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If you had to describe your payroll offering in one word, which would it be?

• Service

• Function

• Process

Any one of the above would be an adequate description. After all, most firms would consider theirs to be either one, if not all, of the above.

But it could be so much more – particularly as lockdown revealed just how essential payroll is as a service. If Coronavirus has given us any positives, it’s that payroll can be repositioned as a strategic business function - a viable business arm that could generate a significant increase in revenue, rather than a standalone service that simply pays for itself (or even makes a loss).

It’s entirely possible to maximise your payroll service with your clients and position it a strategic function rather than a compliance-based business function.

PayDashboard has identified 5 key traits of successful accounting firm payroll teams that can be utilised by firms of all sizes to fortify relationships and increase profitability:

1. Conduct an annual fee review: Is your payroll team giving away too much of their time? Perhaps they’re spending valuable billable time offering free advice and support. An annual review and audit of this time is necessary to implement new processes and pricing structures. It’s understandable that additional and unprecedented support was necessary over the last quarter, but the lines between free and billable advice can quickly become blurred.

2. Streamline processes by staying on top of industry trends and insights: This is specifically relevant as new clients will demand providers with a tech-driven approach. Is there better software available that can allow your business to scale up? Perhaps you’re still printing payslips and want the financial and time-saving benefits of a cloud-based solution. If your competitors are early adopters, they’ll have the capacity to onboard significantly more clients – more quickly. Moving into the post-COVID era, successful payroll teams will be adopting robust, best of breed technologies to safeguard their payroll and ensure a continued and uninterrupted future service.

3. Hold regular reviews of internal processes and software: Suppose you've transitioned from printed to digital payslips. The changes in internal processes will be significant. For example, there will be a substantial reduction in resources that were needed to manage the printing, envelope stuffing and distribution of printed payslips. Streamlining your processes could free up time for payroll teams to fulfil more strategic initiatives.

4. Adopt a more advisory, consultative role: Go beyond mandatory compliance requirements and look to provide more value. You could supercharge your value proposition and reposition your payroll service as one that is strategic and customer centric. Payroll advisory services could spend more time analysing clients’ payroll and advising on things like NMW compliance, pension advice, salary sacrifice, PAYE and RTI, benefits schemes and the impact of COVID on their payroll.

5. Foster an innovative work culture: There is no reason not to take an innovative approach to payroll – particularly in the current climate. Each team member has an important role to play in driving the business objectives. Successful payroll teams are passionate about solving problems and working collaboratively towards a shared mission. Part of making payroll a strategic service is to adopt an innovative work culture. Providing an inclusive, flat work environment encourages creative and innovative thinking, and is a step forward to achieving greater organisational success. Intrinsically motivated, creative team members are crucial to an innovative work culture, which in turn is crucial to creating a strategic payroll service.


Out-of-the-box thinking can turn your payroll function around to enhance your client relationships, improve annual turnover and foster an innovative, effective and profitable work culture. With the growing complexity in payroll legislation, payroll providers are going to find their services in more demand than ever before, enabling access to new value networks exciting business opportunities.

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