Mr. Oluwasegun Sanni runs Bizsoft Solutions Limited as the Chief Executive Officer. In his Lagos office, he tells IT Edge News, Anthony Nwosu, how businesses could leverage on HRM solutions to enhance productivity and save costs. Government has no friendly climate to allow SMEs grow with harsh taxation regime and poor infrastructure support slowing down SMEs’ growth. The public sector needs a vista of HRM solutions to reduce waste and make it more functional to the citizens in terms of speed and output.
What’s Bizsoft Solutions offering and how long have you been around?
Bizsoft Solutions Limited is a software development firm dedicated to the development of applications aimed at boosting productivity within an organisation. Our flagship product is Bizsoft HRM which is one of the leading HR management software in the country. It handles all areas of employee information management, such as data computerization and information retrieval, attendance, leave management, recruitment, performance management, training, onboarding and offboarding, etc. We began operation in the country in 2015 and have since been steadily gaining good market share.
What prompted you to set up this organization and how has it been over the years?
I worked in the UK for over a decade building productivity and process improvement tools for big financial services companies providing them with cost and efficiency savings. In 2013, it struck me that I could be helping companies in my homeland achieve some savings and at that point I made a decision to set up a company in Nigeria providing software solutions to businesses. Having managed over 30 employees across four locations at a point in my career, a major pain point was employee management and thus it was natural for our flagship solution to be an HR Management solution.
“The regulatory environment in Nigeria adds a huge chunk to the difficulties already faced by startups …. In advanced countries, the government recognises the difficulties faced by SMEs when starting up and usually have minimum turnover thresholds below which the regulatory burden is very minimal.”
They say operating businesses like yours in a place like Lagos can be killing with double taxation, bureaucracy, red tapism, etc. What is your take on Nigeria’s business environment, especially this time of recession?
Running a business is no joke, but even more so in Nigeria, there are a lot of things you have to grapple with, such as building your core products and services, managing your human capital, getting and keeping your clients and handling your regulatory requirements. During a recession, you need to have tight control over your cost so as to keep afloat in the face of reduced turnover, but you also have to continue to provide your clients excellent value for money in order to keep them. Our policy has been to consistently provide excellent service to our clients by ensuring our software not only meet their needs, but that also we are very responsive to any challenge they face and given that we have kept our cost minimal, we are able to do all these at very competitive prices. That in my opinion has been our winning formula during this recession and will continue to be so after the recession. As you will imagine, though, getting all of these things right can be very daunting, especially when a company is just starting out with limited funds availability.
Unfortunately, the regulatory environment in Nigeria adds a huge chunk to the difficulties already faced by startups such as ourselves. We have to contend with things like filling the tax return forms, pay taxes annually, charge and remit VAT monthly, all of which have huge administrative costs. From my experience in advanced countries, the government recognises the difficulties faced by SMEs when starting up and usually have minimum turnover thresholds below which the regulatory burden is very minimal. For example, you won’t have to charge VAT when turnover is below a set amount and this immediately makes the SME more competitive as their price becomes lower and administrative cost is reduced. The same is true for taxation and what this means is that the government allows the business to stabilize before adding additional burden onto them. That said, the present government seems to be working on a new tax policy and if implemented will address most of the regulatory pain points I have highlighted and improve the ease of doing business in the country.
Your organization is known for HRM and ERP solutions. What’s your level of acceptability in comparison to big players like SAGE, for example?
It was difficult in the beginning to gain traction given that there were big players in the market already, but through sheer persistence and partnership with HR firms in the industry, we began to penetrate the market and are continuing to do so at an increased pace. That said, a crucial advantage we have is that our software is very flexible and updated at least once a month with new features and enhancements based on our own road map of features and more importantly our clients’ request and feedbacks. Our approach is to get feedbacks and feature request from our clients and implement them into the software in such a way that it works for all our clients at no additional costs to them. Doing this has ensured that our software more closely matches the needs of our clients and gives us a level of responsiveness the larger companies cannot match given their size, overhead costs and decision making processes. Our clients recognise this and reward us with their continued patronage while our prospects see the advantages to be had by joining our family where we enhance the software to meet their needs as opposed to elsewhere where they may have to work around what the software provides them. When you add the very responsive support we provide and the very affordable price of our software to the mix, choosing us almost become a no-brainer.
Tell us about your implementation and training services?
Our software is offered as a service which means that our clients pay an affordable license fees annually and for that we help implement the software when they come on board by migrating their existing data, providing their employees with initial training to get them started. However, we also provide training on specific areas of the software to the client as the need arises thus ensuring that they get the most out of the system. All these are provided at no extra cost to the client and consequently, they can rest assured that they have dependable software which they can fully utilize.
What is the level of local content in your software?
Our software is fully developed in-house in Nigeria and its functionalities are guided by industry standards, but the main driving force is the needs of our client and peculiarities of their local business environment. So in answer to your question, very local indeed!
What challenges are you facing in terms of operation?
Our greatest challenge right now is drumming up new businesses in the current climate. Given that our software is a back office productivity tool for human resources, it is usually hard to justify to management during periods where companies are trying to save cost since the software requires upfront financial investment while the cost savings from its use are gained over time. However, a lot of companies can immediately see the benefits of software such as ours and for those companies, it is less of an uphill task.
“Inefficiencies in most areas of the public sector cost a lot of money annually to the taxpayer and … employee management is a place where big efficiency savings can be had.”
How do you work round perceptions by SMEs that HRM software solutions are expensive?
In the dim and distant past, HR software has been something only affordable to large companies given the huge financial outlay involved, this is no longer the case. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model means that small and medium sized companies can now avail themselves of the benefits of enterprise level software at a small fraction of what it used to cost. In our case there is no huge initial investment involved, all you pay is an affordable license fee based on the number of employees you have and the modules you have chosen. There are no additional costs for training or implementation and what this ultimately means is that you only pay for what you need and at the moment with the ability to scale up as your company grows. Most medium and large sized companies have human resources practitioners and such organisations can already see the need and benefits that can be received from an HR software so it usually comes down to price, functionality and flexibility. However, more needs to be done to bring smaller companies, especially startups into the fold and I believe continuous education of our business owners are key, we currently use mediums such as startup seminars to reach businesses and highlight the benefits software such as ours can provide.
Another area that is in dire need of top notch HRM solutions is the public sector. What efforts have you done to engage the public sector?
You are correct, inefficiencies in most areas of the public sector cost a lot of money annually to the taxpayer and as you said, employee management is a place where big efficiency savings can be had. We have advanced talks with a state government with respect to deploying across their state hospitals, the idea is to use that as a template for other areas and other states. However, the main challenge has been funding on the part of the government given the current economic climate. But we are continuing to seek engagement with the state governments.
How can productivity be boosted in the public sector using your solution?
We all know that attendance is a major problem in the public sector and this is an area where immediate gains can be had as the system can easily record the attendance of all staff making it easy for the relevant people to keep track and get attendance reports for their parastatals. When staff turn up to work on time, it is likely that more gets done and the software will have a deterrent effect against not turning up or turning up late. Computerising all employee information will also provide immediate cost savings given that information can easily be retrieved, there will be no issue with files getting lost, data will be readily available for promotional considerations, retirement etc., and consequently, leading to a great reduction in bureaucracy and a dramatic increase in efficiency. Another area which can derive huge benefit is performance management, by providing targets to staff and the ability to measure such targets, the system can help support the IGR drive that most states and parastatals are engaged in.
Do you have any presence in other African countries?
Not yet. Our main aim presently is for our solution to be the number one HR software in Nigeria but we do have the intention of expanding to other West African countries such as Benin and Ghana much later.