How Gusto Processes Billions Of Dollars In Annual Payroll

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Gusto
Gusto is delightful, modern payroll. Our comprehensive payroll service enables businesses to get set up and run payroll in minutes, from any web enabled device. All government payroll taxes and reporting are taken care of automatically and paperlessly. We've processed millions of dollars in payroll and our customers span a wide variety of businesses, from flower shops to technology start-ups. We would be delighted to provide you modern payroll.
Background

ZenPayroll is on a mission to help small business owners succeed by providing a simple and intuitive way to pay and appreciate their employees. We automate the complexities of tax payments and form filings and let small business owners focus on running their business. We currently service over 10,000 companies across the country and we are processing billions of dollars in annual payroll.

I joined ZenPayroll almost three years ago as the first engineering hire, and I currently lead the engineering team that keeps our clients compliant and builds tools to make sure our customer care team can do their job efficiently. Before joining ZenPayroll, I spent a year working with Pivotal labs doing Ruby on Rails consulting. Prior to that I was in a completely different industry and worked at a nuclear power plant after finishing my degree in electrical engineering.

Architecture

Our basic stack is Ruby on Rails and MySQL. We originally chose Rails because of the speed at which we could get our app up and running, and it is still working out great for us. We also use AWS services extensively in combination with Chef, having recently migrated to AWS from Rackspace. On the front end, most of our site is using Backbone, but we’ve been moving more and more to ReactJS.

Background processing is an integral piece to our system, and we have built a robust out-of-band infrastructure using Sidekiq Pro. A lot is happening behind the scenes and running payroll is just the beginning of the process. Throughout the day, payrolls are created, contractors are paid, bank accounts are verified via test transactions, and reversals are processed. It’s critical to our system to ensure all these actions are properly accounted for. Every time one of these actions is taken, we create bank transactions (via ACH) that tell our bank where money should be moved.

Timing is critical when paying employees, so we adhere to a strict schedule when communicating with our bank. At periodic intervals throughout the day, we batch these transactions by type, and consolidate them into files that the bank can process. Before our evening deadline, we upload all files created throughout the day to the bank so employees will be paid out the following day. The last part of the daily process requires us to confirm acknowledgement files provided from the bank and reconcile any discrepancies.

Most of the time, that is all we need to make sure our customers are properly taken care of, but occasionally bank transactions fail due to incorrect bank numbers or insufficient funds. If a transaction is unsuccessful, our bank sends us a response for the transaction and an associated error code, usually 2-3 days later. Every morning we download those files, stop any pending payments, and contact the administrator of the account to resolve the issue.

Sidekiq has been a great tool for us to robustly support our customers by allowing us to gracefully handle errors and highly parallelize our processing to scale with us as we grow.

Upcoming Architecture Changes

ZenPayroll is at a really exciting point right now, because the company and our customer base is growing so rapidly. In order to accommodate this growing user base as well as our expanding product vision, we’re currently in the process of architecting a system that can scale robustly. People depend on us for their livelihood, and we take that trust very seriously.

At a high level, we’re moving towards a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Currently our fraud and balance tracking systems are separated out into services, and we’ll be building out additional services in the coming months. More specifically, we’re in the middle of defining how these services will communicate with each other. We evaluated a handful of message-queuing systems and ultimately selected AWS’s SQS/SNS service. We’ve also been experimenting with Grape and have had a lot of success so far using it for our internal APIs. Grape makes it easy to implement our internal APIs, and we’re writing a gem, dubbed GrapeEater, that will make it easy to communicate with Grape APIs. GrapeEater consumes a Grape API and programmatically generates and maintains a client gem for that API. On startup, the client gem dynamically generates a request method for each endpoint from JSON swagger documentation generated for the Grape API. We hope to open source GrapeEater very soon!

So far, all of our services have also been in Rails, which allows developers to move around code bases easily. We haven’t yet found a good use case to use something else - but that could always change.

On the frontend, we’re transitioning to using ReactJS more heavily. Our original customer dashboard is a thick Backbone app that consumes our Rails API. Our Backbone paradigm has been effective over the past two years, but as we have added more and more features, we have found that our views have started to become a little unmanageable. While Backbone has provided us with great data management and API interaction, we found that we need a more powerful tool for creating UI.

We're adopting ReactJS due to its declarative nature of creating user experiences, high performance, and ease of integration with our existing Backbone models and collections. We use Reflux to bolster our frontend architecture, as well as ImmutableJS to more easily reason about our data structures. Our new React paradigm has been a breath of new life into both our frontend development patterns and UI.

Scaling Challenges

One of the most intensive times for payroll is during the end of the quarter (and especially the end of the year!). We’re doing extensive number crunching to make sure everyone’s taxes are correct and paid when they should. We also generate tens of thousands of form PDFs (using Prawn) to file on behalf of our clients and their employees and contractors.

This is where we’ve really been able to reap the benefits of Sidekiq. We’ve moved from a collection of rake tasks to aggressively parallelizing these jobs with hundreds of sidekiq workers. Our end-of-quarter reconciliation process used to take a few hours (with a fraction of the companies). Now we can process in a matter of minutes!

Engineering Team

Currently we’re at 20 engineers, split across 5 teams - with focuses on security, fraud, state expansion, compliance tools, and product features. We believe that small, focused, autonomous teams are the most effective. At the same time, ZenPayroll has an incredibly collaborative culture, and there are many cross-team opportunities. Most of our team is comfortable working through the whole stack, and if they’re not, we’re helping them learn.

