Avoid Cloud Confusion

person covering face with blue wooden cloud wall decor
Avoid Cloud Confusion

The tech industry is famous for inventing jargon and terms that lack any clear definition which are then misused by marketing and ultimately mislead potential buyers into thinking they are getting something they are not.  The term “Cloud Solution” is a classic example.

Strictly speaking cloud solutions refer to any software (or service) that is provisioned via the Internet and does not require local infrastructure/install to consume it (typically access is via a web browser). However, this term is broad enough to hide a multitude of sins whilst not challenging any assumptions.

The public experience of cloud solutions is numerous including applications like google, amazon, banking and other consumer retail applications. These applications reflect a specific instance of “cloud solutions” and are based on modern internet design principles including;

  1. Internet By Design: These applications are built for the internet age with an architecture that can scale and more importantly scale over multiple servers that can be increased with demand ensuring users do not experience lag.
  2. Resilient Architecture: Because the application is designed to run on multiple servers there is inbuilt redundancy which reduces unexpected downtime.
  3. Future Proofed: These applications are automatically updated/upgraded with fixes and features without users having to request or pay for the update. This ensures that users are always working on the most bug free and updated version and ensures they never fall into legacy.

This all seems straightforward and many would be forgiven for thinking that all cloud applications follow these design patterns. However, many cloud-based solutions do not, and we therefore need to differentiate between “True Cloud” and those that just run the application in the “Cloud”. The main two “Cloud” variants which are often mistaken for “True Cloud” are;

  1. Hosted Applications: This is where a traditional legacy Fat Client application is hosted in a data centre and users’ access the application via Terminal Services or Citrix. Whilst it is true to say that nothing needs to be installed locally (other than Terminal Services/Citrix) the reality is you are simply accessing an old product through a new way. The application isn’t multi-tenanted, it doesn’t scale, and each instance needs to be individually upgraded/updated. Its an old product on a new server with Citrix.
  2. Web User Interface: Another tactic often deployed by business is to rewrite the user interface so that users can access the functionality through a web browser. Whilst it provides a modern feel and avoids the need for costly Citrix/Terminal Services, the reality behind the scenes is much the same as with a standard hosted application though this is hidden from the user until things go wrong. In the industry this is referred to as “lipstick on a pig

Why Not True Cloud?

Given the disadvantages to both the vendor and the customer of using a “cloud enabled legacy solution” it does beg the question why businesses would not invest in developing Cloud Designed Solutions. The answer is that many businesses have invested significantly in Fat Client/Server solutions for many years (Some from as early as 1995) and do not want to incur the cost required to start from scratch.

The more functionality they add into their old product the more reluctant (and expensive) they are to invest in a new product. It is akin to refusing to buy a new car because you have spent so much money repairing the old one.

HFX is True Cloud

Within Workforce Management, HFX is one of the few exceptions. In 2013, HFX secured significant investment to build a true cloud solution from the ground up. We recruited developers with 15+ years’ experience developing web solutions AND with a strong background in Workforce Management to ensure the solution was “True Cloud” AND ready for the New World of Work.

To find out what a True Cloud Workforce Management Solution looks like contact us

 

HFX Leads the Market in Flexitime

HFX are now the largest supplier of Flextime® solutions to the Public Sector and Local Government within the UK. With over 500 customers including 185 Local Authorities across England, Scotland and Wales, HFX has become the trusted name in Flexible Working Solutions.

public sector flexi

Nick Whiteley, CEO comments “Organisations are increasingly turning to flexitime solutions to attract and retain talent within their team and hfx is their trusted partner“.

Customers list a number of reasons for choosing HFX including their wealth of experience (over 45+ years), it’s ease of use, comprehensive suite including integrated Access Control and Visitor Registration. The Cloud/SaaS delivery of the solution and minimum infrastructure is also a key advantage with IT departments already stretched.

Nick Whiteley adds “HFX provide a complete solution including data collection devices, full onsite support, UK development and Call Centre which provides organisations with the confidence that they will be fully supported now and in the future“. HFX regularly receives 100% AWESOME ratings within customer services and resolves most calls on first contact.

To find out what our customers say, download our Flexitime brochure

Or Contact us for more information and a demonstration.

Flextime®, Imperago® and EveryOneCloud® are registered trademarks of hfx ltd (registered in England 08137794)

HFX CELEBRATES COMMITMENT TO REAL LIVING WAGE

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HFX starts 2019 accredited as a Living Wage Employer. Our Living Wage commitment will see everyone working at HFX receive a minimum hourly wage of £9.00 in the UK or £10.55 in London. Both rates are significantly higher than the government minimum for over 25s, which currently stands at £7.83 per hour.

HFX is based in the East of England, a region where over a fifth of all jobs (21%) pay less than the real Living Wage – around 484,000 jobs. Despite this, HFX has committed to pay the real Living Wage and deliver a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.

