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John Dijns

John Dijns is Productline Manager at Exact where he is responsible for the development of Dutch Payroll solutions. Currently the Payroll development team is working on enhancing Exact Online Payroll. This is the most recent Payroll product. Exact Online is the first SaaS solution to both offer a Financial and Payroll solution on the same platform.

Payroll Service Providers: Hurry up!

Written by John Dijns on . Posted in Exact Online

In a previous blog I discussed how the world of Payroll Service providers is changing – more work for less pay and the value-added process shifting from administration to advice. At Exact Online Payroll we’re responding to this, creating features that improve efficiency and effectiveness for payroll administrators – mainly in relation to the primary payroll process. I’d like to share some of these new developments with you below.

Startup by importing a payroll tax declaration
Setting up a new administration in EOL Payroll by importing an old payroll tax declaration from a previous payroll application will allow you to make a flying start. All employees are already created and entered into service. Only information not included in the declaration has to be entered manually – like the salary and job description. We’ll soon release a mass update feature allowing you to enter these things in one, avoiding having to edit every employee manually. Most Collective Labor Agreements (CLA and NL: Cao) are supported in EOL Payroll so selecting the right one will get you going really quickly.

Let your customer enter variable mutations
Clients of payroll professionals will usually send their variable mutations via fax, paper or Excel, often using a matrix like structure with the people in service that period versus variables like overtime, declarations or vacation days.
In EOL Payroll you can define this matrix, deciding which components are shown and naming them in a way the client understands. The client can then logon and enter his variables mutations in a matrix that’s always up to date. This eliminates the payroll administration having to import these mutations or, even worse, enter them manually.

Entry variable mutations (Click for enlargement)

Check and send the right reports to the client
Clients operate across various branches with specific CLA’s and many different calculations. Part of the payroll process is checking the calculation and, if approved by the payroll administrator, sending the required reports to the client.
EOL Payroll supports this by allowing you to define what reports and overviews you would like to check or send to a specific client. This allows you to have a compact list of to-be-checked overviews and reports that you would like (have) to check before giving a run your stamp of approval. Once it is approved the defined reports are automatically generated, linked to a single document in the digital archive and optionally sent to the client by e-mail. This could even include the payment file that the client can import into his bank application to pay his employees. After the check, a single click then wraps up the payroll process.

Check cockpit (Click for enlargement)

E-mail the employees
Digital payslips are becoming more and more commonplace – a good thing as they are both environmentally friendly and much cheaper (no paper, printing, handling or sending costs).
Exact believes in digital payslips and supports them in EOL Payroll.
Payslips to employees can be automatically sent after finalizing a period or started as a separate step. Per client you can choose to send the payslips to the employee’s private or work e-mail account or send all payslips together to the employer in pdf. Payslips mailed to employees that have left service or don’t have a mail account can be directed to a specific ‘on error’ mail account or to the employer. The process is made simple, with any deviations handled by the employer (who obviously knows his employees best) rather than the payroll service provider.

Payslip e-mail (Click for enlargement)

Up to the fifth gear
While all of the aforementioned features apply to specific employers, a payroll service provider must also support multiple employers at the same time. In order to take things up a notch EOL payroll has introduced the Payroll Process Overview.
In the overview you can apply all the features mentioned above for multiple periods and multiple employers at once. Finalizing payroll runs, sending period documents, payslips and payroll tax declarations can all be done from the one place. Furthermore, you can monitor the status of the agreed timing for all actions and tax declarations. If further investigate is required you can easily drill down into the selected process step for the specific administration. To customize the view you can label each administration with a self-defined category or a user responsible for a specific client. More info in the Payroll Process Overview can be found here.

Payroll Process Overview (Click for enlargement)

To wrap up we can say that with EOL Payroll the Payroll Service Provider is ready for the heightened demand of the Payroll service market. We can also give you our promise that we will continue to innovate to match the needs of even your most demanding clients.
If you wish to discuss the payroll service market or any aspect of this blog don’t hesitate to send me a mail!

