Published on the 25/05/2018 | Written by Pat Pilcher
The power of nine helps bring three years of HCM software development to market…
It’s the quintessential Kiwi story. Wellington-based Fusion5 have taken on the staid world of enterprise HR and payroll applications by adopting a different tack and turning conventional enterprise application development wisdom on its head. Thinking differently is clearly working as Fusion5 currently employ close to 400 staff on both sides of the Tasman and reported revenues of NZ$80 million in their most recent financial year.
Where a traditional requirements/scoping/development approach has long been used by developers, the Fusion5 team dared to think differently by taking an anthropological approach to developing ‘Jemini’, their integrated, cloud-based payroll and HR solution aimed at medium to large enterprises.
Over a three-year period, developers at Fusion5 spent time not only analysing usage and business needs, but observing the culture of businesses and their staff using HR and payroll applications.
The insights gained from this led to Jemini (standing for Jadestar Empower Massively Improved New Interface), an integrated HR and payroll enterprise application suite based on the Jadestar and Empower HCM solutions acquired by Fusion5 in recent times. According to Fusion5 executive director, Chris Radley, this involved a significant amount of observation.
“Culture played as big a role as a focus on form and function in the development of Jemini,” he said.
This unique approach informed several key Jemini design decisions. One of the most prominent revolved around how employees view and (most importantly says Radley) use HR and payroll applications. Typically, enterprise HR/payroll applications are a love hate relationship for most employees and Radley says this had to change.
“We wanted people to enjoy using it”.
Another example of looking at culture that influenced Jemini’s design was the nature of work.
“Workplaces are highly social, so we made Jemini social too. Messaging and community are both interwoven throughout Jemini”.
Design methodology aside, perhaps the most striking thing about Jemini is its user interface.
Where most enterprise apps emulate paper forms, Fusion5 again ventured well outside of the box to come up with a UI design resembling something from the movie Minority Report.
“Culture played as big a role as a focus on form and function in the development of Jemini.”
This says Radley reflects a growing trend towards the use of touch screens on computing hardware. Jemini is designed from the ground up to be touch driven (it also plays nice with old-school mice and trackpads too).
A key factor figuring in its user interface design was the changing nature of the workplace.
The diverse hardware form factors in use within the enterprise and BYOD environments meant Jemini had to work on multiple screens ranging from smartphones and tablets, through to traditional workplace PCs.
The decision to ditch old-school user interface elements and to move to a touch driven UI was about both longevity and the changing nature of the workplace says Radley.
“The average life expectancy of payroll and HR software is about 12 years. We needed to make sure it was future-proofed, plus generational differences between how older employees and millennials interact with technology needed to be factored into Jemini’s design.”
An interesting design quirk is what Radley calls the “power of nine”. In Jemini there are never more than 9 user interface elements displayed at any one point in time. This reduces the chance of users being overloaded with information, helping to keep Jemini intuitive.
Jemini has other tricks on offer too. In keeping with both community and social elements, an integrated AI can match employees based on interests and can also help managers engage more effectively with staff. Features such as sleep tracking can also be enabled for a greater focus on work/life balance.
Another innovative feature is what Radley calls “employee powered Pay”. This allows employees to customise their pay period, so they can draw down on wages provided they are able to meet pre-approved business rules managed by the in-built AI.
While it may not have the elaborate plot of Minority Report, the Jemini story looks like it may nonetheless still be on a course to change some pre-determined outcomes.