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Yay, PayCycle!

Ever wondered where your paycheck comes from? I mean, actually comes from? How it’s calculated and tracked? Printed? Deposited? How taxes are paid on it? Chances are, there’s a hardworking soul in your organization who tangles with payroll software on a regular basis — just to pay you!

Last year, we had the privilege of working with a team from PayCycle to re-design the set up process of their award-winning payroll management product. We are thrilled to see the first stage of this work released to the public and pleased to announce our involvement.

Setting up payroll is a difficult process – think taxes on steroids. There is a lot of data to keep track of and tax laws to comply with. PayCycle wanted to support people through this process. To accomplish this, we designed a research initiative to better understand how people think about payroll, perform payroll activities, and how they experienced PayCycle’s existing set up system. Armed with a rich data set, we re-structured the information architecture, significantly changed the interaction model, and developed a new visual language. We also worked with the team to further develop user experience practices that would support their work on an ongoing basis.

Some areas we focused on:

  • Expectations – Customers were unable to accurately predict the amount of time it would take to complete the set up process. Almost universally, they imagined it would take them an hour – even if they were 3 hours into the process. To support these customers, we focused on ways to set expectations, help them gather materials, and break the work up into more manageable chunks
  • Interruptions – Small business owners are constantly interrupted. They also need information for the payroll set up that is sometimes not readily accessible. We made it easy for folks to tackle smaller pieces at a time and easily pick up where they left off.
  • Efficiencies – With the PayCycle team, we got busy asking ourselves hard questions. What trade-offs could we make to shorten the process? Did we really need every piece of information up front or could we ask for some pieces later? If we didn’t gather all the information up front, what might be some unintended consequences on, say, the call center?

While it’s hard to deliver “easy” in the context of payroll set up, the new process provides insight into how much further customers have to go, and rewards them with encouragement at important points along the way. In addition to having a great new set up process for the PayCycle service, the PayCycle team now more deeply understands their customers’ experience and can use this knowledge in ongoing design work. Finally, because PayCycle operates in a space where technology is not the primary competitive driver, PayCycle’s ability to bring design innovation to their customer experience supports their position as the market leader.

We worked with a lot of great people at PayCycle including our core team of Lynn McLeod, Eric Schenk, Karen White, and Martin Gates. Further excellent work was done by Ariege Mishergi, Scott Hatcher, Desiree McCrorey, Yogesh Bhumralkar, and Erich Zeigler, and Garret Seevers. Finally, the management team of Jim Heeger, Leo Redmond, Kathleen Echeverria, Tanya Roberts, Susie Helfrey, and Dan Hing offered us invaluable support.

I’d also like to thank the excellent Adaptive Path team which included Henning Fischer, Chiara Fox, Brian Cronin, Julie Hamwood, Kumi Akiyoshi, Julia Houck-Whitaker, and Emily Chang and Max Kiesler of Ideacodes.

If you are interested in learning more about the work, we recently posted a case study on the project.

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