“In the payroll world, you have to be 99.9% correct. The errors you make mess with people’s lives.” --Jim Bolek, Regional Advisor to the American Payroll Association.
By adopting the top five essential practices, payroll professionals adopt a way of doing business that leads to success for them and their organizations. Payroll professionals should do the following:
- Have good sources of information and advice.
- Be process-oriented.
- Think outside of your box.
- Plan ahead.
- Balance your life.
Information Wins - Good Information Wins More
As in any profession, it is helpful to have good sources of information. By joining local and national organizations, such as the American Payroll Association, payroll professionals have access to a wealth of information through websites, online classes, national and local events, and more. These sources provide you with knowledge, tools and networking opportinities to enhance your success as a payroll professional. A successful payroll professional has access to good information sources, including payroll software, onlines resources, reference guides and experienced mentors.
Concentrate Your Efforts on the Right Process
Be process oriented. According to The Hackett Group, best practice companies in the Fortune 1000 spend $85 per employee per year on payroll while others spend as much as $715 per employee. Achieving payroll best practices can provide a significant payback. "Best practice" refers to a proven technique or methodology that leads to a desired result through the use of knowledge, experience, research, and technology. Good business processes incorporate best practices. Without the right business processes, it is impossible to achieve desired results – especially in a company’s payroll.
Do not underestimate the importance of being process oriented when it comes to performing critical payroll functions for your company. Whether you are new to an organization or have been there for years, it is crucial to first understand your environment before creating and implementing new payroll accounting processes.
The Solution Might Exist Outside of the Box
Have you ever searched for car keys all over your house, only to find them in the car? Sometimes looking for a solution to a problem at work is like the search for those elusive keys, because the solution might exist in another department, or somewhere else outside of your work sphere. For example, a missing check from this month’s payroll run might be caused by a form entry problem in another department. The form may not have anyting to do with your process, so you probably wouldn’t be aware of it, but thinking outside of your area may lead you to discover the perfect fix for your problem.
“Payroll professionals should make the effort to become involved in other areas of the business. They may become aware of business processes that effect them downstream.”
There’s No Substitute for a Good Plan… Except Really Good Luck
Since we cannot rely on good luck to carry the day, we should devote time to creating a good plan. Having a good plan means we clearly defined the process and the goal of the process. It also helps us anticipate the problems that can occur down the road. Any good plan has the following elements: requirements gathered from all constituents with a vested interest in the results; a process that meets the requirements gathered; metrics used to measure the progress of the plan; and audit and analysis of results so the plan can evolve as needed.
The audit step cannot be overstressed. Federal and state governments continue to initiate new mandates and regulations, such as FMLA and FLSA, that affect payroll. These are easier to manage when you consistently audit current processes. Also, by defining metrics for success, the auditing process becomes seamless.
The Payroll Manager with the Most Friends Wins
Today, business moves at a breakneck speed, so it is easy to forget the softer side of life, like friends, family, or even pleasantries in the office. Work, work, work, that’s all that is really important, right? In fact, that could not be more wrong. You wouldn’t expect your car to keep on running if you did not change the oil and perform other maintenance on it during the year. Why would you expect to keep delivering the same energy at the office if you don’t maintain balance in your life? This has a direct effect on the business process.
Be willing and able to help others at the office. They are struggling with their tasks like you are struggling with yours. By working together, the struggle for each may become less. The payroll manager with the most friends wins.