“The idea was to try and eliminate as much of the unnecessary work as possible via automation. That’s really where Microkeeper hats were.  Having the ability to be able to do all of this managing in one platform and do it quickly”. – Jon Arrigo, Microkeeper.

Today I’m speaking with Jon Arrigo co-founder and National Client Relationship Manager of Microkeeper. In this episode, we talk about . . .

  • Why Jon wanted to trek to Mt Everest BaseCamp.
  • Growing up on a farm, and how that helped him understand the complexity of payroll, with the shrinking and growing workforce.
  • The early lean days of Microkeeper
  • Where the name Microkeeper came from
  • Why Microkeepers focus on supporting Australian businesses
  • Jon’s thoughts on how the government and policymakers can support small business digitalisation

I work with the team at Microkeeper. Read about the way I work with Accounting Apps here http://EndorsementDisclosure.com/

Why do you want to trek to the Mount Everest base camp?

Jon:                  It’s a good one. I’ve definitely always enjoyed being at Mount Everest, the test, I suppose, of doing something that puts you out of your comfort zone. And I suppose almost this one ties back into my schooling. In my final year at school, there was an offering to actually climb to the base camp of Mount Everest, and it was either do that or do rowing camp. And obviously, because I was a rower I had to do rowing camp. And I’ve always sort of, not kicked myself but just been like, “Oh, my God, that would have been an amazing opportunity to do.” And I thought I would definitely have to retouch on that later in life.

Heather:         Oh, excellent. Excellent. Rowing camp and going overseas on a massive holiday or exhaustion holiday. But I’m not sure if you know him, there’s a gentleman by the name of John Knight who runs businessDEPOT in Brisbane. And he goes to Mongolia and that’s his thing, every so often he goes. So he was planning before COVID happened, et cetera. So, you need to keep out, because he takes teams of people. He goes with teams of people to Mongolia, which I’m assuming might be close.

Can you share with our listeners a bit about your background?

Jon:                  Yeah, of course. So once I finished school I went to uni. I studied mechanical engineering. I’ve always been a problem-solving kind of mind. People say you’re a maths science type or not. Definitely myself and my business partner, we’re both engineers, and definitely maths science guys. So just, I suppose a love of solving problems. So once university, I went to uni. And it was actually my last year of uni when we went into the final year project, and we went and worked in the actual field.

Jon:                  That was where Microkeeper came about because we were influenced by the workforce and how that happened. Me being who I am, I was always of the opinion of, “Can’t we do this a bit better?” With cutting edge technology of steering via GPS, having automated heat-seeking technology, and all the rest. Yet the way we’re clocking on and off is in a journal, pen and paper, and that’s getting collated manually by someone. And I was like, “Oh, my God, there’s got to be a better way.” So, that was the problem-solving in my engineering, I suppose, background, falling into I suppose a bit of a tech space and a solution.

Did you come to engineering from a mechanical engineer perspective or a software engineer?

Jon:                  So I came from a mechanical background, and my business partner, he made it in mechatronics, so robotics, mechatronics and IT. And we came together on this idea, and that’s how it all evolved. It was more about solving a problem and doing it in the best way, shape and form that we could.

Heather:         Excellent. So I understand that you actually grew up on a farm. It sounds like it was quite a big farm because I’m told there are multiple locations, complex payroll structures on the farm, large fluctuations in employee numbers, irregular working hours.

Do you come from a family-run farm?

Jon:                  Yeah, absolutely. So I did come from the farming community. We had poultry and dairy was what my family had done over the generations and period of time. And so yeah, there was always different … everything was going on in a different way because, during standard farm life, you might have what we would almost call the standard crew of people that were there all the time. And then, especially on the poultry farm, when all of the chickens per se would leave the farm, there’d be the cleanout crew.

Jon:                  Then basically the workload would increase dramatically for a period of time where you’d have cleaning out of the poultry shed, sanitisation, really setting up for new poultry to come into the farm. And obviously, the workforce would dramatically change in that period, and obviously, you had to constantly adapt because certain people would be working nights, certain people would be working during the day. And obviously, in livestock farming, it’s a 24/7 on-call position in animal husbandry. So yeah, I was born into that and it was the norm.

Did all the farm’s chickens leave at once?

