We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Oviedo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Elizabeth, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Worklife balance has been defined for me over the last 5 years as my transition to motherhood. As someone who loves her career and planned to return to work before the birth of my first child, I felt like my son and I were just starting to get to know each other when my 12 weeks of maternity leave were up. However, coming back to work was incredibly helpful for my mental health as I felt more like myself once I was back in the office, focusing on my work goals. It satisfied my desire to be productive which at the time felt in tension new motherhood. Over my maternity leave I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t get anything done.” Looking back, caring for a newborn child was plenty productive, but working helped me feel more whole.

Over the years, my family of three found our stride with our new rhythms. Our second child was born, and the adjustment was easier to find a balance as my husband and I were a stronger team, having been through life with a newborn before. We built up our support structure in the form of babysitters and takeout restaurants. My husband took a 16-week sabbatical from his employer–longer than my own 12-week maternity leave!-and took on additional responsibilities at home, significantly contributing to a more substantial balance for me.

It was easier to come back to work the second time around. The muscle memory kicked in, and I welcomed the return of my sense of self and had the confidence from previous experience that my children would continue to thrive while I was at the office. Our eldest had started preschool and loved every minute of it, and our youngest savored the alone time with his babysitter while my husband and I were at work.

Fast forward a year to the pandemic, which for most mothers threw any semblance of work-life balance into disarray as it did for me. I no longer had the separation of home and office to keep me present on either my children or work. What did it mean to get any work done with a four-year-old who only wanted to be with you? Or be in the middle of a Zoom call and hear crying coming from the living room and experience a surge of adrenaline to go see if my child was ok? Or have the constant visual reminder of all of my at-home tasks that needed to be accomplished–the heap of laundry in the corner, the fridge that needed to be cleaned out, the toys out of place everywhere. As a working mom, I have a hard time telling my children I’m not available to them when I’m physically in their presence because I spend most of the week not in their physical presence. I learned from this experience that I needed to give myself the flexibility to be present wherever I’m needed most, no matter what time of day and no matter what task I was working on prior. Through this challenge, I am now able to adjust more quickly and easily between my most important roles as mom, wife, and CEO regardless of where I’m working or taking care of my children.

Now that I’m back in the office, today work-life balance means waking up an hour earlier to accomplish what I want to, whether that be squeezing in some early work, taking a walk around the neighborhood, or simply being ready for the day before my children rise. It means not taking meetings before 9 am, a schedule I developed four years ago to accommodate my then nursing infant’s routine, which now works well for school drop-off. Worklife balance is creating the expectation with my employees that they too have this level of flexibility to achieve their own balance and that together, we will adjust as we journey through all of life’s varied stages.

What should our readers know about your business?
Symmetry Software’s mission is to simplify the payroll process with dependable and accurate payroll APIs and tax withholding solutions. At Symmetry, we believe that to provide great payroll, you need powerful technology! We have been building software tools and payroll APIs for award-winning software applications since 1984.

Symmetry’s fully integrated suite of payroll tax APIs and software tools allows companies to ensure that employee and employer taxes are correctly calculated and managed. In other words, deliver “the right taxes the first time.” With payroll integrations that range from electronic withholding forms to federal, state and local tax lookup tools, we make our customer’s processes more regulatory compliant, automated, efficient, and error-free.

While we do not process payroll, we do the most difficult parts of the payroll process, and payroll and HR service providers and large employers license our payroll APIs and software tools to improve their products and compliance. Contact us to see how payroll tax withholding software can make a huge impact when you are using the right tools.

What the business Does

Working Americans get paid accurately because Symmetry Software exists. Think of your paystub. Consider your gross pay, all of the taxes that are then withheld by your employer, and then finally your net pay. Symmetry Software lives in this gross-to-net calculation world. Chances are, your paycheck is one of the millions touched every payday by Symmetry Software tools.

In 1984, Symmetry Software sold one product and was run solely by software pioneer, Tom Reahard. Tom was born in Indianapolis, IN and moved to Arizona in 1978 to pursue a Ph.D. at Arizona State University. During that time, he walked into the ComputerLand store in Phoenix and asked what type of software people were asking for. “They want to do payroll on the computer” was the answer. With that, Tom spent three months creating his first payroll system, and Symmetry Software was born. Today, Reahard has transformed the company into a leader in payroll-related technology solutions that simplify the payroll process from start to finish. Over 30 years of creating and innovating in the software and technology landscape have positioned Symmetry Software into such a role.