The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers that wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, not just the government minimum. Since 2011 the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 160,000 people and put over £800m extra into the pockets of low paid workers.

Nick Whiteley, CEO said: “As a leading workforce management solutions provider we have a strong commitment to our colleagues and we are delighted to honour this pledge.”

Tess Lanning, Director, Living Wage Foundation said: “We’re delighted that HFX has joined the movement of over 4,700 responsible employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on.

“They join thousands of small businesses, as well as household names such as IKEA, Heathrow Airport, Barclays, Chelsea and Everton Football Clubs and many more. These businesses recognise that paying the real Living Wage is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like HFX, believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

For more information on HFX click here

To find out more about the Living Wage Foundation visit www.livingwage.org.uk

The Value of Simplify

“The height of sophistication is simplicity”
Clare Boothe Luce

simple

Whilst HFX has many values, our core value is SIMPLIFY. We believe this core value drives change and provides tangible benefits to all our customers. We apply this approach to all that we do and place our customers at the heart of the process.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
 Steve Jobs

By applying this value to software development, our team have created a powerful workforce management solution that reduces customer configuration time by over 80%. The result is that OUR customers pay significantly less for implementation, and due to faster implementation times, realise savings much quicker than with other providers.

The benefits don’t end there; because we design our solutions for customers and not for ourselves, we empower customers to take complete ownership of the system including the ability to manage the rules themselves. This not only reduces costs but enables customers to adapt the solution as they change and grow.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
Hans Hofmann

Our approach to simplification also applies to our user interface. Where most software companies provide a single interface for managers and employees, we focus on providing the right user interface for each cohort (Role Based UI Design). Whilst managers are often IT literate and require a powerful user interface to carry out their daily tasks, there is a clear advantage in providing a simplified interface for everyone else.

By providing a user interface that is intuitive and simple, our customers significantly reduce training costs whilst ensuring that there is high user adoption and fewer user errors. Our Employee Self Service UI Design is based on the principles and ease of use that Cash Machines provide; No-one ever needed training on how to use a cash machine and this is also true of ours.

The benefits of simplification go further still. By simplifying the user interface, support calls reduce dramatically. For HFX, this means we have more time to devote to our customers who contact us for more complex queries; this is why we regularly receive 100% AWESOME customer ratings on our Customer Services.

“Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.”
 Martin H. Fischer

Our approach to integration with other software solutions including HR, Payroll and ERP takes a similar approach. HFX provides RapiD interface configuration that does all the heavy lifting, translation and transformation enabling third party integration to be achieved effortlessly. By handling the complex processes within the application, we simplify the integration to third parties and even enable our customers to leverage the API so that they can integrate directly.

“Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.”
 Edward R. Tufte

We have also applied our core value to other aspects of our business including the approach to Marketing. Our new website (www.hfx.co.uk) embodies our core value and mission. We designed the website with our audience in mind rather than being slaves to google search ranking algorithms.

We removed all the clutter and present the key information we think our potential customers want to know. There are no cookies, no pop-up ads, no annoying call-outs and no information overload. We want our customers to view the information they want quickly whilst having a fun and positive experience at the same time.

Hfx re-invents the website

hfx welcome to our website2

In 2017, hfx realised that it needed a new website, one which reflected our values, our innovation and our commitment to delivering solutions for the New World of Work.

Nicola Smart (COO, hfx) recalls “Early on we decided that the website should provide visitors with a positive and immersive experience that provided clear and concise information. Too many websites bombard and overwhelm you with pointless information and noise”.

12 months later and hfx releases a completely new design of website, different in almost every respect to traditional websites;

  • No annoying banners asking you to accept cookies. We decided early on that we wouldn’t be “stalking” our visitors and therefore have no need for tracking cookies. If visitors want to contact us, they know where we are.
  • No visitor badgering or callouts to nag the visitor into contacting us. We believe you either want to contact us or you don’t. No amount of badgering is going to make you change your mind – indeed in some cases the annoyance of callouts is enough to make you leave.
  • No bombarding you with information you didn’t ask for. Your time is precious, so we simplify and summarise information into key points. If you need more information you have the option to download a pdf or visit our microsite (www.hfxworkforce.com)
  • No email grabbing. We don’t require your email before you can download documents. The only time we will ask for your email is if you want to contact us via our contact form.
  • No Scroll to Infinity. So many websites insist on the “long scroll” – which is intended to take the visitor on a journey ending up with a call to action. The journey, of course, is predefined and makes to many assumptions about the visitor. Users often end up getting lost, frustrated or confused by having to scroll through the irrelevant to find the relevant. There is a need to simplify and we have achieved that eliminating almost all scrolling.

Naturally, when you buck the trend and go against the rules of website design, it’s never going to be easy.

