Last week my colleague, Steve Feinberg, President and CPA of AppleTree Business Services, wrote a thought-invoking blog post calling for payroll service bureaus to “Integrate Everything”. I have a similar mantra that I actively put in to play every day at Payrolls Plus: “Automate Everything”.
Statistics show that this year, US companies will spend $8.2 billion on automation of their processes and services. That’s up from $5.1 billion in 2016 and spending is estimated to hit $12.7 billion by 2021. Here’s why…
Automation significantly reduces rate of error
Manual entry of payroll data, no matter how experienced or careful a data entry professional is, invariably creates errors. Consider what happened on Wall Street on the afternoon of May 6, 2010. In just minutes, the stock market inexplicably plunged 1,000 points creating a “flash crash” that instantly wiped out $1.1 trillion of investor dollars. The culprit: A single manual keystroke error that inserted an “M” (million) in place of a “B” (billion). Though most of the loss was quickly regained, the incident left the market badly shaken for weeks.
Though on a much smaller scale, such mistakes can prove devastating for a payroll services bureau and its clients. A common business concept is the 1-10-100. Research shows it costs an average $1 to verify the accuracy of data at the entry point; $10 to correct or clean data in batch form; and a minimum $100 per record if the mistake goes unnoticed, including costs associated with resulting operational inefficiencies and customer retention rate drops.
In payroll, common mistakes that occur with manual processes include transposing numerals and hours, misplacing decimal points, and posting payroll to the wrong person, particularly when two employees have the same or similar names, or there is a mix up between a Sr. and a Jr., etc. Amazing how many ways data entry can be screwed up
Automation reduces labor and cuts costs
Manual processes require additional labor, which means additional costs and, as a result, reduced profit margins. A savvy payroll service bureau will aim to serve as many clients as possible with as few staff as possible. This allows a payroll firm to keep its own costs at bay so that they’re better able to offer highly competitive fees without compromising its own revenues.
Automation facilitates growth
A business, payroll or otherwise, simply cannot grow if its hamstrung by manual processes that slow operation, create re-work, reduce margins and potentially harm its reputation.
So how can a payroll firm best automate? If you’re assuming you’ll need to invest in expensive software or a major reengineering of your workflow, relax. Instead, the biggest and most effective gain toward automation begins not with a massive overhaul of your firm’s operations, but with a simple request to your clients.
The key is to encourage your clients to use automated means to enter payroll data. This can be as simple as using a standardized Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that can be imported directly into your payroll firm’s system, minimizing both labor hours and the risk of data entry errors. The client is much more familiar with the nuances of its staff and payroll than you and your staff will ever be, so the chances of mistakes such as mixing up a Sr. and a Jr., for instance, are diminished at the onset. QuickBooks and direct deposit are other highly effective and cost-efficient automation options.
Of course the best automation option is to have your clients enter payroll directly into your firm’s cloud-based payroll system. Simply assign each client a unique login and set access allowances so that they’re able to securely upload data without compromising security or confidentiality. Each step that can be eliminated from an overall process means a minimized error risk and a boost in time and money savings.
It’s easy to motivate your clients to make the switch when you help them understand that it benefits not just your firm, but their businesses as well. A top motivator is a price discount, easily allowable because of the savings in labor costs and the reduction of error rates when clients self-service. ADP and Paychex, giants in the payroll and human resources industry, recognized this many years ago and require most clients to self-service. In fact, our best new clients are switchers from ADP or Paychex because these customers arrive with self-service in mind.
Another top benefit is that automation allows clients quick or immediate access to data, reports and other information and options via their own online dashboard on your system. Millennials, projected to overtake Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation by 2019 and already dominating the workplace, grew up with and not only prefer, but largely expect self-service.
Automation has enabled Payrolls Plus to expand our client base nationwide. We have the electronic and online capabilities to service clients in California as easily as our neighborhood clients here in Davie, Florida. Focusing on automation has significantly streamlined our business, improved our margins and enables us to expand. It will undoubtedly do the same for your payroll firm.
This blog post is authored by Mindy D. Jennings, Co-Owner and COO of Payrolls Plus located in Davie, Florida. Mindy can be reached at 954-252-8463 or email@example.com.