Despite the odd tweak here and there, payroll processes have stayed largely similar for years. But no longer, says David Woodward. In a recent video interview, our new Chief Product and Technology Officer (CPTO) discussed his vision for Zellis technology, and the future of HR and payroll software.

“Payroll technology hasn’t really changed over many decades,” David explains. “Obviously technology has got quicker, it’s got smarter, but fundamentally the process of running payroll has remained somewhat similar over that time.”

Unsurprisingly then, a 2022 ‘Future of Payroll’ survey revealed that a huge 85% of employers experience limitations in their payroll technologies. Just under two out of five also acknowledged that their current system lacks many of the features they require.

So, after the rise of cloud payroll software like Zellis HCM Cloud, what next for technology in this space?

The changing world of HR and payroll software

Over the next couple of years, major shifts and transformations are on the cards. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning software will make it possible to automate many more processes than previously, as well as understand anomalies in any data coming into the system.

This approach will enable continuous payroll processing, payroll fraud detection, and reduction of human error. It will also free up payroll professionals’ time to focus on providing the business with higher levels of strategic insight from the data they hold.

Another significant breakthrough, meanwhile, will be the arrival of real-time payroll. David explains why this will make such a difference to the lives of payroll professionals:

“Any time you make any change to the system, you get to see the results of that calculation in real-time. Why that’s so incredibly important is it can give the person that’s running the payroll and making the changes instant information on the screen as they’re making those changes.”

David Woodward CPTO, Zellis

Enhancing the user experience

Other key trends include enhancing the user experience (UX), whether that refers to HR and payroll software users, line managers, or employees.

For example, portal-style technology offers payroll and HR professionals a “more sophisticated and more automated means of sharing information and understanding the status of our systems”, says David.

“If we think about our BPaaS [Business Process as a Service] services, where we provide managed payroll services, it’s about giving better optics to our customers as to what we’re doing for them and seeing the results of our payroll as well.”

In terms of UX more generally though, “the bar is really set in the consumer world”, David says.

“When we think about the types of apps that people download on their phone, you don’t go on a training course, you don’t have to read manuals to know how to use these apps – it’s just intuitive. The bar is set in such a way that if you don’t like an app, you just discard it and find another one.”

David Woodward CPTO, Zellis

The business world now needs to apply this consumer-grade standard and intuitive UX principles, David believes:

“We have to think about making the software very immersive, very easy to understand and ultimately enjoyable to use. Because if you don’t do those things, people’s appetite to use these types of technology diminishes very quickly.”

In other words, the secret to ensuring a great UX is in providing “something [users] really actually are immersed in doing and get real value from when they engage with the software.”

David Woodward’s interview first appeared in Zellis Insights, regular knowledge and inspiration for HR and payroll insights. Read more and sign up to the email newsletter.