Watu is merging with Liveforce

Watu is closing and merging with Liveforce

The team would like to announce that Watu is merging with Liveforce, and will be closing up shop by the end of December 2019. Let us first use this opportunity to thank you for your belief in our little team and our vision on what a staffing platform should offer in terms of value.

Over time, Watu pioneered features like the job market, making it a fair playing field for staff and eradicating booker favouritism as well as vastly reducing the cost of searching for staff for large jobs.  We made it possible for agencies to verify whether their booking confirmations had been read, and for staff to have work records build and their work performances be noticed and celebrated. We digitalised expenses, dramatically reduced down the labour requirement and margin of error on payroll, made messaging, both email and sms an easy, integrated feature amongst many other features.

Beyond the features, we realised the key to our version of success was to be a good company, happy to listen to your feedback, take it on board, keep you informed honestly, and maintain a happy relationship.  

Now that Watu will be wrapping up business, we decided that we needed to find a company with the same product vision as us, the same level of excitement for what can be built and a team that we liked.  Good people who will be able to build great product for you. Well, we found them in Mark and Greg at Liveforce.

Having flirted with each other for about 8 months, we put pen to paper and are super excited about the future of the Liveforce platform, and the value add it will bring to your business.  Watu as a brand will be put to rest at the end of October, when our service will cease to exist and all of our customers, if you so wish, will be up and running on LiveForce.

In the meantime, we’re going to show those of you who haven’t seen the platform, all its bells and whistles, share case studies of happy customers that have moved across already, speak to Phil at Mash Staffing to share his excitement to be moving across and generally hold your hand as you migrate.

Greg from Liveforce will be reaching out to you with the full programme and you can rest assured, Watu will be running, business as usual, for the next 6 months as we finalise the merge. For a quick glance at frequently asked questions and answers, please have a look here.

We’re stoked to be here, to have achieved this result, and believe that this is the right move for us, for you and your staff.  We look forward to watching you flourish on the new platform, as Liveforce.

With sincere gratitude,

Julian, Pablo, Daniel and Amanda. Watu

Why Mash Staffing are choosing Liveforce

In light of the upcoming closure of Watu, today we’ve handed over the microphone to Davinia Day who is the Client Operations Director at Mash Staffing, who have been one of our longest standing clients. We wanted to hear why they chose Liveforce and how they’ll be tackling the transition…


Watu: You’ve been with Watu since its early days. How do you feel about wrapping it up and moving on to another platform?

Davinia:

Our time with Watu has been great – it has helped the team to become more efficient and introduced the idea of staff going online to apply for jobs; an industry standard these days, but a revolutionary idea just a few years back! Over time though, as the industry and technology advanced, our needs started to outgrow the platform.

And so, the transition to Liveforce brings with it fresh opportunities and a chance for us to use and contribute to a platform with new eyes and years of experience navigating technology platforms. It’s always daunting to tackle a change as big as this, but we’re feeling excited to take this step forward to be able to propel the business forward.

Watu: What made you choose Liveforce as your staffing platform? 

Davinia:

We reviewed and had demonstrations with a few platforms to check the market, but as soon as we spoke with the Liveforce team, our answer was obvious.

In addition to having software with modern features that are easy to use, the friendliness and flexibility of the team won us over. Since the initial discussions, the Liveforce team have been quick to respond, open to discussions, and most importantly, have followed through with the changes and new features that had been agreed upon. 

Watu: Which features in particular are you looking forward to using?

Davinia:

For our field staff, having a single app login will be a huge benefit. Now they’ll have a single application where they can see their entire schedule from all agencies in one place. Not only does it simplify their lives, but consequentially, they will be better organised reducing the chances for confusion between jobs, double bookings, and resulting in fewer queries coming in to the office team. A single login was the most requested feature from field staff during our time with Watu, so being able to deliver it means a lot in terms of what we can give back to the team.

As for the Mash managers, we have plenty to be looking forward to! Most specifically, having GPS check in has been on our staffing-platform wishlist for years; having this feature gives us peace of mind not to mention reducing time spent on communications each day of a live shift significantly. And of course, this translates into less hand-holding from our management team, and more time to focus on what matters.

