Pressing The Buttons


Wouldn’t it be great if, when we go to do our payroll every period, the software allowed us to just
“press the buttons”? Personally, I think this is a long way off and here’s why:

- We have to rely on our employees filling in their timesheets correctly. Yes, they can do this
in the software these days, but it still needs to be checked and authorised by a manager
before the buttons can be pressed. Unless, of course, all your employees are salaried and
then you can just set and forget…. or can you?

- What about annual leave requests, sick days, time in lieu etc etc. All of these need to be
monitored. It would be a mistake to not check what employees are entering in their
timesheets. Errors and fraudulence are still around. Human nature.

- The Holidays Act makes it very difficult for any payroll software to cover each and every
scenario. There are so many choices which have to be made in order to ensure the correct
calculations are being used. Yes, the Holidays Act defines the flow of these choices, which
competent software developers can achieve a solution to, but there are always the “messy”
scenarios. The one-off scenarios relating to one person’s circumstances at one point in time.
I believe it is impossible for any payroll software to cover the messy ones.

- Not all software programmes are equal – do you know that your software is getting it right?
Some are clearly getting it wrong and need to fix it fast. What would you say to a labour
inspector if you were found in breach of the Holidays Act? Would you blame the software?
That won’t wash unfortunately as MBIE place the blame squarely on the employer. So, you
should try to understand what your software is doing in the background. A lot of it comes
down to setting up correctly in the first place and then ensuring the on-going data is being
entered correctly. How do you do that if you set and forget? You can’t, actually. You need a
human eye over it. A sanity check.

- Machine learning and artificial intelligence are current buzzwords. Advances in this area are
amazing. Many of these advances are still in their infancy and a human eye is watching over
them carefully all the time. I know accounting and payroll software do not fall into the same
risk category as a lot of these new technologies, but the concept is the same.

The one thread that pulls through all of the above is the human element. Where there are humans
involved, there are endless scenarios and possibilities. This is why I think, for the time being, you
cannot just press the buttons. You need that sanity check.

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