Embracing change is crucial to every organization’s success. Since the pandemic, companies worldwide understand the need for better business processes to stay competitive. These developments tell us one thing: businesses should continue to evolve if they want to survive, grow, and stay relevant.Philippine HR software provider Sprout Solutions isn’t a stranger to change. Ever since its inception, Sprout has helped companies in the Philippines streamline their HR and payroll processes. Since no solution in the market fit their needs, Sprout built a holistic suite of HR tools.
The Sprout Ecosystem addresses more than administrative tasks and payroll processes — it helps businesses simplify hiring, facilitates better team member engagement, and creates opportunities for professional growth. The end-to-end HR management system also allows teams to obtain relevant insights and address employees needs in today’s remote and hybrid working landscape.But how did Sprout go beyond managing admin and payroll tasks for businesses? Our founders, Patrick and Alex Gentry, recently took Business Daily Media through the company’s transformation into a holistic HR software provider.
Want to learn more? Read on to uncover Sprout’s story, goals, and strategies for success.
- What is the story of Sprout and how did you come up with Solutions that changed the HR landscape of the Philippines?
- Sprout Solutions is a software company here in the Philippines that was founded by me and my wife, Alex, in 2015. We wanted to create a company that offered the solutions to Philippine businesses’ troubles in timekeeping, payroll, employee data management, government compliance, and more. Much like our name “sprout,” our humble beginnings eventually led to not just our growth, but the businesses we have impacted as well. From just HR and payroll, we have grown into a holistic HR ecosystem.
- Sprout was borne out of a deep pain that we experienced in KMC Solutions, one of the country’s leading serviced office and staff leasing providers, where I was a founding shareholder of. We really felt the need to automate payroll, then timekeeping in order to scale and there were no solutions in the market that fit our needs so we built a tool, which later evolved into Sprout.
- Your business objective or north star is to impact the life of every Filipino by improving business in the Philippines, we’re curious about this, can you elaborate more on it?
To impact the life of every Filipino by improving business in the Philippines — that’s our North Star. And it’s a big one. When we first started Sprout, we were just solving a problem. And while that was great and we were helping businesses, Alex and I were searching for something more — and so we really dug in deep to understand what our purpose was. After we had formulated our North Star, our business was transformed, mostly because how we viewed it was transformed. We are here to make the biggest impact we can to our community members, Filipinos, by not only helping companies be the best employers they can be, but also by allowing employees to directly access life-changing benefits that are tailor-made for the unique needs of this market. An example is access to emergency funds in less than 2 minutes: another one is access to one-on-one sessions with psychologists and therapists for mental health.
- How will HR and Payroll automation shape the future of HR operations in the Philippines?
Digitalization is imminent, and the pandemic has fueled the acceleration of digitalization in the Philippines – HR processes weren’t exempted. The sudden shift in the working setup in the early days of the pandemic exposed a vulnerability in companies that still handled their employees’ files and processed timekeeping and payroll manually. Obviously, companies that had some form of automation set up had a much easier time transitioning. As businesses mature into these new ways of working, the goal is to get enough processes automated so the company is change-ready.Post-pandemic, as companies compete for talent, having digitized HR and benefits will be a significant competitive advantage. Moreso, as companies automate more and more of their processes, HR Operations will move closer and closer to People Experience. This means that less time will be spent in admin and operations-related tasks, and more time on taking the best possible care of our employees.
- We saw that you recently released the Sprout Ecosystem, the suite of products that you currently have, can you walk us through each of them? What are their most important features that you’re proud of?
- From our core HR and Payroll, we have fully evolved into a holistic ecosystem of products that allows companies to manage their entire employee lifecycle, and helps them take the best care of their employees.
- We have since added Sprout Health, a prepaid HMO that can be purchased so that employees can secure their health. We added the Sprout Mobile app which allows your employees to clock in and out from work at the tip of their fingers! One of our favorite features of the mobile app is the geotagging feature, our geotagging feature allows employers to limit the geographical location where their employees can be able to clock in and out which eliminates the worry of where their employees are when they clock in and out.
- We have also since added Sprout Insight a powerful business insights tool that is integrated with our core HR which allows you to have full visibility of your workforce by gathering and analyzing data from your company's Sprout HR and Sprout Payroll. We also have since added Sprout Pulse, A holistic solution that empowers leaders and managers to ask employees the right kinds of questions, implement a continuous feedback loop, and monitor key areas that drive engagement in your company.
- One day, when the pandemic hit, we regrouped and asked ourselves, what do employees need at these dire times? That is when we came up with InstaCash, Sprout’s Salary Advance benefits tool that allows your employees to apply for salary advances right from their Sprout HR dashboards. But that’s not our favorite part about the product, our favorite thing about the product is that it created real stories from real users which you can check out here. We believe that their story is our story, and nothing makes us happier other than InstaCash helping people that are in need.
- The pandemic also posed a new problem within everyone stuck in their homes, mental health problems suddenly shot up and employees are in need of a solution to help them address their mental well-being, because of this, we added Sprout Wellness into our ecosystem of products, Sprout’s Wellness Program is made of different services provided by licensed, skilled and trained professionals. It has 5 main components, all devised towards giving our clients a holistic solution to their organizations’ and employees’ mental health concerns. To name a few employees can book Yoga sessions and a 1on1 consultation with a professional psychologist!
- We also recognized that employers and employees need continuous feedback from each other plus managers need materials in order to develop their team members’ skills further, that’s why we launched Sprout Performance+ where you get the best of both worlds! Performance+ is a tool where a performance management system and a learning management system are combined in one product, why did we combine the two? Because we believe that healthy feedback should also include learnings and development materials so your employees can upscale their talents based on the feedback they are provided with!
- Lastly, we have Manatal, we partnered with Manatal to provide our clients with a recruitment system that will transform the way they look for talent.
- Business development is a crucial factor when growing a business, can you share with us some strategies that you have?
- We always go back to our North Star – before we start a project, we assess if it has the ability to bring us closer to this, and how.
- We are continuously listening to our customers – always trying to understand their needs, their motivations, what they need to become successful.
- One of our strategies as well is being there for our own people, because Sprout’s growth is also because of the amazing people behind it. Aside from the benefits they receive through automated HR processes, we also get to enrich their lives through our products such as Wellness and InstaCash. These products are what our clients get to apply to their employees as well, which holistically enriches their lives too. Our north star manifests through the positive impact and changes we see in our clients and their employees.
- We take advantage of technology across all our departments.
- How can a B2B company like you be successful in terms of marketing?
First of all, continually assess your situation – where you are in the market versus where you want to be. Regularly refine your ICP: your ideal customer profile. After that, it’s all execution.
- As a business owner, what’s crucial for success?
- The most important factor in any business, when you think about it, is the people involved with the business. Most importantly the employees, but also partners, investors, mentors, and everyone helping to bring the vision of the business to reality.
- Besides the people involved, the most critical part of a business - and something founders get wrong an amazing amount of the time - is the core function of the business. That is, what problem is this business addressing? What need is this business answering?
- Another major factor, this one less talked about, is timing. Knowing your timing, from starting the business, to launching new products, to merger/acquisition, is crucial to maximizing your opportunity. Right time, right people, right idea - fundamentals to business success.
Interviewees: Patrick Gentry, CEO and Co-Founder of Sprout Solutions.
Alex Gentry, Co-Founder of Sprout Solutions