SAP Payroll Reporting

additional tips to streamline your payroll process
Part Three B: Additional Tips To Streamline Your Payroll Process
Part Three B: Additional Tips To Streamline Your Payroll Process 1024 512 SpinifexIT

Darren Souter shares additional tips on how organisations can streamline their SAP Payroll processes, including considerations for SAP HCM reporting and document generation, payroll testing, and employee help desk.

Previously, I have spoken about some of the areas in payroll that can be streamlined with huge savings possible. The previous section discussed several items including the Payroll Control Center and Reporting within the Payroll System. Today’s article will continue to highlight several key areas that we see everyday in our discussions with our customers.

For many customers, the only method of automated communication to the employees is through their payslips. However, there are often many manual processes that require data within the payroll system.

Some of the following areas have quite a manual process in many organisations:

  • Pay Reviews and Increases – Letters or documents to highlight old/new Pay Details
  • New Hires and Position Changes – Letters to highlight new Position/Job details
  • Changing Jobs / Positions – Creation of new Employment Contracts
  • Termination Letters – Reporting of Termination Pay and Leave Balances
  • Total Reward / Compensation Letters – Document to describe full pay details, benefits and employment conditions

Whilst SAP provides items such as payslips to provide the employee’s payroll information, there is not too much in the way of other correspondence. This is due to the output being different for most customers, and often very unique.

Many of these adhoc requests are often done once a year. For most of these, it’s very much like reporting where there can be quite a manual process around extracting and manipulating the data just to get it together. Once the data is available it will be formatted into a document, letter, or form often with mail merge.

There are a few ways that I have seen customers build these processes. These include:

  • SAP Smartforms / HR Forms – It is possible to build a Smartform, which accompanied with an ABAP report can produce correspondence to the employee. This is often a great way to build the letters and documents your organisation requires. While this has no additional hardware or licensing costs, the downfall is that it requires a developer to build these and then any modifications will require further development work. 
  • Adobe Forms – This is similar to Smartforms, and allows you to build customer specific documents. Like Smartforms, this is a good option, but keep in mind it does require an expert to build these, and in this case, it likely will require additional licence costs.
  • MailMerge – Many customers use mail merge to create letters and other correspondence. This is often passed information from an Adhoc Query, Report or Excel Extract. This is a good way to produce a document that you often need to produce. The downfall is that the data and correspondence often needs to be manually put together.
  • Manually – The above processes each have different levels of automation. The most common process is to simply update word templates or documents manually. This means filling in fields manually with data from SAP. This is the most manual and error-prone process and whilst it will be good for minimal letters per year, it has the most overhead, so should be avoided when possible.

Employee Correspondence can be an area for streamlining your process as it often needs an expert to produce this type of report or document. Automated options such as SmartForms or AdobeForms will still require additional overheads of technical resources if any changes are needed.

CONSIDERATIONS: If you checked any of these, you might want to look at your document production processes.

SpinifexIT and Document Creation

Over the years, many of our customers have needed to provide complex information to the employee that needs to be formatted differently to a report. This is often output in the form of a PDF document that can show the data mixed with wording, graphs, pictures etc.

Through SpinifexIT’s Easy Documents and Strato document solutions, we have delivered to customers documents such as Total Rewards Statements, Employment Contracts, Statement of Earnings, Statement of Employment and Pay Review Letters.

These documents can be accessed through our Web Front end at the click of a button, rather than relying on older approaches including printing and distribution of documents.

Whether you are on-premise or in the cloud, you are going to have updates to your SAP environment. Legislative changes, new SAP versions, etc., will be loaded in throughout the year. If you have moved to Employee Central and/or Employee Central Payroll, suddenly your upgrades could be happening much quicker than your previous on-premise world. 

Whilst in many areas, you can just accept updates, the recommendation is that on the Payroll side, it is important to still have a process around checking these upgrades and updates. Especially as customers can have custom rules within Payroll, it is important to verify that this all works with the new functionality.

Things to consider here are:

  1. How to best check that the Payroll operates correctly after upgrading to the latest support packages
  2. Checking Year-End – There is often a need to reconcile the year-end figures before completing the year end process. This can often be a large and complex process.

