Character matters

Eight years ago my business partner and I sat down at a Panera in the heart of the heartland to design a system that will change the way businesses manage employee life cycle.

Before people imagined that you can have a single system to manage Payroll, Human Resources, Benefits, Applicant Tracking, Performance Reviews, we set out to build such a system. Our goal? A single user-friendly system that employees, payroll administrators, and HR managers can all leverage to improve their experiences, processes and productivity.

Before people imagined that you can have a single system of record, one employee record, no integrations, no shuffling data between systems, no screen scraping, no “payroll” talking to “HR”, because Payroll and HR are the same system, before all of that, we chartered new territory.

Before the term SaaS became hip on Wall Street and Silicon Valley, before it became to symbolize companies burning investors cash in order to “grow” we built the first complete SaaS system in our space.

We did not have venture capital backing us. We did not have big banks rolling us. We did not have prior exits to roll into our venture.  We only had the trust and faith of our clients.

We had to make a choice, do we chase growth at any cost? We knew once people saw what we built they will try to copy us and go get big money to bankroll them so they can leap frog us.

We had to make a choice. We chose growth with purpose instead of growth of at any cost. We chose clients wellbeing instead of VCs wellbeing. We chose to become one of country’s best companies to work for instead of becoming the next unicorn.

We chose to be profitable instead of burning other people’s money in losses. Because when your are not beholden to other people’s money you can easily chose to put clients and employees first.

Recently others came along, with catchy names, claiming to pioneer concepts that we have been offering for years. While they operated int the limelight we continued to innovate. To build today what they will “pioneer” next year. To offer features focused on our clients needs not on selling vaporware hoping to land a prospect while ignoring our existing clients.  We continued to invest in our infrastructure while they “invested” in marketing and Facebook ads.

As our elders knew long ago, character matters and the cream always rises to the top.


Release Highlight 5/17/15

Over the weekend we released some new features to our software!

Many items included in the release were requests for improvements directly from our clients. We take pride in our commitment to being responsive to clients’ changing needs and are happy to incorporate ideas they have for improvement to the software whenever we can.

Savings money keyboard key. FingerOne such request came from a client that was looking for more communication from the system to their employees when a change occurred with an employee’s Direct Deposit setup for payroll purposes. We always had the capability to notify employees through the system, but because of the client’s request, the decision was made to always send an email to the employee when a change was made.

This change will help to keep the change process transparent and friction free for payroll managers and employees that have changes to their information.

The full release notes were recently sent to all StratEx clients . If you are using the software and have any questions about any of the updates, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Protecting you from your browser!

Most eStratEx users are aware that we at StratEx strongly encourage use of a modern browser when accessing eStratEx and Spokeware. This is not because we want to make life difficult, but rather because a modern version of your favorite browser will yield the most operational and secure user experience.

It is in this spirit that we will be phasing out support for old Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols. SSL is a security measure employed by internet browsers and websites, allowing for the secure transmission of private data online. Just like browsers themselves, these security protocols are improved and updated over time. Research published in late 2014 revealed that older versions of SSL contain vulnerabilities which can be exploited by hackers. Eliminating support for these older versions will help ensure you are not unintentionally exposing yourself and your data to attack by using insecure technology.

What does this mean for you?

Most users will experience no disruption. All modern browsers use the latest protocols (TLS 1.0, 1.1 or 1.2) by default.

Internet Explorer versions 7-10 support the latest protocols, but they are not enabled by default. Anyone using these versions of IE may need to update their browser settings. To do so:

1. Go to Tools>Internet Options
2. Select the Advanced Tab
3. Scroll to the Security Section
4. Select the checkbox Use TLS 1.0

No users should be operating on versions older than IE 7, as we communicated the decision to end support for old versions of Internet Explorer late last year. If anyone is, however, they may not have the option to update their version to a secure protocol and therefore will not be able to access the site unless they update their browser altogether.

On May 20th, 2015, these changes will be implemented for system downloads (reports, attachments, document library files, etc.). Anyone using old SSL will be unable to download files from eStratEx after this date. On July 4th, the changes will be applied to the site as a whole, preventing all access for those still using insecure protocols.

