Payroll – why settle for ‘satisfactory’?
Payroll is an increasingly exacting discipline, it requires accuracy, attention to detail, great technology and a progressive, forward thinking mindset. Many of the employers we talk to who outsource their payroll are using service providers who, at best, they are just ‘satisfied’ with. Ultimately shouldn’t an outsourced service provider deliver more than just a ‘satisfactory’ service? In fact shouldn’t they deliver a brilliant service? After all, payroll is one of those mission critical tasks. If it does not happen well it causes chaos and disgruntlement and creates lots of extra work for no bottom line gain.
First of all what’s the difference between satisfactory and brilliant in payroll world? What’s a hygiene factor and what is a genuinely added value service?
In our view, there are three areas of work to look at:
What is a requirement to trade (i.e. don’t bother even starting if you can’t do this)?
- A contract – A commercial contract with line by line service agreement so that you understand who will do what, when and for what price.
- A great system – as the client you should not even have to ask about the system used. It should just work, first time, every time.
- Great staff – payroll is a specialist discipline in its own right, not the poor relation to accountancy work. Your payroll team should be well qualified, knowledgeable, commercial and easy to work with. They should give you confidence that they understand your payroll inside and out.
- Data security – As data processors under the Data Protection Act we take our responsibilities seriously. A data protection policy is an absolute pre-requisite for trade. It is a robust technology solution that does not revolve around email for data exchange.
What is a hygiene factor (i.e. an expected service – “no big deal”)?
- Online payslips – it’s the 21st century, any payroll service that does not communicate electronically is literally in the dark ages.
- Auto Enrolment basic compliance – We don’t believe that this is a chargeable ‘extra’, it’s a core part of running payroll so don’t pay over the odds for this work.
- Data risk management – it is critical that the way data is exchanged between you and bureau is tightly managed. Don’t work with anyone who cannot demonstrate a robust change management and peer review procedure.
What is genuine added value (i.e. what makes a client go “wow”)?
- Insight – Payroll management is a professional service. Payroll providers must be excellent Account Managers. They must identify issues that may affect their clients, getting out in front of major legislative, best practice or technology changes.
- Understanding of data – in the modern world, data is king. Payroll records are the definitive article in terms of up to date information on employees in a business. We think a great payroll partner understands how that data can be used to add value to a business:
- HR integration – HR and Payroll go hand in hand so why do so many employers duplicate processes when it comes to starters, leavers and changes to contract. Employing a ‘one touch’ approach to managing your people saves time, reduces risk and gives a better user experience for your staff. We also see employee self-service, holiday booking and flexible benefits platforms as key future payroll interfaces.
- Pension integration – simply processing the core elements of Auto Enrolment is not enough. Payroll should also be expert in all things workplace pension. A great payroll service will remove all day to day responsibility for managing pensions from an employer. This includes letters to staff, sending payment information to pension providers and offering telephone support to your employees.
- Benefits integration – payroll can act as your employee benefits hub. As the data processor we are able to produce information, reports and employee data at the drop of a hat This removes the need for employers to waste time trying to produce this.
In short, our view is that too many UK employers are just going through the motions with their payroll provider. Not enough companies are thinking about what else a payroll provider could assist with. What other routine business administration tasks could be managed through payroll and other integrated systems? Furthermore why settle for satisfactory when you can have brilliant?
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