Adventure Engineering in Da Nang, Vietnam

Editors Note: Introducing Vincent Paca, Adventure Engineer at PayrollHero. He will be contributing to the PayrollHero blog from time to time.

Not so many months ago, a talkative fellow wandered in my small Cebu office by chance. Dressed in shorts, flip flops and a black shirt with a man in a red cape. Turned out that was Mike Stephenson, CEO of PayrollHero. He talked about adventure, learning, teamwork and improving one’s self and the next thing I knew I was on a plane to Manila two days later to pair with a few of their engineers. A little under a year and here I am, in Singapore, busting out a blog post about the adventures and misadventures of Adventure Engineering.

Adventure engineers often travel depending on the client’s need. We go wherever we can be more effective at our job. Being ridiculously client focused, as we always say. (yes, we are hiring)

Da Nang, VietnamOne of the things that we wanted to try out this year was to partner up with 3rd party engineering teams to help us increase our velocity. In comes AgilityIO, a 150-strong engineering team based in Da Nang, Vietnam. We believe that a lot of problems can easily be solved when you’re in the same room together with your team. Making the communication loop so much shorter meant making things move faster.

At the beginning of April, Adam, Mike, Piotr and I decided to meet up in Da Nang, Vietnam to personally meet and work with team Agility. Adam, and Mike flew in from Singapore, Piotr arrived from Whistler and I catapulted all the way from Manila.

Getting to Da Nang is no simple task. Flying from the Philippines meant that I had to take a flight to either Hanoi or Saigon, then take another domestic flight to central Vietnam. I landed in Saigon around 12am bags in hand waiting for my next flight at 5am. DO NOT fly at these hours. Saigon domestic airport closes at night and the earliest they open is at four in the morning. I had to stay outside of the building and wait for it to open. Fun times indeed. I arrived in Da Nang around 6:30am. Being in Vietnam also meant that we had to wake up an hour earlier. Our daily huddle always happens at 6:47am GMT+8 and no, it doesn’t matter where you are.

I downed a can of RedBull and a shot of Cà phê sữa đá and headed to AgilityIO’s office with Piotr. Agility has a HUGE office in Da Nang, 5 floors of mobile and backend developers, it seemed like they had it all. We knew from the start that this wasn’t going to be a breeze. Communication and getting your thoughts across was definitely a challenge, but we didn’t let that wall stop us from where we’re going. We’re now two weeks into the project that we’re working with Agility and we’re almost near completion.

piotr, vince and agility team in da nang

A selfie with some of the Agility team in the background

Da Nang wasn’t all work and no play. We went for a food tour around Da Nang at lunch time. Summer from Funtastic Food Tour took us around Da Nang to its secret foodie gems scattered all around the city.

The next day we hopped in a cab and ventured to Hoi An. Our first stop was the Marble Mountains. The Marble Mountains is a cluster of mountains made of, you guessed it, marble. Going up one of the mountains wasn’t that difficult. Partly because the local government attached a modern elevator to the side of the mountain that takes you up halfway of the mountain.

(Adam, Piotr, Mike and myself)

(Adam, Piotr, Mike and myself)

Scaling the peak wasn’t all that bad either. All that marble makes for perfect steps when crawling up to the peak.

da hang, vietnam marble mountain stairsWe just made it in time for lunch at our hotel and just enough time to prepare for our motorbike tour around the countryside of Hoi An. This was the very first time I learned how to ride a motorbike and surprisingly enough it wasn’t that bad. Vuong took us around the scenic countryside of Hoi An, we rode on floating bridges, elevated bamboo bridges and along the rice fields. Exhilarating and enjoyable, the whole 5 hour ride was quite the experience.

bike tour around da nang

Finishing at 7pm left me little time to prepare for my 9pm domestic flight to Hanoi to get to Manila. Even though I left Vietnam a bit exhausted with mud on my shoes and a little bit of dirt here and there, I had a really great time. 10/10 would definitely do again.


Want to read more about our Adventure Engineers? Check out Nico’s story from when he left Manila to work from the Whistler office while getting his Canadian residency.

Interested in joining our team? We are always hiring!

What is an Adventure Engineer?

Kiro Harada Workshop on Improving Scrum with Kaizen

Editors Note: Introducing Adam Baechler, Product Manager at PayrollHero. He will be contributing to the PayrollHero blog from time to time.

singapore kaizen workshop

(L – R) Michael Stephenson, Kiro Harada, Adam Baechler, Stephen Jagger, Piotr Banasik, Nico Suria and Vince Paca)

On April 14th I was fortunate enough to attend Kiro Harada workshop on Improving Scrum with Kaizen in Singapore. Kiro is an Agile coach and is super knowledgeable of agile principles and methodologies including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and Kaizen. Kiro was also kind enough to stop by our office and give us a brief introduction into how he use Domain Driven Design (DDD) within his teams. You can find Kiro on Facebook or LinkedIn. (Kiro was gracious enough to visit the Singapore PayrollHero office the next day to do a private session with our team)

I been practicing scrum for about 3 years now so I found the discussions about Kaizen and Domain Driven Design from the last couple of days the most interesting. So I thought I would share quick summary.

