Payroll software is a mission critical function to any business, says Sandra Swanepoel, a director of Softline VIP, part of the Sage Group plc. "There is a definitive necessity for any business to ensure that all changes, upgrades or installations of a new or existing payroll system are done in conjunction with a service provider that can deliver," says Swanepoel.
The relationship between the employer and employee is delicate and can easily be derailed if the payroll system should fail, says Swanepoel. "Making the correct choice is crucial. The company's software as well as its internal processes will suffer a major setback if the payroll installation is not done correctly. The process needs to be underpinned by thorough training and supported by a concrete change-management process that documents all the procedures that need to be incorporated into the payroll solution."
The choice of a payroll system should be made with a long-term objective in mind. To make this a reality, the company needs to consider the longevity of their payroll software investment.
It is of cardinal importance to ensure that the software is stable. "It is a very difficult aspect to ascertain during a demonstration. There is however nothing stopping you from asking your prospective payroll software provider to provide you with client names as a reference. This will help you to establish whether the payroll software that you are considering has a history. Also ask them how often their software is updated, too many updates will point to an unstable product," says Swanepoel.
Another crucial aspect to consider is support. "If you install the product now, will the service provider's support staff be available during peak times? The company's financial year-end is generally considered to be the busiest period for payroll administrators. Support staff are normally flooded with queries or requests at these times and you want the assurance of knowing that your service provider is up for the challenge," says Swanepoel.
Investing in sustainable technology would be wise. "We live in a fast-paced business environment where technology changes rapidly. You will want to invest in something that is up to date and current. A good gauge would be to ask what technology your service provider is using and how often a new product is launched into the market. If the product is versatile and adaptable, you should not have to change or update your payroll software too often," says Swanepoel.
One of the biggest concerns in the payroll software industry is leave management. "A company can stand to lose a great deal of money if their employee's leave is not calculated and managed correctly. Ensuring that the company's payroll system operates its leave policy within the parameters set out by the basic conditions of employment act should be a given. Companies that utilise an employee self-service strategy, often reap the benefits of having an electronic and accurate system that ensures that there are no mislaid leave forms. It also facilitates a timeous leave approval process," explains Swanepoel.
Having payroll software that is in tune with the country's statutory changes and legal requirements is fundamental. "Ask whether your service provider keeps track of all the changes in the country's laws. Making sure that your company is operating within the parameters of the basic conditions of employment and legal requirements, is crucial to the maintenance of amicable employee relations, not to mention the company's legal standing," says Swanepoel.
Making the correct choice when it comes to HR and payroll software is crucial. "Keeping these basic guidelines in mind, will ensure that your company makes a decision that it will not regret," concludes Swanepoel.