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Robotic Process Automation – A Payroll Gamechanger For Accountants?

The classic accountancy payroll struggle

Payroll by its very nature is time consuming and technically complex.  Add to the traditional mixing pot that is payroll, Pension Automatic Enrolment and the introduction of Furlough and you can see why some accountants are now saying that enough is enough.

When it comes to payroll, accountants who aren’t specialised in it have the choice to either divert their attention away from their core business and take on their clients’ payroll or think outside of the box.

The classic solutions

There are two classic solutions open to accountants who have clients who need their payroll done accurately and on time.  First, they can recruit and employ payroll experts in-house and second, they can outsource their payroll to a payroll expert who works in the traditional way.

Taking on payroll in-house brings additional responsibilities in terms of compliance and training.  With payroll today being an ever-changing picture of complexity, making the decision to manage clients’ payroll in-house is a big responsibility.

However, when it comes to outsourcing, accountants worry that their reputation moves into the hands of their chosen payroll provider.  Get it right and it isn’t an issue.  Get it wrong and it can be catastrophic.  When employees expect their pay, they quite rightly expect it on time and correct.  When that doesn’t happen, answers are called for.

Introducing RPA

RPA or Robotic Process Automation to give it its full title is a payroll processing opportunity that, until recently has only been open to seriously big organisations.  Scaled to suit large enterprises, RPA enables payroll to be automated, resulting in significant savings without any loss in accuracy.  Until recently, this processing transformation was only economically viable for companies working at scale.  Payplus is delighted to announce that they’re at the forefront of changing this by providing an RPA solution to their accounting clients that has gone through all the rigorous testing that you’d expect.

How RPA works

RPA is a clever mix of automated scripts, software agents and bots working together to carry out tasks at speed – accurately.  It removes the worry of human error and is surprisingly cost effective when planned and managed correctly.

The initial worry regarding RPA and payroll was that they weren’t typically suitable bedfellows.  The complexity of payroll activities, the absence of intelligent decision-making processes and its traditionally manual nature were seen to be barriers to an effective transition to automation.  However, the last few years have seen digitization show its true possibilities. 

RPA – why it’s a potential gamechanger for accountancy firms

If you’re an accountant that has your eye taken off your core business ball by payroll, then it’s time to sit up and listen to the great opportunities that RPA could hold for your business.  The 4 key payroll areas that are being transformed by RPA are:

  1. Data collection. Pulling together all the data required for payroll is a constant source of frustration for payroll professionals because it’s such a time-consuming task. Standardisation, reconciliation and maintenance are just three of the bugbears most often cited by payroll professionals.  RPA brings these elements together making it simple to format and update.
  2. Data access. One of the biggest challenges is where there are enterprises either with multiple sites or multiple formats of information.  This really is a part of the payroll process that can consume enormous amounts of time and resources.  When you choose RPA payroll the layers of complication are replaced by one global framework.
  3. Data accuracy. Data accuracy is of paramount importance in payroll for obvious reasons. Manual validation however is both a time-consuming process and one that leaves plenty of space for human error.  RPA brings compliance, speed and ensures that regulatory requirements are met.  A final bot check means that the RPA process is complete.
  4. Task handling. Payroll is a repetitive process by nature.  Things like data transfer, the creation of payslips and the distribution of benefits are just a handful of the things that happen week after week, month after month and year after year. RPA enables the process to be put in place once and thereafter to operate on a ‘rinse and repeat’ basis.

RPA – in-house or outsourced?

There are various benefits to this way of working, not least the opportunity to free up human resources so they can generate real value in the accounting process, rather than performing repetitive tasks over and over again.  It’s clear to see that working this way makes great sense both in terms of cost, accuracy and time.  But is this something that most small to medium sized accountancy firms could or would want to bring in-house?  The likely answer to that right now is no, which means that the best solution is generally to outsource.

With RPA payroll being a relatively new concept, it’s not every payroll provider that can offer you this facility as an option.  That’s where forward-thinking companies like Payplus are able to punch above our weight and bring you a solution that’s not only time and cost efficient, it has also been put through its paces by our thorough testing procedures.

Payplus RPA solution

Motivated by the operational and service changes imposed on payroll processing by COVID-19, Payplus saw RPA as the light at the end of the tunnel.  Relieving some of the manual tasks was priority and being able to spearhead an offering for accountants that would further secure our already strong foothold in the processing payroll for accountants’, Payplus worked with automation experts, Lawrence & Wedlock to accelerate transformation and make the COVID payroll pain slightly easier to bear all round.

A UK based payroll bureau, already reputed for top quality payroll services for small and medium sized businesses, embracing the opportunities offered by RPA was the natural step forward for us.  An ideal way to differentiate ourselves in the market, we are proud to have put RPA payroll through its paces and are now able to roll it out to our forward-thinking accountancy customer base.

In our next article, we’ll outline how we’ve embraced RPA and created an automated payroll solution for accountants that we believe is second to none.  If you’d like to discuss how this could add real value to your business, reach out.  We’d love to hear from you.

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