Paymaster Magazine
Payroll Software—Cloud vs Server/Desktop: Is there a right choice?

Payroll Software—Cloud vs Server/Desktop: Is there a right choice?

In the last five years, the cloud has started to take over how we work and live. As technology advances and mature, people are finding increased trust in the storage of their private and confidential data on the World Wide Web. Accordingly, cloud-based business solutions are fast-becoming more commonplace.

In South Africa however, there is still a small lag between some of the more developed and technologically advanced countries.

This prompts the following question: Is there a right choice between contemporary cloud-based payroll software versus more conventional ‘on-premises’ server-based (i.e. desktop) software?

The differences between cloud and server/desktop-based payroll software

To answer the preceding question, it makes sense to first understand the primary differences between Cloud and Server or Desktop-Based Payroll Software:

Conventional (i.e. more traditional) server/desktop-based payroll software either installs itself on your computer, or it is installed on a computer workstation via a server on a local area computer network (LAN).

Payroll Software—Cloud vs Server/Desktop: Is there a right choice?Cloud-based Payroll solutions are not installed on your server or desktop workstation. Instead, you access the software via the Internet from any computer or mobile device. Once accessed, you need a secure password to login. When in the Cloud, the payroll software and all your precious company’s payroll-data is securely stored (remotely) at an online data centre. To access the cloud-based solutions, internet access is required, whereas with desktop or server-based solutions you do not need internet access—you merely need approved access to the LAN and a desktop workstation.

Cloud or server: Which is right for your business?

There is no real right or wrong choice between Cloud or server-based payroll solutions. Everyone is entitled to make their own best choice. In other words, the solution that best suits your company’s needs and business strategy will nearly always be the best choice for you.  However, keeping up with trends and technology is a must for any business and cloud-based software solutions are beginning to make more sense—this is not to say that server-based solutions will hold your business back.

Ian Hurst, Managing Director of Paymaster Payroll Solutions maintains that choice between cloud and server is a “no brainer” because a time will come when conventional on-premises payroll systems will begin to fall behind in the value and functionality they offer. This is why payroll software companies are now placing significantly more effort in the development of cloud-based payroll solutions and associated mobile phone applications (apps).

The headaches and miracle cures of payroll systems

Payroll processing has evolved over the years. Many headaches have been solved by the development and advancement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), thereby providing miracle cures for many challenges that the HR fraternity has been trying to overcome for many years. Traditional server/desktop-based payroll solutions do have a few headaches. These include:

  • Time spent managing and securing software in your office. Backups take time, backup software costs money. When a backup fails it can bring many costly challenges with it.
  • You need to ensure that you have applied frequent update ‘patches’— software updates and bug-fixes. In some cases, especially where payroll software is installed on older equipment, the software does become outdated because update patches cannot be applied any longer.
  • Printed payslips are needed: these are often required to be distributed to employees in time-consuming The drive in payroll today is to go paperless as it is with other areas of business, so why stick with a paper-wasting solution?
  • Support requires a visit by a technical specialist—these visits take time and cost money.

It soon becomes clear why migration to the cloud-based payroll system is a no-brainer. Cloud-based payroll solutions bring a host of benefits with it. One of the biggest reasons why cloud-based payroll solutions continues to become the right choice in South Africa, is its phenomenal growth in mobile internet access.  As the internet becomes more accessible and cost of accessing the web begins to drop, people expect to be able to access virtually everything from their device and payroll is no different.

In the past, it was only HR personnel that had or needed remote access to the company payroll system. Today however, if an employee cannot access their HR payroll system remotely, it soon becomes a frustration. Time is the key factor! Cloud-based payroll solutions have demonstrated that they can both save and optimise time in any organisation. Access for all is the de facto new standard and best-practice in the HR industry.

With access-rights securely and easily managed in a cloud-based payroll solution, this is possible. For anybody who might not (yet) have easy internet access the systems still permit the ‘old school’ way of processing or accessing information.

Fitting in and moving forward with Payroll

Payroll Software—Cloud vs Server/Desktop: Is there a right choice?Business solutions today must be able to integrate with a variety of other systems, tools and software apps. Integration in the business technology space has been the disruptor for many years. Today, cloud-based technology is becoming some of the most disruptive of all technologies. Easy integration to other business solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications and time and attendance software is a necessity. The incorporation of apps and artificial intelligence (AI) are now creeping in and gaining momentum with payroll technology. Sadly, server/desktop-based payroll solutions are falling behind with the convenience of technology—these legacy software solutions may not be obsolete yet, but they are fast-becoming ‘out of date’.

In a 2017 article, Ian Hurst asks this key-question: Can your company afford to fall behind the times as your old software becomes a bit of dinosaur? The same question still applies today!

In a nutshell: It ought to be plainly clear that there certainly is a right (or best) choice to be made between cloud and server/desktop-based HR software. Be sure that you make the best choice for your company too.

For example, Paymaster People Solutions will continue to provide and support the traditional on-premises payroll solution until such time that it becomes too costly to do so. However, development of Paymaster’s cloud-based software offering will continue to receive priority. The right choice in payroll solution is the one that will drive your business forward and keep your employees happy.

Cloud-based solutions are the way forward! The advantages are overwhelmingly obvious: Cloud-based payroll software solutions deliver what people want!

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Editing, layout and publication: Content Strategics (Pty) Ltd.

Matt Newnham

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