(ninth post in a series)
How well your payroll reporting works for your company depends on who your payroll system was designed for. The in-house custom solution built for your business is going to do exactly what you need it to do. A payroll servicer’s system is going to cover its own needs first.
If your company is like a many of our clients, reporting is its lifeblood. To remain competitive, you depend upon business intelligence which is
- comprehensive, pulling data from all parts of the organization,
- manipulable, so you can alter how you view and crunch data,
- filterable, to make sure you’re comparing oranges with oranges, and
- realtime, because stale information is never as useful.
There can be a real disconnect between the robust reporting tools you have at your fingertips for virtually every aspect of your business, and the limited options available for payroll reports.
Because their system needs to accommodate hundreds, if not thousands, of clients, a payroll service is going to try to satisfy your need for information with an array of canned reports. They’ve carefully selected the most commonly requested information and provided it to you automatically. Maybe they’re following the old “80/20” rule, and figure if they provide their customers with 80% of the information they want, there won’t be many complaints.
Of course these reports are “canned” in more ways than one. Not only are they designed to be useful for most (but never all) companies, they also are locked into a particular format. The more cutting-edge payroll servicers will send you reports on a jump drive in PDF format, which is great for viewing but nearly useless if you want to do anything but look. The rest send you information printed on a neat stack of paper, pre-drilled to fit into a dust-collecting payroll binder.
Square Pegs, Round Holes
The truth is that the broad assortment of canned reports doesn’t fully satisfy any business. That’s why your payroll provider likely has a report writer — because they understand that they are only giving you the square pegs, but you need to be able to fill the round holes, too. They’ve created only the reports that are needed by the largest percentage of their clientele, and then given you a tool — the report writer — for creating anything else you’ll need.
That sounds good on paper, of course, but these report writers are pretty complicated and surprisingly inflexible. Not at all user-friendly, expect a steep learning curve to learn how to fully utilize their features. If you’re short on time or resources, you can usually have your servicer create a custom report for you instead of using the report writer. For a fee.
Whether you sweat through creating the reports yourself, or pay the extra fee to have your servicer do it for you, the report still won’t be generated with realtime data. In fact, it will probably still be generated in a form that’s look-but-not-touch: PDF or paper.
Real Reporting Meets Real Business Needs
This isn’t 1950, when business documents were cranked out by the typing pool with reams of carbon paper. It’s not even the 1990s, when faxing was state-of-the-art. A decade into the 21st century, companies need to have visibility into all aspects of their business, including payroll. The reporting options for payroll are a generation behind where they need to be.
Custom reports shouldn’t have to take a specialist to write. A custom payroll solution is designed for your staff, with a user-friendly interface that’s intuitive from the start and backed up by training and support.
There’s also no good reason why you shouldn’t be running payroll reports which are dynamic, generated in real time, and integrated with the other systems your business is running on. What percentage of your overhead is related to payroll? Are you comfortable with that data that important being locked into stale paper reports?
To find out how you can bring your payroll reporting up to the standards you demand from each of your other cost drivers, Contact us for a free consultation about your payroll needs.