Infrastructure Group
Professional services agency for startups
San Francisco, CA
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The Infrastructure Group is a professional services agency that provides HR, financial modeling, accounting, billing, expensing, and other secondary services to startups. They sell themselves as a “pragmatic one-stop shop” for non-core services. The Infrastructure Groups only takes on young clients; when companies finish Series B, they’re expected to “graduate” by hiring their own in-house staff. We talked to Ed Oh, the Group’s founder, about the services they provide and the software they use to scale.
clients, mostly startups
Software used
Oh said that Gusto is the “friendliest” payroll option because it links benefits and payroll, but isn’t available in every state. For clients outside of Gusto’s scope or with different technical requirements, they use Quickbook’s Payroll system. Infrastructure Group has also tried Zenefits in the past, but Oh strongly discouraged it, saying it was some of the worst software he’d ever tried.
Human Resources Information system
HR staffing is Infrastructure Group’s biggest obstacle to growth. There’s a lot of information that has to be managed - benefits, SS numbers, addresses, etc - and finding HR professionals with experience and good judgment is difficult. The company previously used Flock. Oh said that Flock had a “great product and great promises,” but couldn’t deliver, and now he’s not sure if the startup will survive. They’re now experimenting with EaseCentral, a platform which only ties together onboarding and benefits. Oh said EaseCentral has worked well for them so far, and appreciates that they have customer service.
Billing and approvals is an accounts payable workflow management, storage, and approvals system. Once the right people authorize an invoice, money is transfer from one account to another. Parties get notified when the payment is processed. Oh said that, with a two-day float time, is more efficient than a bank at processing payment. He also said he prefers because it’s more secure than checks (client’s banking info isn’t sent through the mail) and is auditable since stores payment history.
Expense reporting
Used to manage expense reports. Oh said that Expensify is more user friendly than Concur, an older software. Infrastructure Groups said the features weren’t usable when they first used Expensify several years ago, but that the platform has since improved significantly.
Intuit Quickbooks
Accounting and Payroll
The group uses Quickbooks because it is easy to train people and offboard clients on the widely-popular accounting software. “There’s always new accounting software packages coming into play,” Oh explained, “We haven’t moved off of Quickbooks because it isn’t worth the risk.” Integrations with services like Payroll make it less expensive to scale. The group has recently started experimenting with Xero since one of their clients used it in the past.
What are some of the main problems and challenges that you face?

Hiring experienced HR staff: “The biggest problem to my growth is not having enough HR staff,” Oh told us. He said that it’d difficult to find people with enough past experience and domain knowledge to know what’s important and not and know how to handle onboarding, layoffs, wrongful termination suits, and other difficult situations.

Profitability: Oh said he is always thinking about how to increase profitability by squeezing inefficiencies out without sacrificing quality. He said that preventing error and removing redundancy is key to growing faster. Since most of the Infrastructure Group’s work is transactional, the bottleneck is leveraging more technology to increase efficiency and output.

How do you discover new software to help your business?
Oh described his company is a client services firm that is “heavily dependant on 4-5 different SaaS products.” To scale their operations, the Infrastructure Group “eliminates, automates, and delegates” by leaning on software platforms they mostly hear about through referrals from friends and clients. The Group “doesn’t touch experimental stuff,” according to Oh, although they are sometimes forced to learn new systems because a new client uses it and ask for support.
What factors into your decision of choosing a certain software to use?
Oh said that, when considering new software or choosing between alternatives, they pick the option that is usable, stable, and meets their technical requirements. Infrastructure Group tries to use software offerings that people in industry are generally familiar with. “If you’re using an esoteric system, training and offboarding is impossible,” Oh said.
Ed Oh’s firm isn’t a software firm, but it has grown because of the SaaS platforms it sits on top of. Some ideas to help businesses like this:
  • System just for address changes. Right now, HR people have to manually enter employee addresses into multiple systems. It should be possible to auto-update all the HR systems, or at least auto-populate the address change to avoid human error in data entry.
  • Smartly digitizing invoices: The Infrastructure Group office is still full of paper from legacy clients. Because clients are required to have auditable trails, throwing away any old paper is a risk. Digitization could be faster and easier if documents were automatically processed and sorting using OCR and context clues.