John Dijns
Product Line Manager Payroll

In the past everything was better

Written by John Dijns on . Posted in Exact Globe, Exact Online

“In the past everything was better” growled Henry McOld to Bill Fast, the new payroll administrator on his first day with McOld & Change Accountants. “In the old days our customers received something tangible for their money. Every morning I was greeted by 18 ladies typing out the payroll slips for customers in our typing room. Back in 1955 we had 5 trucks delivering the moneybags with the payslips to our clients. We knew our clients and they knew what they were paying for.”
“Oh yes, I can see that things have certainly changed a lot” murmured Bill to the old partner and founder of the company. “Don’t be fooled by Mr. McOld, son” said Max Change, the other partner at the firm. “He’s not as conservative as he sounds. Nowadays we do things quite differently, focusing on adding true value for the customer.” 

room full of typists

Over time Payroll calculation changed dramatically, not least with the computer’s arrival. Manual calculation disappeared. Payroll service providers began to focus on entering variable transactions and printing Payroll slips and other reports. Modern payroll applications suddenly required a great deal of maintenance, expert knowledge required to operate them. Our customers knew that a great deal of work was involved in doing payroll and accepted its price accordingly.
The clients of Payroll service providers come mostly from the lower and mid end of the SMB market – companies not large enough to employ their own payroll administrator. These types of companies usually outsource their payroll administration to accountants that providing general administrative and accounting services, or to specific Payroll service providers.

Nowadays the ‘per payslip’ price a payroll service provider can ask is under pressure from competition. Administrative work is no longer considered a value-adding service but rather a necessary ‘evil’ to be done at the lowest cost possible. Software can play a vital role in this challenge for those providing administrative services. Newer applications like Exact Online Payroll offer increased process automation and are shipped with predefined collective labor agreements.

Transaction entry, as done by an entire typing department in McOld’s youth, will soon disappear altogether. The software chain now extends as far as the customers themselves. Via the internet, they can enter their information into the Payroll application from anywhere. Focus on user experience improvements also means that for entry of data in Payroll applications, payroll expertise is no longer demanded. Digital is the new standard. Paper output will disappear, following the examples set by the banking and telecom industries. Who needs paper when you can look up the info you need any time online?

Eventually administration for administration’s sake will disappear altogether. The future will only be concerned with activities that really add value to a business. For payroll services this will, for example, involve reducing sick-related absenteeism, advising on the choice between flexible and fixed labor and improving employee motivation. Bookkeeping is done in the background as a derivative of activities that you want to register.

And the future is already closer than you might think. A great share of these concepts is already possible through SaaS applications like Exact Online Payroll. Bill Fast, the new payroll administrator at McOld & Change Accountants, might find it a pity that he’ll never be greeted by a room full of smiling typists, but at least he can take comfort in his customers genuinely valuing what he does!

Payroll Process Automation: Payroll efficiency in an e-world

Written by John Dijns on . Posted in Exact Online

The world is changing and we all know it. The internet is changing the way we work, live and the way our society works. The implication of being connected 24/7 via our mobile devices has an impact on our mindset and expectations.

People nowadays get annoyed if you don’t reply to their e-mail the same day and wonder if you’re okay when you don’t reply to a text message within the hour.  And it’s not just our friends that we treat this way. We also expect real time response from the companies we interact with and whose services we pay for – like your payroll service provider (PSP). The acceptable margin for error has in the same process been reduced. With the current level of IT integration in our lives we expect agreements to be met in the way we agreed them – not what we almost agreed on.  To increase the challenge, we can also see that a greater transparency in the payroll service market is putting pressure on prices, thus further increasing the need for efficiency. How will we manage? Assuming that a workday still has 8 hours, things must change in order for us to support real time communication with our clients and still improve our efficiency. An answer is Payroll Process Automation.

