Payroll- the underestimated software of the HR department.
In an interview with payroll expert Sebastian Struck (senior consultant at HR Tech Consulting)

This interview with Sebastian Struck, senior consultant at HR Tech Consulting and specialist for HR software and payroll, deals with HR processes and in particular the combination of the topics of IT, software and payroll. Perhaps you can briefly introduce yourself and your position in the company at the beginning.

Sebastian: The pleasure is mine! I like to describe myself as an "accomplice in HR digitization" because my passion lies in supporting HR departments on their digitization journey or travel planning. As a senior consultant at HR Tech Consulting, this is exactly where my core competence lies. My digitization gene and my experience from many years of work in various HR positions form a perfect basis for this.

Pay roll software

In the course of your professional career you have already had many points of contact with HR software, especially in the area of ​​payroll. What does an optimal interaction between HCM software and payroll accounting systems look like for you? For example, how does data (entries, exits, salary changes, reduction in working hours, illness, bonuses, etc.) from day-to-day HR business get into the payroll?

Sebastian: I often hear: preferably automatically and in real time. In reality, however, this is unfortunately not quite so trivial. Just think of retrospective changes with corresponding recalculations or corrections. Nevertheless: a high degree of automatic data transfer minimizes the error rate - regardless of whether it is an integrated solution, a real interface or an export/import function. It is important to clearly define which is the leading data system.

My favorite example is the name of a new hire. Maybe someone knows this or something similar from his/her company. As part of the recruitment process, this name is entered 20 times manually by different people in any systems, documents, forms, distribution lists and lists in order to make the new employee able to work. This approach alone has a high probability that
the name is stored incorrectly somewhere. Unfortunately, this is now a name that also contains umlauts, which further increases the risk of different spellings. If an incorrect spelling is not immediately apparent, a simple correction at a later point in time is not so easy, depending on the system (keyword: open a ticket....). Many people are busy in this example.

Wouldn't it be a dream if the name that the new employee knows best and that she most likely gave herself during the application process didn't have to be copied manually a few times and entered somewhere?

This is my picture of an optimal system interaction!

software offer

Established providers share the majority of the market in the payroll area. What is your attitude towards the subject: do the billing yourself in your own company (in-house) or use an outsourcing solution?

Sebastian: This is a discussion that has been going on for ages. There are of course advantages and disadvantages for both sides. It always depends on where I come from as a company. Personally, I find interim solutions such as partial outsourcing of special issues (e.g. postings or company pensioners) or outsourcing of data processing (in the case of internal data collection) as well as hosting and support for the accounting system very interesting. This is part of the standard offer of many service providers these days. That's why it's no longer just about either/or.

In addition to the pure topic of costs, it is always about the individual consideration and weighting of quality, control options and control, communication and data flow, complexity and knowledge, which must always be up-to-date.

And it is precisely this consideration that every company has to make for itself. We are happy to support you in this.

selection difficulties

What is the trick in the decision-making process of outsourcing or in-house?

Sebastian: The trick is that the decision to outsource is too quick to be guided by potential cost (savings). The forecast savings often cannot be achieved. It is often variable costs that make the construction more expensive. For example, depending on the contract, the service provider can pay for each individual service (corrections to payslips, cost center changes, creation of new wage types, etc.) individually. But the satisfaction with the communication with the service provider can only be recognized in the actual cooperation (keyword hotline or ticket system).

When deciding on an in-house payroll
the insidiousness in that one may not
includes all aspects in the decision-making process.
Skills shortage, fluctuation and lack of back-up are
just a few examples that often go unnoticed or are misjudged.

 

Target group fitting

When you start a new project that involves introducing a new software solution, what should be an optimal solution in case of:

  1. Startups
  2. medium-sized company
  3. group can?

Sebastian: There is no such thing as THE one answer and THE optimal solution. Every company, regardless of its size, has different requirements and sets different priorities. But all companies have in common that payroll accounting has to work correctly. And here it depends on the one hand on the quality of the employee (master) data and on the other hand on a high degree of standardization and clear processes.

Therefore, at the beginning of new projects, it is important to understand how willing the company is to break away from existing processes (often that have grown over many years or are tailored to people with specific specialist knowledge) and to engage in best practices.

On the other hand, the software solution should also have the appropriate flexibility to be able to map company-specific requirements.

implementation process

After successful selection, the software is implemented. Are there general steps that are the same for every implementation? How do these look?

Sebastian: After selecting the software and the implementation partner, the actual software introduction begins. The following steps are usually carried out on the customer side. In some cases, steps can overlap or run in parallel. Order and scope may also vary:

  • Select project method (since the target image is already largely defined, this will be more of a classic project approach)
  • Establish project management and create a project plan
  • In "Functional Design Sessions" (configuration workshops), customer requirements and role concepts are defined, which are then mapped in the system.
  • "Customer Confirmation Sessions" represent the first acceptance points in the development system in order to check at an early stage whether the configuration in the system corresponds to the desired result.
  • Plan and conduct training (testers, end users)
  • Development of test scenarios and testing, testing testing (plan generous test phases) and user acceptance (UAT)
  • Legacy data migration
  • Provision / integration / installation of the software
  • Go live of the system
  • rework and support

During the entire introductory phase, the topics of “stakeholder management” and “change management and communication” should be taken into account.

Outlook

When you think about the future of payroll software, what progress can you envision in the future? Where is there still a need for optimization?

Sebastian: The shortage of skilled workers will be one of the determining factors and drivers for all HR disciplines in the coming years. Creative solutions must be found for this, which can then also be implemented in accounting terms. Cross-border matrix organizations should be mentioned as an example. Some systems are still too inflexible in this regard.

Another point is the "communication" or data exchange (both sides!) with external bodies (tax office, health insurance companies, authorities, etc.). This can be further expanded. The eAU (electronic certificate of incapacity for work) is a current example.

There is also still potential on the technological side: we already know flexible integration, intelligent automation, HR analytics, future-oriented simulations and scenario techniques or even bots from other application areas.

To be fair, however, it must be said that payroll accounting in Germany is subject to many exceptions, which, for example, inhibit the use of artificial intelligence. There is also potential for optimization in the area of ​​simplifying regulations.