Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

FAQ

Payroll Integrity: What controls do you employ to manage payroll integrity?

Payroll Integrity: What controls do you employ to manage payroll integrity?

This is a very important question because it goes to the mechanisms which were designed to protect the integrity of your payroll operations.

The prime source of governance is our software’s use of workflow for controlling  key payroll operations:

  • Notification workflows send emails to recipients when pre-determined events occur. Example are, where an email is sent to an employee advising that their manager has authorised their timesheet, or where an email is sent  notifying an employee of an amendment to their roster.
  • Authorisation request workflows notify the recipient of an event and requests the recipient to carry out a responsive action. An example of this type is the payroll authorisation request workflow. When the payroll administrator decides that the payroll is ready for finalisation and payment, an authorisation request is sent with supporting documentation to  the Payroll Authoriser. Further progress on the payroll process stops until the payroll is authorised.  The workflow system plays a key role in managing governance of the payroll production processes.

Another key feature  is how the software  manages the  integrity of the payroll cycle. From the time a  payroll is authorised, no person is able to interfere with the payroll until the complete cycle is finished. This control is an effective defence against fraud.

A major source of overpayments is in the calculation of termination and redundancy payments. Our software calculates all termination and redundancy types, eliminating the potential for overpayments of these often high-value transactions.

The software’s audit module captures every change to the database. And whenever a process is initiated by a user an audit entry is recorded.  With these audit features a complete record of all system usage is available.

Finally, payroll integrity is dependent on the integrity of its infrastructure. We chose Microsoft’s Windows Azure as our preferred platform for two reasons: first, because the software is built on Microsoft’s development platform so compatibility and fit for purpose were important determinants; second, we employ Microsoft Azure’s Geo-replication facility, which creates a duplicate of our operating environment in a geographically separate data centre. Microsoft guarantees 99.95% availability under Geo-replication.

Security: How does your system manage security?

Security: How does your system manage security?

As a primary design principle, the database is designed so that information is indexed by unique customer and payroll numbers. This measure insures against data leakage, that is, the possibility that a user might access data belonging to a customer or payroll for which the user is not authorised to access.

A customer’s designated administrator defines roles which limit access to  application functions and to the actions that can be  performed on data items. There is no  limitation as to how many roles can be created. Each user is assigned to a role.

When an employee is created the software automatically assigns the employee a unique user ID and password. The access granted to each employee is restricted to the employee self-service features that the customer’s administrator has elected.

 

Our software applies user authentication features such as forced lock-out when maximum retries are exceeded for invalid passwords. All passwords are encrypted and additional password controls include: password ageing, incorporating password iterations and password changes with secret questions. User accounts may also be locked after a period of inactivity has elapsed.

Once a user has successfully logged-in, their use of the software is subject to more controls. The first determines which employees the user is allowed to access. The second is a set of four filters which operate independently and control access to employees’ financial data, to tax file numbers, to address and birth dates and to banking details. These factors manage organisational access to the key data resources of their employee and payroll information.

To counter the problem of matching the software’s security with a third party ad hoc query application, Payroll Metrics has developed its own query generator integrated with the software’s security.  Now, users can have unfettered access to information from a powerful ad hoc query generator with the confidence that sensitive information will not be exposed to the wrong recipients. A query can be published for use by all users, with the certainty that no user will see information that has been restricted.

So to summarise, our software has security designed into the kernel of our application. The result is that payroll Metrics’ software satisfies the most stringent customer security requirements.

Software release process: How does your software release process work?

Software release process: How does your software release process work?

To manage the issue of releases being made on average  every 18 to 24 months with  disruption to users, Payroll Metrics concentrates its development resources on a single instance or copy of the software, which is shared by all customers. Called multi tenancy, this is a more productive and more cost effective approach, allowing for more frequent software upgrades and faster delivery of the features that customers demand.

We refer to new versions of our software as Updates which we make available as often as every 3 to 4 months. For each update  we decide the software’s new functionality then the software is prepared under a strict software version control regime.  We subject the new update to three levels of testing. When the first two test levels have been successfully passed we document the changes and we prepare and schedule webinars to ensure that our customers are fully familiar with the new features. Prior to releasing new software updates we publish update notes to the customer web site.

Multi tenancy simplifies the release management process. In a traditional release management process, updates are distributed to clients. These updates then have to be installed by each client. With the multitenant model, the package only needs to be installed on Payroll Metrics’ infrastructure by Payroll Metrics’ staff. New Updates are usually installed on weekends. This simplifies the release management process and removes responsibility for installation and quality assurance from the client’s pay office  and IT personnel.

Training: What training strategies do you employ, for start-up and for changes to the software?

Training: What training strategies do you employ, for start-up and for changes to the software?

One of the key benefits of our software is its simplicity and the  minimal  time required for  payroll staff to become productive users.

The plan for your transition to Payroll Metrics includes a Training Plan. This plan defines the learning pathways to enable your pay office staff to become competent users of our software.

The plan also includes a learning path for your  employees and managers enabling them to use the self-service functions.

We  conduct training courses as face to face classroom-style  with a mix of instruction and workshop exercises in a location free from interruptions. Training can be carried out in your premises or at Payroll Metrics’ office.

Each training course is targeted at specific users and is designed to produce defined learning outcomes.

We have a library of videos which explain all software  topics on our customer web site.  The videos provide a reference source for users to review their knowledge.

