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Leading with Integrity and Embracing the Human Side of Technology

March 24, 2021

Maura Proctor, application test lead, is a member of Heather Fry's organization and presented in-person to a group of Girls Who Code members before the COVD-19 pandemic.

Technology is evolving at record speeds and has produced inspiring innovations. But, if progress does not have a positive human impact, do the advances hold any value?

My approach to technology has always been how it can make us better, faster, and provide meaningful movement forward for the people it serves. It is a catalyst for solving problems and is often an answer to “how do we raise the bar?” However, it must be viewed against the human benefit to be measured as a success.

I’ve been in product development at Paychex for more than 25 years and director of product development and continuous delivery for the last four. I lead 31 agile teams of software, qualification, automation, and performance engineers across product development and development services organizations. Along with delivering product innovation, the teams provide quality standards, platforms, SDLC pipeline tools, and performance analysis to all of product development and other IT groups. If there is one thing that I have learned along the way, keeping up with technology is essential. As a leader, I need to grow and help people successfully move with the pace at which it evolves and use technology to benefit us rather than scare us.

In my time at Paychex, I’ve seen us meet – and in many cases exceed the pace of technological advancement. Yet, when I first started, just a couple of years out of college, the landscape looked very different. Back then, Paychex was a payroll company. For example, there wasn’t much automation, and all testing was manual. If a line of code had an error in it, the tester would bring the developer a piece of paper with the use case that failed written on it. Once fixed, the developer would mark the paper accordingly with the approach and hand it back. The development pipeline included manual FTP movement of executable code from one environment to another. Additionally, there was no such thing as online forms or 24-hour client support. There were paper checks and paper forms delivered in the mail. Customer service calls were 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. only. That was the speed of technology at the time. But I knew there must be a better way for us to develop our software applications and increase our technology footprint.

Paychex has grown substantially, in size and offerings, since its start as a payroll company. We’ve transformed our products into a human capital management (HCM) suite while becoming an industry leader in the technology space, continuously developing new solutions that raise the bar. As I have championed technological progress, it has been entirely done with an emphasis on people's needs – both our employees and our customers. Automation doesn’t replace people—it augments them. It allows us to focus employees on more critical and career-benefiting opportunities. Today, using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and technologies like OpenShift and Azure cloud, continuous delivery maturity, agile methodologies, mobile-first designs, and our Flex Assistant Chatbot, we have increased our resiliency, improved our quality and speed to market, and given our customers the answers and resources they want and need when and how they need them. And thankfully, we’ve cut way back on paper in our commitment to environmental sustainability.Our approach to introducing new technology and changes has always been tailored to its human consumption.

Some of our recent innovations, in particular, embody that approach.

The first is our Real-Time Payments (RTP) solution. We’re the first in the industry to give our customers the option to provide their employees with instant direct deposits. Since launching our award-winning RTP in May 2020, we’ve made more than 109,000 payments totaling over $153 million in money moved over the RTP rails. We understand how life-changing it is for our clients to pay their employees on the spot. We’re humbled by the trust that our customers put in us every day to perform those types of financial transactions.

The other advances include our COVID-19 Help Center and the solutions we’ve provided to help customers keep up with complex and ever-changing regulations. I’ve seen the Paychex family band together over the past year to help our clients maneuver their way through the pandemic even while they are trying to manage in such uncertain times. From compliance to development to service to sales to marketing, we provided these solutions to ensure that we were taking care of our clients.

Paychex has given us opportunities to do more good in the world, no matter who we are. I see our development teams making a difference in our customers' lives each day through their continued innovation and commitment to our clients.

I have gotten to lead amazing people and have reaped the benefit of this transformation. I was honored to be nominated as Tech Rochester Technology Woman of the Year and named the first woman Agent of Transformation by AppDynamics. As you can imagine, with two daughters of my own, I hope my experience encourages girls and women to see that technology is not associated with a gender, race, creed, or nationality. Anyone can have a career in IT and be very successful as they use technology to help drive change and help others.

Integrity is at the heart of Paychex. Our products are the direct result of our commitment to our company values. Our clients trust us with the utmost important information about their business, their employees, and continued improvements with our products to help make their lives simpler. With our recent product innovations, combined with the process improvement inside our IT organization, it proves that Paychex is using technology to make a difference in the lives of our clients and their employees, as well as our workforce. By embracing the human side of technology—always remembering that there’s a person on the other side of an application—we know that we can truly make a difference in others' lives.

Ready to make a difference in the world? Learn more about careers at Paychex.


Heather Fry

Heather is a director of product development at Paychex where she leads a team of 200 IT professionals responsible for product development in the tax, compliance, and money movement systems, as well as continuous delivery services including test automation, quality qualification, build and deploy, and performance services. A 25-year veteran in the IT space, Heather is a highly motivated, energetic leader who is passionate about technology as a problem-solver and creating a culture of innovation through exploration.