This is a Guest Post by Michael G Pullman of FranchiseeConnect.com, 2 August 2015

payroll systemsIn my work with franchisees and small business owners I’ve found the businesses that run the smoothest have completely eliminated paper forms from their payroll process. With a good online system for requesting leave and tracking staff details you can save a good portion of your admin staff’s (or your) time – I’ve seen 80% reductions in the amount of admin time for payroll.

Ever lost a paper form?

Going paperless is a big step but there’s resources out there to help you. With an online system to replace your paper forms you also remove the risk of paper getting lost. How often do you hear a person in the office scrabbling around at their desk, frantically trying to find one piece of paper?

By putting all the forms employees need online in the one place you’ll help staff avoid that last-minute panic before pay day.

Mistakes

I worked with a business just last week who ran what should have been a bi-weekly pay run. Except – they actually ran a pay run every week! Why? They needed run the first pay run to pay the staff, then the second pay run to fix the mistakes! These mistakes came from 3 areas:

  • missing timesheets from out of office staff
  • bad handwriting
  • data entry errors

Out of office staff

Today nearly every business has staff who work out of the office or work from home. Eliminating paper timesheets and paper forms means these staff members don’t have to waste time or mental bandwidth planning how they are going to get back to the office to fill out their paper forms for the week. They can simply fill them out online and submit no matter where they are.

Messy handwriting

Another big advantage of ditching paper forms is the messy handwriting problem. If you ask any staff member who does data entry they would tell you that at least half of your employees were doctors in a past life! Doctor’s handwriting is legendary for being messy since they think and write so fast. Many times payroll staff will receive a timesheet or change of details form and have to ask the person to fill the form out again because they can’t read the details – interrupting both employees’ workflow. Moving forms online eliminates this disruption completely.

Data entry

Data entry is one of the largest time-wasters in business today. Often businesses I work with have 3 or 4 separate systems that don’t talk to each other at all, and employees need to spend hours every week doing data entry to keep these systems in sync. Now many business systems will sync with each other and we can eliminate this wasted time. I’ve seen businesses completely change the information flows by implementing systems like NetSuite.

Options to replace paper forms

There’s many options for replacing paper forms in your payroll process. Here’s 3 that I’ve come across:

  1. Google Forms – with Forms you can create any form in any format you like, and the results will be put in a Google Spreadsheet ready for input into your payroll system. You can access Google Docs if you have a Google account.
  2. While it’s expensive, a fully-loaded payroll system will give you access to online forms and workflows, and might be worth investing in if you consider the savings.
  3. A lightweight bolt-on to your accounting system like Xero’s add ons

A quick note on number 3 – a lot of the major accounting systems have ‘bolt ons’ or ‘add ons’ now which add functionality to your accounting system at a low add-on price. Often the information collected in the add-on flows to the accounting system which reduces data entry.

Put your forms online to save time and money

By placing your paper forms online you’ll save yourself time, save your employees’ time, and reduce mistakes in the payroll process. In my work with franchisees I’ve found this reduces payroll admin time by around 50%, freeing up your admin employees’ time to do higher value business tasks like analysis and reporting – giving you further insights into the business.

For more time saving tips and automations, visit FranchiseeConnect.com’s blog articles and the online radio show – Franchisee Connect Podcast.