Paychex Gets Real-Time Insight to Transform the Way SMBs Do Business

Key Benefits

Newfound visibility into the system's millions of daily transactions

Dynamic response to changes in the environment for seamless customer experiences

Reduction of major incidents from occurring by nearly 70%

Challenges: Shifts in consumer preferences and service delivery prompt the need for real-time insights

In today’s technology space, consumers want self-service. They want everything on-demand. Paychex, the nation’s leading payroll service for small to medium-size businesses, has seen the same shift in HR.

“We are seeing where a lot of our customers want to manage their employees without ever talking to anyone,” says Dave Wilson, senior director of IT infrastructure and architecture at Paychex.

Traditionally, Paychex customers would call a third-party HR or payroll specialist when it came time to take HR actions such as implementing tax withholding changes or paying employees. But that meant waiting to submit a request within normal business hours, and other potential delays. However, the rise of digital and the consumerization of technology has changed people’s expectations. In the process, Paychex identified an opportunity to innovate on its process, making it possible to access products and services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

“Our customers are accessing our system 24 by 7 by 365, and they’re making changes that are crucial to their business. Our application has to be available all the time for very high demand.”

David Wilson
Senior Director of Infrastructure and Architecture  @Paychex

“Our customers wanted to be able to interface with Paychex on an on-demand basis to drive their business forward. We embraced that,” Wilson explains. “Our consumer-grade, SaaS, online application allows our customers to do what they want, when they want, and how they want to do it. It’s transformed Paychex from a service-first company to a technology company that continues to offer world-class service – and we think the unique blend of those two benefits is a differentiator.”

Each day, approximately 2.5 million users log into Paychex Flex, to perform a wide range of tasks, from payroll to time tracking to performance reviews and benefits enrollment. This adds up to 16.5 million sessions a month, and two distinct audiences (small and mid-sized businesses) with vastly different sizes and operations.

“That provides some challenges in terms of how we deliver services,” Wilson explains, noting that downtime isn’t an option. “We took a step back and asked, ‘How do we route those customers through our infrastructure and limit the impact of any events?’”

AppDynamics helped provide the answer.

About Paychex

Paychex is the nation’s number one payroll provider for small businesses and a leader in payroll and HR services for mid-size businesses. Through its Paychex Flex® platform and services, Paychex simplifies the complexity of HR, payroll, and benefits for small and mid-sized companies across the U.S. and in Europe. The company delivers the tools that empower its more than 650,000 customers to run their businesses how they want to. From onboarding to payroll to retirement, Paychex serves as a trusted partner for businesses for nearly a half century.

Solution: Performance improvement serves as spark for market innovation

During the first forty years Paychex was in business, it was very much a service-oriented company. But as the workforce became more dependent on technology, Paychex transformed its approach to meet new market demands. Paychex needed to go to market faster and with higher quality products. In order to make that happen, Wilson’s team knew they “needed to do IT differently.”

“So we did,” Wilson states. By shifting product delivery from the traditional waterfall method to an agile shop, they made the first step towards digital transformation. “We converted hundreds of teams to agile methodologies. We embraced continuous delivery, automation, AIOps, and DevOps. And we engaged with technology vendors to help us identify the right way to bring everything together.”

Paychex has multiple data centers that replicate to keep customer data available and secure. As part of that, Paychex leverages a truly hybrid cloud environment to deliver its services. AppDynamics fit well into that environment.

“We found that we could leverage AppDynamics to recognize small and large clients in real-time and route them to infrastructure that is sized for them, available for them, and ready to meet their needs,” Wilson explains.

That ability to adaptively route clients made their experience seamless, too.

“We have one platform (Paychex Flex),” Wilson says, “And our engineering teams have one set of infrastructure to manage. Now, that infrastructure is highly available and scalable. Plus, we don’t have the overhead of separate platforms for different clients that a lot of our competitors deal with. That’s something AppDynamics and continuous delivery have allowed us to do.”

Benefits: Making intelligent decisions from changes in the environment

The competitive environment in HR is always changing. SaaS-only and traditional service providers alike are constantly pushing the boundaries of online experiences and customer service. But Paychex is proud to offer the best of both.

“That’s unmatched with the product portfolio Paychex has,” Wilson says. “We feel that AppDynamics lets us be more successful than our competitors because we not only have that winning proposition, but insights into it that we never had before.”

Wilson is able to apply insights gleaned from his environment to make better decisions related to capacity, planning for new products, and prioritizing the resources needed to fix problems within the development stream. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It was absolutely a culture shift,” Wilson reflects. “But from the top down, we ran with it. We have gone through a software development lifecycle transformation that gained accolades across the industry. Now, that full power of Paychex can go after any of the features and functions and services that our customer — or the industry — wants.”

The latest integrations Paychex is excited to offer are AI-powered tools like chatbots. As for whether they’ll replace humans? Wilson isn’t too worried.

“If anything, it’s going to make our lives easier,” he says. “The future is bright at Paychex. We’re doing things we could never have done if we hadn't transformed the business. With AppDynamics, we can solve quickly for our customers and put the pressure on our competitors to keep up — and that's an awesome place to be.”

“Real-time analytics is a requirement for us to be world-class.”

David Wilson
Senior Director of Infrastructure and Architecture  @Paychex

“Real-time information gives us the ability to focus on today's problem. Not yesterday's problem. By differentiating between the two, we can prevent tomorrow's problem.”

Heather Fry, Director of Product Development, Paychex

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