Former Hybris employees see a market for ’employee relationship management’

A Montreal-based startup is addressing the unmet needs of hourly workers and their employers with a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering as enterprises continue to move away from large enterprise resource planning (ERP) software deployments.

WorkJam has launched what it calls the first employee relationship management platform focused on the hourly work economy. The company was founded by Steven Kramer, Joshua Ostrega and Mark Sadegursky, who aren’t strangers to enterprise software companies, having founded an e-commerce consultancy firm iCongo that was acquired by Hybris Software, which was subsequently acquired by SAP in 2013.

In fact, WorkJam could be seen as an alternative to the software applications sold by SAP and others to manage company workforces, and according to CEO Kramer, the cloud-based mobile and web-accessible platform is as much about empowering workers as it helps companies source, qualify, hire, onboard, schedule and evaluate hourly workers.

“When you look at how service industry works, there’s a misalignment between businesses and what workers are expecting from them,” he said. WorkJam gives hourly employees more control, enabling to find and apply for jobs based on their availability. Once hired, they can manage their schedules, pick up shifts, or trade shifts directly from their computer or mobile device. Kramer said a key characteristic of WorkJam is it enables workers to establish a more consistent and predictable work schedule and income, while gamifying the process as well – seniority and performance can be recognized by employers and rewarded.

Kramer said the focus on workers and their interests helps employers as well and offers a way to recruit and qualify candidates based on skills and availability – something the HR software market has yet to address, he said, as there has been little innovation in the last decade. WorkJam covers the entire employee lifecycle, from recruiting through to evaluation.

The company is targeting organizations ranging from large enterprise customers down to small, independent restaurants and shops, said Kramer. The platform is designed to be non-intrusive and easily configurable, and although WorkJam is a startup, he said that doesn’t mean the platform is immature – the company has spent 18 months building a comprehensive product.

For large enterprises, Kramer said the buying decision is generally made collaboratively by HR and IT departments; the latter becomes more important to support integration with traditional HR systems to connect with employee records and payroll systems.

Although not familiar with WorkJam specifically, Utsav Arora, senior analyst covering enterprise applications, for IDC Canada said the startup’s offering reflects a shift in buying habits for enterprise software. Until recently, these decisions were usually funneled through an IT vendor management system, but in the past few years, specific lines of business within organizations have been making purchases to solve specific business problems, including the HR department, because they have the discretionary budgets.

Arora said these apps are easier to deploy and use. “It’s essentially created this new landscape. It’s getting a lot of traction.” IT still does play a role in making sure these applications meet overall requirements for the organizations, such as security, he said.

Large ERP deployments haven’t gone away completely, said Arora. The financial services sector and the public sector, which encompasses government departments, health and education – still have a lot of implementations, but there’s lots of opportunities for companies aside from heavy hitters Oracle and SAP to address human capital management. He highlighted’s expansion into the market as an example.

Arora noted that even a large SaaS application doesn’t require a great deal skills to deploy or big implementations, so there is new spending on these platforms. And there’s a great deal of opportunity in the Canadian market, especially in the small- and medium-sized enterprise segment, as the cloud has made these applications more affordable. “Implementation and deployment has become so much easier,” he said. “And cost of ownership has gone down so much.”

Editor’s note: This story’s headline used to refer to the founders of WorkJam as having previously co-founded Hybris. That was incorrect, the founders formed a consultancy that was acquired by Hybris.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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