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Keeping payroll on the right track through the crisis and beyond

At the outset of lockdown, HR and payroll teams were focused on keeping their organisations operating and providing employee support. Typically, businesses running on-premise applications struggled most. There were issues around securely and remotely accessing payroll engines through virtual private networks (VPN), potentially leading to ‘downtime’ and payment delays. Even organisations operating in the cloud, found that they were challenged by having to ensure access to payroll is only provided to appropriate people, working from and through the correct addresses.  

Data security and confidentiality is another risk area. For most businesses, compliance with ISO27001 helps ensure high standards. However, many internal payroll departments do not go through this certification/accreditation process. This puts the onus on employees to ensure compliance which can be difficult to guarantee when working remotely. 

Today, as the lockdown eases, payroll and HR have other challenges. We are seeing a staggered return to work; furlough schemes have been extended and there are attendance issues around SSP, Carry Over of Annual Leave and DWP/DEAs orders for payroll and HR teams to deal with. If businesses don’t have the right processes and technologies in place, it can be an administrative nightmare.  

So, whats the solution? Organisations are advantaged if they have already moved to cloud as that will likely give them a strong security and governance infrastructure and the ability to work in an agile manner remotely but they still need to set up their cloud approach properly. Many organisations have cloud payroll engines but if they are fed by another HR, time and labour and recruitment system (HCM) the data will originate in that system and that can cause efficiency problems. In contrast, a single cloud-based HCM and payroll system removes the requirement for data transfer from other systems to payroll and the need for manual interventions.  

By moving to a single cloud-based HCM and payroll system, businesses can reduce bureaucracy and achieve enhanced security. Just as important, they also add to the agility and flexibility of payroll. By embracing the combined capability of payroll and HCM operating as one, businesses can get more immediate access to the HCM and payroll data at their disposal and more quickly and easily make adjustments. 

In summary, cloud brings many benefits in this context but a single cloud HCM and payroll system is even better. It is more secure because it removes human intervention and therefore reduces risk. Equally, this approach supports greater agility by making key data available, where and when needed, across the organisation, enabling payroll changes to be made quickly and easily and facilitating reporting on the results. 

Managed services can also have a key role. The benefit of outsourcing HCM and payroll to an expert partner is that rather than focusing on just delivering a payroll service, they can instead concentrate on ensuring that the business’s whole HCM data flow works  efficiently and effectively. If the third party has the capability to deliver HCM and payroll outsourcing as one solution on a single platform, then they have an opportunity to drive reduction of risks, significant efficiencies and automation into an organisation.  

The key point, however, is that a single HCM and payroll system delivered in the cloud, is a driver for increased securityless risk and enhanced agility. It is interesting to note that the current period of lockdown has also been one of the busiest for financial processes and activities. It will have been stressful for every payroll team but for businesses operating in the cloud, with a single HCM and payroll system, that process is likely to have been a little less concerning. 

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