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Why payroll needs its own solution

Payroll is specialist, niche and complex, so technology for the function should not be an afterthought. Padraig Gill, director at Intelligo, explains why it deserves a single solution.


When I was growing up, I always believed that some people were naturally good at everything. In school, there was this one super smart kid. Marcus excelled at absolutely everything: he was a natural athlete and academically always shone. And to top it all off, the girls loved him. Marcus, in my eyes, could walk on water.


With the rare exception, nobody can really be great at everything though. The same is true for software and systems. Payroll is often a module or part of a larger system. It might be all wrapped up in a human capital management (HCM) suite or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, with an offering that includes everything from finance and HR to CRM and planning. These, like Marcus, are seemingly brilliant at everything, but are they actually great at some things and mediocre at others? How many times have you heard someone say product X is fantastic for finance, but their HR is just okay? Or product Y has a fabulous HCM platform, but their payroll is only alright?


Best of breed

Techopedia describes a best of breed system being the best system in its niche or category. It performs specialised functions better than an integrated system. With a much narrower area of focus, best of breed is generally more flexible and less complex than the equivalent ERP module. It isn’t deeply embedded in a larger suite that is trying to solve every jurisdiction’s problem with one monstrous application. It doesn’t try to be all things to all people.


The companies and people that develop best of breed applications don’t have some experience in all fields, they have extensive experience in a select field.


Payroll is specialist, niche and complex. It shouldn’t be an afterthought or a tack on to something else. It requires deep knowledge with dedicated development and support. You shouldn’t have to compromise your requirements by wedging them into a module - the system should be configured to your needs.


At Intelligo, we have met with many organisations that have had to fundamentally change the way they pay people in order to fit around a new system. This is barmy. A new system should never mean trade-offs or reduced capability. Imagine buying a new car and being told it’s faster than your old one, more economical and comfortable - but to achieve this, they’ve removed the indicators and you have only hand signals to use. It’s beyond comprehension.


Jack of all trades

So, is best of breed the right way to go? What about all those problems you hear from ERP providers: “you’ll fall between two stools” or “everyone will blame everyone else when something doesn’t work”. In the distant past, this was undoubtedly the case as the different technologies sat alone in isolation and ignorance of one another. With, however, the advent of agile APIs and certified connectors this is no longer the situation.


In fact, with some integrations, particularly in the case of certified connectors, it’s like you’re using a single system with data seamlessly flowing between them. Coupled with a tightly managed and integrated, multiple vendor approach, best of breed solutions deliver newer, richer, more innovative and modern solutions for highly specialist functional areas like payroll.


With best of breed, if one system isn’t working or needs to be replaced, you can swap it out and plug in a new system. With a single suite approach, if the system or vendor relationship goes south, there is no escape plan - you are stuck.


Having the best solution for each functional area is infinitely better than having a mediocre single suite solution that’s ultimately just a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’.


Not sure whatever became of Marcus though.


Reward Strategy and Intelligo will host a complimentary Masterclass explaining why key workers must understand the importance of a HR and payroll integration project, and just how to do it, in April. Register now.

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