Personalisation and flexibility: two code words for companies that want to grow sustainably within the framework of their pay policy. Partena Professional helps these companies by responding to trends and offering innovative services. This is how Payabl' was created: as the result of a productive collaboration between Partena Professional and AE.
“We are introducing a new type of HR”
Payabl' gives employees the opportunity to request an advance on their salary with ease. They open the app on their smartphone or laptop, enter the desired amount, and press 'Send'. The payroll staff then handle the request on their Payabl’ dashboard. If they approve it, the payment order is automatically sent to the bank.
“It's so much more than a tool,” states Jonas Pollet, Innovation Manager at Partena Professional. “With Payabl', we're launching a new type of HR.”
More than one third of employees would like to be paid weekly
Payabl' is a response to a genuine need among employees. As Jonas states: “A survey has shown that 34% of employees would like to be paid at least once a week. 6% would even prefer to get paid every day. Payabl' is able to respond to this expectation. The solution is unique in the market, even internationally. It gives workers more freedom in terms of their pay, and it doesn't involve any type of credit or interest. The approach is streamlined, ethical and legally sound.”
Why wait 30 days for your pay?
Traditionally, employees receive their salary at the end of the month. But Jonas thought: “Why shouldn’t they be rewarded sooner for their work?” “I had been mulling over the idea of Payabl' in my head for two years. HR is slowly but surely moving towards more individualised, flexible pay packages. Cafeteria plans allow employees to put together their own packages. Payabl' now also personalises the time when they get paid.”
“AE's numerous questions brought many details to light that we hadn't thought of ourselves. This has made the result all the more productive.”
Jonas: “The roll-out of the Payabl’ project coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to show people we weren't afraid to invest in strong ideas while being able to respond flexibly to a rapidly changing market. Our CEO Michel Halet gave the go-ahead and set a tight deadline: ‘Our solution had to be ready by October.’ We built our concept around a user-friendly, mobile app and seamless integration into the payroll software. We called on AE to help us with this.”
Countless reassuring questions
It didn't take long to turn to AE's expertise. Sara Lombaerts, Product Manager at Partena Professional: “We presented our challenge to five candidates. Only AE showed a true eagerness to get started on our project. AE also made critical contributions right from the start. They didn’t simply say yes to everything, and they didn’t make any assumptions. This is how we knew we'd found a real partner rather than just another supplier. The AE team asked countless questions. They brought details to light that we hadn't even thought of yet.”
“This has made the result all the more productive,” adds Jonas. “AE was also the only candidate that had any real experience with our requirements and already had the foundation in place for good user management. That foundation, Customer Identity & Access Management or CIAM, is an essential part of Payabl'. CIAM ensured efficient development and allowed us to pay a lot of attention to user experience and extra user stories. We knew from the start that we were in good hands.”
Agile: successfully reaching the finish line in four sprints
AE’s Proxy Product Owner Joris Hias led the team of analysts and developers: “We believed in the product 100%. That gave us the energy to give it our all. This is illustrated by the fact that some developers wanted to stay one Friday night to complete a big user story. They could have gone home and started again on Monday, but they didn’t.”
“Joris from AE explained the project very clearly, with fixed milestones, valuable feedback sessions and four sprints.”
The time to develop a rock-solid solution was limited. “We had sent out our invitations to tender in May. In June, we joined forces with AE. The project's kick-off was in July. Two months later – in mid-September – Payabl' was complete and ready to be launched for some test customers,” reveals Sara.
That short turnaround time required a tight schedule. AE adopts an agile approach to challenges of this kind. Sara wasn't very familiar with this method. “However, Joris managed everything very well. With fixed milestones, valuable feedback sessions and four sprints,” she states. “During those sprints, our user stories came to life (editor's note: a user story is a response to a challenge from the target group that has been translated into technical requirements). We kept consulting with each other to see if we were on the right track, sometimes even on a daily basis.”
“AE has the expertise, the empathy and the innovative attitude to help us tackle the considerable challenges in terms of pay policy.”
Were there any bumps in the road? “You encounter unexpected problems in every project,” Joris states. “The trick is to keep a cool head, make sure the issue doesn’t impede development, and incorporate the changes for the next sprint.” Sara: “Joris and his team did an excellent job.”
Fortunately, they weren’t feeling the pressure all the time. “We laughed a lot together during the project,” Jonas says. Joris confirms this: “We were very open and friendly with each other. When I think back to this first collaboration, that is what strikes me the most. I had a really good time.” So did the AE team succeed in what it set out to achieve? Jonas and Sara don't hesitate for a second. “AE clearly has the expertise, the empathy and the innovative vision to help us tackle our major pay policy challenges,” states Jonas.
Sara feels that working with AE provided a better solution: “AE introduced us to SendGrid email services and AUTh0 for app security – software that could play a key role in our organisation. It was also interesting to participate in an agile process. I found the so-called 'pre-mortem' particularly interesting. What does this mean? Suppose our project fails. In that case, we need to know why it failed. This exercise enabled us to identify all the project risks and remedy them in advance. That was a real eye-opener.”
Ready to enter the market
Partena Professional is now discussing Payabl’ with various organisations – from cleaning companies to engineering firms. Jonas: “Our go-to-market strategy is to roll out Payabl' first with some test customers. Their feedback is essential in order to build an even more robust solution that fully meets all the real needs of the market. Our co-creation with AE has made this home stretch less punishing and ensured that Payabl' keeps getting stronger every day.”
“Payabl' is part of a new, employee-focused culture that allows employers to have more confidence in their staff,” Jonas goes on to state. “That calls for proper management, including in terms of pay, because pay advances will obviously have an impact on the company's cash flow. It is a path we want to demonstrate to employers. And we have noticed that our move to a new type of HR is catching on.”
“In AE we found a partner who is on the same wavelength”
At the time of publication, at least one customer had already started using Payabl’ for its seventy employees. “The test results were very promising,” reveals Jonas. Payabl’ also received recognition from the press and from the world of HR and IT. “We have been nominated for the HR Excellence Awards, the Corporate IT Awards and the Belgian Prestige Awards, and we are in the final round for the CIO of the Year Awards, as presented by Data News,” Jonas says with pride.
“We are going all out for HR innovation. We want to open up the market. “We are glad that in AE we have found a partner who is on the same wavelength.”