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How SaaS Technology Has Evolved the Payroll Industry

BY: Barb Muellerleile, CPP | 08/30/21

For payroll professionals, Software as a Service (SaaS) technology is a key solution necessary to perform payroll functions in the world today. For many years, the payroll professional had to balance managing multiple tools and systems to produce a payroll payment. These included separate systems for time tracking, payroll calculations, HR data, employee hire records (applicants), benefits, taxation, accounting, and much more. These systems were very manual, standalone systems that were not connected. Many of these past systems were stored on site in old mainframe computers and were extremely costly and time consuming to maintain.

But in today’s world, that has drastically changed. The utilization of a unified SaaS technology solution is now available to help manage all these pieces in one platform. Because of this, the role of a payroll professional has truly evolved.

SaaS Benefits Everyone

SaaS technology provides many benefits for the company and the payroll professional. It provides the ability to reduce processing time from multiple days down to less than a few hours when processing payments for over tens of thousands of associates and requires less resources to do so. This can also streamline the number of team members required to produce payroll, the ability to produce payroll remotely, and the capability to close accounting books days sooner at the end of each month.

In addition, by sharing one core system for multiple data points using SaaS, it helps to do the following:

  • Streamline system security and data access
  • Increase data accuracy and data integrity
  • Improve Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act compliance
  • Enhance data reporting capability
  • Enable easier data management
  • Provide greater scalability for growth
  • Reduce costs of administration

This technology is very advanced and provides payroll professionals the ability to build in complex pay calculations to support compliance, business requirements, and automation. This reduces the need for calculations outside the system that previously may have been supported by IT or other departments, and again reduces costs.

By using the SaaS model, the payroll professional role has evolved to be a true business partner and business analysist. This role requires more involvement with the technology platform such as the ability to provide system configurations (and testing the configuration) that support the business needs or enhance compliance changes. It also provides the ability to utilize these tools and analytical data for business models and labor costs that help drive the business. This gives payroll professionals and business operators greater ability to see trends in labor costs and tools to help manage financial data.

SaaS also provides managers greater visibility to real-time data that is accurate and at their fingertips through reporting or dashboards. In doing so, the payroll professional is relieved from answering many general questions that previously came to payroll. Instead, SaaS provides time and tools for payroll to help with elevated business decisions. Payroll professionals now have a greater ability to have a seat at the table in their business.

Another noticeable benefit provided by SaaS technology is the enhanced capabilities through mobile applications. At the touch of a button, SaaS systems can provide an employee access to their pay details and paystubs, vacation balance to request time off, benefit enrollment data, work schedules, tax withholding details, and other areas previously not easily accessible. By providing mobile access, SaaS makes employees’ lives easier. They no longer need to ask their manager or call payroll to receive answers to questions. Instead, they can easily view this through the system. This allows greater flexibility for employees and frees up productive working time for the business. An employee can be sitting around the dinner table with their family, planning a family vacation, and can view their available vacation time and request days off right from their phone. This makes the process so much easier for the employee and allows easier access to their personal data.

SaaS Streamlines Business

Chatbot technology is also provided by some SaaS platforms. This enables an employee to have easy access finding their details in the system when they may not be familiar with the platform or the system. Through chatbots, the employee can ask a simple question in a search menu and the system will provide the answer within seconds. This is another tool that will help streamline the access to data to improve service to the employee or to the manager.

SaaS tools typically provide standard business integration capabilities to allow ease of use working with third-party vendors or internal data sources (such as unemployment, tax, benefits, or data warehouse storage). This frees up the time for high labor cost IT departments could have so they can focus on other business needs that add greater value and reduces the need to support the payroll department. It also creates an avenue for scalable business growth through data automations (and limited manual intervention).

In summary, SaaS technology has many benefits and has changed the payroll profession. It has brought the new wave of payroll processing to life and enhances the payroll industry for everyone.

Barb Muellerleile, CPP, is the Senior Director of Finance and Payroll at Panera Bread. She is also a member of the APA’s Board of Contributing Writers for PAYTECH, a volunteer on the APA’s Certification Board, CHAMPS Committee, Nominating and Elections Committee, and the Retail Best Practices Subcommittee of the Strategic Payroll Leadership Task Force (SPLTF).