Jon:                  It really does depend. So depending on the size of the farm, and depending on the market that they are going to, they will demand a certain size. So basically you usually might say, “We’re growing to a certain size which might be specifically for the supermarket industry.” And obviously, they want the whole flock at that. But you are right, they do go out in certain stages, but it’s usually segregated only by days because when there might be a farm that might have half a million birds on a farm, and out of that they’ve all got to be transported via a truck, a semi-trailer or a B-Double, and you might find you only have 4,000 on a truck, you can’t take all of those away in one night. It might be scattered over a few weeks of time, but usually, it’s similar.

Heather:         Okay, well there you go. That was a slight diversion from talking about a payroll solution, John.

Can you describe the journey to starting Microkeeper, through to its evolution today?

Jon:                  Yeah.

Heather:         Yes. Maybe make sure you explain what Microkeeper is.

Jon:                  Yeah, for sure. So Microkeeper is a Core HR rostering, time and attendance, and payroll platform, obviously with integration to STP and superannuation querying. So an entire employment management suite. The way it came about was, as I said, in our final year of university, foreseeing a problem in the businesses that we were actually working with and trying to solve that problem and streamline it. Obviously, one thing that we were coming up against was businesses of scale and with a number of employees in the workforce, would always have a bandaid approach to a problem. Like, “Ah, it’s taking us too long to do one thing, so let’s add another payroll officer.” There’s always adding a bandaid, and versus having a complete solution that was totally scalable.

Jon:                  So I think that was the challenge. And I suppose from my own background of family businesses, seeing that entire process from the employee working to actually doing the payroll, and time and attendance tracking, and then manipulating that data into a, making an award or an ABI, producing timesheets, and then obviously distributing that, it was always very, very manualised. And yes, there were solutions, but the solutions were certain portions. So, you’d have a solution with timesheets, which in our case, at the boat fabrication business that I worked for, was purely pen and paper. And then that moved to then an accounting solution with 10 payrolls bolted on, and someone will collate that data. So, it was the whole idea of streamlining that. And obviously, from a business, to begin with, if we talk about the family side business, you wear a lot of hats in a small business.

Jon:                  So you’re the chief cook and bottle washer like my dad always used to say. So, one day you’d be working on the farm, the next day you’re doing the books, the next day you’re sending the invoices and the next day you’re dealing with the customer. So you wear a lot of hats. So the idea was to try and eliminate as much of the unnecessary work as possible via automation. And I suppose that’s really where Microkeeper hats were the ability to be able to do all of this managing in one platform and do it quickly. And one of the big things for us prior to it actually being a solution, we just built it, let’s use it in our businesses that we were in touch with, my business partner and I, that is.

Jon:                  And so what we ended up doing was through, I suppose, just people hearing about it, was handing out CDs, USBs, with this piece of software that we built on it. And we had that bit of a, almost an aha moment where it was, maybe this could be something more and obviously, it is a problem. Other people are in the same boat as us. It’s not just us. So that’s where we went back to the drawing board and that was where my business partner, [Joe 00:10:07], said, “Look, if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it in a cloud environment. It’s going to be purely fully online.”

Jon:                  And he had his thought pattern of the way we would go about delivering this solution, thinking about updates and all of that and how we can do it easily. That was, it was probably 11 years ago when that moment occurred. So that’s what happened. Went back to the drawing board, redeveloped it, in total, it was a fraction of what we do today. Originally, it was purely timesheets to payroll. That’s what it was. And then as the business grew, we added rostering to it because it was a seemingless approach to the three pillars. And then more recently, we’ve got the Core HR obviously suited clearing and STP. So the whole interim. So that’s a bit of a story of how it occurred and where we are now.

Heather:         Our Australian government is keeping you in work by constantly introducing new compliance, and STP, and superannuation obligations. So always means that there’s going to be something there for you.

Where did the name Microkeeper come from?

Jon:                  Yeah, it’s a quick question. And we have it relatively often asked. I think it was, originally, just an amalgamation of bookkeeping and doing your own books. And originally, Microkeeper was for a smaller business. So it was micro-business and bookkeeping with the, I suppose, a playoff of micro and processor and that sort of thing, as well in the background. But originally, it was the small business, micro and the bookkeeping together in an automated system, was where it came from. And I think way definitely you say businesses when it comes to branding. No, they spend quite a lot of time in it. I was like, “Yeah, that sounds good.” And that was basically it. There were no studies on do people like this? Does this look … Does it sound great? Does it give our message? It was like, “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s lower that.” So, yeah, that’s how it happened.

