Cloud Based Payroll Software

Cloud based payroll software has seen emerging growth for the past 18 months. As payroll has long been a user of cloud based software, it has only been the lack of apps in the past that has prevented many more firms from jumping to a payroll software solution in the cloud. The Force.com exchange only serves to highlight the function’s slow progress into this more agile and reactive sphere of cloud based ­payroll software, where some of the most exciting developments are taking place.

Cloud Based Payroll Software

Among them are a suite of products aimed at HR and payroll from UK-based developer Fairsail. Total Talent Management includes HR information and human capital management modules, as well as recruitment. The latest addition is Payflow, which doesn’t claim to be a payroll system but rather acts as a cloud based payroll software system manager.

Cloud Based Payroll Software Grows

‘Platforms such as Force.com give developers a way of bringing out new applications more rapidly than if they had to build from scratch,’ explains Phil Wainewright, chairman of EuroCloud UK, the UK-based community of Software-as-a-Service, cloud computing vendors and industry experts. ‘And it’s especially helpful for companies such as this one, where the developer wants to do something with the ability to operate on a global scale from the start.’ Indeed, although the Payflow module has only just been introduced, it is already in operation at three Fairsail US-based customers.

Recurring issues
According to Nic Scott, CEO of Fairsail, the concept of Payflow came about following recurring issues with locating accurate employee information, especially with multisite organisations. Invariably, as the most up-to-date information came from payroll this was then being used to populate the system. ‘So we had this idea: if the payroll information is where the truth is, why don’t we link up to it and use it in a more automated manner?’

The aim of Payflow is to provide a link between Fairsail’s own products and other systems, such as those from payroll agencies, benefit providers as well as other HR or enterprise resource planning systems. It isn’t intended as a standalone product but to be used in conjunction with the company’s other HR modules. Within a single country installation of the cloud based payroll software it will provide regular data flow to and from other systems, or within a multisite and/or multicountry implementation it will consolidate information into a single point.

After an initial exploration of the product’s function, Fairsail decided to develop the product a stage further and enable Payflow to create data import files for payroll agencies and benefits providers.

The simplest way to grasp how it works is to picture an organisation that has operations in many countries, all of which run off different pay cycles, explains Scott. ‘For instance in Europe, people are likely to be paid 13 times a year; in the US, people get paid usually every two weeks, so 27 times per year; and in the UK, it’s 12 times a year, or 52 if they are paid weekly,’ he says.

‘Payflow is as an engine that knows when the pay cycle is due for each individual in the company and sends the appropriate information, such as name, gross pay and likely benefits and deductions to the appropriate payroll system. If nothing else needs to be done, it brings that information about what’s been done back into the HR system.’

If there is more to be done, such as consolidating information for the benefits provider, the software can also handle that. ‘Benefits suppliers don’t want the information by individual but want to know all of those who, say, have dental insurance so the software disentangles this information and feeds it into them,’ he explains. ‘So, hey presto, the company has carried out its payment operation and because it’s a fully integrated HR suite has all the information that relates to the individual in one place.’

Analytics built in to cloud based payroll software

Scott claims their cloud based payroll software system’s built-in analytics also enable extra intelligence to be extracted, such as the cost of the workforce, for instance. ‘If you want to find out how much it costs to have a lathe turner in Manchester compared with Poland, you have an instant comparison in front of you.’

In addition to managing multisite and multicountry payroll data, Scott says the system is also useful for companies that are undertaking merger or acquisition activity, where they want to take control of all data centrally. ‘Most likely, there will be different payroll and HR systems, so you can import data from one into Fairsail and use Payflow to manage the two existing payroll operations.’
Following the US implementations of the Total Talent Management suite, one of the features it may be bringing back to the European market is a benefits management function for employees. ‘This tends to be something of a high-end offering in the UK, but in the US it’s standard,’ says Scott.

While Scott acknowledges that some of what his company’s software does is already performed in high-end enterprise resource planning environments, these systems take time to set up and deploy, and are typically more expensive. He contends the significance of Fairsail’s offering, however, is that it is a true on-demand product and can be deployed in a short space of time which, ultimately, is what the cloud is all about.

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