If you have any questions, or need assistance updating your browser version or settings, please contact your friendly Service Team at StratEx.

Get a tech job… in Chicago?

According to CBRE, the number of tech jobs in Chicago rose 26% from 2010 to 2013.

WBBM Noon Business Hour recently asked me about this statistic and my opinion on what is driving this huge increase. I believe there are a couple of factors leading to a growth in tech jobs in Chicago.

First, companies like Groupon and GrubHub have gone public, which expands our exposure nationally and helps to solidify Chicago on the tech map. Companies like these have been a solid source of innovation and growth over the years, which has stimulated the need for workers with a tech background, and increased the pool of tech workers with experience in the city.

Second, in the recession of 2008, organizations realized they had to do more with less. This resulted in technology replacing a lot of administrative and lower-end service jobs. Those jobs were eliminated, but with technology, you need to have people to maintain the databases and software, which creates a whole ecosystem of jobs that feed off of that new need for technology. This is true for tech companies as well as manufacturing, the service industry, restaurants, etc. Everyone is using more technology to run their businesses better.

The hype with River North and tech incubators is legitimate. 1871 is running out of space, Built in Chicago membership is at an all-time high, Google Midwest Headquarters will be in the chi_08West Loop, and even Class-A addresses on Michigan Avenue are trying to attract tech companies.

As far as bidding wars for top tech talent, there will always be a war for good talent. Chicago is a mecca for new grads in the Midwest, and if you’re interested in working in the tech sector, the landscape has changed– you don’t have to move to one of the coasts for great tech jobs.

As companies realize they don’t have to be in the traditional tech sectors to start-up or have access to a top-notch tech workforce, this trend in Chicago will only continue.

Release Highlight 4/12/15

We’ve released new enhancements to our software!

My favorite new feature has to be ¡eStratex en Español! But since Jake already highlighted that, another new feature I love is our major upgrade with our e-signature function in a To Do.

In the past, we accepted a user’s initials as their e-signature. Now, if a To Do requires a signature, the user can sign using their mouse or touchpad, or if on a device with a touch-screen, they can use their finger to sign.


Over coming releases, this e-signature functionality will be making its way into other modules in the system that require a signature. We will let you know when it does!

The full release notes were recently sent to all StratEx clients . If you are using the software and have any questions about any of the updates, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Exciting Updates On The Way!

We are excited to announce the next version of your eStratex system, to be made available in the very near future!

It is always our goal to introduce upgrades with as little disruption to our users as possible. Seeing as we’re introducing a number of major enhancements with this release, we are taking extra care to make sure everything functions as intended before making the new features available. As soon as we’ve exhausted testing, all new features will be made available!

To preview what is coming…


…¡eStratex en Español!

We are happy to introduce a Spanish version of the site (Myself and New Hire) for those users who are more comfortable reading Spanish! Accessing the Spanish version is as easy as toggling the language on the login page.

¡Por favor avísanos si tienes alguna pregunta o sugerencia!

…Updates to Employee Profile Pages!

Profile Overview

Employee profile pages have received major improvements, both visually and functionally! You’ll find the employee profile overview page much more user friendly.


Profile Panel

We’ve added an employee profile panel to every employee page, giving you the basics (including picture) for the selected employee. This should eliminate any uncertainty as to which employee record is being viewed and/or worked on!

There is much more to come, including a host of User Interface changes designed to improve desktop and mobile usability. Full details of the updates will be sent out once the features have been made available. If you have any questions before or after release, please contact your friendly Service Team.

Release Highlight 2/7/15

We’ve released new enhancements to our software!

I’m particularly excited about introducing Document Library functionality designed to make Document Access as transparent as possible! Gone are questions like “Can Jill see this Discipline record I uploaded for her…?”


At a glance, you can see which documents an employee will see and not see in their Document Library.

Full details of the updates will be going out to all StratEx clients shortly. If you have a question about changes before you receive the full notes, please reach out to your StratEx Service Team.