Software as a service booms

Software as a service booms

A few years ago, long-standing payroll software developer Neller Software re-engineered its products for the Web and then began offering the software as a service. The calibre of the customers it has since signed up shows the market is acquiring a taste for such a service.

Adelaide-based Neller Software has been producing in-house payroll software systems for the AS/400 (now the iSeries) for the last 25 years, gaining accounts such as Coles Myer along the way. Around 10 years ago, the company expanded from pure back-office payroll processing into HR modules such as recruitment, occupational health and safety and training.

In 1999, the company tried their hand

at developing a Web-enabled front end to its Payroll suite (Preceda).

In mid-2001, the company It began offering the software as a service, under the branding of Preceda eBureau. Neller Software now hosts and delivers the software on a subscription basis from its data centre in Adelaide. Customers pay a small fee for the three to four weeks of implementation and training, then pay a subscription fee per employee once the system is up and running.

As well as the provision of payroll services, the service also enables employees to access selected HR information and services on a permission-based level. Employees can access and edit their personal details, for example, or fill out leave applications online.

In October and November 2001, health insurance company MBF and airline catering company GateGourmet both signed up for the service. In December, the company won another significant deal, signing up Transurban Citylink, the company responsible for Melbourne's toll freeway road system.

Neller Software managing director David Page said that in tighter economic circumstances, companies are warming to flexible and cost-effective software solutions. With a subscription model, the service caters to companies increasing their staff (in that it is scalable), but also those companies reducing staff (in that the subscription fees are paid on a per-employee basis).

"Contrary to a lot of IT companies at the moment, we are very bullish about this year," said Page. "We are getting a lot of interest in the service from companies that normally only look to in-house systems. Everyone is looking very carefully at their costs."

Re-engineering its product as a Web-based service has also allowed Neller Software to sell into accounts that do not necessarily use the same back-end architecture (the AS/400).

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