Paymaster Magazine

HR and Payroll: Going Paperless

Headshot Matt NewnhamWith ongoing technological developments and the growing awareness of all things ‘green’, going paperless truly is the ideal state for many business offices today. However, a perception exists that HR and payroll departments cannot become paperless. This simply isn’t true. Nowadays, HR and payroll functions are rapidly moving into the electronic age. It is possible for any small to medium enterprise to go paperless.

The drive towards going paperless

Firstly, a primary driver behind going paperless is one of cost. Paper alone is a considerable cost. However, it is not just paper that is a cost, but the time it takes to complete paper forms, duplicate them and share them with many others in the organisation. The physical space required to store documentation and the effort it takes to find filed documentation also has a monetary value. Paper is nice to hold, but as people become accustomed to digital documents, the tactile element becomes less important to the end-user.

Secondly, another driver behind going paperless is the environment. The production of paper still requires timber. Within HR and Payroll, the carbon footprint created by paper is larger and wider than many would imagine. As businesses strive to reduce their carbon footprint, so the paperless office begins to make more sense.

A further driver behind going paperless is that of technology. Developers of the Paymaster Payroll software system have already gone paperless. The legacy printed document is being replaced with digital storage and communication. With paperless solutions, productivity and efficiency increase considerably. This gives rise to considerable positives that truly do impact the bottom line.

The risks of going paperless

Blindly going paperless to save the planet and save money is not the approach to take. Payroll technology does make it easy to go paperless, but this does not mean the path is risk-free. A paperless HR and Payroll department needs to be carefully planned and risk mitigated.

A paperless payroll solution must be integrated and be as seamless as possible. Knowing what file must go where. Sharing with internal and external systems is vital. For example, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) has hooks for technology integration to avoid paper forms being completed. Ensuring your payroll system operates and integrates with the many business systems your company uses is vital, even a simple thing like email needs to be carefully evaluated and configured.

Security is by far the most concerning risk of a paperless, entirely digital solution. Gartner suggests that the security of a paperless payroll and HR solution is perhaps the most significant risk. The storage of sensitive HR and payroll information represents the most prominent threat most companies have and securing this data must be a top priority.

Secure, optimised storage

HR and Payroll: Going PaperlessConsiderations around the storage of this information must be made carefully.  On-premises servers are on the demise as cloud storage improves and takes over. From an operational point of view, cloud storage may seem the obvious choice, but IT teams may show more concern about the security of the cloud.  Despite the worries over storage security, the risk must be overcome and managed in a paperless environment. User access rights and password policies need to be carefully considered as part of the storage process. The suitable encryption of data must also be considered. No longer is it enough to just drop any file in a folder on a server and leave it, encryption and file compression for optimised storage is essential.

Resistance to change

Paperless payroll is undoubtedly on the cards and if a business has not already begun a migration away from paper, it soon will. When changing a system or process in any organisation, there will inevitably be some resistance to the change. This is to be expected, especially in South Africa where access to technology for many workers is not as prevalent as one might think. A paper payslip is an essential document for many workers and being unable to have this or even access it may well lead to some resistance to change.

Communicating the changes and putting the necessary steps in place to meet these challenges remains vital. It may not be a big step for a company to go paperless but for the staff, it can be massive. When going paperless, putting fears to rest and explaining the reasons for doing so with one’s employees is often overlooked. Remember, many seasoned payroll and HR staff may also be sceptical about a paperless solution. These vital team players need to understand the benefits of going paperless. After all, they will become the ambassadors of a paperless HR and payroll system.

Paperless makes data valuable

HR and Payroll: Going PaperlessHR and Payroll departments create masses of data. In a paper-based environment, accessing data on paper documents is difficult. Going paperless in the HR department is not merely about scanning a physical print and converting it to a PDF. An integrated, paperless Payroll and HR Solution opens up the data created and begs the question “what can be done with this information?”

Digital HR data can be used by reporting engines to help company managers make better, more meaningful decisions. Information that is securely shared in a compliant manner becomes an asset to a business and can improve working conditions and increase efficiency and productivity. A paperless solution can use data to create optimised workflows and operational processes.

Everything from payslip information through to employee communication, as well as record-keeping relating to job applications now becomes valuable. Accessing the data becomes easier and less time consuming and everyday decision-making within HR and beyond improves. Paper has bogged down companies for too long. The paperless HR and payroll generation is here to stay.

How to go paperless with Paymaster

Paymaster Payroll has had paperless functionality for a considerable time already. Thinking ahead of the curve and embracing technology has made it a leading payroll and HR solution in South Africa. To begin a drive towards a paperless payroll and HR solution is straightforward and starts with strategic planning. Establishing the point where you want to be and knowing where you are now are the two most important steps in the move to paperless. Following a defined path from point ‘A” to your destination is essential.

A review of your existing systems is generally the starting point soon followed by onboarding of information. Should you have any questions around your payroll and HR information and how to move towards a paperless payroll solution, please contact Paymaster People Solutions.

Matt Newnham

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