Payroll and HR software specialist, Softline Pastel Payroll, has a Connected Services division that enables SME companies to extend their desktop payroll with an online solution that will ease the growing burden of HR managers.

Connected Services includes a Web-based self-service tool that enables employees to manage and maintain their own information online, and thereby carry some of the overall HR administration responsibility as they are able to make online applications for leave, loans, bursaries, travel claims, view their payslips and update personal information, from anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection.
Part of Softline and Sage Group, Softline Pastel Payroll developed Connected Services with workflow capabilities based on the organisation chart or a specific workflow order per online form. The organisation chart indicates the hierarchy and reporting structures of each department involved in the approval procedure, with the administrator having sole access to create and amend the workflow structures.
Softline Pastel Payroll online R&D manager, Ashveer Rajcoomar, says the workflow functionality is designed to provide companies, management, payroll administrators, the HR department and employees with significant benefits and advantages.
“As it is a hosted solution and the application sits in the cloud, companies are guaranteed quick deployment at low implementation cost as no server integration processes are necessary. Also important is the fact that Connected Services uses similar security as online banking vendors in utilising an SSL security certificate. The Web site further encrypts sensitive information so security has been given much emphasis.”
Once an employee applies for leave online and the manager approves it, the payroll system is automatically updated. The software also provides for leave scheduling, which is particularly practical over traditional December holidays when “skeleton staff” are required. The program helps to manage minimum staff levels by providing system warnings.
“HR managers and heads of departments can monitor sick leave patterns and better manage absenteeism,” adds Rajcoomar. “HR managers are also able to create any application form the company may need from a study loan application form to one for cell phone claims.”
Another component of Connected Services allows HR managers and payroll administrators to receive RSS feeds to their desktops, notifying them of legislative and tax changes and new system software releases so that the company is always on track and up to date.
“The future of Connected Services holds great promise,” says Rajcoomar. “Our goal is to add more HR functionality online that will synchronise with the desktop solution to enable 360 degree performance reviews. This involves reviews from people reporting to the individual concerned, reports from peers on the same level and reports from managers.”
Going forward, functionality to simplify disciplinary processes and provide information, such as the existence of warnings and whether they are still valid or have expired, will be part of the offering, along with a recruitment facility whereby employers can post new vacancies that employees can view and apply for internal vacancies online.
Where many organisations are rushing to take the desktop into the cloud, Rajcoomar points out that the Softline Pastel Payroll approach has been more practical to “build bridges between the two”.
He concludes that Internet awareness in South Africa has increased exponentially over the past two years, with the user base of Internet offerings expanding significantly.
“Connected Services is arriving in the market at just the right time, and has great potential for additional functionality that will further streamline the management of HR and payroll in SME companies.”