Excerpt from Wise Consulting White Paper: Handling the Resource Constraints of Everyday and Special Payroll Tasks


"Keep Payroll Running. How to Prepare a Backup Plan" 

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Keep Payroll Running: How to Prepare a Backup Plan

What happens if your payroll person retires, or has a sudden life change or illness causing an unscheduled leave of absence for a prolonged period?

Even in large or mid-sized organizations, the Payroll department is often fairly small—with some companies having only one or two people to handle the entire payroll function. With such limited resources, payroll is susceptible to a number of problems that other departments would never have to think about. But even small changes can affect payroll, and mistakes happen that can affect the entire company. Each pay period calls for employee changes, unique payments, and detailed review. There is no such thing as a regular payroll. Even doing a generic payroll run in a pinch will usually require cleanup afterward, thus extending the time it takes to do what would otherwise be simple if you already had a backup plan. 

Having a backup plan in place before a unplanned absence occurs is imperative in keeping payroll running efficiently, accurately, and in compliance. Here are some tips to begin putting a payroll back up plan into place.

#1 Write it down

It is not unusual for payroll personnel to have long tenure with their companies. They have been doing what they do for so long that it’s all in their heads. The trouble with this approach is that it often results in poorly documented or undocumented processes.

The first exercise is to begin creating documentation of every step of your payroll processes. Checklists will help you to handle procedures that include multiple steps for proper execution. Then invite someone from outside of payroll, or within the department who has other primary duties, to go through the steps and directions to see if they can execute a timely and accurate payroll run.  

#2 BEGIN a Prevention Plan

Schedule and make it a part of your plan to review and update checklists and preparatory documents at least quarterly for accuracy. Ensure that the documents are updated to reflect any procedural, system or policy changes. This is also a good time to have an outside resource to come in again and run payroll with the updated documents. This is an even more vital step if there have been significant changes in procedures, systems or policies.

#3 Cross-Train

Whatever the size of your payroll team, training somebody else in your organization is imperative as a backup plan. If there are multiple members on the team, cross training is another option. Your new documentation is the best training tool. 

#4 BACK-UP Third Party Support 

To address times of change, or when internal resources are particularly tight, a third-party partner is often the most effective solution. They can step in and take over additional tasks that would otherwise overburden your payroll department and they come to the table with extensive HR/Payroll experience. Additionally, they can often refine your processes or identify errors that your internal team had not noticed.

Employees must be paid correctly every pay period, every time. However, unexpected things happen all of the time. Just because a payroll person has been with your company for many years doesn’t mean they’ll be there forever. Planning ahead by preparing a Backup Plan and partnering with a third-party consulting firm like Wise Consulting to assess your operation and be there to expertly fill in the gaps is your safeguard against any future unexpected absences.

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Focused on Human Resources and Payroll consulting services, Wise consultants have technical, functional, and operational knowledge and experience in human capital management systems. A Ceridian partner since 1996, Wise Consulting Associates has unrivaled experience in all Ceridian legacy products, and we began working with Dayforce WFM and HCM upon their initial release. The company has provided support for Ultimate Software’s product suite since 1998.  The Wise advantage comes from our extensive, hands-on experience and certification, combined with an in-depth knowledge of UltiPro. Learn more about us at www.WiseConsulting.com

Our in-depth system knowledge includes: 

Managed payroll
System utilization
Payroll support
Vendor selection
Mergers, Acquisitions and Spin Offs
Human resources HRIS
Payroll benefits
Compliance responsibility
Reporting / Data Conversion
Project management
Change management


www.WiseConsulting.com • (800) 654-4550
Solving HR/Payroll Technology Challenges. Taking On Payroll Staffing & Complexity.


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