What’s more, the job build is as easy as copy-paste. Considering how complex many jobs can be, with different shift times, location, roles, etc, the team will be saving hours per build – especially as when it comes to the inevitable changes that will have to be made to the schedule. 

Watu: How are you preparing field staff for the transition?

Davinia: 

The transition looks to be seamless, as Liveforce are taking care of moving our data into their platform. Our staff will receive a notification one month prior, followed by plenty of guidance, support and training videos through regular communications. Liveforce themselves have created a lot of the training material, so it’s just a matter of sending the videos through.

Saying that, the app and interface are also very intuitive so once staff are aware of the change, they’ll be up and running swiftly.

Watu: What’s your working dynamic like with Liveforce?

Davinia:

This is actually at the core of the relationship between Mash Staffing and Liveforce. The team have been so supportive – any question or concern has been addressed immediately, and the guys are always open to conversations and suggestions regarding different features. In fact, we’ve already added a few requests to the 2019/2020 pipeline which are in the works or have even been delivered already.

Once we’re completely up and running on the platform, we’ll continue the conversations through their customer chat feature which is priceless for quick answers and being able to move forward with day-to-day tasks. 

Having worked in the industry themselves as well as spending many months consulting with various agencies, the Liveforce team understand the pain points of staffing agencies and prepared themselves ahead of time. For example, our accounts team will receive specialised training prior to running any payroll and when payday does come, Liveforce will jump online with us and hand-hold us through the process. 

They have a willingness to help and attention to detail which is incomparable. 

Watu: How do you see the relationship and platform developing long-term?

Davinia:

In the future, apart from regular feature releases, we’re particularly looking forward to a reporting integration as this will save our team an enormous amount of time – everything from communications to data collection and reporting is online these days, so technology plays a crucial role in automation and its associated time-saving benefits. 

What’s more, we’re honoured to play a role in helping with Liveforce’s path forward and future development. Both teams have an opportunity to lead and support each other, not to mention enjoy the bright personalities and friendly partnership along the way!


The Watu team wish Mash and Liveforce all the best in their new partnership. For more information on transitioning from Watu to Liveforce, reach out to use anytime via info@watuapp.com  

GDPR: Gaining Consent from Staff Members

GDPR staffing agency compliance

In the run up to the deadline for GDPR compliance, we’ve seen a flurry of activity to ensure both agencies and Watu are ticking all GDPR requirements. In a previous article, we explain our compatibility so that clients can rest assured.

But beyond safely stored data, agencies are also having to tackle the tick boxes which apply when contacting people via their personal email address. The big question of the moment: how do I gain consent from staff members to continue to hold their data and send them communications?

Some agencies have suggested emailing staff to receive replies of confirmation, but we would like to propose a solution which will reduce back and forth communication, and keep answers tracked within the database.

Profile Template Change

When staff members are registering or editing their profile, they are inside of the ‘profile template‘. This template is very flexible as you may already know, and it’s a powerful tool to organise, communicate with, and manage staff.

The first step would be for the Watu team to add a statement similar to the following which would sit at the top of the page:

Please select ‘yes’ below to confirm that you would like to be registered with <agency_name>, and therefore receive communications including job offers during this time. 

This would then be followed by an answer selection that is mandatory to answer:

Yes or No

We can entitle this section of the profile template “Data compliance“.

How does this affect staff?

For registering staff, they will come across this statement as the first question when applying, and would naturally tick ‘yes’.

For existing staff, this will now sit as a question within their profile template. They must enter their profile and click ‘edit’ to be able to answer the question.

How to reach out to existing staff?

You may request the above change by emailing tech support from your account. Once it’s in place, we suggest;

  1. Emailing your database (staffers -> active -> message and the same for pending) stating that you have added a mandatory question, for which they must answer yes to remain on your books
  2. After however many weeks and reminders as you feel comfortable with, you may do a search in the system for “Data compliance: No”
  3. This will turn up the results for everyone who has answered “No”
  4. You may choose to suspend these people and/or delete their data

The above search will apply to anyone new who has registered as well as existing staff members. We will pre-set all answers to be ‘no’ for existing staff, so that it’s an opt-in request; in other words, staff must edit their profiles to select ‘yes’ so that they do not leave the answer as ‘no’.