One recommendation that I have seen many customers use is to have a process around these types of upgrades. One of the best processes I have seen many customers adopt is to ensure that in a TEST environment, the payroll runs the same after an upgrade as it did before.

The best way to do this is to have a process to extract all payroll wagetypes and compare that they are exactly the same before and after the upgrade. Whilst this is a manual process of extracting and comparing in tools such as excel, it is the best method I have seen to validate that the payroll is still producing the correct results. NOTE: This should be performed with results that are the same or close to production data.

We would recommend being aware of these and talking to your implementation partner if you have any concerns that you might be at risk with any of these areas.

CONSIDERATIONS: If you checked any of these, you might want to talk to your implementation partner about how to streamline this better.

SpinifexIT Tools To Streamline Update Testing

Whilst most of the payroll checking process can be done manually, there are always better ways to do this. Many of our customers use SpinifexIT’s Easy Reporter solution to do before-and-after data comparisons in their system. 

In addition, SpinifexIT’s Easy Clone allows you to copy groups of employees directly from a production system to a test system without the need for doing a full system copy. This is often a very useful process that streamlines testing of these upgrades as you can pick a group of employees and always have 100% accurate production data in your test (and even development environments).

It is more on the rare side that a customer would go live with all HCM functionality in one go especially when a customer has multiple companies, entities and countries involved.

Therefore, as part of any implementation and support of an existing system, you should always consider that there is the need for continued roll out of functionality. Whilst this shouldn’t affect your existing system, those of you who have been through this would often know that there is often unwanted side effects from new countries.

It is just something that you should be aware of if you end up implementing new payrolls, or countries into the future especially when trying to alter existing configuration and/or settings for a new country (might also affect other countries if using common functionality).

Any upgrades to configuration should have a simplified process to check this. Being able to do before/after comparison of payroll results is very important to ensure that there is nothing broken with the new configuration.

I have decided to put a section on Year-End processing even though this is similar to reporting and reconciliation. But since it is a once per year process, and quite complex, we often talk to customers specifically about this process and how they handle it.

Whilst Payroll will pay the employees and SAP will also provide any legislative reporting needs around year-end, most customers have a manual process to reconcile and verify that payroll figures match the year-end reporting.

As this is often a time-consuming process, many customers have developed complex processes to check their year-end figures, often involving many extracts of data, excel manipulations etc. In most cases I have seen, this often involves running reports such as wagetype reporter to extract data out to a tool such as excel, and then comparing these values back to the values reported on the year-end solution. This is to have a process to validate the payments you have made to the tax office throughout the year.

This reconciliation also often needs to be done within a thin timeframe and is generally a different process for each country. Most customers have some sort of process, whether it is manual, an ABAP program or even something that SAP provides. No matter the way you reconcile, I would highly recommend to have a more optimised process here because most of the year-end reporting is based on configuration and it is often easy to miss something and not have it reported to your tax authority.

Year End processing checklist
CONSIDERATIONS: If you checked any of these, you might want to talk to your implementation partner about how to streamline this better.

SpinifexIT and Year-End

The Year-End process has actually been one of our early key areas of time savings for customers, and currently, we have a streamlined Year-End product for Australia, United States and Canada.

These solutions build on top of the standard SAP processes and streamline many of the areas that you might today have many manual steps around. Things like Reconciliation, Reporting on Year-End Figures, Distribution of Information out to the employees and many others are included in these solutions.

You may view our solutions for Australian Payroll Reconciliation and US/Canadian Payroll Reconciliation by clicking these links.

Many organisations do not consider this is something that they would streamline, but each pay, there are often many questions coming back to the Payroll Team (or a specific help desk team) with payroll queries. Some examples may be

  • Why has my pay gone down?
  • What is this Retro pay?
  • Is my tax correct?
  • How can I check if my leave balance is correct?

Many of these questions (and there could be dozens of variations), take time to investigate, analyse and report back to the employee. Often, having reports or letters available to answer these can help out, but it often isn’t considered as these are often adhoc requests.

