Vendor Solution Brief: Acrede’s Payroll Outsourcing Service
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By Dave Foxall
An Initial Analysis of Acrede’s Payroll Outsourcing Service
Acrede’s Company Overview
Set up in 2010 by multi-country payroll entrepreneur Karen Paterson (founder of namesake payroll company Paterson’s), Acrede may be new as a brand name but it fields long-established global payroll expertise and offers the latest in SaaS deployment technology to offer client-centric payroll outsourcing services. As Acrede’s own website has it, “A ‘one contract, one system, one size fits all’ approach is just not relevant to the current market.” Acrede has built its service on the foundation of cloud technology and the benefit that can be leveraged from it, namely a reduction in the cost of ownership in a virtualized environment. The vision is to use SaaS to enhance the client’s existing traditional ERP technology by adding a range of additional features that can be accessed by any device from anywhere in the world. Early feedback on Acrede’s standing can be seen in the fact that Karen Paterson was voted into Payroll World’s Top 50 list of 2011.
Acrede’s Payroll Outsourcing Service Offering
The key features of Acrede’s services are:
Payroll across the globe to large and small organisations across all jurisdictions (the latest estimate as of March 2012 is that Acrede can offer services in any of 180 countries)
Totally scalable (both down and up) payroll irrespective of individual country employee population
Global compliance regarding financial transparency and data protection including Sarbanes-Oxley and SSAE16 (formerly SAS 70 Type II)
Global document exchange for secure file sharing and storage
Data security using Acrede’s unique Global Touch biometric fingerprint technology
Integrated business process management (BPM) for efficient sign-offs, accuracy and faster processing
Full reporting suite and business intelligence for 24/7 visibility of all global employees
Flexible to integrate with existing systems already in place and easily customizable to fit individual organization needs
A ‘pay-as-you-go’ SaaS system on a license fee per employee per month basis but perhaps uniquely, the fee differs according to country with countries grouped according to levels of payroll complexity. Within each grouping there are discounts based on employee population size.
Acrede’s Customer Target Market
Acrede’s services come to market via a number of channels:
In countries such as the UK and the U.S., Acrede provides SaaS payroll software with customers accessing it online and processing their own payroll in-house. The company also plans to offer managed payroll services for low tax countries such as the Channel Islands, Caribbean, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
In other countries, a strategic partnership means that customers’ payroll will be processed by financial advisory organization, Grant Thornton and a network of in-country providers with Acrede providing a single customer interface, managing payroll cycles, and aggregating data through its cloud-based IT platform.
Services for larger country populations (1000+ employees) are handled via Hewlett-Packard service centers, with whom Acrede entered into a global alliance in 2011.
Furthermore, Acrede has agreed to provide the payroll engine for SAP’s Business Bydesign service, aimed at small and mid-sized companies. In this way, Acrede is both offering direct payroll services and acting as a technology company to other existing service providers.
Acrede’s Perfect Prospect Profile (PPP)
Acrede offers a global multi-country service to any size of organization from any industry sector with a particular interest in helping client businesses looking to grow. In addition it is a technology company providing the ‘engine’ behind other providers’ services (e.g. the above-mentioned SAP).
Acrede’s Technical Specifications
Acrede’s live site is hosted in a secure, private cloud environment. For data protection purposes, the client knows exactly where data is held, including in which jurisdiction, and that it will not be shared with any other businesses. All data centres comply with Sarbanes Oxley and ISO27001 security accreditations. From the client’s point of view, access is via a biometric dongle, with a secure 256 bit encrypted tunnel to the Acrede servers, accessible from any computer, anywhere in the world.
Acrede’s Primary Competitors
Other service providers offering similar global (as opposed to regional) payroll services are Safeguard World International, Ceridian, and of course, Paterson’s, the company founded by Acrede’s CEO, Karen Paterson.
Strengths of Acrede’s Payroll Outsourcing Service
Secure private cloud environment
A wide range of countries of operation available
Any size of client catered for via multiple routes to service
A variable pricing model that takes into account the complexity of the local payroll landscape
Weaknesses of Acrede’s Payroll Outsourcing Service
Acrede is still relatively new and despite the impressive 180 countries it offers to service, according to a March 2012 article from multi-country payroll specialists Webster Buchanan, the current number of countries in which Acrede is operating is 10.
Aside from the small number of early adopters, Acrede is also suffering somewhat of an identity crisis; ultimately trying to decide whether to be the engine behind giants like SAP and HP, or slowly build into a more impressive solution on its own.
Bottom-line for Acrede’s Payroll Outsourcing Service
Acrede believe that they are offering something new in global payroll and the innovative (and apparently fair) pricing model and multi-strand service offerings would seem to confirm just that. The service sounds good, and the company certainly holds an impressive amount of global payroll experience; the website claims, “in fact our team invented the first true global payroll system”. However, despite this confidence, the one cautionary note is that the company is still in its early days (especially for the new-“ish” Acrede service model) and it may be that the company is still only attracting early adopters to its new ideas. As such, organizations shortlisting Acrede likely have several payroll outsourcing decision factors to weigh before signing on wholeheartedly.