Symmetry Software’s mission today is to simplify the payroll process with dependable and accurate payroll withholding tax solutions. In other words, to help deliver “the right taxes the first time.” We don’t process payroll, but we do the most difficult parts of the payroll process, and payroll and HR service providers and large employers license our software tools to help them improve their products and processes.

For large employers, payroll, or other software providers, payroll taxes are an incredibly complicated, ever-changing burden to keep up with. By licensing Symmetry’s payroll tax software tools, companies can ensure employee and employer taxes are properly calculated and managed.

With tools ranging from electronic withholding forms to federal, state, and local tax look-up tools, we make our customer’s processes more automated, efficient, error-free, and regulatory compliant. Symmetry Software’s vision is to reach every American paycheck with accurate withholding.

Customers in the Payroll Service Provider group make up our largest base and include customers like ADP, Paychex, Paycor, Infinisource, Paylocity, Kronos, and Gusto. Payroll Software Firms make up the next category and include customers like PrismHR, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Tyler Technologies, and Rimini Street. Larger Employers make up the third category and include customers like Walmart, Wells Fargo, Ernst & Young, and Manpower. We also have a healthy list of HR Service Providers that include customers like TalentReef, Equifax, Snag, Click Boarding, and Namely.

How business is different from competitors

Tom’s vision for the company has always been to help those in need to get where they want to be. This has been a guiding force behind everything that Symmetry stands for from our sales process, customer service orientation, and our commitment to deliver the right taxes the first time. What sets Symmetry apart from our competitors is our passion and tax knowledge for helping businesses succeed with our payroll withholding tax software tools.

Excellent customer service is meeting a need that the customer did not even realize he or she had, which is why one of the core principles at Symmetry Software is a promise to deliver efficient and dependable software solutions, as well as experienced and friendly customer service. A trademark of our customer service is our 30-day free trial program, during which time our software engineers fully support the user of the trial for free. We are the only payroll tax software company that provides a free trial of the full product. During the trial period, you are treated like a full paying customer and have access to all the benefits of being a Symmetry client. This includes an onboarding call with customer success, technical kick-off call with lead developers, full access to Symmetry’s software support team, the customer success team, and the Symmetry’s tax research team. You also receive access to Symmetry’s customer portal for downloads, documentation, release notes, and additional resources. We want our customers to fully understand our products and make sure that they work for them before they spend any money with our company.

Furthermore, we provide loyal customer service to our clients in that we will advise them candidly if we think they are going down an ill-advised path in the world of payroll. Our Symmetry Help Desk responds to inquiries within 24 hours. We also always respond to questions from users of our free paycheck tools on PaycheckCity.com, visited by 10 million people every year, to ensure that they have the best experience possible as well. We strive to uphold the traits that we exhibit on our best day in how we treat other employees and one another.

Symmetry Software also has a 97% renewal rate on its software products due to the excellent service we provide and also to the impact that our software products have on the work lives of our customers. Many of our customers have been with Symmetry Software for ten plus years! One happy customer from BCD Travel, a provider of corporate travel services to companies around the globe, stated about one of our products, “For payroll people trying to hit a moving target with payroll tax information that gets more and more complicated each year, Payroll Point is a lifesaver.” Of our PaycheckCity website, recent survey results indicated that we have a Net Promoter Score of 9, meaning our users are loyal enthusiasts who continue to use our site and refer others.

Finally, our technology sets us apart from our competitors. Many of our customers come to us for our expertise in local taxes, a notoriously complicated subset of payroll that large employers and payroll service providers struggle with alike. For example, there are over 6000 local taxes in the United States, many of which change every year and are subject to nexus and reciprocity rules that make it even more challenging to determine whether or not an individual or business is subject to these taxes. Customers have chosen our products over competitors and failed internal attempts to recreate our technology and know-how.

Innovations Introduced

At Symmetry Software, we like to think of ourselves as an innovative company, particularly with regards to our payroll products and our site PaycheckCity.com (Symmetry’s consumer paycheck calculator brand), which has become a household name that sets the stage for Symmetry’s innovation within our industry.

When PaycheckCity®, Symmetry Payroll Forms™, and Payroll Point® launched, there were no other products on the market that could do what these did. Before describing how our product innovative sets us apart from all other payroll tax tools on the market, it is necessary to discuss the complicated nature of payroll taxes in the U.S. In addition to the federal income tax structure, every state has its own payroll withholding tax structure. Some states (such as Florida and Texas) have no state income tax, while other states (such as Arizona) have a simple percentage withheld that is elected by the taxpayer. Finally, other states have a tax structure detailed down to the county, city or township, school district, municipality, and jurisdiction, each with its own tax codes. Pennsylvania alone has approximately 2,600 different municipalities, each with a resident and a non-resident rate.

