From XU Magazine, 
Issue 26

Q & A: The Power of Partnerships

How HR Tech is helping Archangel Accounting support their clients through remote working & beyond

Julia Jones has been a qualified chartered accountant for over 20 years and founded Archangel Accounting in 2007. Archangel provides finance and accounting functions to small businesses globally and have seen their clients go from strength to strength through Xero and Appogee HR. Here, our VP Partnerships Stuart Keeble interviews her.

Q: Thank you for joining us today Julia! To kick us off I’d like to know more about how you started to get involved in HR Tech?

A: Happy to be here! As part of Archangel Accounting I look after companies and act as their CFO, HR often comes my way as companies that I work with often don’t have their own internal HR person due to their size. Where I can see there’s an opportunity I do like to use software to ensure their core business needs are met, and HR is definitely one of those. I look after companies’ payrolls so it’s important for me to find a solution which integrates with Xero, but also we need a platform which can support all companies’ employees, new starters and their records.

Q: What impact from your customers perspective does using HR tech such as Appogee HR have, and how is it received by clients?

A: Really well! Right from the start of the employee journey, the onboarding portal really takes away the admin as it guides new starters through all of the documents they need to provide so we love it, firstly, from an onboarding perspective. We’re also using it for keeping all the company’s documents and policies in place, especially reviewing versions or having employees acknowledge, for example, handbooks etc. and we love it for just making sure our clients are on top of all things HR. Appogee HR offers a really good performance review feature too, which we used for the first time after it launched last year, and it just went really well. Everyone especially liked the 360 feedback! Instead of using a lot of paper to complete all of these exercises, like we used to do, HR tech automates everything and then has a really strong audit trail which is so important from a compliance perspective.

Q: How have your customers been impacted by the pandemic and how have HR tech tools helped?

A: A lot of my clients facilities were closed in the early phases of the pandemic, particularly those using university labs. They adjusted by introducing working from home practices and a phased return to laboratory working when facilities were open and  it was safe to do so. HR software is particularly helpful here as having procedures such as health and safety policies within the labs is often a primary concern. Being able to share health and safety documents via the company documents portal, as well as being able to confirm who’s acknowledging those procedures has really helped in getting the labs to reopen, and then stay open, safely.

Q: How have you found working with clients from home?

A: I love working from home! I work from Texas and therefore do all my work online and using video calls. We’ve been embracing the positives coming out of the pandemic, from a working perspective, and I think we’re in a strong place when it comes to client communication and carrying on, business as usual, remotely. I would even say that you can be based anywhere these days and still support the same function to the same high standards. I think it’s a sign of how far business technology and innovation has come really.

Q: How do you help your clients get started with Appogee HR?

A: The clients I use Appogee HR for are biotech start-up’s where you are introducing practices and procedures from scratch. It was great to be able to use Appogee HR, alongside Xero to ensure we had good HR functionality from the beginning. The fact that they also work together eliminates the need for me to use anything additional in order to really get my clients going with their people management needs.

Q: So, being familiar with just one HR software package can help?

A: Yes, absolutely! When I have a company in need of an HR system, and where I am asked to assist with HR, Appogee HR is always perfectly set up to support their needs and as I’m able to use it so well I can really ensure they’re getting the most out of it. From a set-up and configuration perspective it’s good that I’ve got to know Appogee HR as software packages can sometimes need a little bit of work. I know with Appogee HR it’s well worth taking the time to set it up for my clients needs so they can really get the most out of it. Other software packages which come “off the shelf” and aren’t so customisable often don’t quite fit the bill in terms of really adding value, and there’s a lot more in Appogee HR that you can tailor to fit the client.

Q: How is the Xero integration with Appogee HR particularly helpful?

A: The real benefit for us is that by using Appogee HR for onboarding together with the Xero integration employee pages are created directly in Xero which does really help in terms of admin reduction. I’m looking forward to seeing how that evolves in the future as well as you’re both so closely aligned with trying to make things easier for small businesses and the integration between Appogee HR and Xero is a huge benefit as they work so well together without me even having to manage them too much.

Q: We’ve recently launched time tracking, project recording and location recording. Do you see this helping with clients’ needs?

A: Recording time spent on various projects will almost always be important to us for the future as it’s part of the nature of what we do. Exporting the data on this for reporting will be especially important as we do the R&D tax credit each year and get cashback from HMRC, so capturing time spent on projects will work really well for that. Regarding recording the location of workers I can see how this could be beneficial for industries looking at hybrid working, particularly if employees need to request a day to work from home on write-ups or anything else that could be done more effectively in the remote working environment. For safety reasons making sure you can manage office capacity and record who has been in the office on certain days, will definitely be useful too.

There is no doubt that partnerships are really beneficial to businesses and their clients, as we navigate through tricky times. Finding these mutually beneficial business relationships can really help companies embrace hybrid working, payroll issues and people management admin for a brighter future.

Why leave it there?

Find out more about partnering with Appogee HR

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