Dominion Systems

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July 21, 2014 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Cloud Based HRM Software for Payroll, Time and Attendance

Interview with: Jud Highhill, CEO and Paul Nysse, Marketing Lead

About Dominion Systems

“We are a software as a service company based in Grand Rapids, MI. is our HRM software that enables business to do their payroll, time & attendance, and benefits administration in the cloud via the internet. Our all-in-one software helps businesses to become more automated by involving their employees in the HRM process. When companies use our software, they are able to cultivate and grow their culture in a way that helps both the employee and employer.”

Jud Highhill

As president and CEO of Dominion Systems, Jud is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Dominion Systems including overall vision, strategic directions and software development. Jud is a second-generation owner and took over the company in 2009.

“We are constantly innovating and trying to figure out what the next big product is.”- Paul Nysse

Dominion Systems

P.O. Box 9592
Wyoming, MI 49509





Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – July 21, 2014

CEOCFO: Mr. Highhill, what is Dominion Systems?

Mr. Highhill: Dominion Systems is a Software as a Service company based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. is our HRM or human resources management software that we provide to businesses to be able to do their payroll, time and attendance and benefit administration all in the cloud wherever they are through any Internet browser. It is all one software that helps companies become more automated and pay for less for their HR management processes.


CEOCFO: What do you understand fundamentally about payroll and the process that enables you to provide a product that is easy, effective and user friendly?

Mr. Highhill: That is a great question. Dominion is a full service payroll provider here in Michigan. We were the first to market in Michigan with a single database solution that allows customers to do payroll, human resource management, benefits administration and applicant tracking all out of one single database with a single sign on. This is significant because companies do not need to link software programs together; it is all right in one spot. We do that while paying a lot of attention to the user interface and user experience aspects of our product. People can switch from payroll, time and attendance, HR and applicant tracking all in our software. Employees are able to access things like schedules, punches, check stubs, personal information and request time off, all from their mobile device if they choose. This makes the experience for HR professionals extremely user friendly while also creating a great experience for their employees.


CEOCFO: Dominion has a long history. Does that count today or are people really evaluating your current offering and not looking at the background?

Mr. Highhill: It really depends on who you are talking to, to be honest with you. Michigan tends to be a very family oriented, conservative place to be, so the longevity around here definitely does help in many situations. We get out of Michigan a little bit and we tend to see a little bit less emphasis on our history and more emphasis on the product as a whole, which works very well for us because we feel like we excel in both areas. The business has been around since 1970, and we also have a phenomenal software on top of that. We work well in both areas.


CEOCFO: What are some of the areas that your customers perhaps do not make enough use of or do not understand as well as they should with your product?

Mr. Highhill: Our product tends to be very flexible, so people tend to use one particular piece of it in many different ways. One of the things that I see as something we can do a little better at is getting even more of our customers to be completely paperless. Right now 65% of our clients are paperless. Many of our long-standing customers that have been with us for some time still tend to print quite a bit of paper as far as reports, checks and devices of credit. That is something that we have been really trying to press on. We have a relatively newer feature that we call HR attachment, where you can take your traditional paper file and scan it all into our document manager. Although the use is quite high, I would like to see even more use of it. Getting to our existing customer base and influencing them to become more paperless is something we continue to focus on.


CEOCFO: Address security. It is always an issue. How do you ensure that what you are doing and what you are providing really has the best security available?

Mr. Highhill: Security is always top of mind for us, especially because we are dealing with very sensitive information. Out of our 45 employees here, 14 of them are on the technical side; developers or network administrators. We always striving to make sure that we have the highest levels of encryption that are available. We put in password security requirements as far as length and style of password that we require as well as how often they need to be changed. We contract a third party that has an intrusion detection package, if anything out of the normal happens in our network, we are immediately alerted and we can analyze what is going on. Everybody has people trying to get into their software, and we are no different, so we have around the clock surveillance. It is essentially like having a security camera on your network. We take that very seriously and we expend many resources toward our security.


CEOCFO: How do you reach prospective clients?

Mr. Highhill: We reach them in any way possible, but we have many active programs that we have put together. We have a full marketing team here, and they are consistently putting out a ton of good content that is HR related, general information through blogging, webinars and just trying to drive people to our website. We do calls out to prospective clients to talk to them about products that we have and see if there is any interest there and gage when they are going to be looking.


CEOCFO: Are you strictly in Michigan? What is your geographic position?

Mr. Highhill: Our office locations are in Michigan. Our corporate office is here in Grand Rapids and then we have another in Rochester Hills, which is on the East side of Michigan. We do have reach all over the country. We file taxes in all 50 states, and in general, those customers come from Michigan based companies that have plants in other states. We do have a few customers that are based out of Michigan just from companies who have found us online and given us a call.


CEOCFO: Would you like to increase your national footprint?

Mr. Highhill: Absolutely. That is definitely something that has been one of our goals for the future. With all the capabilities as far as being able to do analysis and demos through the Internet, it really allows us to prospect and sell actively anywhere in the country from right here in Grand Rapids. The last five years has made that a reality for us. Being a payroll service, anybody that pays people could be a customer of ours, so there is a plethora of prospects right here in our own back yard. We have not really felt the need to actively prospect outside of our local geographic area but it is something that is on our radar.

