In these ever-changing times, a business might outgrow its payroll and accounting package when developing quickly or expanding into new areas. Therefore, flexibility is one of the most important considerations when choosing the most apt software.
“With any software, not just payroll and accounting, a company has to look at what would happen if the company, the business or legislation changes,” says Sandra Swanepoel, Sales Director at Softline VIP. “What we have found is that companies make the mistake to just see whether the package meets their needs at that stage. Nowadays, that is not good enough.”
“Today, we might see a company printing statements, and tomorrow it is printing on glass bottles. Companies have to be agile and cannot use systems that will have slow turnaround times in the future. This means that you have to know how quickly a service provider can enable you to add on new variables.”
How do you know a software company will be adaptable to your needs in the future? One way is to ask whether they have a person or department that primarily monitors changes and incorporates them into the development plan. The best software companies roll out their system changes in good time for companies to meet new statutory compliance requirements.
Many smaller companies also make the mistake of implementing software and then relying on a private individual to maintain it. Being dependent on one person for such a critical function can lead to maintenance problems whereas a software company must provide backup support.
This support should also include training or at least instructive software. Often, business owners are left with products they are not able to realise the full value of because they do not know how to use all
There are many payroll and accounting systems available on the market that work very well in terms of having solid applications and accurate calculations. However, systems can fall flat in terms of three critical issues – providing information that is appropriate, in the right format and in the required time frame. The right system provides information in any combination of these three requirements.
“Many systems can give you the correct information, but only at the end of the month, or the correct information, but in the wrong format, which you then have to rework,” says Swanepoel. “You should do your homework and ask your service provider if the system is able to meet your requirements, for instance – a report within the next day that shows an employee head count per region, split according to salary costs per person and the turnover per region. These requirements have to be tested before the software
“Business owners should first do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of their business payroll and decide what are the things that could do damage to the business and what are the things that could provide an advantage to the business, such as getting the best return on employees’ salary.”
“If a lucrative job presents itself, but must be completed in a short time, the payroll software must
be able to show whether it would be worthwhile tendering for the contract after salary cost has been taken into account.”
In short, a software package should not just be purchased because it makes calculations, but because it enables the company to make sensible business management decisions. Managers should not have to wait until the end of the month to learn that the business is at risk because salary costs are more than turnover in a particular region.
Smaller companies especially should take their payroll investment seriously, because it is usually the owner who has to decide on the right package, while large companies have in-house specialists dealing with these issues. Small business owners do not have the luxury of large turnovers and the choice of payroll package could mean the difference between success and failure.