Author: Ian Hurst — Managing Director, Paymaster People Solutions
Recently I conducted an informal survey amongst some of my friends. I asked how many of them still use their (Telkom) landline at home. Almost 90% confirmed that, on their landline, they only receive calls from call-centers, debt collectors and similar types of calls. They acknowledged that they rarely make outgoing calls on their landline. On the other hand, three of my friends did say that they did not use a mobile phone, each preferring in fact to make use of their landlines.
The world is rapidly passing by, leaving many behind
Interestingly, the same three friends complained that they were never invited to parties, and/or were generally excluded from communication, making them feel as though they were being left behind as communications-technologies advanced ahead of them.
The point I wish to illustrate from this short anecdotal experience, is t hat this type of experience is very similar to what old software will cause you to feel. When you think that you’re still adequately keeping abreast of work-related software, you will one day be faced with the shocking reality that, in fact been losing ground and have been left behind. As such, the world is passing by rapidly and you may not even recognise it until it’s too late.
Eight reasons why old software will slow you down
1. Location-based software
Let me, as an example, let me allude to a well-known PC-based payroll software programme: with this software, you could only process your company’s payroll from your computer workstation. For this to happen, you would need to be absolutely certain that your payroll software has been installed on your personal computer (PC), or your workstation, or your laptop. Should the need have arisen to process your payroll from a different PC or company workstation, you would first have had to back-up and restore the data. This process was inevitably done with significant risk because you knew that inadvertently restoring the wrong data and/or backing-up the incorrect payroll-month, meant disaster! Just thinking about it makes my hands sweat.
2. The pain of support
One of the most frustrating ‘pains’ involved engaging with a support-consultant over the phone. Attempts to accurately try to explain what needed fixing, or having to facilitate a remote link-up to a PC was the worst! Owing to ongoing data-security risks, I am never happy about granting somebody (support-consultant or not) access to my computer . Then of course, the absolute worst is when you have to wait for a support-consultant to actually conduct a physical visit to your company premises, before they can even begin to troubleshoot (and hopefully solve) the problem. Crazy isn’t it! After all, in today’s world who waits?
3. Old software isn’t compatible with new software
This drives me mad! Realising that your software is too old to be integrated into your new software environment can be a real hair-pulling frustration. In your frustration to keep business-operations running, you compromise by ending up with several stand-alone software systems running your back-office even though not one of them ‘talks to the other’. Each separate software package is thus totally incompatible with other software. Subsequently, many risks result from such a scenario with the greatest risk being that you end up having to contend with three separate databases that are totally different. Thus, when you need to troubleshoot database errors, you have no idea which database is right and which is wrong!
4. New software-updates don’t work with old software
After spending countless hours on the phone, waiting for example for a support-consultant to send the ‘patch’ (software update) to you, or worse yet, waiting for the support-consultant to dial-in and install the update themselves, is met with these heart-breaking words of the support-consultant: “Sorry, but the update isn’t compatible with your old software version”.
5. So much time is wasted trying to devise a way to ‘work-around’ the problem
Oh man, this frustrates me to no end! Devising a work-around can be done, but it takes up considerable time and energy. Plus, you know that you’ll have to be really careful when devising such a work-around or things could go horribly wrong.
6. Only one person from your company actually ‘understands’ the old software
Usually, only one employee is trained on the software. Consequently, only this employee knows how it works. In a case like this, this sole employee is the ‘keeper of knowledge’ relevant to the old software. However, should this employee resign or retire, it goes without saying that the knowledge would be leaving with them.
7. Inherent shortcomings of old software leads to important jobs/tasks not being done
Inherent shortcomings that are so characteristic of old software leads to important jobs/tasks in and around the office not being done. When there really is an important job/task that needs urgent doing, then a typical ‘sticky-tape solution’ has to be devised: a manual system concocted, or somebody has to write a Microsoft Excel macro to crudely automate the job/task. And, even then—despite the noble efforts of the sticky-tape solution—nobody is ever quite sure if the resulting information is 100% accurate and free from error!
8. Knowledge is free on the internet
They say that “knowledge is free on the Internet”. Well nowadays, so too are most help-desks for online software programmes. So stop paying for help-desk support for your outdated legacy software applications. Instead, wisely consider migrating towards the use of online, real-time ‘chats’ that include the software vendor’s proven ability to assist with offering support for your new software. This is guaranteed to cut your support costs by a significant margin.
Perhaps now is the time to contemplate the need for necessary change
So, there you have it, eight reasons to motivate a necessary move from your old legacy software applications, to using new software applications. As you contemplate this decision, I anticipate the typical set of excuses to follow. Excuses such as, “but our old software is all paid for”, or “but our old software is so much cheaper than new software”. Words of caution: refrain from making unwise decisions.
Discerning business owners need to carefully evaluate the opportunity-costs of using old software. Consider all the man-hours and countless others efforts that you are spending. Not Rands and cents being wasted, but rather, wastage of expensive opportunity costs that could so easily be saved by converting to far easier and more simple software applications.
To illustrate this ease and simplicity, take for example the process of capturing a new employee on your payroll: if you use Paymaster Applicant Management software, then—with a few clicks of the mouse—your employee will be fully enrolled and ready to start his/her first day of work. It gets even better: if you also make use of Paymaster Time and Attendance software, then the employee will automatically be enrolled too. And, if you also signed-up to use Paymaster General Ledger Integration, then there will be no more manual journal-entries that need to be processed either. Then, lastly, if you use the Paymaster Employee Self-service add-on, then all 3rd-party email distribution of employee payslips will be a convenient frustration of the past. Nowadays, most agree that printing of payslips is such a time-waster.
So, there you have it, what do you think of that? Not too bad hey!
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Paymaster People Solutions (Pty) Ltd is a subsidiary of Grant Thornton Advisory Services Cape (Pty) Ltd
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