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By Darryl Stewart

Inside IBEX Herdquarters – How to grow your herd part 3

In a previous post, how to grow your herd part 2, I talked about defining our Hedgehog Concept.   In our case that turned out to be:

  1. Providing payroll, employee scheduling and employee time tracking to developmental service agencies across Canada.
  2. Providing PREMIUM payroll services to small to medium Canadian organizations.

The idea of a hedgehog concept was popularized by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great.   It needs to be what you honestly believe you can be the best in the world at.  We believe we can be the best in the world at these two complementary things.

When we started our good to great journey, we thought that it would only be #1 above, we could only be the best in the world at serving Canada’s developmental service agencies, but we also knew we were not going to be able to do that without confronting some brutal realities.

The reality of the situation at the time was that we had figured out what really mattered to developmental service (DS) agencies and built that onto our existing systems, much to the delight of our first group of DS customers.  The problem was that the system we built it onto was not up to the challenge of serving the entire Canadian world of developmental services.  These organizations range from 50 to 1000’s of employees and the first group of customers of that size was taxing our systems and some key IBEX herd members as well.  It would not be sustainable to grow heavily on that base; it would be a big heavy house on a weak foundation.

We made the stunning realization that the problem was our basic payroll system.  Our pride and joy, built from the ground up over 10 years, was not up to the task at hand and would need to be scrapped.  Cost estimates for building a fully web-based, highly scalable, highly secure, web payroll system ran into the millions.  Even if we had those millions, what a risk!  We would need to increase our contingent of herd geeks from 3 to 10 or more and we better choose the right team or we would not get what we wanted for those millions and we would be bankrupt.

The solution was to find a partner.    In a previous post How “IBEX” built Canada’s most advanced online payroll system I explained the partnership between Protegra and IBEX that led to the creation of our new payroll platform.  It also led to the formation of Blue Canvas, a company to formalize and explain our partnership to the world.

Through the analysis of what the new system had to do, we realized that the payroll needs of Canada’s developmental service agencies was about as complex as can be and what we really needed to build was the best online payroll system in Canada, very flexible and highly adaptable.  We love the payroll business and we love serving our client base of over 500 organizations of all types and industries and now we had the chance to give them not just the legendary IBEX customer service, but the best system in the country.

In the time since, much has come to pass.  The reality is that we now have one awesome system, capable of delivering a very deep and detailed solution to developmental service agencies and also a great online payroll experience for any kind of small to medium organization.  We honestly have the most advanced and best system in Canada in both areas and the work to keep it that way is not mutually exclusive.  Working on one always improves the other.

We will be the best in the world if we stick to our hedgehog – no distractions please world!

In part 4 of this series I will talk about getting the herd word out.

IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant. 

Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.