Digital marketing agency Alchemy Worx is taking a more strategic approach to people management, supported by data generated by HR software solution Cezanne HR.

Alchemy Worx specialises in email marketing for household name clients and employs 70 staff across its offices in London and Atlanta. The business has been growing at a rate of 30 per cent per year and found that its previous spreadsheet-based system for managing people-related information was rapidly becoming unviable.

“It was a real challenge keeping up-to-date with new joiners every week and managing processes like annual leave,” says Chief Operating Officer Tim Ferguson. “As the company grew, we realised we had to get more professional in terms of policies and procedures and with keeping up-to-date with employment legislation.”

Following a visit to the HR software show, Alchemy Worx drew up a shortlist of 10 possible software solutions. Cezanne HR made the final cut because of its flexibility, easy-to-use format and cost-effective pay-as-you-go pricing model. “We found most of the other suppliers wanted to build expensive, bespoke solutions or needed us to host their product on our own servers,” explained Tim. “The guys from Cezanne HR, however, were just so on the ball. They took the time to understand the business, were responsive to what we needed and could offer a solution that worked straight out of the box”.

Alchemy Worx were able to get up and running with the cloud-based system very quickly and have now been using it successfully for three months. The self-service element, which allows staff to update their own personal data and manage their annual leave entitlement, has been particularly welcomed by managers. “Being able to automate the holiday process has taken a huge weight off managers’ shoulders – and they have also found the tool that gives them an overview of who’s in and who’s out really useful,” says Tim.

The next step for Alchemy Worx will be to get the performance management module up and running. “At the moment we have to constantly chase managers to get appraisals done on time. The whole process is linked to pay so it’s important it gets done to schedule. Now the system will do the chasing for us and the process will become much more streamlined,” explained Tim.

As Chief Operating Officer, Tim has found the people-related data generated by Cezanne HR highly beneficial, particularly when it comes to managing absence. “It’s been fantastic to have the information at our fingertips,” he says. “It has certainly helped us implement a more professional approach to managing absence because the evidence is there and everything is very transparent. It puts you in a much stronger position if you have to have that difficult conversation with someone about patterns of absence. It’s also very interesting watching people’s reactions when you actually show them how their absence rates match up against the average and they can see just how bad it has got.”

Alchemy Worx’s ambitious growth plans include opening offices in Australia and West Coast America, as well as continuing to grow in the UK. Tim believes one of the big advantages of Cezanne HR is that it will be capable of growing alongside the business.

“We can just add staff on as we grow and the system will also be able to cope with the fact that we are using different currencies and operating in different countries,” he says. “It’s also great to have a system that will continue to progress technically and to have the ability to influence how it develops in terms of new features we may need going forward. We are only scratching the surface of what the system is capable of at the moment and we’re looking forward to making greater use of it as we continue to expand.”