Software Supplement 2021

Observations on the industry

Following on from real time information submissions being required on or before pay date, payroll software became a key part of the payroll industry, and payroll software has also had to flex during 2020. We have seen an increase in cloud and hybrid software as everyone had to work remotely where possible. This has also led to changes in the payroll workflow. Just as payroll professionals deal in regular cycles so does payroll software with regular release cycles. Again, cloud-based solutions can and usually do release more frequently whereas desktop solutions tend to have more limited releases, sometimes only annual release or maybe quarterly. Although these changes have been forced upon payroll this year the fact the industry has been able to cope shows its adaptability, resilience and determination to get the job done. Going forward, payroll people should use this adaptability to take a more considered look at their processes. Payroll software – particularly cloud – has developed a lot in the last few years. This development goes beyond just the latest legislation changes. Integration with other software such as time sheets, HR tools, employee portals etc, can help streamline payroll process. By looking to utilise software, payroll professionals can look to enhance their profile. Just like how accountants have gone from data entry only to ‘trusted advisors’ payroll professionals can make a similar change. The value of payroll professionals is not in the data input it’s about understanding the impact of legislation changes to individuals and to payslips. While you may not be able to give individual advice to an employee you can explain in general terms the impact of benefits in kind, differences in the tax relief methods for pensions, impact of tax code changes – and so much more. Part of being a trusted advisor is utilising the latest technology. Guides like this help you assess the different capabilities to support your unique business requirements. A bit like buying a new car as well as looking at the technical specs it is worth having a test drive of new software. Make sure it does do exactly what it says on the tin! Also, if training is given make sure you see how long this is offered for. Look for how support is offered and what on-going support is like. Even if you are happy with your payroll, remember to keep looking around on a regular basis and see what new innovations are happening to help you keep paying the UK!

Pauline Green FMAAT ACIPP MBCS Chair, HR & pension special interest group, BASDA payroll

The payroll industry is one of the most undervalued functions in the UK. Time and time again they keep the UK paid with little recognition. It is usually only when things go wrong – or perceived to go wrong – that anyone really notices them. However, in 2020 things changed: multiple legislation changes were thrown at it – sometimes with little notice – but the payroll industry showed how adaptable it is and continued to keep the UK paid on time. This helped increase the payroll industry profile as everyone started to hear new words like furlough! I have been involved with the Business Application Software Developers' Association (BASDA) for over six years and am also a member of the British Computer Society (BCS). Being part of these organisations allows me to work with other bodies and representatives together with government agencies. I am fortunate that my employer supports my involvement in these groups. There is of course a benefit to Intuit QuickBooks and our customers in that I am up to date on all upcoming changes. Payroll software providers, represented via BASDA and BCS alongside other bodies such as CIPP, have continued to explain to government how the real world works to help influence the guidance and implementation of various pieces of legislation. Sometimes we still have not been able to make as much change as we would want, but at other times we have successfully stopped some additional work being passed onto payroll. Like payroll professionals, payroll software must keep up to date on the latest legislation changes. A lot of legacy payroll systems, particularly desktop, have set release cycles so delayed that Budgets can severely impact delivery of updates. BASDA and BCS pushed heavily to have the information released as early as possible. Again, highlighting real world scenarios, such as mid-March cut-off dates for April payroll payments, and the need for clear updated thresholds and rates for software being able to calculate these correctly. While not ideal we did manage to have the thresholds and rates at the end of February prior to the 11 March budget.




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