Back in July there were a few ripplings in the press about former Zenefits CEO and co-founder Parker Conrad's new project to ease some of the issues of employee onboarding.
In Conrad's previous ventures, even before he grew Zenefits from scratch to $60 million in revenue in a few years, he had encountered first hand the frustrations involved in onboarding new employees from both an IT and HR perspective. Ousted from Zenefits about a year ago as the company came under scrutiny for flouting state insurance regulations, Conrad's new company takes a slightly different tack on a similar market.
Having raised $7 million in seed money from many of the original investors in Zenefits, Conrad and his 12 or so engineers are buckling down on creating a new and better system of record for employees.
Starting from a simple (yet comprehensive) checklist, Rippling allows HR to define the various attributes of the new hire, and working from those attributes takes care of auto-generating (mad-lib style) offer letters, tax forms, id/access cards and other HR functions, as well as assigning appropriate hardware and software access, and maintaining attention to those details through the life-cycle of the employee, up-to and including offboarding.
Sounds pretty idyllic for sure.
Rippling and SaaS
Conrad has had great success growing in the HR space, and that is because his story is born from very real frustration. The addition of IT and SaaS to his onboarding checklist seems like a reasonable fit, although there are a couple of details of "press a button and it's done" onboarding and offboarding that you should be cautious about, particularly with SaaS.
- There is very limited provider support for onboarding. Few SaaS vendors provide an API that allows for any kind of automated provisioning (or deprovisioning) - 5 or 10 total last I checked. So when you push that button in Rippling (or Bettercloud who have a similar claim), in practice you will then go add the manual accounts for the vendors that don’t support that method. So yeah, you'll have Gmail and Salesforce autoprovisioned but then you're back to a checklist.
- Offboarding is still a mess. For example, orphan documents - if you decommission an employee from Dropbox and their Dropbox folder has public files that are shared with clients or important documents that people in the company are simultaneously working on, who owns those files now? Should they be public still, or should they be migrated or deleted? As wonderful as an automated deprovisioning sounds, it’s nearly impossible to automate it and every single company is going to have different policies and every single employee/department/title will have different rules to the point that centralized automation will be rendered pointless.
Parker Conrad's new startup Rippling is pretty exciting for a number of reasons, and should keep his investors and the rest of silicon valley engaged given his previous record of success in growing a company (and provided he stays away from selling insurance). We would caution against wild enthusiasm regarding his IT and SaaS onboarding and offboarding claims because if you don’t support 100% of providers and you don’t support them *perfectly* that just results in work that has to be done to make up for your tool’s shortcomings. A different checklist is still a checklist.
The SaaS Industry Insider Newsletter is delivered every Monday morning by the editorial team at Meta SaaS.