Disclaimer: I’m new to this and I have yet to implement any of these teachings. So please do seek out the advice of experts like Kiro.

Kaizen

For those who have not heard of Kaizen, it is a methodology for continuous improvement. Surprisingly the Kaizen didn’t originate in Japan but in the United States during WW2.

The core principle is to make your work easier and safer.

When applying Kaizen to a process you can think of it in 3 phase; Fix the leaks, Make it flow and finally Create a new process.

Fix the leaks first. When you are working and you notice a process is not producing the desired results. Slow down or even stop so you can inspect the process. Focus on effectiveness not on efficiency. The goal here is to creating constant value from your process.

Make it flow. Now that your process is creating value constantly we want to make it flow by increasing efficiency without sacrificing the quality of your output. A great way to do this is through E.C.R.S. First try to Eliminate steps from your process. Next try to Combine some steps together. Next try to Rearrange steps in the process. Lastly, try to Simplify individual steps in your process. Never try to go faster in this process by following E.C.R.S you should accelerate naturally.

Once your process is flowing smoothly you should feel your work is easier and safer. Now is the time to dream up a new process that will deliver better quality and value.

As a scrum team we follow similar actions of inspect and improve through our retrospectives. however this is only done at the end of our sprints. I hope that our team can adopt the principles of Kaizen to apply continuous improvement throughout our sprints.

Domain Driven Design (DDD)

We only had a short introduction here but in that short time we saw the huge value of Domain Modeling. Domain Modeling is a great way to visualize your products domains, decide how they should interact and test out your logic before you build it out extensively.

At PayrollHero we are going to try to use the Domain Modeling technique to identify the Domains of our applications to create a better system architecture.

Thanks for reading. Drop any questions you have in the comments below.

(Some photos from the day with Kiro)

Kiro Harada payroll hero Kiro Harada payrollhero singapore

kiro kaizen singapore walking with Baechler kiro in singapore

Life At PayrollHero From Our Newest Team Member Maita Ocampo

Editors Note: Introducing Maita Ocampo, Business Development at PayrollHero. She will be contributing to the PayrollHero blog from time to time.

Wait What?

Overwhelmed, confused, and highly emotional – these are not the end of day emotions that I’ve imagined my first day with PayrollHero to be like. Apparently, I found myself having dinner alone in a restaurant after my first day and my thought bubble said something like: WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

Looking back, I think it was just “info overload” on my end. Haha! Well, to be honest, technology is not really my area of expertise. However, one of the reasons why I took the job at PayrollHero is because I knew that I was ready and up for the challenge. Getting sent to visit the team in Singapore after a month and working directly with the co-founder is of course, a plus. Boom! The opportunities are endless.

payroll singapore payroll team

(Myself with Steve Jagger, Michael Stephenson and Adam Baechler in Singapore checking out the view of the Marina Bay Sands.)

First Three Months

My first three months were more of getting accustomed to the tools, getting to know the product, and catching up with the company and our timelines. Now that three months have passed, I couldn’t be thankful enough for PayrollHero and its founders for giving me the opportunity to be part of a platform that aims to make the lives of employees and their respective companies better. This is something that really excites me!

Non-Stop Learning

Let me share with you 3 key learnings from my first three months with PayrollHero:

  1. Ask, ask, ask – Never assume anything. If you’re not certain about something, it is better to ask. Asking questions will not make you look lame, ignorant, or unsure. In fact, asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence. It can also give way to deeper insights and better answers.
  2. Waking up early rocks – I wake up at 6AM every day and work usually ends at 4PM. Crazy, right? These past few months, I’ve learned that you actually get to do more work when you wake up early. At the same time, you get to spend quality time with people you love. According to Forbes and Harvard biologist Christoph Randler, “morning people” are more proactive and are more likely to agree with statements like “I feel in charge of making things happen.” His research also revealed that they are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently.
  3. Productivity tools – I remember telling Steve, our co-founder, on my first day that I haven’t downloaded so many apps in one day! Haha. Yes, PayrollHero embraces technology (a lot). It helps us in our open communication mandate. We love PipelineDeals, Asana, Google Docs (Google white paper on PayrollHero), LinkedIn, Slack, Sqwiggle, Appear and Zopim to name a few. It may seem hard to take it all in, but these apps are just a matter of getting used to. Not only does it make learning everyday more fun, it’s definitely helping us work efficiently as well.

Exciting Times Ahead

I guess, no matter what your job is, your first couple of days at work could really be a nerve-racking experience so it’s important for one to focus and have the proper mindset for it.

What I enjoy the most about working for PayrollHero is​ that everyone’​s contributing and thinking of ways to achieve better results for our clients while enjoying the process. We get to learn a lot from each other too!

payroll team in philippines

(Myself with Cristian Guerrero, Kieran Peppiatt, Stephen Jagger, Adam Baechler and Mike Stephenson at the Hyatt in the City of Dreams Manila)

As we’re expanding rapidly in the Philippines and have soft launched in Singapore, I am looking forward for the next countries that we’re targeting this year to become payroll live and the adventures that come along with it. Exciting times, indeed!


