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Simon EllisNov 11, 2022 12:00:26 PM6 min read

How to get more out of your HR and payroll software

You’ve realised a problem with your HR and payroll software. They might be hard to use, expensive to run, complex to maintain, or simply ineffective for your needs. They’re not working for you, your organisation or your employees. The good news is that there’s no shortage of solutions out there. The bad news is that there are almost too many even to wrap your head around. We’ll help you with that.

The dizzying world of HRMS

HRMS, or Human Resource Management Software, are software applications that manage human resources and related processes throughout the employee lifecycle. These digital systems do tedious work for HR administrators like managing payroll, calculating and communicating time-off, onboarding paperwork, managing performance and distributing employee payslips - to save them time and the company money and to improve the employee experience. These applications assist the HR department by automating manual tasks, keeping employee information organised, and creating data-driven reports. This is all done electronically, eliminating the need for paper documents and, for the most part, manual processes.

The HRMS landscape is rapidly changing to suit the needs of an ever-evolving working world. Besides disruptive new businesses constantly reshaping the status quo, we’re seeing major shifts in how and where people work. Software companies are increasingly churning out enterprise solutions for every possible business problem and niche to meet those needs.

Digitally connecting with employees

HRMS are an essential way for companies to connect with their employees digitally. As we discussed in a previous article, digitally connecting with employees is particularly challenging for companies with predominantly deskless workers. This is because the traditional channels, like email, SMS and employee self-service apps, fail to reach and engage the deskless workforce. A prime example of this is how companies distribute payslips in deskless environments. It’s usually done manually by printing and delivering the payslips, which clearly shows that the company is struggling to connect with their employees digitally.

This challenge doesn’t end at payslips, though. If probably means your leave administration, discipline, onboarding and other essential HR admin are also paper-based and manual. If you’re an SMME, you’re probably in this position because you haven’t found the right digital solution. It could also be that you haven’t even realised that your paper-based processes are a problem. So what are your options?

Big brand, small brand - does it matter?

If you start your search for an HR system online, you’ll be bombarded with endless options, but you’ll likely be drawn to brands you recognise. Sage, SAP, Bamboo, Zoho, Payspace, SimplePay and (inexplicably) Monday usually feature on every list and review site. When you start looking into these solutions yourself, you’ll probably notice that they all say more or less the same. All of them claim to be the most customizable, comprehensive and versatile HR systems on the market. We all know that you can’t be everything to everyone at once (unless you’re Google) and that you need to understand your requirements before you can even explore a solution (you can read more about how to build your requirements in this article).

A better starting point is to focus on the problem instead of the solution. After all, you’re only in the market for an HR and payroll solution because something isn’t working with your current system. Hone in on your problem, and you’ll have an easier time navigating the solutions.

Evaluating the solutions

Paper-based processes

The obvious answer is that you continue with your paper-based processes because if it isn’t broken, why would you fix it? Well, it comes down to how you see the problem, and it’s hard to imagine a single C-Suite or HR administrator out there who would prefer to spend more money and time on manual processes.

HR and payroll systems

If you look at at brands like Sage, Payspace, SAP etc., they mainly offer the functionality to manage leave, send out comms and distribute payslips via an ESS app, email or SMS. You might think that you’ve found your solution, but there’s a major flaw in this approach: the majority of working people are deskless. If that’s the case, your employees probably aren’t engaging with or even have regular access to email. You can contact them via SMS, but the reality is that you probably have an outdated database and keeping it up to date is manual and time-consuming. Even if they did open their SMS, there’s also a good chance that the number you have stored for a particular employee is outdated. There are the additional problems of SMS being a one-way channel, and the fact that you can’t track delivery. All of this ultimately stems from the fact that only 1% of the enterprise technology being developed caters to this 80% of the working world, the deskless worker.

This automatically means that the vast majority of HR admin solutions in the market, particularly those with recognisable brands, are not actually suitable for businesses with predominantly deskless workers. They’re also unsuitable for SMMEs for various other reasons (like cost, complexity and maintenance), which we have broken down in our article about how to build the requirements for your HR system.


Jem’s approach to HR systems fundamentally differs from brands like Sage, SAP, Zoho and Payspace. Firstly, Jem is not a replacement for your existing HR system: it’s a system-agnostic add-on that can plug into whatever your current system is to supplement it and make it more effective at connecting and engaging with deskless workers.

Secondly, Jem’s systems are built on WhatsApp, the world's most popular instant messenger. While deskless workers generally don’t have regular access to email and ignore SMS, the vast majority have WhatsApp which they use as their primary communication channel on their mobile devices. That means you have a channel which is interactive and virtually attached to the employee. This way, sending out or requesting payslips, managing leave, or sending out urgent comms becomes far more effective. The fact that the systems are Whatsapp-based means that every time an employee wants to engage with the system - for example, request a payslip - they have to do so from their latest phone number. That makes your employee contact database “self-maintaining”, meaning you always have the latest contact information for your employees. Because it's on a channel they actually use, you are also getting real unforced engagement.

Payslip distribution is simply an example of where Jem’s systems are far more effective than the alternatives. The real value lies in connecting and engaging with employees effortlessly. On average, we manage to get over 85% of our client's workforce registered within the first month, and once an employee is registered, on average 98% use Jem every month. Once you’ve found a mechanism like this, it opens up a whole world of opportunities where most HR admin can be carried out over Whatsapp. The real value of Jem is that it digitally connects employers with their employees in a way other systems simply cannot.


There’s no shortage of solutions out there for HR and payroll systems, but they can only work for you if they work for your employees. If your employees are mainly office based, your business is the minority, and there’s no shortage of HRMS that could suit your needs (provided you can afford the licensing, implementation and maintenance costs, have highly skilled employees, and have the requisite skill to maintain the systems). If your business, like the vast majority of them, is made up of mostly deskless workers who rarely use email and barely interact with SMS, Jem is the ultimate HR system for your company.


Simon Ellis

Simon is the CEO of Jem, an African technology company that is making HR & Payroll easier using WhatsApp.