I am a payroll associate in the payroll unit of SCG Chartered Accountants. I am also the technology champion of the payroll unit. We were running trials of the cloud payroll software when the lockdown came abruptly.
But for the cloud payroll software, we would have struggled to run clients’ payrolls on time during the lockdown. In this article, I share my experience of going to the cloud and its impact on our services.
We ran a desktop/server-based payroll system for many years. We knew the software very well, and we could customize the software and reports for specific payroll needs.
But there were problems:
- Risk of errors—user ability to customize the software raised the risk of errors, and since we ran payrolls under tight timelines, a few embarrassing ones occurred.
- Process discipline–the same ease of use made it difficult to maintain rigid process discipline.
- Software updates–users needed to keep track of updates and apply them to keep the software up to date. The manual update took time and was sometimes late..
- Backup–maintaining backup was challenging.
- Competition–as competitors came into the business price became the principal basis of competition.
To solve these problems, our management explored options, including changing the software. We settled on cloud software because of its advantages.
It took us about six months to implement the software. The process involved:
- Training on the software–the software works differently from the desktop/server based one. It took some time to move from a desktop to a cloud software mindset.
- Validating the application of payroll laws–we ran test files and compared the outcome to output from the existing systems. Some differences came from our understanding of the law and that applied in the software. We resolved these with the provider.
- Setting up clients on the software.
- Writing new procedures.
As the technology champion, I learned a lot from the process.
The lock down came over a weekend in mid-March 2020 when the office was closed, but there was no panic. We expected that there might be a lockdown, so we tried out working from home before the lockdown came.
When the lockdown came, the team was confident that we would meet our deadlines and serve our clients even if the office were closed.
Benefits of Switching to Cloud Payroll
The cloud payroll software enabled us to resolve all the problems I have listed above. Some benefits are:
- Reduced risk of error–users can no longer customize the software. Changes must go through technical specialists at the provider and this has helped to reduce errors.
- Process discipline–the software helps us to maintain stronger process disciplines because users cannot work around its controls.
- Data Security–cloud providers have strong security and updates are seamless. The risk of data loss is low because they have strong backups.
- IT costs – moving to the cloud reduces IT costs by removing the need for a server and managing updates and backups.
- Business continuity – when there is a disaster such as fire, having our data in the cloud ensures it is secure. We can restart business with minimal downtime.
- Flexibility – switching to the cloud allows employees/employers to access data from anywhere.
- Collaboration – We can communicate and share data with ease, allowing us to work better and faster as a team.
- HR features–we can offer our clients additional HR management tools.
- Efficiency–we shortened our turnaround time and are more efficient and less stressed.
Benefits to Our Clients
- Access to reports – they have access at anytime and anywhere.
- Self-service – employees of our clients can log on to update their personal information and access pay slips.
- HR features–our clients can ease HR management by using the HR features.
- Faster turnaround–we can deliver accurate payrolls much quicker than before.
I was skeptical of going to the cloud, but no longer. We coped with the lockdown; the system is more secure; we are efficient and offer more to our clients. And we have the bonus of flexibility in our work schedule–we can work out of the office.