Unfortunately, there is no easy standard answer to many of these types of scenarios, and in most cases, it comes down with having experts available to answer these questions or to investigate issues. Where you can, I would suggest looking at common requests and looking at ways to streamline how you answer these. Whether this is by using existing SAP reports to investigate, letters in pre-defined formats that can be filled in to help answer/explain queries or or just procedures on how to investigate some of these items. Without this mindset to look to improve your efficiency, then this will always be an overhead to your team.

Employee payroll queries checklist
CONSIDERATIONS – If you checked any of the following, you may have room for improvement with your help desk and query resolution

The above are just some of the areas that I have spoken to customers about over many years and hopefully gives you some ideas on areas that you might be able to focus on streamlining your day to day. 

Even today where we have customers moving part of their data into the Cloud, and even in many cases moving the payroll to the cloud (Employee Central Payroll), we see that these same processes that can be overheads to most customers can be streamlined.

SAP have made good progress through this streamlining with tools such as the Payroll Control Center, but in addition, SpinifexIT has specialised in this area and comes with great products and processes for further streamlining your payroll.

We would be happy to talk to you about any of the above processes and potential ways to streamline these items. Contact us at [email protected] or visit our website to book a discovery call.

You can also reply to this post and I’d get in touch with you the soonest.

***

VIEW RELATED ARTICLES

  1. Considerations for Payroll During Cloud Migration
  2. Payroll Considerations During an Employee Central Implementation (w/ a free downloadable checklist for you and your implementation manager)
  3. Streamline Your Payroll Process (Part 1)
  4. Additional Tips to Streamline Your Payroll Process (Part 2)
SpinifexIT can solve your bulk report distribution issues
How SpinifexIT Can Solve Your Bulk SAP Report Distribution Issues | July 25, 2018
How SpinifexIT Can Solve Your Bulk SAP Report Distribution Issues | July 25, 2018 1024 512 SpinifexIT

Click here to register.

Date: July 25, 2018

Time: 2:00 PM GMT+10 (Melbourne)

Host: Steve Horne

Many companies still struggle with their SAP Payroll Report & Document distribution processes.

We’re here to help!

In this live webinar, Steve Horne will demonstrate how Easy Reporter can be used to efficiently format reports and prepare them for sending to a set of targeted audience on a specific schedule. He will also show how Easy Documents can be used to format, compile, and send documents to individuals and groups.

Customers who are currently using both solutions will benefit from the tips and tricks Steve will be showing during the session. Immediately apply these new techniques to make your report and document distribution processes faster, better and easier!

Just heard about SpinifexIT solutions? Learn how our solutions created for SAP and SuccessFactors can bridge the gap between standard payroll & HR reporting and document generation activities, and an even more optimised way to run HR and payroll core processes.


Find out more about Easy Reporter and Easy Documents.

SpinifexIT blog streamline your payroll process
Part Three A: Streamline Your Payroll Process
Part Three A: Streamline Your Payroll Process 1024 512 SpinifexIT

If I was asked if I have ever seen a Payroll Team that has no room for efficiencies, I would have to say no. It is not to say that I do not see many totally smart and efficient processes, but with Payroll, there is always new challenges and changes, which means it is an often evolving process.

This blog will focus on some of the areas for efficiency where I have seen customers totally streamline their payroll. This means that they can do much more with existing resources and focus on providing many value adding solutions rather than just processing the payroll.

You will get the most out of this blog if you are using or planning to implement…

  • SAP Payroll On-Premise
  • Employee Central Payroll
  • Payroll using a managed service provider (ADP, NGA)
  • Running SAP Payroll On-Premise with Master Data in Employee Central

It is not always clearly known within an organisation, what it takes to get the employees paid. Whilst we would like to think it is is just a matter of hitting a magic button on pay day, it is never the case. Especially in the world of today, things get more complex and payroll is one of these.

Most companies have Payroll across multiple Countries, many Payroll Frequencies, Full Time Part Time, Casual Employees and many of these employees with individual employee pay agreements or with complex pay rules. Many customers have external Time and Attendance Systems feeding their payroll, and now many customers have integration from Employee Central to Payroll.

Phew – I feel tired just thinking about it.

In order to process a payroll, this often involves several days of data entry, trial payroll runs and validations leading into the payroll run, just to ensure the calculations are all correct.