Heather:         I think people can charge lots of money for those studies. Can’t they? We always see the government change the name of something and it’s like, “And that cost us $200,000, that little logo.” But anyway.  So, one of the important things about Microkeeper is that you’re supporting Australian businesses, you’re Australian owned, you’re Australian operated, your support staff are Australian and the development actually happens in Australia.  And even parts of the hardware are built in-house with high quality, local trades.

Why is supporting Australian business something that’s so important to you?

Jon:                  Yeah. Look, coming from, I suppose, almost the farming background and the engineering space, both my business partner and I, we’re very much of the opinion, if we’ve got a problem, let’s try and engineer our own way out of it. So that’s where I suppose the development component comes into it in-house. And we’ve always been of the opinion that we definitely want to support local. So, when we design our hardware, yes, it gets done locally. We’ve got certain elements of PVCs and plastics that are integrated, that’s done locally. The actual physical construction of the unit actually comes in-house and in it’s fully assembled in-house. We have our own quality control.

Jon:                  The other thing that obviously, we’ve always had in the back of their mind is when it comes to supporting and any support for that matter, you’re coming to it from a consumer point of view of you want help. So we want to try and deliver that the best way in which we can. Everyone’s got those nightmare stories of being shipped potentially overseas or being on hold forever. And they’re not getting their question answered. That was something that we wanted to totally eliminate, as well as supporting local jobs. We’re very much a big believer in that. We sometimes see, from a point of view of, I suppose, usual venture capitalists, they say, “No, no. You could get it done way cheaper overseas,” or, “For how many people you’re going lose versus technical support cost, it’s worth not giving it at all.”

Jon:                  And that’s just not what we’re about because we’re originally, the whole thing of Microkeeper originally was to solve a problem and make it affordable for everybody. No matter whether you’re a one employee business or you’re a 10,000 employee corporate, we wanted to make it affordable for everyone. So having that support in Australia, supporting local is very much a big thing for us. And it’s just something we lack and it’s something where at the head, it’s not going to change. It’s going to be Australian owned, operated, and supporting Australian business.

Heather:         Excellent.

Do you have challenges in finding software engineers to work on the development of your solution?

Jon:                  It’s a good question. And yes and no. Yes, in regards we sometimes we are very, very specific about what we want. One of our biggest thing is that Microkeeper is people with culture. So not only do you have to be, I suppose, amazing at what you do. We definitely are looking for absolute rockstars to work here, but the big thing is fitting into our culture. Everyone here at the business, we all have got a common focus. We’re all friends inside of work. And we do have that culture because when you’re working closely together and with every person in-house, we really like to make sure that you’re a fit for our team. So depending on what we wanted, specifically just something generic, we usually have no problem at all. We’ve got some fantastic people here in Australia.

Jon:                  One thing that we’re probably naive to is people’s willingness to move. So they might find the job that they really want and yeah, just because they live in Melbourne or they might live in Sydney, and we’re offering a position in Geelong, people are willing to literally pick up, move and work with a business that I want to work with and see a long-term, I suppose, employment. And that’s one of the things we’re really, really proud of, is a lot of our staff members have been with us for a long, long time. We definitely don’t have a high turnover. It’s something that, from a support point of view, we really think is crucial because people, have a relationship with that support specialist. So you can ring up and you know I’ve spoken to this person, I’ve spoken to them for the last 12 months. They know that we went on holidays to wherever. And it’s that relationship. So no, we usually have, we’re pretty lucky and fortunate when we go to employ here in Australia, we get some great people.

Heather:         Excellent. Oh, that’s great to hear. And the support person, I always feel like the great support person’s like another team member of my team. And even though I’m a quite small business, I feel like I’ve got thousands in my team because the support of people can be so very important. Now we’ve very much focused on Australia.

Does Microkeeper work overseas? Does it have offerings overseas?

Jon:                  Yeah. Great question. Yes, we do. We do have a number of clients overseas. Purely our payroll element is specifically around the Australian payroll markets. So anything prior to payroll, so your Core HR, so all of your licencing and employee onboarding, your time and attendance, your rostering, can definitely all be utilised overseas. And we have many, many clients that do use us for those elements. And some even do use us in a fashion for payroll. What they do is they use it for award interpretation.

