Canadian innovation: how one company adapted their SaaS to capture growth

As work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health become more important for employees, MakeShift is giving businesses with manual, clunky, and downright painful scheduling processes the ability to easily build schedules that fit the needs of their workforce. The company’s success and rising profile in the employee scheduling market (a market estimated to grow at a 9.8 per cent CAGR in North America to $526 Million by 2026) caught my attention.

I connected with MakeShift’s Chief Product Officer, Nicole Craig, to get all the details on this high growth SaaS business that’s making waves in the employee scheduling space.

Brian Clendenin: MakeShift is the go-to app for brands like Air France, Best Western, La Senza, Alberta Health Services and many others. What’s the key to your success and growth?

Nicole Craig: We take great pride in knowing that businesses both large and small, across diverse industries use MakeShift for their employee scheduling. Our success is largely due to three things:

  • The simplicity and intuitiveness of our application – we place a strong emphasis on design and end-user experience.
  • Our People First approach to business – which is seen in everything we do, from our software right down to our implementation specialists and client success team. We foster a personal relationship with our clients, which is unlike most SaaS companies in our space. This allows us to get to know our clients, understand their challenges, and use this information to continuously improve our product. It also leads to instant, personalized support for our customers.
  • Our early focus on integrations allowed us to scale at a rate that would not have been possible as a standalone product. In fact, it is this strategy that led to us becoming one of the bestselling apps for employee scheduling on the ADP Marketplace and to being recognized as an ADP Marketplace Platinum Partner.

Brian: As Chief Product and Operations Officer at a high growth SaaS company, how do you see this push for more flexibility in the workplace affecting businesses?

Nicole: Businesses need to be agile to survive and thrive. This means that employers need to invest in solutions that let them quickly adapt to changes while prioritizing the employee experience.

The industries that were hit the hardest by the pandemic are seeing a huge labour shortage. People were forced to pause, re-examine their lives, and in certain situations seek out new jobs. This is turning out to be a major contributor to the shift in workforce trends. Employees want more flexibility in their work schedule and better work-life balance.

We are also seeing a rise in the use of contingent labour as businesses face the pressure of having to do more with fewer resources. Contingent workers allow organizations to quickly scale resources up or down based on demand, which can’t be done as easily with full-time staff. Onboarding and efficiently scheduling your external team in the quickest manner is going to be key to driving growth.

Brian: And what impact, if any, is this having on the employee scheduling market?

Nicole: The employee scheduling market is white hot. The rise in the need for better employee scheduling can be seen across all industries as businesses grapple with workforce changes, labour shortages, entirely new HR and Operational processes, and financial struggles brought on by the pandemic.

Manual scheduling is time consuming and labour intensive. A missed shift due to lack of communication impacts the bottom line. Employers are seeing the benefit of a scheduling tool that ensures all staff are kept well-informed of schedule changes as they happen.

But, it is not only employers who are taking note; investors are also keenly aware of this shift. In the last year alone there have been several acquisitions and investments that have happened in the employee scheduling space. The pandemic highlighted the need for a robust employee scheduling tool to manage the changing workforce – even jobs that weren’t as severely impacted are moving towards a scheduling tool to manage the new hybrid workforce.

Brian: You mention your focus on the product. What is your vision for MakeShift? How do you see it evolving?

Nicole: We want to take the entire employee scheduling process and make it absolutely pain free from start to end. With the rise of contingent labour spend across businesses, we also see a huge potential to compliment changing workforce needs. Consequently, we are investing in our solution to ensure organizations that use external teams can ensure they have proper coverage and are equipped to effectively handle any scheduling changes.

In terms of evolution, we will continue to offer a product that is intuitive, flexible, customizable, and able to be used across a variety of different industries. The benefit of this flexibility became apparent during the pandemic, as we saw businesses quickly pivot and use MakeShift across testing sites for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Brian: Tell me more about MakeShift being used for testing sites. Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your product roadmap in any way?

Nicole: One of our clients, AM Trace, based out of the U.S., used MakeShift to deliver testing and vaccine services more efficiently. It’s definitely a moment of Canadian pride for us.

As for the impact to our product roadmap, one of the things employers can now track in the MakeShift app is vaccination status. This is only visible by managers and obtained through employee consent. As Governments pass vaccination mandates and businesses require employees to be vaccinated, this will allow managers to easily track vaccination status and use the information to schedule their staff accordingly for a safer workplace.

Brian: What advice do you have for companies looking to provide great service to customers?

Nicole: Focus on a People First approach in all things. Wowing customers starts with wowing employees. Employee turnover is costly; so, providing a job that is meaningful, enjoyable, and engaging is key to retaining talent. We focus on giving our people the purpose and path they need to succeed. We are also open and transparent in how the business is performing and how each person contributes to our collective success. As a result, people come to work feeling invested and accountable. This creates happier teams. And happier teams drive growth because happy employees provide an unparalleled experience to customers.

Brian: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our community?

Nicole: As we turn the page on this unprecedented last year, businesses that focus on providing what we have come to call the 3F’s of MakeShift – Flexibility, Fit, Fun – to their employees are going to position themselves for success and set themselves apart from the competition. There is no question in my mind that the future belongs to organizations that take steps to give employees the flexibility to tailor work to fit their needs, making work fun.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Brian Clendenin
Brian Clendenin
"We are at one of the most exciting moments in history when it comes to innovation in IT driving innovation in business." Widely recognized as a powerful speaker intertwining storytelling and expertise, Clendenin writes and speaks on the topics of leadership, cloud, infrastructure, monitoring & analytics, DevOps, AI, machine learning, security, mobility, IT strategy, and digital transformation. Invests his time interviewing engaging thought leaders. (Connect with Brian Clendenin on LinkedIn)

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