Then, once the pay has been run, it is all over…?

No luck – This is when further processes need to take place. Things like distributing reports out to management, creation of pay statements, reconciliation of payroll (often local things such as taxes, vendor payments and other tasks such as year end), interfaces to other systems.

Along with these items, the payroll team often takes Helpdesk queries from employees on their pay (low pay, high pay, certificate/form requirements, etc). In some of the customers I see, this can be several hundred to several thousand calls in a month. In many cases, a team is specifically set aside for handling pay queries.

Then finally, there are key things throughout the year, such as pay increases, hires/terminations (often in mass), and year end processing. You also have the occasional updates and changes to calculations, and/or new payrolls coming on (as might be the case with a new acquisition or even merging multiple payroll solutions).

Most of us only see the paystub at the end of each week or month, but there is a lot that goes into getting this right. Now I really feel tired just thinking about the Payroll Teams around the world!

Making the Complex Simple

As I have visited many customers over the years, one of my interests, is to hear from customers about how they do all of these tasks in a normal week. In many of these cases, there are specialists within most organisations, who simply don’t go on leave at certain times of the year as they just can’t hand this off to anybody else.

Regardless of the area, I have always been interested in how to make it more efficient. This is why 15 years ago, I started to develop add-on solutions to SAP, of which I am proud to say are being used daily within hundreds of companies in most major countries around the world. These solutions have always been built directly with the customer in mind and over the years, these have evolved to a comprehensive set of solutions.

I will reference some of these below, but even if you are not interested in add-on tools, the following will give you an insight into some of the areas that you may be able to look at, to streamline a payroll department, in some cases just with standard SAP processes that you may not be currently using.

Ok – Lets start to look at some of the areas for improvement.

Changing the Mindset – Running Payroll (Payroll Control Center)

One of the key items that I hear when talking to customers is how they talk about Employee Central, and how this will change the way the employees are engaged with the HCM system. The User Interface is fantastic for giving an easy method to access the data, and the employees can update most of the data themselves.

The ability for employees to view and update the system directly gives a huge improvement to the way they can interact with the system.

However, at the same time, when I visit many of these customers, from a Payroll perspective, it is very common that the Payroll Team is still logging into the SAP system through SAPGUI screens and executing Payroll directly from here.  Other customers may be using WebGui, or NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC).

However, it is not really changing the way how the Payroll Team work day to day.

There are some good things to consider though. One of these is a newer Payroll Solution that SAP delivers in the latest releases called the Payroll Control Center.

This has been around for over 3 years now, and over this time I have been privileged to have seen it’s evolution from the initial concept of a streamlined way to check and examine payroll errors to then being able to execute the payroll process. Over this same period, the configuration and setup of this tool has been made simpler, and I believe it is now a solution that customers can greatly benefit from.

The Payroll Control Center allows you to now run the end to end payroll process (including identifying and examining payroll errors), all through a nice user interface that can be executed directly from Employee Central.

One real benefit of this, is that the upskilling of a new employee in the payroll team can be much less as they have a clearly defined process and simpler steps for running payroll. Especially if you have a complex payroll with multiple steps and different countries or payroll areas, where the Payroll Control Center can cater for these in a defined process.

I believe the Payroll Control Center is now something that most customers should consider if they are looking at options to streamline some of their payroll processes.

The Payroll Control Center is a great option for organisations who meet this criteria

SpinifexIT and Payroll Control Center

Spinifexit Get to know Payroll Control Centre accelerator

SAP Delivers a standard Payroll Control Center Rapid Deployment Solution, which means you do not have to setup everything completely from scratch, but this still requires an implementation and a fair amount of Technical Expertise, especially if you want to customise the Validation Checks.

As an alternative to the standard SAP Solution, SpinifexIT has built our own Pre-delivered solution which leverages off of our Easy Reporter for quick deployment (With no technical knowledge) of the payroll validation checks. We have also built in many additional functions on top of the standard Payroll Control Center solution to streamline how this works and integrates into your day to day processes.For more information about the SpinifexIT Payroll Control Center Add-on, please click here.

