How technology is enhancing the role of payroll professionals

21st May 2021

How technology is enhancing the role of payroll professionals

The payroll landscape has changed almost beyond recognition over the last decade, driven by legislative changes and automation. As technology and processes rapidly evolve, what does this mean for the payroll profession?

To find out, Jerome Small, journalist for the CIPP’s Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward publication, spoke to Kirsty Fowler, Managing Director for Civica HR & Payroll.

How can payroll professionals help technology continue to evolve in the right direction to ensure relevance to the role?

Payroll professionals are in a much better position than they have ever been to give real feedback on payroll technology. It’s a traditionally conservative area. But advances in technology have moved us forward in the last decade, to the point where data is shared securely between HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and payroll software in real time.

HMRC has taken the lead on this but there are so many other areas of payroll that are lagging behind, such as the submission of pension files to the various public and private sector providers, which is still predominantly a manual upload to a web portal. The more that payroll professionals speak up and lobby providers for a more modern approach to processing payroll, the more they will listen.

From Civica’s unique perspective, we run customer payrolls as a bureau using our own payroll software. This means we have continuous input into software development which, in turn, directly benefits our customers.

How have payroll systems’ automated processes empowered payroll professionals to ensure compliance is easier to achieve?

Integration with human resources software (HR software), time and attendance and timesheets have automated once manual processes, giving payroll professionals the confidence that there are fewer human errors. This gives them time to check the core data more thoroughly, reducing errors further.

Our experience has highlighted the areas where automation can reduce processing time by hours, sometimes even days. For example, for customer Cottage Delight, automation has cut payroll admin from five days to ten hours a month, while Thurlow Nunn has cut its monthly payroll processing time from a week to 1.5 days.

The more time we can save and errors we reduce, the more payroll teams can look at their internal processes and items such as testing, which too often are pushed down the priority list.

How has technology changed in the last few years and where do you see it going next?

AI and automated analytics are invaluable for solving a variety of business problems. Faster and more reliable internet in the past decade means more interaction between software solutions is carried out using a secure API (application programming interface) instead of passing files around. Via new technologies we can actively analyse and report data to predict trends, highlight potential issues early and solve business problems at scale and speed.

We see more processes available on mobile devices with assistance from bots. Generation Y expects real-time access to help and information, so will expect access to their payroll data to be the same. We will also see better-integrated enterprise resource planning systems, with payroll having shared access to wider data.

You can read the full interview and article in the May edition of the CIPP’s Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward publication.