Jon:                  So basically they put in their pay conditions and Microkeeper can give them the output. So, it could be as easy as this many hours of basic, this many hours of overtime. And obviously, other countries don’t have superannuation and they don’t have that. So that whole component is ignored, but they basically export what we call the payroll breakdown, which will give them hours and dollars based on parameters around payroll. But more commonly, it start from Core HR through to rosters timesheets that are used more commonly overseas.

Heather:         Okay. Thanks for sharing that, John.

How receptive are people working with payroll to embracing technology?

Jon:                  Yeah. It’s a very, very interesting one. People that are actually in the market to transition, absolutely, it’s front of mind and technologies where they want to be. They know that they want something all in one, they want it to be streamlined, and they’re right across it. But then you’ve also got, I suppose, the other side of the coin, which is people that are almost forced into a situation and they’ve got the mentality of, “Well, it’s not broke, why am I fixing it?” So I don’t really want to learn. So yeah, you do get two sides, but more commonly, we see people coming to us.

Jon:                  So they’ve had their moment of either, “Our business is getting too big and we need a solution to actually fix a problem that we’ve currently got,” or potentially, their current solution maybe has capped out, or it might be just, “Hey, we want to be more current. We want to be at the cutting edge of technology. Our staff are demanding that they want an app and all of this sort of thing. And we just, we need to do it.” And then I suppose you look at COVID and it’s a forced scenario again. So it’s back to, “We’ve got a workforce at home. We need them to be able to log hours from home, and the lock, so we need a solution to check home. Paper-based solution potentially doesn’t achieve.” So, you get a few, but usually, when they’ve got a, I suppose, a reason, technologies are very, very simple I suppose, sell into the business.

Heather:         Absolutely. Look, payroll is such an incredibly complex area, yet such an incredibly important area. So I know that from my earlier years of working with the more manual systems, there’s so much opportunity for people to behave in fraudulent ways or to actually make errors when it comes to payroll. So, I do hope that people embrace the technology and you do see that people are embracing that, being able to access their own data, fire their own payroll space.

Do you find that many people in the farming industry are using your solution?

Jon:                  We do. Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely helped me honestly, close to my heart. From my upbringing bit, we’ve got a lot of businesses in the agricultural space. We’ve got lots of businesses in the hydroponics space that utilise our platform and for different reasons. Sometimes it is that, very much that expanding and contracting workforce, picking season comes and all hands on deck, we go from 50 to 300 for two months of the year, and then it goes back to normal. The other side of it too, is around occupational health and safety. And you just touched on potentially the people and fraudulent scenarios. Obviously what can eliminate that is biometrics, or fingerprint scan, or facial recognition.

Jon:                  What we sometimes see is when you’ve got such a large, large workforce, you might talk into the thousands or even the hundreds. You wouldn’t know per se as the business owner if I came in or hey, I sent my brother in who looks relatively similar to me. So, the problem there, allies, is that I have done all of the inductions. I know the safe working environment around the tractor, around the cool rooms and all of that sort of thing. My brother on the other hand doesn’t. So he comes in, he stands behind a tractor when it’s reversing, not knowing that you can compensate and then an injury occurs. And then the farm’s liable because they say, “Well, why was he even there?” So through biometrics, we can definitely solve that problem.

Jon:                  And this also happens with farms using contracted labour. So you might have a contracting company that supply you labour. What we want to know who as a farm that, that labour that has come has gone through all of our inductions. Knows all of the safety around the farm and the policies. So with Microkeeper, obviously now for HR, that’s something we can definitely streamline. So from the biometric clocking event, we can say, have they signed off a little of the appropriate documentations? Have they been to the farm before? Have they been on the system? Et cetera, et cetera. And we basically go, we can go through that whole, I suppose, onboarding remotely and I suppose, it’s always keeping it front of mind because the system’s always more muttering in the background.

Heather:         Yeah. So that’s really important. And interesting that it has that safety net. I guess overlaid over everything in terms of the object is not just net pay and we calculated superannuation. There’s a lot more to it.

If you had your time over again in the development of Microkeeper and the development of running a technology business, what would you have done differently?

Jon:                  Yeah. Again, it’s a good question. And sometimes hindsight is really, really good. I think from a point of view of obviously knowing what you know now, with any, I suppose, hatching of a small business, there’s always the point of, I’ve got to get to this point before I can’t. So, we’re literally living on bread and water. We’re not paying ourselves anything. We’re absolutely struggling. But if we get to this point here, we’re past, we’re out of the forest and we’re good to go. That’s always a very, very hard time for a lot of small business owners and you go, “Is that ever going to get better?”

