Technological changes are a constant in many industries, and payroll is no exception. New software, upgrades and portable devices make payroll tasks more efficient, accurate and agile. And though hardware has taken a backseat as applications and data storage migrate to the cloud, there is still a need for faster machines with more memory. Whether you are recruiting for a payroll position, looking for a new role, or aiming to enhance your value in your current role, understanding technology is important. Here’s a brief summary of what to look for in 2016.
THREE PAYROLL TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
Moving to the cloud
Across businesses, departments are transferring data from personal computers and in-house servers to third-party hosts. Also known as software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud-based applications allow users to access data remotely, thereby eliminating servers, the associated hardware and costly maintenance and upgrades. While some businesses have been hesitant to make the shift, primarily due to security concerns and an unease over not being able to “control” the data, there’s no doubt cloud-based accounting technology is becoming a new industry standard. SaaS offers several benefits. By utilizing the latest available technology, payroll professionals can cut down on paperwork, save time and money, and improve accuracy. Cloud-based applications can quickly and easily back up data and eliminate onerous manual tasks such as inputting data. Using cloud software, which updates regularly, ensures that users have the latest numbers, deductions, percentages and compliance checklists. As for security worries, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has implemented strict security guidelines, and all vendors are subject to audits.
Better enterprise-wide integration
Another technology trend is to facilitate communication and collaboration between payroll software and platforms from other departments, such as accounting and human resources. By doing so, businesses can streamline processes, cut costs and obtain more robust data. This integration is frequently achieved through application programming interfaces (APIs), also known as middleware, which make communication between different systems possible.
Mobile access and self-service
Across Canada, payroll managers are keeping up with the global trend towards mobile. Employees want to view pay statements and benefits info from their mobile devices, and payroll administrators want to monitor direct deposits and earnings on the go. Apps also make payroll data accessible to employees who do not have easy access to computers.
If your organization is not already using a new payroll technology, chances are good that it will be soon. To ensure a smooth transition when updating your payroll systems, be sure to think through your business needs, for example, the size of your organization, the age of your software and hardware, geographic requirements, training demands, etc. Also consider the cost of the update. Certainly there are financial costs, though subscriptions for SaaS and data storage may cost less in the long run than investments in hardware and software upgrades. As you consider new technology, you should also account for downtime and the associated loss of productivity. You can minimize the disruption by scheduling migrations after business hours and on weekends.
Payroll technology and software are changing fast, and you and your payroll department need to keep up. By understanding the technology trends in your field, you can help your business remain competitive and profitable, and help yourself stay marketable.
This article is excerpted from Dialogue Magazine, which is a perk of CPA membership. You can find out about the Canadian Payroll Association at their website,www.payroll.ca.
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