Appraising small business apps: BambooHR
We’re constantly on the look out for new and better ways to support small businesses. And that means regularly reviewing the apps that are out there. So I thought I’d share some of the solutions we’ve come across. This month’s focus is HR.
Human Resources (HR) is one of those functions small business owners often find themselves taking on without the experience or knowledge to get it right.
I know, because I’ve been there. When we set up BCSG there were four of us doing everything: answering phones, handling the post… and HR was an area that we found difficult. Our experience was limited and we were growing so fast our HR processes and procedures weren’t keeping pace with the business.
So how could an app help?
Even with a handful of employees, businesses need the following in place:
- Holiday and sickness diary: these often start as spreadsheets and stay that way. Restricted access makes updating and sharing information complicated, and slows the approval process down.
- Templates of key documents: from staff handbooks to employee contracts, these are the foundations of getting employment right.
- Employment record management: contracts, appraisals and training plans are often kept as paper files. That makes it harder to check documents are up to date and remember key dates.
- Disciplinary processes: it’s crucial to get this right, but many businesses don’t even know where to start.
- Rota scheduling: for shops, cafes and other shift-based businesses scheduling can be a headache, especially managing swaps and sharing changes.
- Recruitment: from writing job descriptions and posting ads, shortlisting CVs and scheduling interviews to selecting the right candidate, this is a fiddly, time-consuming process.
- Payroll: people need to be paid the right amount, on time…
HR tools used to be the domain of big business. Now a range of apps have sprung up that are specifically designed to help small businesses with HR. I thought I’d take a look at one, to understand how much it can really help. In the spotlight is BambooHR, which:
- Includes sample data to help you get started and pre-defined forms that hold employee record information
- Consolidates all employee information into a single view
- Lets you decide who sees what within the app
- Enables you to keep track of time off like holidays, sick days or bereavement, and generates reports
- Makes sure you never miss another important HR date with alerts
It’s also started down the path of integration with a payroll provider, rota system and recruitment management system. But as businesses come to expect a more connected environment, there’s certainly more that can be done.
Who’s it for?
BambooHR positions itself as the HR tool for small businesses. At the moment, in my view, it becomes useful as soon as a company reaches 15-20 employees and has brought a specialist in to help.
Without a guided tour, education around the basics and contextual help, it struggles to take users on a journey from zero knowledge to a clear understanding of how HR works.
Very small businesses need education and support if they’re going to use an app to handle their HR requirements. And what we know is that an app is only as successful as the processes and procedures you have around it. When a user fully grasps the task in hand and feels at ease with it then they’ll appreciate the value of the app and start using it.
This is where BambooHR ends up setting its own limit on its audience. It’s a well-constructed, useful app, but only for those who already know what they’re doing with HR.
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