The Week of Announcements in the Payroll Software Industry
Whether or not you tuned into this past month’s HCM Month End Review (and got to see our esteemed head of Vantive Media Chuck Schaeffer talking about everything that happened in the month of June); or you were able to check out this blog (to read up on the SHRM conference or the latest product enhancements from SuccessFactors); you’ve probably noticed that we’re doing our best to keep tabs on the Payroll and HR software industry for you. We’re constantly reading up on new products, M&A activity, conferences, and more to get you the information you never knew you needed until now.
This week’s post is no different save for one small exception: whereas other posts have focused on a specific event or happening within our little corner of the technology world—this week had so many product announcements that we decided to dedicate this blog post to all of the Public Relations fodder that companies have been broadcasting. Of course all of these little proclamations are entirely self-serving for the vendors, so we’ll do our best to highlight the good, bad, and ugly of each of these. After all, we hold no allegiances except to you our loyal readers. So, here it is…the three announcements that came out in the past 3 days.
To start off with, Intuit announced this past Thursday (July 12) that a new, free, SMB-focused application (Snap Payroll), designed for organizations without the need for accounting and/or payroll software, was generally available for access. Intuit’s claim to fame has always been the small business market (in fact they process 1m+ paychecks in the U.S.), but this new capability has the potential to put them one step ahead of other similarly-situated payroll services. Available for Apple’s iPhone and iPad (downloadable via iTunes), Snap Payroll has the capability to calculate net pay; take into account applicable withholdings; notify users of necessary tax forms to complete; and even send those forms (via email) to the employer for completion. That said, the main issue though with Snap Payroll is the fact that integration into Intuit’s other accounting applications isn’t available. I suppose, given the fact that this app is free, users shouldn’t be asking for a host of functionalities, but this would seem to be a rather large piece that’s missing capability-wise. Furthermore, a rather surprising element that Snap Payroll users are faced with is the necessity to still manually prepare each paycheck for the very employees that the mobile payroll application is purported to support. In short, this is a great concept from Intuit that is going to need some additional work before it’s viewed as anything more than a great mobile resource rather than a true mobile payroll tool.
2) Next up (and coincidently the same day), Ultimate Software announced the product enhancements to their flagship Ultipro suite for the Spring 2012 release. Given the fact that all customers are already live on that particular Ultipro version though, this was interesting announcement that seemed to be explicitly geared towards would-be customers. Nevertheless, as it would seem that the bulk of Payroll and HR vendors are ascribing to that tactic these days, we’ll cut Ultimate some slack.
Regarding added functionality for the Ultipro solution, it’s clear that Ultimate’s main focus was on expanding its global feature sets—broadening self-service options and enabling expanded business process configuration for some of the more common employee information changes like personal names and addresses. That said, for our money the truly beneficial (at least to customers) functionalities that Ultimate added revolved around Payroll. Specifically, in what appears to be a bid to go after the large enterprise market, the Ultipro Spring 2012 release increased a) the speed of its payroll processing (600+%) for 100K+ employee payrolls; and b) time management connectivity performance—delivering a significantly faster import of payroll processing data for hours, earnings, and deductions (though once again designed for large enterprise payrolls). Other than that, the rest of the announcements focused on talent management additions save for one impressive (though decidedly behind in its release) element: Ultipro now comes standard with the cability to deliver total compensation statements that can be customized to meet the specific communication needs of its clients’ businesses.
3) Of course there was also news about a new entrant (at this point in beta-testing) into the payroll software game: PayrollHero. Dually-based out of both Vancouver and Manila, PayrollHero is actually designed to address the payroll software deficiencies in Southeast Asia—a geographic anomaly that has yet to see an influx of payroll services for the SMB market. Indeed, for the most part, companies like ADP almost exclusively service the large enterprise end of the market, leaving a huge number of companies to contend with manual processing for their payrolls. As such, co-founders Stephen Jagger and Mike Stephenson (who were already business owners within the Phillipines) have a solid business case for why this service is needed. One of the main issues facing PayrollHero though is the fact that the Phillipines is the only available locale for the service at this point. Other Southeast Asia countries (e.g. Vietnam, Malaysia, etc.) are expected to be rolled into the solution soon, but this lack of initial locales could mean trouble for a regionally-focused solution.
That aside, currently PayrollHero only offers two services: one for time and attendance and one for payroll. Though admittedly basic, given the region’s dearth of SMB-focused payroll solutions, there is no doubt that what PayrollHero offers is more advanced than what prospective customers are currently using. Specifically though, the system has the base ability to automatically track employee hours; calculate monies owed; and generate pay stubs (and allow online self-service access). However, time and attendance functionality is where the solution truly shines—replete with global facial recognition software; iPhone optimization; and GPS. As PayrollHero’s Stephen Jagger puts it, “The opportunity is there, because we want to take advantage of the fact there’s not a lot of web 2.0 or cloud-based stuff here”. Identifying and then capitalizing on that need could well mean that we can expect to see much more from this company in the near future.
So there you have it. You’re now up to speed on the happenings and product announcements that have made the headlines for this past week. Our guess, given the pace at which innovation is occurring; the current state of the economy; and the intense competition that is heating up within the Payroll and HR technology space; is that this isn’t the last time we have a week of multiple vendor announcements.
Regarding added functionality for the Ultipro solution, it’s clear that Ultimate’s main focus was on expanding its global feature sets—broadening self-service options and enabling expanded business process configuration for some of the more common employee information changes like personal names and addresses."