Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

3 key takeaways to help you find happiness though cloud payroll

By Jayson Saba,VP of Strategy and Industry Relations at Ceridian.

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting my friend and former colleague, Mollie Lombardi, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall, and Mike Kelly, Corporate Payroll Manager at Global Brass and Copper on a Ceridian-hosted webinar. We kicked off the discussion highlighting technology advances, especially with cloud and the benefits they are bringing to companies big and small. The daily grind of the payroll professional includes many tasks that seem simple, but are deceptively fraught with complications. Payroll is a great example of this – for the most part, the job seems simple. The assignment is to calculate people’s compensation, pay them accurately and make sure everything is on time. All while ensuring compliance with federal and state laws as they relate to tax filing, garnishments, reporting, etc. All in all, it doesn’t sound terribly complicated, but hiccups can easily arrive. The problem is in the technology involved – not enough companies are using the simple, streamlined solutions that they should for processing their payrolls. Instead, they’re using multiple disparate systems and methods. Some data is saved in spreadsheets, while other elements are compiled using overcomplicated, time-consuming manual processes. It takes a lot of steps and workarounds to get the process “right.”

And just how important is this? Brandon Hall’s 2015 Human Capital Management (HCM) Technology Trends study found that 78% of companies cite payroll and compensation accuracy as the most critical metric for measuring effectiveness of HCM efforts.

While the webinar is available for download here, here are three takeaways from the session:

How the cloud is changing payroll
Automating key processes is helping companies reap a lot of benefits. But the big savings are coming from having as many of these processes in a single system. Cloud technology is affording companies benefits that not long ago were only available to large companies with deep pockets and budgets to invest in ERP applications. Some of these benefits include no more cost to upgrade, no more custom coding, quicker and easier access to data, better self-service, and better integration between different systems – where at least one vendor currently provides a single application for HR, Payroll, Benefits, Workforce Management and Talent Management. All of this improves adoption that reduces the burden on administrators, provides better access to data, and maintains up to date regulatory and tax rules.

What to consider when evaluating cloud technology
Mollie Lombardi cautioned “Don’t just put your same issues in the cloud.” It is very important to ensure we examine our existing processes and the way we do things before investing in further automation.  While in some cases it may seem like any technology is better than the one you have, there is a greater approach. Companies can learn a lot from the vendor who has implemented thousands of others that had walked in their shoes, which can bring a fresh perspective and best practices to ensure that the mix of technology, people and processes are yielding maximum value.

Go beyond the technology
Mike Kelly of Global Brass and Copper (a Ceridian customer) discussed how his company’s move to the cloud helped them do things better and more efficiently. “Everyone does the same tasks as in the prior system…in real-time,with limited waiting,”said Mike. He added that for him, many pieces are working at the same time. There is no more waiting, no guesswork, no hoping, and no fingers crossed for accurate results. For example, if there is a last minute change in an employee’s hours, it’s entered and results are seen instantly. The other side of this is tax filing, garnishments and check printing — the administrative and in some cases high-risk pieces that require a strong service partner to ensure they are done correctly. The ideal cloud technology partner must be able to provide both to help ensure accuracy and compliance.  As one attendee commented during our discussion, “I know what that’s like… we have to file in Ohio and Pennsylvania.”  This brought me back to a former career where I briefly lived the HR generalist life. Our head of HR and Payroll told me, “I don’t care about what you want to do to improve the way we do things around here or better serve our people. Your number one job is to keep our company out of the newspapers.”

While cloud technology will make our lives easier through better self-service for the employees and easier access to date, the best providers are the ones who can partner with us, and who understand payroll’s three mandates – accuracy, timeliness, and compliance.

Learn how to build the ROI business case for cloud payroll in my previous blog post 5 Areas to Build the ROI Business Case for Payroll Systems.

Jayson Saba

Jayson Saba is VP of Strategy and Industry Relations at Ceridian. Prior to Ceridian, Jayson was an analyst at Aberdeen Group’s Human Capital Management practice.  As the lead analyst for Core HR, Workforce Management, and Outsourcing, Jayson published over 100 research papers and reports about technology and best practices.  Jayson is a frequent contributor to industry and trade magazines including HR Executive, PayTech, HROToday, Workforce Management, Talent Management, CIO and The Economist. He regularly presents at HR conferences and trade shows.  Follow him on Twitter @JaysonSaba. 

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