Cascade HR is making the processes associated with human management for businesses simpler than ever. We talk to CEO Oliver Shaw about their success.
Oliver Shaw is a passionate man. His belief centres around a need to help businesses to correctly manage their human resources, in the same way that they’d manage practical ones. Cascade HR helps to manage the bits of HR that are process driven, that are capable of automation, freeing up resources to be used to better effect in businesses.
“Effectively, we provide the employee engagement engine, if you like,” he says. It’s not a communication tool, but - “it allows HR professionals to get away from managing processes, and allows them to add value with recruitment, talent management cultural issues.”
The genesis of the firm began in the mid-90s, from a team who all worked in, or provided services to, HR departments. That concept has now been modernised, moving away from early implementations and accounting-based record systems towards a browser based solution which is fit-for-purpose but also integrates with other, complementary, solutions.
“We now have well over 1000 customers, adding in excess of 100 customers a year. We produce an out of the box solution for simple requirements which comes from an acquisition we made last year, and the highly configurable product which allows people to build the solution that they like.
It’s his eighth anniversary with Iris Software, the firm thatacquired Cascade HR, and it now forms part of their portfolio of software solutions which deal with ‘human capital management’ and work predominantly in the areas of payroll and accountancy.
Their products work for businesses from one employee up to tens of thousands, with the payroll team in Stockton, the Cascade HR team in Leeds and a support office in Manchester.
Cascade HR is a team 160 strong, and growing – Iris chose to combine all of its human capital management solutions into one division, which Cascade is part of, and which services some 40,000 employers, managing more than three million staff.
Oliver’s background is in fast-paced consumer management services. “I have a reasonable history of working in ‘human capital intensive’ industries – call centres, support centres, where you have a lot of throughput of individuals.
“The key importance is the knowledge that exists in HR, and the way their knowledge helps you to run your business.
We went to market and asked, ‘Do you know how many people you have in work today?’ 75% said they could work out how many they *should* have, but very few knew the number.
“It’s critical to the way a business runs; a critical number. I should be able to turn around to somebody and say, as CEO, what am I going to do next month based on the number of heads in the business, whether that’s development, sales, customer support – we should know that relationship.
“It’s becoming abundantly clear that we need to solve that problem.”
Growth is a basic requirement of Cascade HR’s future plans – it’s almost an assumption, they will simply continue to grow. But their strategy is threefold:
· To ensure their larger customers have the right support and complementary software and services,
· To maintain their market position – primarily with the investment of £10m into their software development, and
· To continue to move from software to solutions.
“I think some people are sat there with their heads hurting thinking, what do I do now?’, he says of some of the newer legislative requirements being put on smaller businesses, especially with such a large push towards making the Government and all-statutory bodies digital.
“You’ll be excluded if you don’t have software and some good data.”
Oliver credits the team of people he works with, as being the reason he’s so happy to get out of bed every day. “I’m quite competitive,” he says, “so I enjoy it when we beat our targets or beat a competitor or help a customer.
“Over time, that’s evolved into something slightly different – it’s not enough now to say we won, what I get a buzz out of is transforming stuff.
“We’ve made acquisitions and changed the way our pricing model works – seeing those things work through and become successful is brilliant.
“A great idea poorly executed – well, you might as well not have started, but a good idea well executed, you end up with something coming out of it, I get a real buzz.
“That is a good feeling!"