Let’s consider the payroll routing as a logistic process. This is possible for almost any process where information from point A is transformed and routed to point B. For Payroll this means starting at the entry of variable mutations and ending at the sending of the period documents (like payslips, a payment advice list and the financial entries) to the client of the PSP.

The start of this process should be triggered by the party providing the information, in this case the client. After the client approves his entries (in Exact Online Payroll the client can already preview the payslips) the PSP can go ahead and check the calculation. If happy he can either ask the client for approval or immediately finalize the calculation. Upon finalizing he starts the remaining, completely automated part of the process.

The thought is that all agreements made between the PSP and the client are entered into the application so that, all other things being normal, repeated actions can be automated. The PSP and client should always remain in control but shouldn’t have to spend time on processes that don’t really need their attention. A lot of steps are therefore setup to initiate the next one automatically, improving overall efficiency and reducing the chance of error. The PSP can then spend more time advising his client or reduce the marginal costs per payslip.

In Exact Online Payroll we are working towards delivering this vision. Many steps are already or will soon be available. Currently we are testing steps 6, 7 8 and 9 – the steps that allow delivery of payroll output to be completely automated. We will release them before the end of 2010. Only steps 4 and C remain, allowing the customer to approve the draft output and possibly start the finalizing of the payroll period. These last additions will be available in 2011 and complete the full automation of the payroll process.

We are very excited about this development and love sharing this with you. If you feel you would like to know more about this, don’t hesitate to ask for a demo!


(The above QR codes can be read with an app on your smartphone. More info on QR codes can be found here.)

Photo credit: R o s e n d a h l

Don’t get hung up on your old application

Written by John Dijns on . Posted in Exact Online

For the people below 25 it might be hard to realize that mobiles and internet have not been around forever. There was a day when meeting up with friends required precise planning and catching up meant repeating stories over and over.

It’s hard to imagine that the first mobile phone was introduced in 1973 and that 17 years later, in 1990, 12.4 million people worldwide had mobiles. In those days mobiles where reserved for business people. The phone had  become a status symbol on its own. 4.6 billion people worldwide now own one, the mobile turning into as essential a piece of electronic equipment as the television, penetrating all economic levels, even in developing countries.

Many applications, by mobile standards, are still on a more 1990’s level. Let’s take two; Business Intelligence (BI) and Software as a Service (SaaS). While these applications are commonplace, they do offer a popularity contrast with the current mobile phone. They’re more like the once successful carphone – cool and convenient, but only if you’re rich and spend  4 hours a day in your car.

BI solutions are still mainly used by large organizations that can afford the amounts involved in buying and implementing on premise software. The smaller SMB companies are left out. Typically outsourcing their finance and payroll to an accountant, they have to make do with a few reports once a month. We can debate what BI is at length, but to me, it’s knowing what’s going on in your company at any given moment.

At present, SaaS applications are widely profiled as offering a higher level of service, free from maintenance or updates and accessible from anywhere.  In fact, these things were already reachable with other solutions – only with more expense and greater difficulty. The real revolution will come with new networking potential. Really connecting everything to everything real-time will create genuine synergy and exciting new possibilities.

Exact is currently investing heavily in SaaS in the form of Exact Online. Exact Online Payroll will be released in the Netherlands in June 2010, Exact being the first SaaS developer to combine a financial and a payroll application on the same platform.

Moreover, this application focuses on the smaller companies in the SMB in collaboration with their accountants. This allows these companies real-time information on their business while still receiving professional payroll and financial service. Whether you call it BI or not, it’s offering the entrepreneur real empowerment.  In the near future employees will be added to the chain, many more players following and thus expanding the network. Exact will certainly continue  to work hard to make these technologies as important as mobiles are today. So don’t get hung up on your current application – the world is likely to change faster than you know!

John Dijns
Product Line Manager
Twitter: Dijns