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Switching to an outsourced payroll provider can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation and implementation plan, it can be a smooth transition. In this article, we will discuss the best practices for creating a successful transition plan when outsourcing your business processes. We will also cover how to effectively communicate with your employees during the transition process and explain why parallel testing is important for ensuring a successful implementation.

What makes a difficult payroll transition successful?

A successful payroll transition is imperative to an organisation’s continued success. It is also essential for employee confidence in the new process, payroll technology and/or provider. In order to make this transition as smooth and successful as possible, it is important to have a plan in place for the change.

HR and Finance Depts will have different requirements, e.g., payslips and interpretation of same will be on the HR Manager’s radar, and finance will most likely want post-payroll reporting for accounts costing and analysis such as GL integration. Always ask any new provider what level of resources will be required on your side for under payroll, HR and Finance roles.

You can do a risk assessment for potential issues that could come up with your transition, the main issues being Revenue transition (agency link timing) and bank payments for net pay and (say) third party payments ; so, is a just compatible bank file needed, or do you need payments made by the provider via their payments section? Both will have different requirements and timelines to get in place.

Planning Your Move: How to Transition to a New Payroll Provider

In order to ensure that the employees’ experience of the organisation is not disrupted, there should be a process in place to communicate these changes with them. The plan of action might include emailing the staff members informing them about the transition and the time frames. It is also important to have a backup plan in place for when things do not go as smoothly.

An experienced payroll provider will be able to anticipate the likely challenges based on your current payroll setup and mitigate against these challenges. Preparing for a smooth transition to a new payroll provider requires careful planning and coordination.

10 steps to ensure a successful payroll transition

1. Identify your needs

Assess your organisation’s payroll needs and determine what features and services you require from a payroll provider. Consider factors such as the number of entities and employees, payroll frequency, Revenue transition timing, pay and deduction configuration, benefits administration, and post payroll reporting needs such as third-party files for integration with your current technology or third-party providers.

2. Research and select a payroll provider

Do thorough research to identify reputable payroll providers that offer the services you need. Compare their pricing, features, reputation, customer support, ability to integrate, automation options and the overall employee experience on offer. Once you have selected a payroll provider, review and sign an engagement letter or contract with them to ensure you are covered for Data Protection/GDPR, etc.

3. Gather data

Collect all the necessary data required for payroll processing, such as employee information, YTD tax info, pay rates, deductions, benefits information, and bank account details. Ensure that the data is accurate and complete to avoid errors during the transition.  Ask the new provider if they can extract your current data from your payroll software.  Ask them for a checklist of what is needed for the particular implementation you have decided on.

4. Communicate with employees

Inform your employees about the upcoming transition and provide them with the necessary information, such as changes in pay schedules, internal cut-off points, and how they will access their payslips and tax documents in the new technology. Provide training with documentation or demo videos to help them transition easily.

5. Coordinate with your current payroll provider

If you are transitioning from an existing payroll provider, communicate with them to understand their processes and timelines for transferring data to the new provider. Obtain all necessary reports, YTD data (if transitioning mid-year) from the current provider in a timely manner.  It is also good to ask your provider what implementation options are available to them, given the current time of year.  Some providers make it easy to transition by reducing the workload on you.

6. Set up the new payroll system

Work closely with the new payroll provider to set up the system according to your organisation’s requirements. This may include inputting employee data, pay and deduction configuration and setting up payroll schedules, tax settings, and other configuration options.  Moving provider is also the opportunity to tidy up legacy payrolls that have evolved over a long time and have many obsolete items. An experienced provider will ask if you wish to clean up old and/or rename elements/deductions for example, or configure them differently so they make the calculations for you when data is imported.

7. Test the system & conduct parallel payroll runs

Conduct thorough testing of the new payroll system to ensure that it is functioning correctly and producing accurate results. Verify payroll calculations, tax, PRSI and USC, pensionable pay definition and other key functions to identify and resolve any issues before going live.

Before fully transitioning to the new payroll provider, conduct parallel payroll runs to process payroll in both the old and new systems to ensure that the new system is producing accurate results and that employees are getting paid correctly.  It is also an opportunity to run a “penny test” on the bank file ahead of going live.  Your “live” parallel run would have the current system as backup before a “go” or “no-go” is determined

8. Go live

Once you are confident that the new payroll system is functioning correctly and all issues have been resolved, you can go live by processing your first payroll with the new provider. Monitor the first few payrolls closely for any discrepancies and address them promptly.

9. Train employees

Provide comprehensive training to your employees on how to use the new payroll system, including how to access their payslips, tax documents via myAccount, and other self-service features. Offer ongoing support and assistance during the transition period.  A good provider will have training videos and easy-to-read documentation for employees.

10. Evaluate and fine-tune

After the transition, evaluate the performance of the new payroll provider and identify any areas that may need improvement. Fine-tune the system and processes as needed to ensure smooth and efficient payroll operations.  Finally, the importance of an experienced implementer cannot be emphasised enough.  An experienced implementer will advise on the best approach to a payroll transition based on the following:

  1. Current payroll situation; in-house or with another provider
  2. Size and frequency of payroll(s)
  3. Access to data/software
  4. Time of year/target live date
  5. Appetite to automate your payroll process where possible
  6. Resources required for the project

By following these steps and dedicating sufficient time and effort to planning and coordination, you can prepare for a smooth transition to a new payroll provider and minimise disruptions to your organisation’s payroll process.