Archive for November, 2010

Are Payroll Services A Commodity?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

CommodityHow much does it cost?  With the recent economic times, businesses are paying closer attention to the cost for services they are receiving.  If enough research is done, a cheaper price can usually be found, but are you truly saving money following cost savings alone?

For most customers price by itself is not the key factor when they are making decisions that impact their company’s financial well-being and employee morale.  In the case of payroll processing and related services, the overall value of the services offered must be taken into consideration.

The value of a product changes as the price paid and benefits received change.  When making a decision on payroll processing, buyers should also weigh factors such as conversion, risk of conversion accuracy, time spent learning to use the new product, and the level of service they will receive going forward.

  • Conversion: The cost of conversion includes time spent on conversion meetings, gathering data, copying materials, verifying entry of data and installation of new software and processes.
  • Risk of Conversion Accuracy: Employee information that must be converted includes demographics, earnings, deductions, taxes and direct deposit information.  Errors in these areas can cause issues with corporate payroll tax returns, problems balancing benefit data, and in the case of direct deposit – employee net pay not arriving in the proper account.
  • Training Time: New systems take time to learn and more time to master.  Make sure the training you receive will be adequate to help you through the first pay and that ongoing training is available to help you master the new solution at no extra cost.
  • Service Level: This is most likely the largest drain on time as the level of service will directly impact the amount of time you spend processing your payroll.  Calling to regional service centers that require numerous levels of passwords and case numbers also force you to remain on hold for extended periods and rehash your questions or issues with a new service person each time you connect.  Make sure you will receive the service you deserve by checking references closely and asking your trusted advisers for their recommendations.

These are just a few of the reasons that making a change to your payroll provider needs to be more than just a fee based decision.  While saving on your processing fees may sound enticing, how much difference will the savings really make to your corporate bottom line, especially when factoring in the cost of conversion?

At PCS, we believe in offering over the top service with a focus on providing our clients the value they deserve.  We proactively seek ways to create efficiencies throughout your timekeeping, payroll and HRIS processes thereby saving you and your company time and money.

If you are considering a change to PCS, do so because of the value we bring to your company, not because we may be saving you some money over your current method.   As far as conversion, here’s how PCS minimizes the cost of transitioning to our services:

  • Conversion: we have a dedicated New Client Coordinator (NCC) that is the liaison between you and our conversion team.  This role minimizes the amount of work you need to do in order to facilitate the transition as the NCC’s sole responsibility is managing the process.
  • Risk of Conversion Accuracy: our conversion team will electronically pull data whenever possible and you always receive edit listings in advance of your first pay run in order to check everything for accuracy.  We also completely balance and recap all year to date earnings, taxes and deductions to your prior method numbers along with balancing taxes back to prior returns.
  • Training: we provide personalized, one-on-one training that is focused on your needs.  One of our trainers will be with you in person or via web and phone throughout your entire first pay process to ensure accuracy and timeliness.  On-going training is provided at no additional cost and is handled in small classes or one-on-one to maximize your learning experience.  We want you to become an expert!
  • Service Level: throughout the conversion you are working directly with your implementation manager and the New Client Coordinator which keeps communication lines open.  Being that your implementation manager has become familiar with your account, they process your first pay and each successive pay until we know your payroll has been set up properly and is running smoothly.  Then and only then, we transition you to your Client Account Manager (CAM) who will be your main point of contact going forward.  Over time, your CAM gains a full understanding of your payroll and the special needs you have, which allows them to be proactive in the service they offer you.  The end result is time saved due to greater accuracy and less time spent explaining your needs.

Our recommendation – don’t buy services out of a box and don’t get fooled by limited time offers for savings which sound too good to be true.  In most cases, they are.

Submitted By:

Bob Willbanks
VP of Sales & Marketing
Payroll Control Systems

Joe’s Jottings – Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Now that we’ve had a chance to give thanks last week, it’s time to get down to business again.  We all recognize that the holidays are fast approaching, and that we have plenty of work to do in preparation for those holidays, regardless of how each of us celebrates them.  And yet, the much dreaded “year-end” is also upon us!!!

Although there are many facets to the “year-end blues”, Payroll Control Systems can help with several of those facets.  Please plan on using the recommendations for year-end preparation that PCS provides on our website.  We are here to help minimize/eliminate the pain associated with payroll and payroll tax aspects of closing out the year.  We currently assist over 1,400 companies nationwide, and know what we’re doing!  For those of you who’ve gone through year end with us in the past, you know how easy and convenient it is.  For our newer customers, you’ll enjoy the convenience of our hassle-free year-end process!

