Infor's Lawson Payroll and HR Software—Product Review
Spend any time glancing over the offerings that are encompassed in Lawson’s Payroll/HR software solution and you’re likely to come away from the experience puzzled and scratching your head in wonder. Not at the system’s capabilities (Lawson stacks up nicely against almost all of its industry peers); but rather at the placement of these functionalities. As we’ll discuss in more detail when looking at specific modules, the overarching theme seems to be illogical feature set locations and what appears to be a process more suitable for up-selling than customer needs. As unfortunate as these facets may be though, the fact remains that Lawson’s Payroll/HR software is quite good—as evidenced by the functionalities that system contains. First off though, these functionalities need to be put into the context of how they work in Lawson’s overall structure.
To begin with, Lawson segments its product lines into “Make, Move, Maintain” (M3) and “Staff, Source, Serve” (S3). The M3 line focuses on applications for manufacturing, CRM, enterprise asset management, etc. The S3 lines purpose is for software that falls into the categories of Payroll/HR, Financial, Supply Chain, and BI (Business Intelligence). As such, for the purposes of this review the S3 line is our target. Within S3, three distinct HR-related software suites are available: Lawson Human Resource Management, Lawson Talent Management, and Lawson Workforce Management; each with varying levels of functionality and features that are a part of this review. That said, the bulk of the information that most buyers looking at Payroll/HR capabilities will be interested in comes from the Human Resource Management suite; a package which consists of the modules of Payroll; Human Resources (Benefits Administration & Personnel Administration); Employee and Manager Self-Service; and Absence Management.
While global payroll is delivered through a partnership with Patersons (a leading global HR and payroll software and services business with clients in 160+ countries), the Lawson Payroll module does offer comprehensive U.S. and Canadian payroll functionality; including regulatory reporting and compliance, garnishments and court order management, flexible automated deduction creation, Tips, and Absence Management integration. The software itself delivers a rules-based setup, creating a system flexible enough to support a variety of methods for managing benefits and automating compensation and deductions. Fully integrated with the other modules within the Human Resource Management suite (i.e. Absence Management, Personnel Administration, Benefits Administration, Financials and Accounts Payable), this module also has the capability to support multiple time entry systems (from Lawson’s own self-service Web time entry and electronic check deposit to traditional pen-and-paper entry and paper checks printing and distribution); as well as time-sensitive information, such as time entry, check or receipt printing, off-cycle payments, quarterly filings, and withholding forms.
In addition to the above functional areas, companies operating in Canada or the United States (or both) can also leverage the payroll module’s simultaneous payroll run capability; flexible adjustments (and setup capabilities such as GAIs); processing features (e.g. automated tax assignment); taxing authority synchronization; and robust regulatory feature set (which complies with a bevy of statutory requirements including vacation/pension plans, garnishments, worker’s compensation, and others). Further, Lawson’s Payroll solution also provides one of the only automated allocation mechanisms for tips—capturing, calculating, and reporting tips information and ensuring compliance with legal requirements (including FLSA).
Payroll functions can be easily be accessed through the modules of both Lawson Employee and Manager Self-Service via web portal—a rather ubiquitous feature that nevertheless nets some strong benefits through granting access for setting up direct deposit accounts; viewing paycheck history; checking time-off balances; changing withholding status; creating “what if” scenarios to see the effect of withholding (or benefit changes) on their paycheck; and (for managers) approving employee data entries/requests.
Made up of two separate modules rather than one (i.e. Benefits Administration and Personnel Administration), the Human Resources software “module” is a prime example of the confusion that the Lawson solution breeds. That said, each of these modules does have a specific purpose and functionality within the overarching Human Resource Management module.
- Personnel Administration: Offering the functionality of what similar solutions refer to as a data repository, this module provides the information backbone for tasks such as employee updates and tracking; management of employee actions (e.g. promotions, transfers, etc.); ESS/MSS module integration; position management (including multiple active positions per employee; mass change capabilities; and advanced headcount and budgeting); system default rules—essentially, all the basic elements that allow the system to function. Interestingly though, this module also provides a stripped down LMS (Learning Management System) which allows for elements such as course set-up, registration, etc. for employee training initiatives—a distinctly talent management-centric feature that is simply illogical to have located here.
- Benefits Administration: Lawson’s Benefits Administration module provides complete automation of enrollment, payroll deductions, plan updates, and regulatory reporting for U.S. and Canadian organizations. As is the case with similar solutions, full integration with the Lawson Payroll module (and other Lawson applications) is also provided—allowing payroll deductions to reflect any new plan enrollments and/or changes and start immediately or at a pre-determined time. Lawson provides a fairly straightforward and easy-to-use process that organizations can follow to define eligibility and benefit criteria to accommodate different groups of employees. In addition, through the Employee and Manager Self-Service modules, employees can asynchronously enroll in benefit plans, make plan changes, change dependents and beneficiaries, manage flexible spending accounts (FSAs), access retirement account information, and model changes with “what if ” scenarios in much the same fashion that the Payroll module allows.
Reporting capabilities are also present within the Benefits Administration module, but the standard reports will likely be far too basic for most organizations. As such, it’s better advised to leverage Lawson’s significant BI and HR Analytics tools to get needed information out of the system. That applies regardless of whether the objective is to generate simple reports such as plan premium and participation, down to complex regulatory documents to manage discrimination testing.
Absence Management Software
The most robust features that Lawson offers pertaining to absence management are actually contained in the Lawson Workforce Management suite—a package explicitly designed for the Healthcare and Gaming industries. That said, the Absence Management module software has been designed in such a way as to yield a still impressive (and fairly comprehensive) feature set for employee leave management. Specifically, this module includes capabilities for: rules-based, flexible Absence Plan setups (which feature unlimited numbers of accrual rates, tied to employee groupings, within a single absence plan); automated enrollment and updates (for initiating/terminating rules-based enrollments); flexible accrual options (to manage, balance, and control accruals for multiple positions and payment cycles); plan processing; and FMLA leave tracking. In addition, reporting options are also available for trend analyses (e.g. time off for illness or injury, vacation, medical leave, death of a family member, jury duty, etc.). Further, while this module does exist as a standalone solution, integration with Payroll, General Ledger, and Project/Activity Accounting is possible; which would net even greater utility.
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