#22: Meet PayFit

written by
Clara Cros

For our 21st meeting NoCode Series we visited the premises of a company that needs no introduction: PayFit.

In a nutshell, PayFit is a SaaS payroll and human resources management solution (absences, leave, time tracking, expense reports) dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses. The software enables HR teams to save considerable time by digitizing and centralizing their various HR documents.

During our visit, we were able to talk to several people from different teams, to get their point of view on the place of NoCode at PayFit. We were able to see that NoCode is now an integral part of the company, and that this solution is not just for a small number of employees.

As this meeting took place in December 2022, some information may have changed.

The arrival of NoCode at PayFit and the creation of JetLang

Among the people we met was Thomas Villaren, who joined PayFit 3 years ago as a Staff Engineer. Thomas explained that when the idea of PayFit was born in the minds of the three co-founders, their ambition was not to learn how to code to develop the product, but to create an internal language to express the complex business rules of payroll. Thus, Firmin Zoccheto and Florian Fournier were able to focus on integrating payroll business rules, while Ghislain de Fontenay, the technical co-founder, set about creating JetLang.

The creation of JetLang, as an abstraction of technical complexity, made it easy to export and adapt the platform abroad. The JetLang language, and NoCode, therefore arrived at PayFit as soon as the company was founded in 2016.

Thanks to JetLang, it was possible to code the French Labor Code and collective agreements, and today the teams continue to add new functionalities.

The JetLang platform consists of several main components:

  • An interface for modeling payroll calculation variables and business rules,
  • Graphic components to build PayFit application pages,
  • An ad-hoc calculation engine developed by PayFit's teams, re-evaluating all payroll variables impacted by each end-user change,
  • A test definition interface, where Product Builders can create business test cases, executed before each deployment.

It's these components that make the platform accessible, and put the JetLang language in the hands of product builders in France and abroad, so that we can develop a tailor-made product to suit the needs of users and the legal constraints of the payroll industry in each country.

JetLang's interface modeler...

...and the corresponding form!

JetLang enables Product Builders to create PayFit application pages (more than 80% of the pages in the Admin area in France are created via JetLang), as well as generate pay slips, manage social declarations, audits, consistency checks and more.

JetLang not only generates pay slips, but also legal declarations, audits, consistency checks and more.

Definition of a variable in JetLang (over 20,000 in France)

Exploring the computational dependencies of a JetLang variable

PayFit is now present in 3 countries, with special features for each.

The PayFit teams are growing exponentially, demonstrating the relevance of the product. Today, there are almost 1,000 PayFit employees, compared with 500 3 years ago, when Thomas arrived. And 6 months before he arrived, they were 350!

Around forty of these people work on the JetLang platform (Product Managers, developers, designers, etc.) and their objective is to develop the platform to facilitate the work of the Product Builders. The real challenge for this team is to make the user experience as easy as possible for PBs, whose role is to create the product expected by end-users, while respecting their codes and customs.

Today, the PayFit teams in France have 3 major issues on their minds:

  • Legal updates
  • Redesigning flows - reworking the UX
  • Develop new projects with all teams, not just the JetLang team

The role of the Product Builder at PayFit

During the meeting, we were also able to talk to Pénélope des Dorides and Julie Robles, members of the Product team. They were able to tell us more about the role of Product Builders at PayFit.

We learned that the PBs work directly on the JetLang platform. As the platform and its components have already been developed by the developers, PBs have all the elements they need to develop the final product without having to code.

Product Builders used to be known internally as "JetLang Masters".

Product Builders are therefore totally autonomous and do not work directly with a Product Manager: they are in charge of the product from conception to development.

However, the role of the Product Builder is not always the same, and can vary depending on the country in which PayFit is involved. For example, in Spain - which employs around 20 people - Product Builders and Product Managers work hand in hand.

In addition to France and Spain, PayFit is also present in the UK (6 people).

What remains common to each country is that each has its own team of Product Builders. France is the country with the biggest PB team, with 40 people organized into 5 squads, linked to the different PayFit business areas".

PBs work in pairs. A PB with a greater interest in design will be more likely to work in tandem with a PB with more engineering knowledge. However, anyone who is a Product Builder must do a minimum of LowCode Engineering, as this is what guarantees PayFit's speed of development.

Product Builders do EVERYTHING - from design to development - but in pairs.

Make for automation

Until now, the processes for reporting and interacting with organizations were very human-driven, and it was necessary to automate these operations performed by the teams. This is how the Payroll Operations team was born, and we met Pierre Mertens.

Pierre explains that, in addition to their JetLang platform, the teams also use other NoCode tools such as Make and Notion.

Since JetLang can't generate tasks and doesn't allow sequencing, it was necessary to find the most optimal solution to enable this - all with a lot of upstream prerequisites. And it was only after we had carried out a survey that Make emerged as the ideal solution. It was Pierre, with whom we also exchanged views during this meeting, who was behind the implementation of Make at PayFit.

Today, Make makes it possible to automate many tasks, such as returns to the various organizations, thus freeing up staff time. In fact, the tool does all the reading and writing, without any manual validation.

What's more, nothing is stored in Make in terms of data: the tool is used solely for information transactions!

Once the first connectors have been created by developers, they can then be used by Product Builders independently.

And as nothing is stored in Make, it's easy to transpose scenarios to other tools; just change the connectors.

Vision of the NoCode

According to Thomas, we're at a turning point when it comes to NoCode, but it would be utopian to say that everything can be done in NoCode.

According to all the people we met, NoCode today is not limited to MVPs, as demonstrated by JetLang, a NoCode platform on which their entire business is based.

Today, it's important that the tools used by Product Builders in the broadest sense of the term are taken into account by software publishers. PayFit has an in-house team dedicated to this, to enhance the PB development experience. Product Builders are indeed calling for more attention to be paid to these issues, as they work with sensitive data on a daily basis.

How do you train and upskill your teams?

On arrival, Product Builders benefit from a one-and-a-half month JetLang bootcamp. This enables them to devote 100% of their time to learning the platform, without having to deliver anything in parallel. The bootcamp's various chapters include one dedicated to design and another to architecture/engineering. All the elements making up the JetLang platform are studied.

The recruiting teams are not particular about educational background, and one of the only prerequisites for joining the tech team is to have already touched a programming language. Not limiting ourselves to engineering school graduates allows us to bring in a much wider range of profiles.

Documentation also represents a real challenge for PayFit teams, since those who build the platform are not the ones who use it. Proper documentation of tasks is therefore extremely important, both for them and for the smooth running of the product.

There's a real desire to create a JetLang Academy in the near future.

Future goals?

The main objective today is to develop JetLang to enable Product Builders to be even more autonomous.