The wave of business mobile applications was clearly felt as far back as 2008, when an IDC white paper, Mobility Solutions in Enterprise-Sized Businesses: Quantifying the Return on Investment, observed, “survey data demonstrates that 70% of all organizations have deployed at least one mobile enterprise application beyond email.” As the social trends of handheld computing (tablets, netbooks, smartphones, etc.) and 24/7 connectivity shape the new global culture, it’s hard to find fault with Symantec’s 2010 statement that the mobile wave is “[fundamentally changing] the way that millions of people around the world work, play, and communicate”. Indeed, this emerging culture is inevitably molding business and workplace practices, creating a new workforce paradigm in its wake. As Ernst & Young observed in a 2011 global survey, in information terms, physical borders are disappearing and the driver is mobile access.
As a result, there are literally thousands of business applications for the mobile worker; from e- business cards to document sharing; from timeclocks to on-the-move videoconferencing. In fact, in 2010, Gary Butler, ADP President and CEO was quoted as saying, "Within the next two years, we're going to see businesses spending 35% of their IT budgets on mobile” and the payroll function is no stranger to this market shift. Larger organizations can leverage mobile payroll to provide employee self-service access to individual records; while smaller businesses can manage the entire payroll process on the fly. However, for those organizations considering a deployment of mobile payroll, what follows are the essentials facts that must be understood prior to beginning the search for the perfect mobile payroll application.
Mobile Payroll Fact #1: Adoption Has Gone Global
CedarCrestone’S 2011-12 HR Systems Survey decided that mobile-enabled applications are still the domain of early adopter organizations, but it expected things to change; especially “as the vendors rapidly continue their development for Apple’s iPad and other pad platforms along with major smartphones including the iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry.” The fact is, that the “early adopter” label may apply to other business functions but payroll is one of the two most widely adopted mobile applications (the other being recruitment) and CedarCrestone predicted a 50% adoption boost during 2012. In fact, any organization not already mobile or considering it is in danger of being left behind. A 2011 Bloomberg Businessweek research report (Mobile HR: The Global Challenge) measured handheld access to payroll and benefits information and found that adoption was 32% globally (the regional figures were: US 27%, Europe 31%, and Asia/Pacific 42%) and while that may be still some way short of a majority, it is a trend that suggests mobile is becoming the norm rather than a nice-to-have extra.
Mobile Payroll Fact #2: Functionality Is Broader Than You Think
A common perception of mobile payroll is that of the individual employee checking his or her online payslip or 401(k) statement from a wi-fi hotspot, or perhaps changing their recorded bank account details to keep their direct deposit up to date. This image is of course, true and reflects the type of instant access employee self-service transaction that helps streamline payroll administration inquiries and drive up employee engagement; however, for the employer or off-site payroll manager, modern payroll apps offer a much broader set of features and transactions, including:
Entry and review of payroll information for salary, hourly, and 1099 employees.
Calculation of earnings and deductions as well as federal, state and local taxes.
Preview of payroll and payment methods to ensure accuracy.
Preview of payroll liability and cash required, and confirmation of funds to be withdrawn.
Payment via checks or direct deposits.
Cancellation of direct deposits.
Monitoring of payroll deadlines, bank holidays, compliance updates and even employees' birthdays.
Review of reports from the current and previous periods in real time.
This type of functionality positions mobile payroll as an essential management tool; rather than simply being a useful way to give employees access to payroll data.
Mobile Payroll Fact #3: The Return on Investment Can Be Significant
For businesses looking to manage the payroll for a relatively compact workforce without being tied to either an office or even an outsourcing contract, the right mobile payroll application carries an obvious return-on-investment (ROI). However, the returns from leveraging employee self-service (ESS) and associated mobile apps such time and attendance can also be substantial for the larger enterprise. In fact, as an IDC report, Mobility Solutions in Enterprise-Sized Businesses: Quantifying the Return on Investment, which looked at large organizations (with 1,000+ employees) in North America and Europe found, the average three-year ROI of a mobile solution for these companies was 309%. Further, a case study from same report highlights the transformation of a pre-mobile setup of the payroll back office with manual time sheets, citing that by implementing a mobile solution, “the processing time for each job had decreased from eight days to two days” The IDC report goes on to indicate that “Fewer administrators are reviewing information, and the remaining staff members spend their time on other assignments in the office, leading to a 20% increase in administrator productivity”.
Final Thoughts on Mobile Payroll
As with any payroll technology, the selection and deployment of a mobile solution should be aligned with an organization’s overall business strategy and follow a reasonably rigorous process to ensure that the fit between goals and functionality is tight. In fact, the CedarCrestone report concludes with some fairly clear advice; stating “For those considering mobile- or social-enabled applications, if you are not already engaged in these initiatives, as you get started evaluate the social and mobile tools from your current vendor set, again to avoid later integration costs. And, no matter what, keep a strategic focus.”
The emerging mobile payroll culture is inevitably molding business and workplace practices, creating a new workforce paradigm in its wake. As Ernst & Young observed in a 2011 global survey, in information terms, physical borders are disappearing and the driver is mobile access.”