Partner Profile - Gridpay - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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Partner Profile – Gridpay

In the Partner Profile of August 2007, we would like to introduce you to Gridpay, one of our preferred provider of outsourced payroll services. Jenny Karkkainen speaks to Tess Lazaris who is Account Services Manager for Gridpay and also one of the founders of the business. Read beyond to see what Tess has to say.

Could you, Tess, enlighten us a bit about Gridpay and its background? How everything got started?

Well it all started off from Bookkeeping Service. For 15 years we would service small to medium sized companies, often going onsite and working through the traditional system of a shoe box filled with receipts. In many cases payroll also fell under the finance banner. It wasn’t long before we were getting more requests for payroll management, especially from our partnering accountants, who really did not like processing payrolls. We took a good look at the market and identified a real gap in the quality of service and the supporting technology. Furthermore, most providers offer a service, which is really asking the client to fit into their box. We know every company is different, and we model the solution around the client’s business process.

Paying people accurately and on time is a given. It�s what happens before and after the processing, that makes the Gridpay experience so different. We started with handful of payroll clients and we are now heading into our fifth year with over 130 clients and growing quite strongly.

So, how have your core services changed after moving into the payroll industry? What kind of services does Gridpay provide nowadays?

Coming from an accounting background we look at things a little differently. We take a more holistic approach offering a total business solution. That could include drafting payroll policies & procedures, award interpretation, complete payroll management, employee help desk, interfacing with finance systems, calculating and paying payroll tax. We use web technology as much as we can, offering clients access to their data in a number of formats through online report management, timesheets, Employee Self Service and HR solutions. We can even provide database access for their preferred report writing tool.

Our technology strategy is to use off the shelf commercial solutions, with proven technology partners so that our core business focuses on service rather than developing and updating payroll software. We truly believe in do what you do best and outsource the rest. This flexibility also allows us to match the right system to the clients needs.

Ok, well let�s say we would have a middle sized EC client considering outsourcing their payroll, what do you think Gridpay could particularly do for them?

We prefer to call it a Partnered Payroll Solution �We begin by not sending a salesperson in. Instead, we send a payroll professional to visit the client to explore exactly what the business is trying to achieve. In most cases this will end up being their account manager. This is critical in understanding their payroll environment with respect to the Australian payroll legislation and being able to interpret a solution. We listen carefully to their objectives and scope out a solution that meets their needs, taking into account culture and processes. If they�re an EmployeeConnect client, they are strategic visionaries, who understand the value of focusing on your core business. Some clients wish us to handle everything under the payroll banner- the Payroll Tax, Super, payment of PAYG, Annual Workers Comp Reports. In some cases we are upfront and suggest that the problem is not payroll processing, and recommend an alternative strategy. Once we get acceptance, we move into the Implementation phase. We pay particular attention to the business process and the reporting requirements. We run mandatory Parallel Payroll Run and once both we and our client are satisfied with the payroll Implementation, we then go live and activate the integration to their ESS or HRexpress solution. We offer them online access to their reports, via our secure site for viewing once payroll processing is completed.

So briefly what do you see are as the benefits of a Partnership with Gridpay?

We free up time for management and employees to focus their time and energy on essential and strategic business objectives. We save on costs of managing a payroll department that may be considered non-core, yet necessary. We ensure legislative compliance and access to best practice procedures. We offer a fresh perspective and new ideas on how to improve your business process.

Over the years EmployeeConnect and Gridpay have established a strong partnership. What do you, Tess, think have been the core strengths behind the success of the partnership?

I believe that EC and Gridpay have similar business philosophies and attitudes. We follow the philosophy of constantly improving what is delivered by listening to what our clients need. We value strategic partnerships. Furthermore, we are both specialists in our field. We work as a team and deliver what the client requires both on a Payroll front, and then through to the ESS and HR solution.

Well, let�s move on and have a quick look at the future of the payroll industry. What kind of changes do you think will take place especially in terms of outsourced payroll services in the next five years?

There is quite a bit of movement in the market, and it’s a very competitive environment, characterised by significant churn for the larger providers.

For payroll services, market share means mind share in most cases and as awareness increases, those companies that fit the outsource model will make the transition. Market share is hard to come by in traditional channels, especially for the larger providers, so acquisitions will continue. And we have seen some glorious acquisitions over the last few years.

An interesting trend is the appearance of the online payroll system offering access to a managed payroll system, but the data entry and responsibility still sits with the client. It a great use of technology, but it�s a partial solution.

How about the division between outsourced vs in-house? In Australia, what do you see is the current trend? Is outsourcing of non-core business processes really gaining more popularity?

Indeed it is, but there is nothing new about outsourcing of non-core processes. IT services, recruiting and accounting services have all been outsourced for some time. Payroll is just another function. And it makes good business sense to improve upon basic services while allowing employees and managers additional time to play a more strategic role within the company. Part of the reluctance was the issue of transparency and control. With online reporting and data access this is no longer an issue.

And where do you see Gridpay in this future scenario?

Firstly we are grateful to our clients for where we are today. We hold ourselves up as having an excellent customer service experience that differentiates us from the larger players. As long as we don�t change our attitude, Gridpay will always be there.

Thank you, Tess for your time and that was great!

Any time Jenny!

Ari Kopoulos

CEO at EmployeeConnect