HR is a critical component of startup and scale-up technology companies, but it is often seen as a priority for hiring talent as a company grows quickly to bring a product to market. A founder or company executive might be used to “playing HR” when making hires or developing policies, but how do you know when it’s time to bring in the experts?

Enter TriNet, an HR solutions company that works with a wide variety of companies across the globe, along with local tech startups and scale-ups like Rook Security, Eleven Fifty Academy, Formstack, and SonarMed.

I had the chance to speak with Erika Maita, an HR business consultant with TriNet, about some of the challenges and situations I’ve seen our Indy tech ecosystem experience during rapid growth. This story is the first in a three-part series on HR and tech companies that we’ll be sharing over the next two weeks.

SARA: Given TriNet’s experience working with startup and scale-up tech companies, when do you find pain points in early company growth? How many employees is the tipping point for when HR is no longer the CEO’s responsibility?

ERIKA: In today’s technology industry, founders and CEO’s have adapted to a competitive market unlike we’ve seen in over 20 years. Indiana-based companies have proven the ability to differentiate themselves, pitching the value of their product and service, giving them the ability to raise capital through seed funding rounds early on.

What many founders and CEO’s have not spent time and resources on is understanding how to run a safe and compliant business. This starts as early as day one with one employee. From understanding how to correctly run a payroll, file taxes, create company policies, or onboard a new employee, TriNet not only educates our customers on best practices but also facilitates them.

When is the right time for startups and scale-ups to seek outside counsel or full-time hires for human resources?

You’ve mentioned to me that it’s important to have an HR presence when your company is growing. Why is that?

Not to sound cliché, but time management is essential during rapid growth. On average, executives spend more than 25% of their time performing administrative HR tasks. Tasks such as onboarding a new employee, administering new hire orientation, filing payroll taxes, or reviewing employee business expenses.

We want our customers to focus on their passion and product to meet growth targets and see a return on investment. Having an organized operation is essential for startups to manage capital resources and launch innovative solutions. Implementing a turn-key solution like TriNet allows business owners to focus on what matters while scaling their team.

How does an established HR practice assist with attracting new talent?

Mihir Shah, CEO of Drobo, stated it simply: “It’s difficult to compete with the big companies and the benefit packages that they offer their employees, and what TriNet allows us to do is level the playing field.”

Indianapolis has been featured as an emerging tech market by some of the most reputable publications in the nation: Forbes, New York Times, Fast Company — the list goes on. Tech startups are competing locally with public giants like Salesforce, Eli Lilly and Company, and Cummins, so they must have a compelling reason for employees to join their team. TriNet enables our customers to have the look and feel of a Fortune 500 company on a small business budget. With a wide array of group plans that are priced competitively, employers can offer the same medical and top-tier benefits as a billion-dollar business.

What are some of the unique HR challenges presented by startup and scale-up tech companies that someone might not experience in other industries?

Looking at our Indiana education sector: Purdue University is the top STEM school for international students in the nation. As of 2015, over 7,000 students were enrolled by using an academic or vocational visa. Established and new business owners in Indiana are actively recruiting from Purdue’s technology programs, and many of our state’s most accomplished business owners call Purdue their alma mater.

TriNet’s immigration team and visa tracking system allow startups to hire the best fit for their company, regardless of citizenship. Our customers not only gain access to a specialized team of immigration attorneys and paralegals but also gain the ability to focus on the talent of individuals, rather than the legalities of hiring.

Tell me a little about the tech platform you created at TriNet. Why did you build it and what value does it provide to your customers?

TriNet’s founder, Martin Babinec, launched the company back in 1988 out of San Leandro, California. As a Silicon Valley native, tech enthusiast, investor, and innovator, he saw an opportunity to support the technology industry by offering an accessible, secure, and reliable HR Mobile Infrastructure. We built an enterprise platform using a single sign-on Oracle PeopleSoft backbone that we manage for you.

TriNet customers no longer have multiple interfaces for the management of payroll, recruiting, expenses, or employer policies, it’s all available on a secure platform. Our customers have access to their entire business at their fingertips, and by providing them with our years of HR expertise, paired with talented people and our technology, we empower companies to achieve success with extraordinary HR.