Data deletion

Whether you delete none, some or all of the data of suspended/imported/cancelled/declined profiles is up to your agency and we cannot advise on this.

Deletions may be completed manually, or you are welcome to reach out to us to ask for a quote. Please send through the following information;

  • who the data should be wiped for (which categories – suspended, cancelled, declined, imported etc)
  • what data should be wiped (names, email, phone number, all answers, photos, payroll, etc)

Looking forward

In the future, the question will remain on the database and a staff member may decide to select ‘no’ at any time. We would recommend to run a search each month or at whatever interval suits you best, looking for those staff who have selected ‘No’. Again, at that point, you may choose to suspend and/or delete their data.

If you are ready to implement the above or have any questions, do reach out to us via tech support. The wording is flexible and the above is a suggestion, so it can be adjusted as needed.

SMS Usage Summary Report

SMS usage report image of girl holding a mobile credit: unsplash rawpixel

If you’re a regular SMS-user in Watu, you may be in need of a monthly SMS usage report to break down your spend in the previous month.

Now, clients can do this by clicking into ‘billing’, selecting a previous bill, then following the hyperlink next to the SMS usage figures:

image of how to export SMS usage report from Watu

Within the report, managers will find all the details for each SMS including:

  • Sent At
  • Sender Name
  • Job Number
  • Job Name
  • Client Name
  • Message Template
  • SMS Body
  • Search Query
  • Number of Messages
  • Number of SMS*

*these numbers may differ as long messages can use multiple SMS per recipient

Whether for accounting purposes or to keep track of communications, all agencies may find some helpful nuggets of information contained in this report. If you have any questions about it, drop us a line at info@watuapp.com!

New Feature:: Document and Photo Upload to Jobs

Whilst the ‘booked’ job description allows for a full job brief, sometimes there are things to say or images to share which just can’t be written into a box.

And that’s why we’ve created a space for documents and images to be uploaded into jobs.

When clicking into a job, you’ll now see ‘show documents’ in the top right:

At this point, you can now choose documents to upload either by clicking into the grey space, or by dragging and dropping the document or image.


Once you’ve selected your document, you have a few options – do you want the document to remain private to managers? Or visible to all staff, or just the booked ones? And if visible to booked staff, is it only for a specific role?


Simply choose whichever settings are suitable for you, and save the document. Of course, you can choose to upload multiple documents which would only be visible to specific staff members.

Once your documents and images have been uploaded, here’s how it looks for the staff members:

If you have any questions about this feature, drop us a line via ‘tech support’ or info@watuapp.com

New Feature: Adding notes to a job

image of post it notes by michal grosicki for watu job notes

In the evolution from paper to computer, we’ve waved goodbye to paper notes, paper letters, sometimes even paper books. It’s virtual freedom from piles of notes on our desks…except for those pesky post-it’s which have stuck around – till now.

We’ve added a new feature which welcomes managers to leave notes within a job. Here’s how it works, in video:

In summary, managers can click to add notes in the top right of the job build page. Notes can be added and tracked per manager, as well as deleted.

 

New Feature: Adding to portfolio from a job

watu portfolio staff profiles image of picture frames

For the times when you need to present staff to clients, we now have you covered straight from jobs.

Rather than adding staff members individually to portfolios, you can now do so directly from the job. What are the choices?

  • Adding all booked

This option allows for you to select everyone who has already been booked into the job, so rather than creating options for your client, you are presenting them with the team.

  • Adding all applied and shortlisted

When you need to present staff to a client for them to select who to book, adding all applied and shortlisted is your best bet. This will add anyone who has applied or been shortlisted to the job, but will not include anyone who is booked already.

