When Enoch Teo and three of his fellow chefs established their F&B company E&I Food Concepts, they started with one eatery called Garcons, which offered European style cuisine in a casual coffee shop setting.
With only three employees, they kept track of their staff's hours and leave entitlements manually in exercise books. As a start-up, their main concern then was to ensure that the quality of their offerings was up to the mark so that customers would keep coming back for more.
Like most new entrepreneurs, the priority was growing the business, or at least keeping it afloat. Support functions like human resources management and accounting often take a back seat.
E&I was also a social enterprise, which meant it had a mission beyond just the bottom line. The firm trained and employed ex-offenders from boys’ homes in French cooking techniques. Their social mission was to take in youth-at-risk with zero experience in the kitchen and teach them everything from scratch.
Garcons was a hit, and within a year the fledgling business had grown to three outlets. This rapid expansion, however, brought its own set of problems.
Their manual system for payroll and leave could not keep up with the growth in their staff, and loopholes appeared that certain employees exploited. Although the company had painfully moved their HR system onto an Excel spreadsheet, that proved to be inefficient as well.
"In one year we moved from three to 15 employees. When we reached 10 we realised we couldn't do it manually anymore. We were not organised, so some people were taking advantage. We wanted to find a solution but it was hard because we were not familiar with what was available out there," said Mr Teo.
They turned to DBS Techmatch for help in their search for an HR solution. The team at Techmatch introduced them to Talenox, a Singapore-based start -up that developed an easy-to-use, low-cost HR system designed for small businesses like E&I.
Their cloud-based system utilised smart design to make HR processes simple, intelligent and comprehensive. Users could manage all their HR processes in one platform and gain access to fully integrated employee profiles, payrolls and leave management apps.
"We designed our web app with F&B in mind initially. F&B operators have a few more issues to consider compared to other businesses. For example, they have to make sure that their staff's working hours is accurately captured and the public holidays are fairly accounted for," said Sebastian Kang, a co-founder of three-year old Talenox.
With Talenox's apps, employees are able to manage their own leave, while managers can plan a roster and share it with the rest of their team.
"Everything is tracked in the system. Users can log on to it from their mobile devices to check when they are working or when they are on leave," said Mr Kang. The company is also looking to integrate their product with other enterprise solutions in areas such as accounting or point-of-sales systems.
In the meantime, the Talenox team will be working hand-in-hand with E&I to solve their HR management issues and allow the company's founders to focus on the continued growth of their business.