Jon:                  And some things, it was funny we were talking about it in the office. My business partner and I, out of engineering, you literally had, we had friends that we were in engineering together with at uni and they would go out and they’d go to the Mines and they’d be on these amazing salaries two years out of uni, and we’re sitting there going, “Oh, my God, can we afford to buy a box of beer?” Joe and I. And you very much pushing yourself and pushing yourself and going, “Is it going to happen?” I think just, and it’s very hard, but knowing that it is going to happen for us, it’s like, you could have just put all your eggs in one basket and we could have fast-tracked the stock.

Jon:                  We definitely always have the question of, would have we ever gone the other way and maybe generated some funding? That’s a very, very well-trodden path, have some funding. Cried I am, investment round and away you go. The biggest thing that Joe and I. obviously, we’re always on the side of not doing that is because we had, I suppose, a vision and we didn’t want it to be interrupted by someone who just wanted an out. So how am I going to make my money back? We didn’t want that. So we thought, we’ve got our vision, we know what we want to do and what we’re trying to achieve for other businesses through our system. And I suppose it was very much then governed by us. We didn’t have to go, “Well, we’re going to do this and we’re going to invest this time into this. And it’s not really going to make us money. All it’s going to do is it’s going to improve the usability of the product.”

Jon:                  We didn’t have to ask anyone. We both knew that it was the right way to go, so we could do it. So in saying that, I don’t know if I would do anything too differently. I think you’ve got to go through. You can’t just go from nothing to amazing business straightaway. You do have to have the hindsight to say, well, the belief was there, but knowing that we could have just gone all in 100% from the beginning, which probably would have sped it up. But at the same time too, you’ve got to be out at 8:00 at night. So, you still have to do your other job per se. I think one thing that we have done well is we hired really well at the right times and really got the right people on board. We’re very much of the opinion, we want to hire people more intelligent than ourselves. We’re not the kind of person that’s like, if we’re doing something wrong, just because I’m your boss, I don’t want you to tell me. That it’s not a great idea. We want people to come in-

Heather:         Well, the mechanical engineers, he’s more intelligent than the mechanical engineers.

Jon:                  One thing with us is we’re very, very black and white. So if we’re wrong, tell us why we’re wrong 100%. And we’re like, “right, let’s move on and let’s go that way.” So, I think that’s probably quite key, is sometimes you think, “I need to hire someone, but I can’t really afford to do it.” And then you end up settling for potentially paying a lower wage. The other way it actually, you see, from experience have seen that you employ someone that you might pay a premium to what, maybe even pay them more than what you’re getting paid yourself, and you see how much it comes back because you grow your business so much quicker because people are working autonomously. So that’s probably one big thing that I suppose we’ve learnt in the journey of what we do now. We always are looking to employ that, as I said, that rockstar in whatever area of the business that it is because it just catapults you forward as well.

Heather:         I think a lot of people will have enjoyed listening to that because I think that probably they face those challenges as a fan. Maybe they’re on two minute noodles or hopefully a bit more than bread and water. But navigating the Alta Venture Capital, but I lose my vision. It’s a difficult road to navigate. And as an end user of solutions, it’s frustrating when they don’t build in the features and functionalities you want, and you can see they’re just building for media releases rather than the functionality, the solution needs. And the media releases gets then extra funding, et cetera. But yeah, it’s a really difficult road to navigate. So it’s interesting that you’re completely comfortable with the way that you went and the importance of building that team out.

Do you have any thoughts on how government and policymakers can support small business digitalisation?

Jon:                  Yeah. Look, for one, I think making people aware is a big thing. Awareness around what’s available and awareness for what we’ve got here in Australia. We do have some amazing products here and we are fantastic as well as easy at innovating. So I think awareness is very much a good thing. One thing that was quite good with STP is they had the registry. So you could see businesses that were approved, which was great because it had some, I suppose, almost the accountability that yes, you’ve done certain things to be on that list. And I suppose again, it was, you could look through a list of preferred providers.

Jon:                  I think the other thing that could actually incentivise and help is rewarding the early adopters. So people that are happy to step outside of the box and go, “Look, we’re wanting to innovate. We want to try and do as much as we can in Australia. If we can minimise overheads, that’s a great thing. And we’ve done that through the utilisation of technology. There’s no, I suppose, reward per se for doing that. It’s like, yeah, it is a bit of a pat on the back. Okay. Whatever, that’s fine, but I think almost a reward for doing it and even potentially incentivizing new entrepreneurs.