Want to read more about our Adventure Engineering lifestyle?

– You might like Nico’s story about his first few days in the Whistler office after leaving the Philippines.

– Adventure Engineers scatter

– Looking to join us? Check out our hiring page or how our work from home program works.

Itemised Payslips Required by Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) have developed a set of Tripartite Guidelines on the issuance of itemised payslips, as a first step towards supporting this progressive workplace practice. The tripartite partners agree that the provision of itemised payslips to employees is a good employment practice which raises employees’ awareness of their salary components. It also facilitates the resolution of salary disputes. MOM’s intent is to eventually mandate the issuance of itemised payslips within the next two years.” (via MOM)

Is your company prepared? Are you currently giving your employees itemised payslips?

PayrollHero can help. When you run a Singapore payroll via PayrollHero our platform automatically generates the payslips as well as emails them to all employees. The process is quick and easy and ensures employees are in the know with how much they were paid and what the deductions were.

Want to see a PayrollHero Singapore payslip?

Draft Gastropub Philippines Launches PayrollHero

PayrollHero continues to grow. We are expanding rapidly in the Philippines, have soft launched into Singapore with our official launch only days way and are prepping for our next country.

It is exciting to announce that the FeastBev Group has joined PayrollHero. FeastBev includes the Draft GastropubsBlack Olive Restaurant, Imperial Ice Bar, The Distillery, Beso and others.
draft pub philippinesPayrollHero’s time, attendance, scheduling, HRIS, Philippine payroll and business intelligence platform helps restaurant owners manage their multi-location businesses. Not only does our platform reduce payroll processing time, but it is engaging for the employees, streamlines communication and helps bring transparency to the workplace.

(image from www.asia-bars.com)

(image from www.asia-bars.com)

Are you interested in learning more about how PayrollHero can help your restaurant, retail, bpo, office or business? Reach out and one of our team would be pleased to speak further.

Wink Laser Studios Experience on PayrollHero

retail payroll software philippines

Holly Chang, the owner of the Wink Laser Studios across metro Manila provided some great feedback about her experience with PayrollHero and how our Philippine payroll software has helped her run her ever expanding business.

Here is a quick Q/A with Holly about her experience: 

1. What was your biggest challenge when it came to employee management before using PayrollHero? How has this changed since you started using PayrollHero?

Dealing with shift and schedule changes was a nightmare. Even when we only had 8 employees, it was difficult to keep track. I don’t recall there ever being a time where I didn’t see the word ‘Adjustment’ on someone’s payslip. With Payroll Hero everything is just more organized, it’s easy to go back a few months and see breakdowns of deductions and adjustments, and even the exact details of schedule changes and who approved what.

2. What do you appreciate most about the platform? Do you have any favorite features?

Two things I love most about Payroll Hero: a) how it’s constantly improving by adding new features that its users need, and b) how easy it is to ask for and get help. Support is an essential when using a new platform. Everyone I’ve emailed has always been helpful and quick to respond, which is so important especially when you’re only hours away from releasing a payroll! My favorite features are the shift calendar and payments. It’s great to be able to pull up an employee’s name, see a breakdown of any payments or deductions that have been made in the past, or even schedule payments for future deductions.

3. What can you say about the onboarding experience?

Admittedly, training was tough. You basically spend two whole days staring at the platform just learning about it, not even setting up your own account. It took us another month to get used to everything, just because there are so many features and so many different ways to use the platform. So it was difficult, but necessary. I don’t think I’d be able to fully utilize or appreciate the platform without the two-day training.


“Everyone at Wink is having a blast with PayrollHero. We implemented the system almost 1 year ago and it has been a great success. Our employees love the selfie clock in and the accuracy of the system and speed of which we run payroll has been great in helping us streamline our business as we continue to grow.”  Holly Chang, Owner Wink Laser Studios

 

April 4th | Black Saturday | Philippines

philippine black saturday

“Holy Saturday (Latin: Sabbatum Sanctum) i.e. the Saturday of Holy Week, also known as the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, or Easter Eve,[1] and called “Joyous Saturday” or “the Saturday of Light” among the Copts, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb.” *wikipedia

 

Good Friday | Philippine Holiday

Philippines Good Friday

“Good Friday, (Biyernes Santo) is a public holiday, commemorated with solemn street processions, the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus’ Seven Last Words (”Siete Palabras”) and a traditional Passion play called the Senákulo, which in some places is a week-long affair. In some communities (most famously in the province of Pampanga), the processions include devotees who self-flagellate and sometimes even have themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance, in fulfilment of a vow, or in thanksgiving for a prayer granted. The pabasa or marathon chanting of the Pasyon (the Filipino epic narrative of Christ’s life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection), usually concludes on this day.” *wikipedia