Prior to releasing new software updates, we publish  update notes to the  customer web site. These notes explain the changes to existing features  and they explain how new features work. A video version of the update notes is also created. And the video library  is updated to include all changes in the latest software update. Whenever new updates are released we deliver instructional and Q and A webinars to ensure the user community is fully conversant with the new functionality.

Contact us for details of our training curriculum.

Transition: Please explain the transition process from our current payroll software to Payroll Metrics’ software.?

Transition: Please explain the transition process from our current payroll software to Payroll Metrics’ software.

We understand your pay office does not have the capacity to simultaneously manage your current payroll while transitioning to a new payroll. We are aware of this reality and we have devised processes for an orderly transition without overloading  your payroll staff in the process.

Payroll Metrics has a four-step transition method for successfully moving new customers from their current payroll applications to our software. The steps are: Diagnosis, Transition, Training, and Operational Stabilisation.

Step1: The Diagnosis is a discussion between your pay office staff and a Payroll Metrics representative, further discussions may be required with your finance staff.

The outcome of the diagnostic is to produce:

  • A statement of your current payroll  processes covering how you distribute and collect timesheets, how you collect employee change data and how you distribute payroll information to  the organisation including employee payments, state revenue payments and ATO payments,
  • A definition of your interpretation of award and/or enterprise agreement conditions,
  • Details as to how you manage  leave accruals and their reporting,
  • Details of your superannuation calculations and how payments are managed, and
  • Integration requirements with third party software such as your time and attendance, finance and HR software

 

Step2: The Transition Plan defines transition project milestones required to successfully complete the transition with the subordinate tasks required to achieve the milestones. The tasks assigned to your pay office staff are restricted where possible to providing information. Payroll Metrics staff project manage the transition, undertake the data conversion and perform and balance the parallel payroll runs.

Step 3: The Training Plan describes the learning pathways for the pay office staff to become competent to operate the new software. This step also incorporates a change management plan to introduce your employees to the self service module and to  develop the necessary skills to enable employees to use the self service functions.

Step 4: Operational Stabilisation, is designed to quickly establish operational stability with the new software. Our experience has proven that having Payroll Metrics staff working on site with your pay office staff is beneficial. Having this arrangement during the initial pay processes reduces pay office staff anxiety and enables the pay office to more rapidly develop confidence with the new software. The required length of time required for this process is defined in the Transition Plan.

 

Warranties and Indemnities: What warranties and indemnities does Payroll Metrics offer?

Warranties and Indemnities: What warranties and indemnities does Payroll Metrics offer?

To understand what Payroll Metrics offers, our agreement for services has to be explained:

First we warrant that “ we have the requisite technology, skill, personnel and ability to perform the services”.  Underlying this warranty is the experience of our team which consists of individuals with up to 30 years’ experience in managing and performing operational and software development roles in successful payroll service delivery organisations.

Second we warrant that “the statements and representations made when entering into a contract with you are accurate”. At the time we sign an agreement with you we are required to provide the levels of performance defined in the Service Level Agreement. It is our obligation to achieve that level of performance and to do so for the entire period of the agreement.

Third, we guarantee that our software performs as it is designed to. To ensure our software does not fail we rigorously test every update prior to releasing the new update into production. We want you to enjoy the best experience possible using our software. Should you experience a problem and report it to us,  we will put in place our incident management processes which are designed to identify and fix problems efficiently. We monitor our response times to incident reports against our target times and we report our performance. We regularly evaluate customer satisfaction through performance reviews and satisfaction surveys. Our commitment to you is to strive for continuous improvement.

Fourth, we do accept liability for our software. This liability is limited to the actual cost you incur resulting from an overpayment to an employee when you have used the software correctly  and the only cause of the overpayment was our software.

And last, to ensure the highest quality and service levels are provided to you we have chosen to deliver our cloud based software using Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform utilising their geo-replication service which guarantees 99.95% availability.

Customer support:  Please define your customer support processes.

Customer support:  Please define your customer support processes.

At Payroll Metrics we separate customer service into two categories, Incident management and Service Request management.

This is the first of two responses to the question and deals with Incident management.

We define an  incident as an unplanned interruption to the service or a reduction in the quality of the service. Incidents have priority over Service Requests,  and must be categorised and actioned when they are logged.

As a key measure to mitigate against incident occurrences,  all key infrastructure and application components are monitored by Payroll Metrics so that failures or potential failures are detected early.

All incidents are logged by our Service Desk regardless of how they are conveyed to Payroll Metrics.  It is important to log incidents even when they can be fixed quickly. This lets us know if an incident type is  occurring regularly, and  a decision may be made for developing a solution to reduce or eliminate further repetition of the incident.

An important objective of the incident management service is to “fix on first contact”. “Fix on first contact” means that the incident is diagnosed by the Service Desk, and a resolution is identified and applied. The incident is closed with the customer’s agreement that the incident has been resolved satisfactorily and can be closed.

Analysing the root cause of problems increases the number of “fix on first contact” outcomes for the Service Desk.

If the Service Desk is unable to resolve an incident or when target times for first contact resolution have been passed, the incident is immediately escalated for further support.

Incident ownership remains with the Service Desk for the life cycle of each incident regardless of where an incident is referred to. The Service Desk remains responsible for tracking progress, keeping customers informed and ultimately for incident closure.

When a resolution has been found, testing is performed to ensure that recovery action is complete and that normal state service operation has been restored. Regardless of the actions taken or who does them, the incident record is updated with all relevant information and details so that a full history is maintained.

The Service Desk  makes sure that the incident is fully resolved and that customers are satisfied and willing to agree the incident can be closed.

 

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