Jon:                  So I know one thing that I think was quite poorly done from my point of view, from our government is I know what the various staff and I mentioned when Joe and I were probably surviving on maybe not caught bread and water, but it was slim pickings, was many, many, many, many opportunities to get funding from grants, government grants. But it’s like, you as a small entrepreneur who’s trying to do absolutely everything, that’s like, “Oh, here’s a 4,000 page document for you to comply, spend or you get it.” That’s how it works. Isn’t it the whole point of this that we don’t have the money and we’re trying to create a business in Australia to employ Australians and yet you’re making it so, so hard to go and get this sort of a grant. And one thing that I’ve seen in the past is certain businesses will get grants. And they’re just very good at it because they’re a bigger business and they can pay for someone to apply for these grants in the lock.

Jon:                  But the thing is that I don’t quite understand is they get these grants year in, year out. And if they don’t spend it, they don’t get it next year. So the idea is they do spend it and they spend it on whatever they need to, but then they get it again. This could potentially be in my [inaudible 00:33:22] cap, because if your business isn’t going to make it in, let’s say five years or 10 years, just have a time period. It’s not going to make it, well, why is the government funding that, and funding that just ongoing and ongoing and ongoing. So there’s other people that are out there that maybe should be encouraged, “You’ve got a great idea. Hey, we’ve got a way to incentivise that and to help you get on your feet. Maybe to get you a little office, a little hobble or whatever it might be, and put your monks people that are like-minded to actually see that Australia’s leading in technology because we’ve stripped out all of our manufacturing.”

Jon:                  So, let’s bring it back to technology. Let’s give paving jobs here. And let’s say, if you’ve got an idea and you need some help, we’re here to pin you up, but it’s not a, you have to spend it first. It’s he will give you some money if we can see that there’s a, here there’s a scope of this is what you’re wanting to do. This is where you want to spend your money. We see that it’s a good idea. Well, great. And don’t make it so difficult. Make it achievable. Make it achievable for the entrepreneur. They can go, “Look, this is actually really achievable. I could get some money to help me start this.” And I think it’s a great idea because all you’re doing is feeding our own economy.

Jon:                  And I think that from that point of view, an entrepreneur is an interesting base because they’re so driven. All you’ve got to do is just help them, just fuel them a little bit. Just give them a little bit of fuel. They’ll run on those fumes for as long as they possibly can, because they’ve got the belief. But I suppose a government that had the belief in that person to begin with, and not make it so difficult to get that sort of a grant, I think that would be a massive, massive help and something that I think we would have potentially used, but it was just so hard. We tried and it was like, “Oh no, because the colour of your desks are green or that. Absolutely not. Only blue desks today.” So that’s where I think it could help.

Heather:         Yeah. Look, I agree 100% and I agree that the grants process is complex and it seems to completely agree. It seems to the same people just seem to get it over and over and over. And I know that I’ve got clients who always get it. I know they’ll just be funding a lot of their startup through grants and significant grants because they just, someone is dedicated to doing that. That seems like it’s got some challenges, especially when, while it is grant on one side, on the other side it’s our taxpayer money. So, we want to spent wisely. But thank you for sharing your thoughts there with us.

Can I ask you to share what the tech stack or technology you’re using to run your business is?

Jon:                  Yes. So we run, here at Microkeeper, we run obviously dedicated servers that are in a veteran configuration where it’s a cluster environment. So basically we have our technology stack segregated across three servers in separate states. Obviously through the ISO accreditation, you have to be on a government approved server, which obviously we had to go down that path. And we’ve done all of that, but the idea being that basically the load from any of our users comes into a centralised space. It then gets diverted to one of the three servers basically. So you’ll get shared amongst it to load balance. Then obviously that piece of data is written to that particular server and then shared amongst the other servers in real time so there’s a direct copy across all of them.

Jon:                  And then obviously, in the situation where you have an outage potentially of a specific area of the infrastructure, there’s always redundancy built in, so that from an end user point of view, you’re not affected. And realistically, don’t even know that there has been an outage at all. Obviously we then go down the path of storage of the data and backups. So obviously you’ve got multiple backups in real time, but then you’ve got offsite backups and so forth. All of our system is coded in PHP and then obviously we’ve got our front-end and then we’ve got our app options as well.