There are no templates or previous designs to base yours on and you are battling preconceived ideas of how a marketing website should be designed. It had to be conceived and built from the ground up.

A new menu structure and navigation system was designed, redesigned and after that several more times to accommodate the vision we had for the website.

There are also trade-offs to be made; Google search and SEO friendly http://www.hfx.co.uk is not. Nor is it particularly mobile friendly. We also accepted that for many the new site would be like “marmite”; visitors would either love it or hate it, but at least it wouldn’t be another bland corporate design.

Let us know what you think of hfx.co.uk

EveryOneCloud hits 1 million in 1 year

Rapid increased use of cloud workforce management solutions as companies look to support operations and growth

e1c reaches 1 million

HFX has announced that its EveryOneCloud solution has seen fast adoption by customers since being launched in August 2017. HFX’s EveryOneCloud solution enables organisations to track staff attendance, presence and location. It supports mobile, web, telephony and QR codes for capturing information. Since being launched EveryOneCloud has recorded over one million clockings and HFX forecasts an increase to over five million by its second anniversary.

EveryOneCloud workforce management solution supports over one hundred devices including biometric hand readers, face recognition, finger print as well as traditional card/proximity based devices.

Nicola Smart, COO, HFX and Autotime said; “The benefit of HFX’s cloud solution is its simplicity and flexibility, which has enabled us to extend our portfolio. We have already expanded our footprint outside the UK with our first customer in South Africa, ahead of our planned growth for the end of 2019.”

Nick Whiteley, CEO at HFX said: “This has been a stellar year for our EveryOneCloud solution – we have seen an amazing demand with uptake of an average of six new customers a month. This has accelerated in the last quarter and we expect to see this to continue into year two.”

He continued; “EveryoneCloud is incredibly flexible and we see it being deployed in many market segments to capture attendance, including for Lone Workers, Student Attendance and field staff as well as in the traditional sectors in which we operate.”

As well as recording attendance, EveryOneCloud provides a multi-dimensional data collection capability that enables organisations to record in real-time, staff location, activity, client or contract or any other attribute the client wishes to monitor and report on.

Oliver Page, Account Manager at Workforce Staffing, an award-winning recruitment and staffing agency commented: “EveryOneCloud is a real game-changer for the recruitment industry. The system empowers agencies to deliver a fully transparent and accountable service, combining powerful and easy to use features such as real-time attendance verification, absence alerts, remote enrolment and automatic roll-call, with the convenience of being fully cloud-based so it can be deployed quickly and accessed anytime, anywhere.”

Workforce Staffing has adopted EveryOneCloud to deliver total transparency of its supplied temporary workforce to the Worcester site of metal cast manufacturer JVM Casings, adding significant value to its managed service.  Use of EveryOneCloud has enabled Workforce to assume full responsibility for the attendance of its supplied staff, assisting managers to proactively maintain staffing levels (and therefore maintain productivity on assembly lines), track KPI metrics and streamline its payroll and invoice process.

For a full case study on how Workforce Staffing and JVM Casings are benefiting from EveryOneCloud is available here EveryOneCloud_Case-Study_JVM_Castings

Download EveryOneCloud Brochure

For More Information Contact us

 

 

hfx CEO wins Excellence Award

cup-1010909_1920Nick Whiteley, our CEO, has just been listed in the Global CEO Excellence Awards of CEO Monthly magazine[i]. Awarded Best Workforce Management Business Leader and the Excellence Award for Absence Management Solutions (UK), both awards form part of CEO Monthly’s programme to recognise the CEOs responsible for driving change while successfully managing the day-to-day operations within an organisation.

We are thrilled that Nick has been chosen along with other leading CEOs for his outstanding achievements.  It recognises his leadership and innovation in the development of our next generation product and underlines our position as a leading provider of workforce management solutions in the UK.

Recently Nick has led HFX’s development strategy to design solutions that address the need for today’s organisations to capture and analyse data to provide insights for employee efficiencies. We have focussed on developing powerful solutions that are simple to use and integrate, which is no easy task, but reaps benefits for our customers.

Our Time and Attendance solution, now combined with Access Control and 3D Rostering, forms our next generation system. It enables organisations to gain an important multi-dimension view of staff activity, to identify where costs are going and optimise plans and workforce accordingly.

We are already seeing rapid uptake of our solutions with many new customers facing these workforce challenges. It builds on our expertise of helping organisations to manage working hours transparently and equitably, improving productivity and employee wellbeing.

If this sounds like a challenge that your organisation is facing, then it’s time to talk to us.

Nicola Smart, COO, HFX

[i] For more information on the 2018 Global CEO awards, Sponsored by Hospitality Minds, https://www.ceo-review.com/2018-the-2018-global-ceo-excellence-awards-press-release