Further complicating the tax structure is nexus, or whether a company has a physical presence in a location, which impacts payroll taxes, and reciprocity agreements between different tax jurisdictions. For payroll managers of large corporations responsible for ensuring that thousands of employees across the country are paid each week accurately with all of these varying rates, the task becomes quite daunting. Considering that many employees complete their withholding forms incorrectly, which causes issues on payday, the burden is even more significant. For the corporation, the stakes are even higher: employers who do not accurately set up employees’ payroll withholding settings in a payroll or HR system face audits that can result in steep penalties and fines from the IRS and other state and local jurisdictions.

For example, Payroll Point® is the only payroll tax lookup tool on the market that converts an employees’ work and home addresses to latitude and longitudes and then uses those coordinates to find the two locations on over 35,000 geospatial tax boundaries to decide what payroll withholding and employer taxes apply to that individual. Furthermore, our web services version of this product can do this for thousands of address pairs in a matter of seconds. What sets Payroll Point® apart is its superior geocoding technology, its use of latitude and longitude to pinpoint locations, and its use of the Symmetry Tax Engine®. Geocoding is the process of finding geographic coordinates from other geographic data such as street addresses or zip codes. Payroll Point’s geocoding capabilities are innovative in several ways. First, Payroll Point® validates the addresses for the user. This entails normalizing the addresses to the USPS standards, but also validating whether that address even exists or not.

For example, imagine a row of buildings on Main Street. The building numbers, which are all even range from 2 – 20. A user enters the address 11 Main Street into a competitor’s tax lookup tool, which confirms that 11 Main Street is a valid address because the street number falls between 2 and 20. Payroll Point®, on the other hand, will search to find the physical rooftop of 11 Main Street and when discovering that there is not a building between 10 and 12 Main Street will return an error, thus providing a superior result because it does not provide inaccurate results based on assumptions. A second element setting Payroll Point® apart is its use of latitude and longitude for locating employee’s home and work addresses and applying it against the geospatial tax boundary files issued by the US Census Bureau and state tax jurisdictions. Payroll Point® is the only tax lookup product to use latitude and longitude in performing this task. Competitors’ products use zip codes, while more advanced competitors use zip+4 codes. Here is an example to show that using the latitude and longitude is far superior. We have customers whose business locations are in states with complicated tax structures that literally straddle tax boundary lines. That is to say, one side of the store falls in a specific tax jurisdiction. To walk across the store would be to enter a different tax jurisdiction. The store address, however, only has one zip code and one zip+4 code. Thus, using zip or zip+4 codes is not sufficient to get the most accurate tax information, they are simply too broad. Using latitude and longitude to pinpoint an address is the best way to tell what withholding taxes will apply to the employee. Finally, Payroll Point®’s use of the Symmetry Tax Engine® is a defining feature of the product. The Symmetry Tax Engine® is the force calculating the payroll taxes for millions of paychecks every payday. We also continue to develop and work on additional benefits for the product. In 2020 Payroll Point will undergo a redesign that will include new tax boundary visualization features utilizing our proprietary geospatial mapping technology to produce the most accurate results.

One of Symmetry Software’s largest clients hires about 300,000 people every year. “When they were first introduced to us, they had a 22% error rate on their payroll withholding settings. That meant that every payday, almost a quarter of checks disbursed to new employees, were wrong and had to be re-run and rushed to the employee,” explains Tom. “We developed a completely paperless withholding form system that reduced their error rate on paychecks to almost zero.” Symmetry has become known within the industry for this type of innovation.

Our software engineers also have extensive domain over the product that they manage in order to innovate. For example, in late 2012, using our immense database of historical payroll withholding tax information, one software engineer created a paycheck calculator to show what an individual’s take-home pay on their paycheck would look like if we went over the fiscal cliff or if certain tax cuts were extended. This fiscal cliff calculator garnered significant media attention from the likes of the Arizona Republic, Forbes, Inc., Bloomberg, Business Insider, San Francisco Chronicle, and more.

This year is also particularly exciting for Symmetry because it marks the 20th anniversary of when we created the websites PaycheckCity.com and Payroll-Taxes.com. During this time, we have been honored to serve tens of millions of individuals, small businesses, and payroll professionals who frequent the websites for free paycheck calculators and world-class payroll tax research. To celebrate this exciting milestone, we’ve built on our 35 years in the payroll industry by re-envisioning PaycheckCity to be a place where you can find payroll tax research content, modernized calculator designs, and updated payroll tools.

