A specialist HR software firm that has developed a new performance management software used by dozens of blue-chip companies has secured a £500,000 investment from Mercia Fund Managers.

Stuart Hearn, CEO of One Touch Apps, created Clear Review to provide an alternative to annual appraisals, which are time-consuming and often have limited impact on employee performance.

The platform allows managers to set objectives and give continuous feedback while providing the HR department with data to inform decisions on rewards and promotions.

A former HR director at Sony Music, Hearn formerly ran his own performance and talent management consultancy where he recognised the need to replace standard appraisals with a system that was more meaningful and effective for both staff members and managers.

London-based Clear Review was launched in 2016 and is now used by over 70 clients including Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank, Aston Villa Football Club, the government’s Valuation Office Agency and the UK Supreme Court, generating revenues of over £500,000.

The funding from Mercia is the first external investment for the business, which employs seven staff, and will allow it to further develop the product and expand its sales and marketing team.

Stuart Hearn, CEO of Clear Review, said: “Research shows us that the traditional annual appraisal model does very little to improve performance.

“In fact, in many cases, it is dreaded by staff and managers alike and seen as a tick-box exercise.

“Clear Review is a simple, easy-to-use tool that enables organisations to move to continuous performance improvement by focusing on quality conversations, near-term goals and real-time feedback.

“Managers and staff are given a supporting framework which enables them to build a meaningful performance dialogue which improves engagement and productivity, while HR leaders are provided with visibility and insight into key performance metrics.”

Alistair Forbes, investment director and head of software & the internet at Mercia, said: “As forward-thinking businesses move away from outdated annual performance reviews, Clear Review offers a system that supports a more effective continuous performance management approach.

“The company has built an impressive list of blue-chip clients in a short space of time and has had consistent revenue growth.

“We firmly believe that Clear Review can appeal to a much wider potential audience, both in the UK and overseas and we are excited to be supporting the next phase of the company’s development.

“This investment will allow the business to expand its marketing activities, target new customers and drive further growth.”