Payroll, it's time for change: 3 signs to watch for

Payroll pro thinking about process change at computer

Many of us in the payroll profession have gotten used to doing things a certain way, and for good reason – stable processes get people paid on time and keep them happy and engaged. We wake up every day and pretty much know our daily routines, and there’s comfort in that consistency. However, payroll professionals can get so busy taking care of their day to day that they don’t have time to really determine if what they’re doing is working to their benefit or if it's creating more of a burden. And if you're not taking the time to evaluate your processes, it can be difficult to know when it's time for a change.

We're going to explore 3 key areas to help payroll professionals identify when processes have aged to the point of being consistently slow and manual tasks are no longer enough to serve your needs. You'll also learn tips to help you become more efficient and shift your mindset to add strategic value across your entire organization.



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1. Managing interruptions

While many payroll professionals have their routine down solid, they often get thrown for a loop when an interruption occurs. This could be something as simple as a request for a report that's not in your standard toolkit. When this happens, payroll has to stop everything to gather information – often from various sources – or they need to reach out to IT to create the report. Not only does this interrupt your day-to-day routine, but it also delays getting critical information out in a timely manner. Furthermore, it's not guaranteed that all of the data needed is being delivered in a format that's easy to understand.

Other interruptions can occur even more frequently like employee inquiries, incorrect timecards, missed deductions, bonus payments, and missed payments.  All of these events can slow down your process and can throw your daily routine off course.

If you find yourself constantly tracking down information, interrupted with requests, or your processes are slowing you down, these are warning signs indicating that it is time for a change.  One of the most effective ways to make a change is through a digital transformation, where you migrate from outdated systems to modern technology.

Working with other teams toward a unified solution for HR, payroll, and time/scheduling processes provides payroll with accurate and timely analytical data and insight to help you drive the business forward.  Modern technology can lighten the load for payroll professionals by eliminating redundant processes and inaccurate information.  It can also offer self-service for employees and managers to help reduce the amount of interruptions payroll deals with and ensure that accurate information is being collected and delivered to payroll in a timely and efficient manner.

2. Handling regulatory changes in a timely way

Payroll is one of the most highly regulated functions in an organization. Keeping up with changes to federal, state, and local jurisdictional requirements can be a challenge for any payroll professional. With wage and hour, employment, and tax laws constantly changing, payroll needs to ensure they understand and implement these changes in a timely manner to ensure compliance. In addition, every department, division and location need to be informed of new or changing policies that impact their workforce as soon as they are applied and enforced.

If your current systems and/or payroll procedures aren't updated in a timely manner or there is an oversight with regulatory compliance, it can lead to costly fines, penalties, and lawsuits. In addition, if improper taxes are filed or an employee isn't paid accurately, it can have negative impacts on the organization's brand and reputation. Wage and hour compliance is extremely complex, especially if you are using disparate, outdated, or manual systems for tracking and totaling hours worked, calculating pay and applying pay policies. This can lead to inaccuracies and expose the organization to wage and hour claims.

Therefore, it's imperative for payroll professionals to have steps in place to mitigate these risks. The good news is that modern technology can simplify this process and help payroll manage compliance more efficiently. Capturing and calculating data in a more modern and systematic way makes it easier for payroll to align their compliance strategy to their processes. Data analytics and reporting can enable payroll to quickly identify areas of concern, adjust to changing regulations quicker, and minimize risks through automation.

3. Improving service delivery

It's critical for payroll to have all the most up-to-date employee information. Payroll needs a scalable way to take in and track employee requests and inquiries. Often, payroll professionals rely on email or paper-based forms to track requests and inquiries, leading to missed requests or delays following up on requests. Once payroll receives a request or inquiry, they need to identify the right person to research and answer the request. Requests that come in via email can be bounced to multiple people for days without reaching the right person who can answer that request. This wastes payroll staff time, as well as negatively impacting your employee experience.

Furthermore, payroll professionals need to find and share the right information with employees. If you are using outdated systems, multiple systems, or manual processes you may have a ton of documents to sift through to gather information needed to help employees with their inquiries. This can lead to a poor experience for employees and have a negative impact on employee morale.

Because payroll professionals play such an important role in how an organization delivers service to their people, they need a good service delivery strategy that includes scalable processes to alleviate the burden of managing employee requests and information. A good service delivery strategy will create more streamlined processes for document and knowledge management, so that payroll spends less time looking for the right information. It also needs to make it easy for employees to get answers to questions and access payroll-related information, and update their personal information.

A good best practice for a payroll service delivery model is to identify what you want your service to look like and what that means to your organization. Next look for new opportunities to deliver new or expanded services and be willing to adapt to change. And align your technology strategy to better serve the business.

Conclusion: Change without disruption is possible

Payroll professionals today need to explore new ways to be agile and flex on the spot, to ensure that they are compliant, delivering high quality service, and ensuring the most accurate payroll results for the organization.

Overall, when payroll has a seamless process and the right tools and systems in place to manager their day to day in a way that works for them, they can be more productive and add greater value to the overall organization. If you'd like to know more about the impact these systems can have, check out our value estimator and make your case.

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