The payroll/HR department in an organisation is often undervalued. It is, however, increasingly being acknowledged for the strategic role it plays.

With this recognition has come the development of the role of the HR/payroll super user – a visionary whose role extends the realms of the payroll/HR department, allowing this function to add value to, and assist to facilitate the strategic goals and operations of the organisation.
Says Sharon Tayfield of Praxima Africa Payroll Systems (Praxima): "The role of the super user is becoming increasingly essential – especially in bigger companies where planning and careful management of resources and finances, and compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements is imperative. The super user, typically a member of middle management, needs a number of talents and skills, however, if he/she is to assist the organisation to grow and agiley adapt to ongoing internal and external change."
This person will usually have extensive knowledge of the technical capabilities of HR/payroll system employed by the company coupled with strong management and leadership skills and a keen insight into the current and future needs of the company with regards to HR and Payroll.
Notes Tayfield: "Super users may have an accounting, information technology, HR or payroll background. or they may be an HR/Payroll administrator with initiative, passion and an interest in management. Whatever their background, its important for larger companies to groom such a person for this function as it can give the organisation a considerable advantage."
The expansion of the organisation into other countries is a prime example.
Tayfield explains: "The retail industry in South Africa offers a key instance where HR and Payroll policies and operations need fine tuning. New legislation and regulations, tax, accounting and employment practices, as well as remuneration in foreign currency must be taken into account.
"The super user's knowledge of the HR/Payroll system, its mechanisms and limitations, as well as how to push it to provide maximum performance is invaluable in terms of setting new requirements and ensuring the outcomes needed are delivered consistently and reliably."
Smaller companies and those that outsource their HR/payroll systems may well make use of super users employed by the outsource partner or consultants to initially set up their systems. This needs to be followed up with regular assessments of the efficacy of the system – and, of course, compliance with changing legislation.
Concludes Tayfield: "The HR/Payroll department must meet the needs of two of the organisation's most important stakeholders – its staff and the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Having a super user on board ensures not only timely, accurate payment of staff but that broader strategic goals or imperatives like succession planning, long term sustainability of the organisation and governance criteria can be met."