  • Adding everyone linked to the job

Want to present everyone linked to the job, whether booked, applied, or shortlisted? Use this third option to add everyone, ever, into the portfolio.

And here’s how to get started:

First up, build your portfolio template by clicking on ‘portfolios’ and selecting which information you would like to show.

From within your job, hover over the menu button near the top right of the job information to apply the command to the whole job, or hover over the menu within each location to be more specific:

Booked staff in a job in Watu

Select which group of staff members you would like to add to the portfolio:

Adding staff to portfolio from a job in watu

This box will pop up, confirming who you are adding, and allowing you to select which portfolio you will add staff members to:

Selecting a portfolio within watu

Once you’ve added the staff, click back into ‘portfolios’ to check the profiles and add notes, if necessary:

Staff portfolio within Watu

And that’s it – grab the URL, whiz it across to the client and await their feedback. Job done.

New Payroll Changes

Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Payroll has been undergoing a makeover recently and we’re really excited to release it shortly, in its simplified glory. Watu clients are soon to see two major changes to running payroll: one condensed pay export file and faster self-employed processing

Release date: September 15th 2017

One condensed payroll

Prior to the changes, Watu had three separate tabs for employee payment, expenses payment, and self-employed invoice batch payment:

image of watu payroll options

Managers could choose whether to run one, or all three, but they had to be exported separately.

We’ve taken this process and boiled it down to one export:

image of new watu payroll

Managers can still opt for running just one – or two – of the options, or they can opt for them all. This new toggle set up allows for a variety of combinations – wages exports for both employees and self-employed, just expenses exports, just employees, and so on. But best of all, it allows for all payment exports for all types of staff, into one document.

The exported document itself will remain the same apart from one additional column where it will state whether staff are self-employed or employees.

Bonus: For those of you using Paycircle this is great news – integrations will be even easier now so you can run payroll in a snap!

Faster self-employed processing

Another change applicable to those agencies with self-employed staff will be music to your ears.

Rather than the drawn out process of signing off shifts, clicking ‘new invoice received’, matching totals to shifts and adding an invoice date and number, then running an invoice batch…here is the new process:

sign off the shifts -> click into payroll and export the data

In other words, payroll processing for self-employed will now behave exactly as it does for employees. We listened to your feedback that the workflow had too many steps, and that oftentimes building the invoice in Watu was irrelevant, so this new process is the most efficient one whilst still keeping Watu payments factual, accurate and reliable.

GDPR Compliance

GDPR compliance image

As of May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, two years after its adoption and with the aim of protecting the data of EU citizens. GDPR compliance is mandatory and will apply to Watu as we hold the data of thousands of staff.

The regulations define new standards and procedures which companies handling data will have to follow, in order to protect EU citizens and help them be aware of their data rights and security.

How does this affect agencies?

Agencies hold thousands of staff member’s private details including names, email addresses, home addresses, and so on. The GDPR states that there are two main parties involved who must align to ensure the standards are carried out.

A controller specifies how and why personal data is processed, while a processor conducts the actual processing of the data (source). In this case, agencies are the controllers and Watu is the processor, and in this instance, the controller is responsible for ensuring the processor is following the law.

What are the new rules, and how will Watu approach them?

Breach notification:

If our security within Watu was ever to be breached and data exposed which could result in a risk for the individuals, it is Watu’s responsibility to inform the agency as soon as possible. The rules state that notification to the individuals must be within 72 hours.

Right to access:

Individuals may, at any time, request “from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose” and this must be provided as a free service with the option of the information being provided in electronic format.

  • If the Watu team receives a request from a staff member for details about their data, we will confirm that the agency is processing the data provided via the profile template questions, for use related to booking them work.
  • The data is already provided via their staff profiles, which staff have free access to at any point, and we can provide copy in electronic format if so requested.
Right to be forgotten:

Staff may state that they withdraw consent of their personal data being held at any time. In this case, Watu would be responsible for removing the data as well as ensuring the agency no longer accesses this personal data.