Heather:         Excellent.

What do you think if you looked at your mobile device at the moment, what’s the most used app on your phone?

Jon:                  Probably, what would be the most used app? I’m actually a massive maps person. So yeah, whenever I’m driving, I’m always using Google Maps because it’s got live traffic and all the rest. But probably, in a COVID world, the most commonly used app for me actually is my Garmin app. So when I ride my bike, I’m a massive a bike fan. I’m always on it every morning and I’m plotting where I’ve gone and how far I’ve gone, and how fast I’ve gone, the elevation and all that stuff. So, that’s probably the most used app.

Heather:         So my understanding is with Garmin, you get a little map back of what you’ve travelled. Is that correct?

Jon:                  Yeah.

Have you gone out and develop the Microkeeper map?

Jon:                  True, true, drawn specifically our brand?

Heather:         You had all this time.

Jon:                  I don’t no. Challenge accepted. I will come back with the picture.

Heather:         Very good. Very good. You could have it. You could set up challenge and get everyone, “Okay, this is our daily challenge.”

Jon:                  Absolutely, absolutely.

Heather:         But I know people who’ve gone out and done dinosaurs across Melbourne during the lockdown. So I figured that that’s something to do.

Apart from designing the Microkeeper Garmin Map Route, what is next for you and for Microkeeper?

Jon:                  Yeah. So look, we do have a number of features that are coming out to improve the system in both rostering. We’ve got a new big chapter that’s coming to rostering and it’s going to, again, help automate the rostering process. So almost like a Roster Genie type scenario. So that’s one element. And then expanding on our already existing tracking of, I suppose, employees by, not only by a job or a location, but potentially by a role that they’re doing in a task. So you’ll have three-way potential tracking, all the way from the roster element through to the payroll and time and attendance. So not only can you see where that staff member is working, but potentially what they’re working on or I suppose, what position they hold within the business. And obviously, costing that around that.

Jon:                  So that’s two larger things that we’re looking at implementing in the very near future. They are coming through final stages of development. Yeah, so they’re probably two of the bigger ones. Obviously there’s the mandatory ones, which is STP two, which we’re all across. And then this time of year, you’ve got updated tax tables and super, going to the 10% and so forth. So all of that’s more basic stuff and basically pretty much all set up and ready to go, but the more, say, cool stuff and the luck is, yeah, probably those couple of things that are on the final stages of development.

Heather:         Yeah. It was, when you first started speaking, you were mentioning CDs. And I was thinking for a lot of people who even started in the last 12 years realised that we used to have to get a CD every year and update those payroll tax tables, which was a bit of a nightmare. So, John, thank you very much for joining me here today on Cloud Stories.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners and how can they get in contact with you?

Jon:                  Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having this phone. We really appreciate it. It’s always great to chat to everyone in the community. Definitely you can get in contact with us directly via our website, microkeeper.com.au. And find us either via our contact submission tab, or even giving us a call down here at Microkeeper. I think, one final thing, I think being someone who’s created a system, in conjunction with my business partner as well, one thing that we’re very much big believers in is having a belief, having that belief, backing yourself, backing yourself 100%. There are sometimes where you’re just like, “Oh, my God, what am I doing this for?” But I think that’s one of the biggest things you have as someone who wants to innovate and improve, is that internal belief that you’re doing something for the greater good and just, yeah, absolutely backing yourself 100%.

Jon:                  There’s always plenty of those people to get you that advice, but obviously then you’ll also have the people at the other end that go, “Oh, anything that that person touches turns to gold.” They don’t see the hard yards in between, but it’s you yourself who can definitely back yourself. And there’s always that end goal that you’ve got to keep within your vision. And don’t set it too far away, is one thing that we’ve always looked at. You may think I want to be a gazillionaire. Yeah, you might want to be, but how about we set 10 goals to get to that gazillionaire stage so we can actually see ourselves to tick it off. I’ve done this, I’ve done that, I’ve done the other. So, yeah, but probably that would be my final message.

Heather:         Excellent. Thank you for that. And I think that ties in with that book a little bit, that Micro Habits book by James clear. And he’s like, “Just try 1%. Just get that 1% and then if you improve in 1% everywhere, you’ve actually massively improved.” But thank you very much for joining us today, John.

Jon:                  No worries. Thank you.

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