Mr. Nysse: What we have done in the past year and a half to two years is we have had a fundamental switch in the way our company perceives itself. We were mainly a service base, which we still pride ourselves on service, but we are also trying to move toward more of the technology side. We give people the option if they want to do training, they can do online training, and that is just kind of a way to reach a broader audience. We still focus mainly on Michigan, but there are people who Google us now, or they find our website from a different source that are out of our geographical reach.


CEOCFO: Your website has one section that indicates “beyond products or features there is something about Dominion that just feels better.” Would you explain that concept?

Mr. Highhill: The environment in the traditional payroll industry has been dominated by a couple of very large companies. When you call into ask questions, you get a number or ticket, you don’t end up talking to the same person on a regular basis. If you have several of their products, you have several different places that you need to call to get answers. With Dominion Systems, we are small enough and local enough that when you call us you feel like you are calling somebody that you know because you are talking to the same people. As the president and CEO of the company, I am regularly out at customers’ locations just taking their temperatures, seeing how things are going and making sure that my team is doing what we say we are going to do. It is that type of personalization that you may not receive with some of the larger national companies.


CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of something you learned by visiting a customer that perhaps you would have not understood or realized had you not made a point of going and having that contact?

Mr. Highhill: I do a lot of my research and development when I am talking to customers. We are constantly innovating and trying to figure out what the next big product is. We do not want to be chasing the big guys and their products, we want to come up with our own leading products that are going to help our customers. Generally, my first point of action is to see what I can do to make their lives easier. I ask a few simple questions. What processes are you still doing manually? What information are you tracking outside of our software that we can maybe track inside of our software? We are really trying to automate and make our customers live easier. The reason that works is payroll data tends to be the most up to date data in a business. Everybody has to get paid, and if something gets out of whack, that is the first thing the employees tell you about. It really makes it easy for the payroll information to be the hub for all the other systems in the business. Somebody updates an address and it will definitely get updated in payroll, but it might not get updated in some other spreadsheet that is off on the side because it might get forgotten. We try to get as much of that stuff into our system and make our system the central hub for HR administration.


CEOCFO: What is the key to keeping up with all of the regulatory issues so that your clients are fulfilling everything they need to?

Mr. Highhill: One of the biggest things that Dominion, and any payroll service, is that we are subject to tax compliances. We make sure tax filing is done properly, on time, and everything is accurate. We have several different organizations that we are members of that send out tax update alerts, and the main one that we use is the APA or the American Payroll Association. Every time there is a change in any tax filing, they send an alert out. We immediately get our programming team on that task, and we get our software changed to what they need to be because tax filing rules and laws are constantly in flux. The APA is one of our best resources. We also have six CPPs, which are Certified Payroll Professionals, on our staff, which is also a certification that you get through the APA. It is a very rigorous process to get that done. Having those people on staff helps us get access to a ton of material that tells them about all the new regulations, all the HR rules, how to pay overtime properly and all the different nuances to payroll and tax filing.


CEOCFO: What surprised you as you have grown and refocused a bit on what you are doing?

Mr. Highhill: The speed with which technology moves has really been the most eye opening to me. I came into this organization as a sales person, and I never dreamed that I would need to be as into the technical side as I am right now. I always knew technology moved fast, but it moves much faster than I ever expected it to.


CEOCFO: What is involved in implementing a system when a company switches over to you?

Mr. Highhill: It depends on the customer. We generally do face to face meetings with our implementation department, where our team will go out there. We have an implementation survey where we ask about how they do everything. From there, we generally take their electronic copy, or if they do not have that, a paper copy of their reports from their most recent payroll, and we will either do a data entry the old fashioned way if they give us paper or we will do migration of data electronically to our system. The entire time that this is happening, we are doing short training sessions with the people who are going to be using our software to make sure they get the most of the software. While trainings are going on, we are running payrolls to ensure that the information we put into our system is creating the exact same output of what they had before. We compare those things line by line and make sure there is not any variance in any of the numbers so that we can hit the ground running on their live date.


CEOCFO: What is ahead for the company?

Mr. Highhill: Growth. We have been on a growth path for as long as I can remember. It has been slow, steady, organic growth, and we are going to continue on that path. Our goals are to be somewhere in the 15 to 20 percent range as far as company growth is concerned. We like that number because it allows us to continue to hire and train staff efficiently. It is not too fast and not too slow. Along with that, it allows us to continue to innovate with our products. We are constantly releasing new products, our most recent being what we are calling benefits administration. That is where our customers’ employees can go on to our employees’ health service product and they can register for all their benefits, health, dental, etc., through our software. From there they can then offer an organized report back to the HR department that they can in turn report to their insurance companies so they can implement those benefits properly. We are always working on our mobile site and trying to make things easier for the employees because that is what it really is all about these days, making things user friendly for both the administrators and the employees. Lastly, the last two years we have really focused on the user experience of our product. We have been doing a lot of usability testing and having customers and prospects come in to use our product un-instructed. We want to make it as intuitive as possible, so we hand them a login and have them complete a few tasks. We see where they stumble and then we look at those areas and make them easier and more intuitive to use. We want to make our product so that anybody can pick it up with very little instruction and be able to use it intuitively.


CEOCFO: Put it all together. Why choose Dominion Systems?

Mr. Highhill: Dominion Systems allows you to become a more employee-centered company, which is what the generation coming out of college expects from their employers. Payroll at this point is really something that you expect to be done correctly when you are looking at a payroll company, and it is really all about all the other things that come along with that as far as the employees are concerned and your HR department is concerned.


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