An automated payroll solution can help you to save time and money by reducing the paperwork associated with your weekly wage and monthly salary runs. But there’s more to running an efficient modern payroll and HR environment than paying your employees on time and printing payslips.

Here are five ways to use your payroll software to run a more productive and efficient business, says Anton van Heerden, MD for Sage VIP and Sage Pastel Payroll & HR.

No-sweat tax submissions
South African tax regulations and labour laws are complex, and getting more so all the time. In addition to PAYE, you also need to account for UIF, the skills development levy and the employment tax incentive. And the environment changes every tax year.

Make sure you choose a package tailored for the local tax and regulatory environment-it should take care of all the complex calculations you need to do so that you can file submissions to SARS on time. It should also feature automated updates to ensure you always process on the latest software and legislative version. This will ensure that you avoid censure or fines by SARS as a result of filing tax returns late or getting the sums wrong.

Close gaps for fraud and errors
Payroll is one of the biggest expenses for any business. That means that payroll fraud or errors can cost you dearly. Use the information from your payroll system to keep tabs on payroll transactions and impose checks and balances on the payroll environment.

A good solution will also feature options such as bank account and ID number verification from within the system so that you can reduce the opportunities for fraud as well as the possibility of paying money into the wrong bank account by mistake.

Better planning
A payroll system isn’t just about automating a business process – it is also a management information system. You can use the data from this system to understand employee performance, see how your human resources are contributing towards profitability, and plan for your anticipated future workforce needs and costs.

Empower employees
Modern payroll solutions usually offer optional employee self-service modules. This can be a boon for a busy small business owner or manager because it takes care of a lot of the distracting and irritating day to day admin.

Employee self-service lets employees apply for leave, submit travel claims, download old and current payslips, and update their personal details online or via their smartphones. The payroll software is updated automatically so that you don’t need to manually recapture leave or travel claim forms.

Streamline HR management
Once you implement a payroll solution, you should also consider adding HR functionality. An HR module for your payroll package should help you to manage processes such as performance reviews and disciplinary procedures correctly and accurately. This will help you avoid costly CCMA cases or having to pay compensation for wrongful dismissal.