We recently announced our Series B and #1 Best Place to work in the Bay Area (for 50-99 employees), and we’re growing fast! We’re hiring for pretty much all positions currently, and in particular are looking for strong engineers who are passionate about our mission to support small businesses. We’d love to hear from you!

Gusto
Gusto is delightful, modern payroll. Our comprehensive payroll service enables businesses to get set up and run payroll in minutes, from any web enabled device. All government payroll taxes and reporting are taken care of automatically and paperlessly. We've processed millions of dollars in payroll and our customers span a wide variety of businesses, from flower shops to technology start-ups. We would be delighted to provide you modern payroll.
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Open jobs at Gusto
Software Engineer, Product
San Francisco

About Gusto

Gusto is a modern, online people platform that helps small businesses take care of their teams. On top of full-service payroll, Gusto offers health insurance, 401(k)s, expert HR, and team management tools. Today, Gusto offices in Denver, San Francisco, and New York serve more than 100,000 businesses nationwide.

Our Payroll, Benefits, and HR software suite allows small businesses to move faster and gives them peace of mind about back-office tasks in their business. Our Product Engineering teams build this suite of software, each focused on a different slice of the pie: Payroll, Benefits, and HR.

We’re hiring engineers to join these teams and work on customer-facing products, developing features and iterating across our platform to help define the customer journey at Gusto.  Our main goal in these teams is to keep our customers happy and to deliver a consistently great experience across all of our products.

We’re looking for talented and motivated engineers with 4+ years of experience. Our engineers own projects from end-to-end by influencing initial feature specs, building backend APIs, writing frontend code, and overseeing ongoing improvements for deployed features. If you’re interested in building elegant software with far-reaching effects in our modern economy, join us!

Here’s what you’ll do day to day:

  • Own what you build as you architect, test, and refine Gusto’s product suite
  • Tackle a wide variety of technical problems throughout the stack and contribute daily to all parts of our product code base
  • Collaborate with our product management and design teams to understand customer pain points, come up with solutions, and then prototype, iterate, and launch daily
  • Build a product that our customers genuinely love. Don't just take our word for it - check out what some customers have to say.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • 4+ years of technical experience
  • Passionate about creating memorable experiences for customers
  • Interest in complex product development problems -- we use Rails & React, but you don’t have to know them
  • Appreciation for a collaborative, test-driven environment
  • Experience turning wireframes and mockups into elegantly executed code
  • Well-structured, easily maintainable, well-documented code that balances beauty and pragmatism
  • Degree in Computer Science preferred

Learn more about the team:

Our customers come from all walks of life and so do we. We hire great people from a wide variety of backgrounds, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes our company stronger. If you share our values and our enthusiasm for small businesses, you will find a home at Gusto.

Gusto is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate in hiring or any employment decision based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), marital status, ancestry, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or other applicable legally protected characteristic. Gusto considers qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with applicable federal, state and local law. Gusto is also committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application procedures. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at accommodations@gusto.com. 

Salesforce Developer
San Francisco, Denver
 
Gusto is growing our Business Technology team and looking for a dynamic, visionary Business Technology Developer! You'll develop and implement solutions supporting our Sales, Customer Experience, and Marketing teams. The BizTech Team is a trusted partner to the business, enabling those teams by developing effective systems and tools. 
 
About Gusto
 
Gusto is a modern, online people platform that helps small businesses take care of their teams. On top of full-service payroll, Gusto offers health insurance, 401(k)s, expert HR, and team management tools. Today, Gusto offices in Denver, San Francisco, and New York serve more than 100,000 businesses nationwide.
 
Our mission is to create a world where work empowers a better life.
 
 
As part of our Business Technology team, your core responsibility is to develop and maintain salesforce and other integrated platforms like Genesys and Workday. Our mission is to help our business set the right goals and achieve them! 

Here's what you'll do:

  • Partner with business analysts to understand requirements and provide scalable solutions in alignment with business technology strategy and architecture
  • Develop and maintain end-to-end integrations with our homegrown application and sales/customer support tools
  • Provide best practice recommendation for salesforce and other CRM projects
  • Keep up to date on industry trends and recommend solutions beyond salesforce to meet business needs
  • Develop and build solutions on the force.com platform using Visualforce, Lightning, Apex, Web Services and API's
  • Improve quality and completeness of documentation and end-user training
  • Be the key stakeholder for change management and development process

Here's what you'll d:

  • Deep knowledge and experience with Salesforce's suite of products across all SDLC phases
  • 6+ years of experience with building custom solutions using Apex, Visualforce. Lightning experience is a plus.
  • Salesforce Platform Developer and Salesforce Domain Architect certifications preferred.
  • 4+ years of experience integrating business applications using platforms like Mulesoft, Snaplogic, Workato etc and APIs.
  • Thorough understanding of SaaS data models, design considerations, and connected web services
  • BA/BS degree in Computer Science/Math or equivalent practical experience
  • Passionate about helping small business owners and converting pain points into solutions

 

Our customers come from all walks of life and so do we. We hire great people from a wide variety of backgrounds, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes our company stronger. If you share our values and our enthusiasm for small businesses, you will find a home at Gusto.

Gusto is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate in hiring or any employment decision based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), marital status, ancestry, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or other applicable legally protected characteristic. Gusto considers qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with applicable federal, state and local law. Gusto is also committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application procedures. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at accommodations@gusto.com.

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