What is self-serve payroll? A long time ago, utility suppliers would send out meter readers to record gas and electricity usage. An operator would then enter these numbers into a computer and arrange for a bill to be printed, eventually arriving by post. Payroll software, developed in the last millennium, works the same way. The payroll manager is the meter reader and operator, collecting and inputting timesheets, holidays, starter forms etc.. as well as responsible for generating and distributing output reports and payslips.
Utility companies have automated this process. An e-mail or SMS request is sent to the consumer for a reading, better still read from a smart meter. A click of a link and we can input the reading directly via our smartphone, tablet or desktop. Sometime later we’re notified that our bill is ready. Here is the other clever part: after accessing our self-service account and clicking on the bill, we actually generate our own bill in a couple of seconds. No human at the utility provider was ever involved in reading, entering, generating, distributing or notifying us of our bill.
Why is payroll still stuck in the 1970s and how can it be automated in a similar fashion?
Cloud and self-service payroll
The first limitation of today’s desktop software is the one-user-one-screen model. This means every input must be made by one payroll operator. Breaking that paradigm requires a shift from desktop to cloud. When we browse the web, check e-mail, download music, stream video or shop online, we are using software that runs in the cloud. In fact, without the ability to share data via the cloud, nearly everything we now take for granted would not exist.
Cloud payroll means that employees are able to mimic the consumer example above and enter their data into payroll. For example, an employee can enter timesheets, absences, bank details, address changes, and their new starter declaration directly. They can generate any payslip, P60 and P45 themselves on-demand. We do self-service every day with on-line apps – it’s so natural we don’t even think about it.
Live payroll and real-time analytics
Because of the one-user-one-screen approach, payroll has been a batch process. For the majority it’s undertaken once a month and only ready at the end of the pay cycle. In contrast, today’s cloud systems are always ready. If you have ordered online, you’ve experienced the ability to get a 24×7 view of when a delivery is expected. Live payroll works the same way. By making sure payroll is ready from the beginning of the payroll cycle, each time a worker accesses their live payslip, the mobile app shows their expected payslip. It takes all available data to date and completes an entire pay run, on-demand, in a second or so, on the worker’s mobile. As new data is added e.g. commission, bonus, timesheet, starter, leaving date or change, the system is updated in real-time just like an on-line order.
Live payroll means data is always accessible. Want to know what the forecast payroll expenditure is on May 8? Just access real-time analytics. Nearly every desktop has one the most powerful and familiar analytics tool every created – Microsoft Excel. A quick pivot table selection creates tables and pivot charts in a few clicks. Importantly, this is not after pay-day, but anytime 24×7 representing an exciting real-time view, impossible to achieve with traditional payroll.
So, what does automated payroll mean for the various stakeholders?
HR Directors rejoice that employees are fully engaged with their pay and benefits, as well as being ready for the workforce of tomorrow with new features like pay on-demand. Employees accessing their earned pay on-demand, 24×7 without waiting for a fixed payday are twice as likely to apply for a role.
Employees appreciate being able to budget and plan with the convenience of knowing exactly what net pay will be. The mobile app and live payslip engage workers by comparing current and previous pay to see what’s changed. Pay me now means they are half as likely to leave. Self serve payroll for employees and workers
Payroll Managers continue to play the same critical role as ever. An understanding of all the legislative details and being the payroll configuration expert will be required for many more years to come. However, they are finally freed from the laborious and robotic stress of yesterday’s payroll. They are no longer responsible for entering every last input – that falls to whoever is the source of the data in a self-service world. Because workers are well placed to check pay, payroll managers are not the only ones responsible for detecting errors. If anything is missing or wrong, it can be corrected immediately and before payday. Feedback by the worker can result in zero errors, higher levels of engagement and reduced frustration. Payroll managers never need to generate or distribute another payslip, P60 or P45 again. Hurray.
So, what do they do with their 75% new-found free time? Many may:
- Become the expert on Microsoft Excel pivot tables and data analytics
- Broaden into HR with roles downsized over many years of cuts and
- Design new reward and recognition programs for their organisation.
Tomorrows payroll manger will deliver much higher value than yesterday.
The Finance Director is ecstatic that payroll costs are reduced by 50%, whilst the CEO finally gets data-driven payroll decision making with real-time analytics.
Automated self service payroll has finally made it into this millennium.
About self-serve and paiyroll®
Founded by a team of engineers with a simple vision that pay could be automated as an online self serve payroll service in the cloud with Robotic Payroll Automation (RPA).