworthy that almost all the company’s old customers migrated from the ASP version to EmployWise. With around 160 implementations under its belt in the four years since its launch, EmployWise supports every aspect of HR, from recruitment and hiring, performance evaluation, travel and compensation, leave management, to succession planning and separation.

Try and then Buy

A rather unique aspect of the company’s marketing and sales is its full-fledged free online trial, launched a few months ago. Any company, size notwithstanding, can sign up for a 30 day free trial of Employwise, during which time they can try out all the features and have access to the same customer support as a customer. We have online chat and an online ticketing system so we provide full support, free of cost. We currently provide online assistance for about 12 hours in a day and are planning to move to a 24/7 model soon, Kapur points out.

Being a digital product, the sign up and trial processes can be done online and with ease. Unlike most free trials that come with a lock-in and require credit card information, EmployWise asks for no such information and a credit card is only required to become a paid user. The online trial version has base level capabilities aimed at SMEs, says Kapur, with an eye to bringing HR automation to small and mid-sized organizations. The focus is to make it easy to try and use and EmployWise can smoothly integrate with other existing systems. As a modular system, a company can pick and choose the features and capabilities it wishes to deploy within the organization, based on its needs. Kapur agrees that the trail is a big enabler and they have good conversions, with 1 in 3 getting on board.

Another valuable source of growth has been referrals, of which Kapur says there has been a growing number, and he expects exponential growth from this stream. Our operations are mostly digital marketing; the focus is on the user experience and the product, and then references that happen help us sell the product, rather than advertising and promotions.
Stepping out

The company is now looking to expand abroad and is testing the acceptability and functionality of the product outside the country in English speaking markets like Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the U.S. and the South East Asian region. The global focus is on SMEs. Outside India we are not planning to target any big companies but in India we will continue to target both SMEs and big companies. Our core home market will be South Asia, says Kapur. With one customer already on board from Pakistan, the focus will be on acquiring customers through online rather than field marketing. As Kapur puts it: we have no feet on the street and no offices other than our Gurgaon base.

Paying it Forward with NASSCOM

As a pioneer in the Indian product software space, Sumeet Kapur has also been a voice for product software companies in India, and he has been actively involved with NASSCOM’s Northern Regional Product Council. He sees the council as a big plus for the country’s product companies. It offers Indian product vendors a place to put forth their issues and the PEM grid helps Indian buyers evaluate Indian products and get a better understanding of the local market. Until now it’s been about Gartner and Forrester rankings, and it’s not always possible for local companies to get ranked, points out Kapur.

NASSCOM hosts Product Conclaves across the country and internationally, and Kapur says these gatherings provide the platform to share our experiences, good and bad, with upcoming companies. At the NPC on 27th August in Delhi, Kapur will be hosting a panel discussion focusing on what product software companies can do to move from early adopter customers to scale up. In the process of sharing you learn a lot too. College grads are giving up big jobs and enviable packages and options to work on interesting stuff, in order to start their own companies.  So while it is about sharing what I know and have learned, it is also a two way street – share experience but also get the new ideas from these young guns, things I might never have thought of at all, he ends modestly.

Here then, is an example of a company and its leader who wants to give back and is doing so by working closely with industry, including reaching out through NASSCOM and its various initiatives to evangelize the cause of Indian software product companies.

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