Is it worth ditching Excel or legacy tools in favor of unproven new software? Can an automated payroll solution really help save money while benefiting employees?
Spoiler alert: Yes, automated payroll can save time and money if done correctly!
In this article you’ll learn:
- How payroll automation works
- Whether an automated payroll solution is right for you
- All the ways your business could benefit
- How to get started
What is payroll automation?
Payroll involves a series of micro and macro routines, from calculating benefits to processing payments. Professionals face seasonal challenges like the tax season as well as many dynamic scenarios, like mass onboarding in a period of work hybridization.
Payroll automation streamlines these processes, saving you from repetitive tasks.
Payroll processes that are commonly automated include:
- Payroll processing
- Salary deductions and advances
- Compliance enforcement
- Calculation of overtime, bonuses, etc.
- Generating and filing reports
Payroll automation is more than adding or improving Excel functions, linking spreadsheets, or adopting a paycheck calculator.
Rather, it’s an overhaul to the entire payroll process so that you (and your employees) spend less time sorting through multiple documents and software when paying or getting paid.
58% of American companies already used cloud-based solutions for accounting and finance, and 21% are planning to adopt similar options in the future.The 2019 Benchmarking Accounting and Finance Functions, Robert Half
The best solutions integrate with tools used by other departments, like finance and HR. As a result, it’s possible to streamline more steps within large processes and optimize hiring, documentation, and training.
Should you automate payroll?
In the past, automating payroll would have meant locking your company into an industry behemoth with a high initial investment and long training sessions.
Fortunately, competition has brought about a new generation of providers that offer cloud-based solutions that are much more intuitive, can be tailored to specific markets, and come with guided demos that speed up the coveted ROI.
But is it worth updating your current processes? Automation’s goal is to save time and money, and when it’s done right payroll automation can certainly achieve that.
Consider automating your payroll if any of the following apply to you:
- You are an SME or enterprise with 150+ employees
- You have a volatile workforce and are accustomed to mass layoffs and hiring surges
- You have a drive to optimize processes and your leadership is keen to reduce costs
- You have a global presence or are planning to expand to different countries (and legislations)
- You have different remuneration models, bringing in both employees and contractors and offering a combination of salaries and hourly wages
- You employ hiring partners, hiring both directly and through dedicated agencies and partners
- You want to retain workers by reducing payroll errors and providing better service and options to staff
How will my company benefit from automated payroll?
We’ve established when it’s a good time for companies to adopt payroll automation. But how exactly does it help in the daily life of a business?
#1. Automated payroll reduces the chances of human error
Humans make mistakes, and the repetitive nature of many financial tasks makes them especially prone to errors caused by lack of attention. But smart leaders know you can’t brush mistakes off with a shrug.
Case in point: American companies take from two to ten days to solve payroll errors, according to the APQC (American Productivity & Quality Center) Open Standards Benchmarking database.
That’s very concerning if you consider that over 60% of Americans say it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheck was delayed by a week, as per the 2021 Getting Paid In America study.
Software doesn’t get tired or feel bored – it sets out to do what you program it to do, keeping errors to a minimum in the process.
#2. Automated payroll saves time
Automation really shines when it’s time to cut down on the number of repetitive tasks that are present in payroll management.
Good software will save analysts from tedious data entry tasks and calculations. Finance leaders can use these extra resources on critical issues and on implementing longer-term goals.
What’s more, if the platform integrates with other solutions (such as HR information systems), the benefit spreads across different areas of the company.
Employees, in turn, benefit by having clear and standardized procedures to follow when raising questions regarding payment. Some payroll automation providers even offer employees mobile apps to track their payments and report concerns.
#3. Automated payroll prevents department bloating
With mundane tasks automated, your HR and finance departments can focus their attention and resources on hiring and training top performers that will advance the company’s mission.
Fewer people means less overhead and makes it easier for leadership to navigate the big picture. Additionally, adopting a modern, automated system means no more need for personnel with specific legacy tool knowledge.
#4. Automated payroll can be scaled up and down easily
Microsoft Excel and its derivatives are the lead budget and planning tool for 54% of companies in the United States, according to the Robert Half study. That’s not without reason, as Excel is versatile, reliable, and widely known.
The main issue with Excel is that it doesn’t scale with a business.
“(Excel) becomes wrought with potential for error and can become a single point of failure for companies that rely solely on Excel experts to maintain it.”Thomas McIlheran, VP of finance for Chargify, to CFO.com.
Big companies have fallen victim to spreadsheet madness, where different teams and departments share and repurpose Excel files with conflicting data. In this scenario, tracing back the origin of a data point depends more on institutional memory than on logic, creating a bottleneck during times of expansion.
Ironically, trying to streamline the use of Excel creates a vicious cycle of “another sheet to solve the sheet’s problem.”
Dedicated payroll software handles this problem head-on via intuitive dashboards that connect data more clearly, with smart user access depending on the stakeholder’s role.
#5. Automated payroll takes the risk out of compliance
Between the continuous research and extensive paperwork involved, following government or industry regulatory guidelines can be a nightmare, with very high stakes regarding the finances and reputation of a company.
Automation software, with its instant rigorous checks every step of the way and up-to-date documentation, can be the first line of defense.
When choosing a platform, you should give bonus points to the ones that have specific features tailored to your geographical area. The team behind it will be well-versed in the regulatory guidelines you deal with on a daily basis.
Payroll automation: How to get started
The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.
There are four simple steps that will help you get going on your journey to payroll automation:
- Define your needs: What are the immediate requirements and what would be a bonus?
- Review options: Identify providers aligned with your interests and budget.
- Try a demo: Book a free guided demo of Symmetrical at any step so a specialist can understand your needs.
- Present: You should now have enough information to make a change or convince the CFO.
When looking for a reliable partner, be sure they have:
- A detailed knowledge of your regulatory compliance requirements
- A proven track record of satisfied customers
- The ability to integrate with other software
- A clear pricing structure
- Support available whenever you need it
Conclusion: It’s a great time to automate your payroll
The transition from manual tasks to automated payroll has been going on for many years. But now we’ve reached an interesting moment where the market is mature enough and solutions are tailored to the client.
What does this mean for you? A faster transition to a payment automation platform that can serve your needs and adapt to your reality.
Symmetrical is the first payroll solution you won’t hate. We enable fast-paced companies to onboard at scale and run their payroll invisibly. To run your payroll hassle-free, contact our experts to learn more!