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Success7Factors in the New Reality – pt 1

The changes taking place in payroll today are nothing short of revolutionary and the impact upon payroll bureaux is huge. It’s my opinion that this is fuelling totally New Dynamics within the payroll arena generally and the bureau marketplace in particular.

If those two sentences look familiar then you have probably read one of my other blog posts, so thanks for coming back!

I have spent the last 3-4 years observing how payroll service providers have responded to the rapid changes in payroll legislation, particularly looking for the things which differentiate a thriving provider from one who is struggling to cope with the New Reality. The are some clear differences between the winners and the losers and I wanted to share my findings in the ‘Success7Factors’. I hope you won’t mind but I have decided, for reasons which will become clear, to start with Success7Factors, number 2!?

“Take control”

If you’re a Payroll Manager reading this then your first reaction might, understandably, be one of indignation because, in order to do your job, you have to be in control.

“I am delivering my clients’ payslips, payroll reports, pension reports and bank instructions on time every single pay frequency and without complaint. Therefore, by definition, I am obviously in control.”

Well. Kind of.

You see it is my contention that, primarily, you are in control of client satisfaction, an area where you unerringly achieve success: your clients get what they want when they want it and on their own terms. As a consequence of this, your own boss is happy enough too. But I wonder how long you’ll be able to keep all of these plates spinning, now that you are a payroll professional AND a pensions expert; and when you are probably going to also become an advisor on Gender Pay Gaps, on Apprenticeships, on Employee Benefits and more?

I have observed my clients closely over the last few years and I’ve seen payroll teams variously succeed, stagnate or struggle. But the one thing that all the successful ones are doing is taking control. Funnily enough, none of the strugglers are!

What I mean by this is that, in order to be successful in the New Reality of payroll today, in order to be adaptable and handle ever-evolving circumstances, and in order to have the capacity to take on new clients and new legislation without buckling under the strain, you need to take true control of all aspects of the service you are responsible for.

Take control of clients, of processes, of deadlines, of colleagues, of communication, of relationships both internal and external, of income, of costs, of profit. And then you’ll get much more than client satisfaction, much, much more. You will also gain professional respect for you, your time, your team’s time and the service you all provide; you will gain kudos from colleagues and your peers in the industry; you will gain a deeper understanding from all stakeholders of the incredible job that you’re doing; and, get this, you might even get a pay rise!

Let me give you a few examples.


If you allow your clients to send you their data when it suits them and not when it fits with your planned workflow, then THEY are in control of YOU. So with scores or hundreds of clients randomly sending you information when they want to send it, then you’re at their mercy. On the other hand, if you take control by providing clear, unequivocal advice to your clients around YOUR DEADLINES and the consequences of their failing to meet them then you are in a position to revolutionise your service.


If your service is being quoted by anyone other than you or an equally qualified and experienced payroll professional then you have already lost control and, from this point forwards, you are fighting to get back on top of the situation. Only you know what questions to ask the client to appreciate fully what impact the potential client will have upon your service and, moreover, you are best placed to identify additional needs you are able to fulfil for the client which neither they nor anyone else might have realised. This is clearly an opportunity to generate more revenue from the employer for providing a more comprehensive service.


Providing a payroll service in the New Reality today involves a dizzying range of possibilities, are all aspects of your service included for a single set price? Once again, if the answer is ‘yes’ then you have lost control – the client is in control by being in a position to ask for whatever he wants whenever he wants it. Starters, leavers, maternity, shared parental pay and leave, nominal journal exports, extra reporting all included in a set fee?! And how about “Can you tell me what the impact of a 2% pay increase for all my production staff and 1.5% for the admin team would be please?” Is that included too? If the answer is “yes” than, again, you have lost the battle already and I strongly urge you to revisit these assumptions.

I know it won’t be easy to fully take control of all these areas in one fell swoop, not least because you will have to cope with internal resistance to these changes. But there are firms out there who are beginning to do this already and they are seeing the benefits seep through. Clients have more respect for the workload of your payroll team and will think twice before asking for work which they could, sometimes, carry out themselves with a little forethought. And partners are beginning to realise that employers will actually pay much more for their payroll service, once they have a better appreciation of what a superb service they are receiving.

Watch out for more of the Success7Factors coming soon!

Barry Matthews
Star Payroll


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