To give your business a boost, ask more of your payroll provider

A payroll system needs to be much more than a scheduled payment tool - with real-time reporting and legislative change on its way, businesses need a system that is future-proofed


“Many businesses see payroll as a cost, particularly if they do it manually and it soaks up time. In fact, the right solution doesn’t just automate the process, it brings the kind of insights that add value to your business,” says Daniel Docherty (pictured), product marketing manager Northern Europe at Sage.

With Real Time Reporting (RTR), among other legislative changes, coming down the tracks, if you’re still doing your payroll manually, or aren’t happy with your current system, now is the time to change.

Rather than provide annualised reporting to Revenue, RTR will see this information filed on a “pay period” basis, throughout the year. It’s a changeover that has already taken place in the UK and, while it might seem more onerous, in fact it makes things easier for businesses – as long as they properly prepare for it with a good automated payroll system in place, he says.

“If you are in the market for a new system, you need to know whether it is going to be able to cope with infrequent tasks, such as maternity and paternity leave, or sickness, but also has the functionality to enable you to keep up to date with legislative changes,” says Docherty.

“Ask if the solution is future-proofed, so that it will be easy for you to cope with changes. Find out if it will free you up from the burden of having to produce things like pay slips and will live up to employee expectations.”

Sage has developed a solution which will enable employees to gain access to their payslips, across a number of devices, on a 24/7 basis, for example.

Your people are your most valuable asset and their payslip is the most important piece of information they get each month.

“When they go for a mortgage or a loan, the first thing the bank asks for is six months of payslips. Here’s a way of doing that that employees will really appreciate.”

Expect your payroll provider to make the process of data collection and data sending easier and seamless, in recognition of just how important a function it is.

“Your people are your most valuable asset and their payslip is the most important piece of information they get each month. From an employer’s perspective it is hugely important to get that right too, because of the growing awareness of the importance of how data is handled and how it is stored,” says Docherty.

In under a year the General Data Protection Regulations will come into force, putting significant demands on businesses in relation to managing data. “GDPR means ensuring your payroll is secure in terms of the information stored in it. If your payroll activities are currently handled on an Excel spreadsheet, or manually, that’s probably not the best way to do it going forward from a corporate governance point of view,” says Docherty.

Part of the reason why some businesses are not as up to speed on payroll as they might be is because they view it as a cost. That is a mistake, he believes. “Payroll can only be considered a cost if you don’t understand its value and you simply view it as a task that has to be done. In fact, it is about managing your most expensive asset, your employees. What’s more, the information it gives rise to can add enormous value to your business.”

With Sage, you get a wealth of access to trained and qualified technicians who know how to help you get the most out of your payroll.

He gives a practical example of a customer he worked with recently. “This person had won a €1 million contract, which was a fantastic break for his business, but the downside was that he only had six weeks to fulfil the order. He threw every person he had on the job - overtime, weekends, everything. And he got the job done. But because he didn’t use his payroll data to help him forecast his costings, he didn’t make any profit. Instead, he paid for all the additional work without realising that he would have to get bank finance to tide him over until the client paid him. In the end, the cost of the finance ate into his margin and he made nothing.”

The right payroll system would have enabled him to calculate his revenue per employee and profit per employee, and how to get the job done profitably. “It’s all about using the mine of information that builds up in your payroll system each month to help with your decision making. Unfortunately too much of that invaluable information - and the insights it can lead to - is just being ignored.”

To get to those insights, you need a payroll solutions provider that will help you find them. “It’s important you are not just sold something and left to get on with it. With Sage, you get a wealth of access to trained and qualified technicians who know how to help you get the most out of your payroll. Your provider should be there to support you, and not just on a technical basis - that’s a given. They need to support your business by adding value to it, by showing you how to generate the nuggets of information that help you make better business decisions,” he says. 

Find out more about Sage Payroll solutions: www.sage.ie/software-and-services/payroll