Streamlining Payroll Reporting and Reconciliation

Almost every customer I visit will have some overhead for reporting internally. This need is constantly growing each year, as most customers are looking to use the information in the Payroll System to make better business decisions. Some examples of areas that are increasing in demands include

  • Greater need for auditing payroll, especially due to more complex employees
  • Need for getting information out to managers to better run their business
  • Creation of extracts into 3rd party solutions (Vendor Deduction Reporting is one example)
  • Reconciling Payroll

Standard Reports – SAP already delivers quite a few reports that cater for many of your common needs. Reporting of Wagetypes, Leave Balances, Infotypes and many other areas are all possible. However, when the standard reports don’t quite cater for the customer need, there is often the need to turn to other methods. Make sure your team checks for standard reports before looking at other options. Reach out to your implementation partner if your team is unsure what reports are available.

Adhoc Query – Many report requirements and especially those with Employee Master data, can be built through Adhoc Query. This tool allows your team to build the reports required without needing to resort to manual processes or custom development. This is a great way to build any reports your team may require, without much overhead.

Excel – The most common and simplest, but brings the most overhead. The common process is to run several existing SAP reports and extract the data into local files. These files can then be loaded into Excel or similar tools to create the reports or analyse the data as required. Sometimes this is the only quick and easy way to produce the reports you require. Keep in mind though that this can have a lot of manual work and overhead to create the reports, not to mention, susceptible to errors.

Custom Reports – Whilst this can be a time consuming process, many customers here turn to custom development to deliver what they want. This might be to get data which is not available through standard reports, or to build the formulas required, or just to simply display the report in a nice web format. This is a great way to streamline your reporting where you might currently have a lot of manual steps to create a report.

Lastly, whilst many of the report needs are at the company level, there is often many adhoc requests from different departments and managers for information throughout the year. These requests are sometimes once off or recurring every pay or monthly. All of this can add much overhead to the payroll team. Often there is no way around these adhoc requests. If possible, try to reuse some of the above processes, especially if these adhoc requests start to become common requests.

SpinifexIT and Reporting

This is an area that SpinifexIT has specialised in for over 15 years. Payroll Reporting and Reconciliation are part of the core value add solutions that SpinifexIT provide.

The existing SpinifexIT Easy Reporter has access to the majority of the Payroll HCM data, and over the last few years, has made this data accessible through the Web Reporting menu. This allows execution of reports directly from Employee Central which then gives employees or managers direct access to some of the core payroll information.

These reports can be accessed through our Web Front end at the click of a button, rather than relying on older approaches such as ABAP, or Extraction of Data and manipulation in Excel.

 Summary

This blog has given an overview of some of the areas that can be streamlined in SAP HR and Payroll. There are many other areas that can also be streamlined, and these will be described in the second part of this blog. This will include areas such as

  • Employee Correspondence
  • Streamlining SAP Upgrades
  • Dealing with Configuration Changes
  • Year End processes
  • Helpdesk access to data to answer employee queries

Even today where we have customers moving part of their data into the Cloud, and even in many cases moving the payroll to the cloud (Employee Central Payroll), we see that there are still many manual processes around the payroll team which could be streamlined.

SAP have made good progress through this streamlining with tools such as the Payroll Control Center, but in addition, SpinifexIT has specialised in this area and comes with great products and processes for further streamlining your payroll.

We would be happy to talk to you about any of the above processes and potential ways to streamline these items.

Spinifexit webinar sap payroll reporting solutions update
Webinar – What’s included in our 2018.R2? Here’s a quick overview.
Webinar – What’s included in our 2018.R2? Here’s a quick overview. 1024 508 SpinifexIT

Click here to register.

Date: July 19, 2018

Time: 1 PM, EST

Host: Paige Elkins

Medium: Go To Webinar

2018.R2 goes live on July 23, 2018. We’re excited to show you our latest updates and enhancements and we’ve prepared this short webinar to give you a preview. Paige Elkins gives you a quick summary of what’s included in our 2nd release for 2018.

Following her overview, she will teach you how to access the new enhancements and features in your SpinifexIT solution once you upgrade to the latest version. The session runs for 30 minutes. 

Register here to attend.