With 6 million impressions and over half a million unique visitors each month, PaycheckCity has become the go-to website for payroll calculations. Payroll managers from large and small companies visit the site to verify that they are withholding the correct amount of money from employees’ paychecks and Symmetry Software employees have become experts within the payroll industry, speaking at industry conventions across the country.

Culture Described

The workplace culture at Symmetry is unique. Software engineers are given full scope and command of the software products they design, code, and update, and business development staff have longtime relationships with their customers and prospects. When asked the question, “On our best day, how would customers describe us,” Symmetry Software employees responded with: reliable, friendly, innovative, responsive, dependable, professional, concise, and supportive.”

Among the employees of Symmetry Software, Tom’s leadership style has been described as family-oriented in that he treats employees as if they were family, guiding, mentoring, and encouraging them throughout their careers. When asked how they would describe Symmetry Software, employees stated: welcoming, caring, supportive, innovative, responsive, efficient, family, reliable, simple, fun, and consistent, to name a handful. It is the leadership in place at Symmetry that has set the tone for the company personality. Martin Sladok, a senior software engineer, has worked at Symmetry Software for almost his entire adult life. Sladok started with Symmetry Software as a college intern when visiting relatives in Arizona. July 1st, 2020, will mark Martin’s 27th year with Symmetry.

When visiting our office for a meeting, executive assistant & operations administrator Tiffany Thorstensen welcomes visitors with a personalized welcome sign, and the entire company gathers weekly on Wednesday for free company lunches for a great meal and camaraderie. Once a month during those Wednesday lunches, we recognize any employee who had a birthday that month, any work anniversaries, and we announce who our Symmetry Software Superstar of the Month is. The Symmetry Software Superstar program was created this year to give kudos and recognize peers for having superstar characteristics like superhuman initiative, indestructible integrity, laser customer focus, positivity radiator, goal crusher, and going above and beyond. Throughout the month, employees nominate each other for these superstar qualities. We had over ten submissions in just the first month! We honor everyone nominated with a slideshow of how they made a difference and announce the winner. The Symmetry Superstar of the Month receives many benefits such as an extra day of PTO, premium covered parking spot, swag, and much more! Tom believes in developing and retaining great talent in his software engineers and sales and marketing teams. At Symmetry, we have nine employees that have been with the company for over five years and two employees that have been here for over 20 years! This awards program helps to celebrate employees’ achievements as part of the Symmetry family and encourage loyalty to the company.

Symmetry also celebrates with its employees every year for an intimate holiday party. In addition to the great food and drink, CEO Tom always offers up a memorable story or two. He generously gives holiday bonuses and gifts to his employees based on the success of the company over the past year. The impact of this annual bonus spreads deep and wide. Throughout the year, it creates a winning culture where all employees are invested in the success of the company, inspires employees around the work that we are doing, and connects employees to one another and to the mission of the company! At bonus time, employees are deeply moved in their personal situations as past bonuses have been used for down payments on homes, paying off student loans, laser eye surgery, taking family members on vacations, and other noble pursuits.

Other unique benefits include our company wellness program. The Symmetry wellness program unofficially started when all the software developers’ desks were converted into electronic standing desks, whereby employees can lower their desks to stand or sit as they code. The program expanded to include horizontal movement in addition to vertical when CEO Tom purchased “Fit Bit Zips” for all of the employees as a Holiday gift to encourage them to move more. It is not uncommon to see Symmetry employees walking in the parking lot at lunchtime to get extra steps or checking one another’s progress throughout the week. Since implementing the Fitbit challenge, top walkers are recognized each week on our company wall. Symmetry was even featured for its wellness program on the Intuit small business blog: http://bit.ly/TkS1wn Our wellness program has been rebranded as “Symmetry 360” and company activities center around its five pillars: Wellness, Involved, Teamwork, Balance and Purpose.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hike: Piestewa Peak Hang out: Lou’s Bar & Grill at Papago Golf Course
Coffee: Luci’s
Mexican restaurant: Comedor Guadalajara
Volunteer: St. Vincent de Paul

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my dad who inspired me to go into the family payroll software business and my mom from whom my business acumen comes.

Website: https://www.symmetry.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/symmetrysoftware/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/symmetry-software/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SymmetrySftware

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SymmetrySoftware

Image Credits
Scott Foust

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.