While inventions such as blockchain haven’t yet revolutionised the way we’re paid, technology is still having a massive effect on payroll.

Payroll software is now capable of automation, integration and communication, but before investing in a shiny new payroll solution, you should ask yourself what would really benefit your organisation.

As software developer Jeff Attwood said, “We have to stop optimizing for developers and start optimizing for users.”

So what do your users need?

Automation. Manual processes are time-consuming and risky. They tend to be either repetitive or rely on expert knowledge — and there’s often no back-up for when those experts are not available. Human error is a constant concern, particularly for organisations operating in more than one country, with risks of legislative non-compliance increasing along with the ever-changing pay, taxation, pension and insurance regulations. According to the Inland Revenue Service, approximately 33% of US employers make payroll errors costing them billions of dollars annually in penalties. Although tax regulations do vary across the US, there’s no reason to believe that the rest of the world’s payroll would be much more accurate. Automation reduces these risks and the time spent running payroll. But some global software solutions are more global than others. Automation needs to be backed up by payroll capability and expertise in the locations in which you have employees.

The cloud. All payroll solution providers offer cloud-based systems, and there’s a reason for this. A cloud-based platform greatly lowers the cost of ownership of the latest technology, while increasing the accessibility. Scalability alone should make opting for the cloud-based solution a no-brainer — upgrades are simpler and less expensive, so there’s no need to hang on to and maintain increasingly outdated technology. If your organisation’s needs change, you can adapt your payroll solution to match.

Accessibility. A cloud-based solution also means your employees can benefit from your technology at any time, using any device, no matter where they are. Employee Self-Service (ESS) can increase employee engagement by making it easier for your workforce to book holidays and look up their information, such as pension contributions and leave allowance. Manager Self-Service (MSS) makes it easier for manager to approve requests, as well as keeping an eye on budgets and costs. Self-service makes life easier for administrators, too, with some of the form-filling being taken over by employees, who have an interest in making sure the information’s correct.

Integration. Bringing together finance, HRIS systems, and ERP systems reduces costs and improves efficiency and compliancy, as well as giving an organisation a boost through improved collaboration and a huge increase in usable data. Having one single source of data will ensure that that data is ‘clean’, accurate and up-to-date (and information need only be entered once). The average multinational organisation has more than 60 different HR and payroll systems, making their operations a conundrum to anyone seeking to understand the company.

Real-time data. Decision makers will have access to the information they need in real time, enabling them to make plans and develop strategies based on more reliable data than if they were drawing it from disparate sources. An integrated system is likely to have reporting and analytics tools built in. This added availability of data is the benefit that turns payroll from a cost into a contributor to organisational strategy.

Security. Data is automatically fed through your payroll system. With less manual input and data duplication there’s less chance of any security problems. Integrated systems make it much easier to keep control of sensitive information. This is something that’s become even more important following legislation such as the GDPR, which affects any organisation (anywhere in the world) dealing with data from EU businesses or individuals, and can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of turnover for failure to comply.

Today’s global payroll solutions are a powerful tool that not only make running multi-country payroll easier, but also have major benefits in terms of analytics and strategy development. Choosing a cloud-based solution will mean easier implementation and access to new developments that are right for your organisation.

But remember, you’re not just buying the clever new technology, you’re also buying expertise and support, so make sure you choose a provider you can work with and you trust.