  • If a staff member contacts Watu after having cancelled their account, and requests that their personal data be erased, we are able to do so by changing their personal details to ‘blanks’. If they were no longer due any payment, we would also be able to erase bank details. As such, the agency would no longer have access to the staff member’s details effective immediately.
  • The profile itself would not be deleted however, as this is used as an important holding space within the software’s history, for example, in previous payroll, previous jobs, and so on.  Having the profile exist, even with blank information, is crucial as it retains the factual history of Watu, especially considering the potentially high turnover rates.
Data Portability:

This rule states that the individual must have access to their held data and we must be able to provide it in ‘machine readable format’ to be passed on to another controller.

  • If a staff member reaches out to Watu, we are able to provide them with this data which would include their profile template details and bank details, as they were ‘previously provided’ by the individual.
Privacy by design:

This refers to building a safe structure from the start, as well as limiting the access of data.

  • Watu ensures that its data is kept extremely secure, and its our first priority with regards to the software. The data is held with a reputable company called Linode, and includes encryption where necessary.
  • With regards to ‘data minimalisation’ which states that only the minimum data must be required and accessed, we encourage agencies to only ask questions in the profile template which are relevant to the type of work.
  • Additionally, bank information is only gathered after a staff member has been confirmed by the agency, so that we do not unnecessarily collect private data.
  • As for access being limited to only those who need to access the information, we have ensured that each client account is kept separately and this is why each Watu client has a unique URL, to ensure there is never crossover. The only people with access to this data are the agency managers, the Watu customer happiness team, and the developers.
Data protection officers:

 

A company must hire a DPO if handling a certain type of data, such as criminal convictions, or if monitoring the data subjects on a large scale. Watu does not have a specific DPO, however we consider the protection of data to be the responsibility of the entire team and as mentioned earlier, the security of this data remains our absolutely priority. As changes in law come about, we will work together to ensure Watu remains in accordance with the legal requirements.

Summary

As per the above guidelines, Watu already fulfils many of the requirements stated by the new GDPR. We have a consistently transparent and helpful policy and many of the requirements have been in practice already, such as offering to wipe staff data or ensuring that structures are designed with security in mind.

We will continue to operate as such, and welcome queries and comments from any agencies.

Newsflash: Watu system updates

Image of tools from Unsplash to represent Watu's features

We’re constantly working on giving you more, and better, tools within Watu. As a front-end user of Watu, you may sometimes be wondering what we’re working on behind the scenes, so in case this is you, here is a list of recent releases which are visible to to clients*;

*this means you will be able to see the difference. There is plenty that goes on in the background which would only make sense to developers 🙂

Booking Emails are Clearer

This is the latest release and one which many of you have been asking for! Previously, ‘successful booking’ emails listed the shifts with details at the top of the email, followed by exceptions.

This was confusing. For everybody.

Image of booking confirmation email from Watu to temporary staffer

Now, as seen above, it lists each shift with its details, unless all the shifts are exactly the same in which case it lists the detailed information just once.

Introducing Canadian Payroll

For our lovely and loyal Canadian clients, we released a detailed payroll data capture section integrated into Watu, much like we have for the UK, US and Australia. This means that Canadian accounts will now be able to ask staff for their bank account payment details, SIN numbers, and everything else necessary to be able to pay staff.

Image of bank detail capture in Watu for Canada

And when payroll is being exported, all this information will automatically populate the spreadsheet. Hello, simple payday.

Fixing a calendar glitch

When staff were looking at the calendar to pick a date – like their birthday – the white text would show up against a white background. Oops.

Image of Watu's calendar feature

This has happily been corrected!

Easier profile cancellation for staff

Whilst the system previously had many blocks in place for staff cancelling their profiles with an agency, we eased some of the restrictions so that staff can now cancel even if they had been shortlisted for a job – as long as the job is in the past.

This should mean fewer emails to managers asking to be suspended.

Portfolio background image

Previously, the portfolio background had two black sections on either side to contain the image. We realised that this wasn’t ideal for some agency images, so the image now covers the entire background.

It’s ever-so-slightly sleeker and a slight adjustment to a feature we’re excited to be renovating in the future.