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to think about giving the “gift that keeps on giving” to your business colleagues…a referral to Payroll Control Systems’ payroll services.  Our Client Referral Program can help you with some holiday cash as we send you a $50 gift card for every Client you refer to PCS that runs a payroll with us.  You can rest assured that we’ll take care of your referral since we’re the only A+ rated payroll service in Minnesota by the Better Business Bureau.  We are also SAS 70 Type II certified and we have a 97+% customer satisfaction rating, which will provide your referral relief from their current processing methods and a “present” that will last indefinitely.

Finally, we thank you for your present to us…your continued business and friendship!!

As always, if you have any comments or questions for which I might be of help, please call me, either at the office, 763-513-5951, or on my cell phone, 763-567-8387.

Best wishes for happy holiday season!!

Joe Reilly


Payroll Control Systems

Employee Self Service

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Human resource managers are constantly challenged to increase efficiency and provide better employee services. One dramatic way HR managers have responded to this challenge is by deploying web-based solutions that offer employee self-service, giving the entire workforce immediate access to critical information, helping to attract and retain the highest quality employees and enabling more effective communication across the organization. The SaaS solution offered by PCS is fully integrated with our Millennium Payroll System and is fully implemented and supported by PCS staff.

What Is Employee Self-Service?
Employee Self-Service (ESS) is a combination of technology and organizational change that enables users to interact directly with their human resource data to inquire, review and act upon transactions in the workplace. This human resource technology is known as “Employee Self-Service”, and “Manager Self-Service”.  ESS promises a “paperless” office, streamlined business processes and the elimination of administrative entries for human resource staff because employees and managers conduct via computer basic transactions that formerly were completed on paper forms and then processed by HR staff.

There are several types of self-service applications, including interactive voice response, internet and intranet. ESS creates a single, secure repository for confidential HR information and processes. It provides an easy-to-navigate environment that is accessible by all employees, regardless of where they are located, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Access rights for each employee are established by HR and are typically determined by the employee’s position in the organizational hierarchy, department and key job functions.  ESS and MSS will quickly reduce HR data entry tasks and allow your staff to focus on HR coaching and managing non-administrative duties which makes HR a valued partner on the Management team of your company.

What Are the Usual Features?
You can break down all human resource functions into four basic categories: organizational administration, human resource, benefits and payroll. Within each category, various functions can be performed “on demand” by employees using ESS.

Organizational Administration

  • Forms Request
  • Employment Verification
  • Corporate Policies
  • Corporate Communications
  • Employee Directory
  • Organizational Chart

Human Resource

  • Personal Information Maintenance
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Dependents and Beneficiaries Maintenance
  • Job Postings and Applications
  • Employee Development


  • Benefits Inquiry
  • Benefits Enrollment
  • Flexible Spending Account Selections
  • Primary Care Physician Selections
  • Retirement Plan Transactions
  • Summary Plan Descriptions
  • Stock Purchase Plan Transactions


  • Time & Labor Reporting
  • Duplicate W-2
  • Federal and State Exemption Maintenance
  • Direct Deposit Setup and Maintenance
  • Electronic Pay Statements
  • Paid Time Off Inquiry and Requests

Self-service includes a range of administrative services (employee communications, benefit services and personal data updates for employees), management productivity services (employee change actions, salary actions and approvals) and recruitment-oriented applications (job postings and job requisitions for managers).

When a company implements ESS, HR may choose to give employees the ability to view and update information. The ability to update information is dependent upon two factors: a) if the information is the employee’s own personal information and/or b) if the employee is given management rights. Otherwise, the employee will have the ability to view the data only. Additionally, managers can be granted the right to view and update information about their employees and to perform manager-specific tasks.

Accessing Employee Self-Service: Intranet or Internet?
A company can provide access to employee self-service in two ways, via intranet or Internet. With a corporate intranet, employees access the self- service features from computers connected to a computer network within the company.

If a company chooses to open access via the Internet, employees can access self-service from anywhere in the world by using a computer, a browser and a phone line connection to the Internet. Companies with employees geographically dispersed in one country or in many countries find this to be an economical way to communicate with their employees. Typically, these companies use a “firewall” to prevent intruders from accessing the rest of the computer network.

The HRIS system PCS provides is an internet based system. In companies where employees do not have computers, computer kiosks can be set up in convenient locations and shared by employees.

Benefits: Saving Costs and Improving Employee Satisfaction
Regardless of whether employees access self-service via a corporate intranet or the internet, the benefits are the same and fall into three categories: cost savings, cost avoidance and revenue generation.

In terms of cost savings, the primary gain is in reduced costs for delivering human resource and payroll services to employees. When employees have access to self-service, they can answer many questions independently, thus lowering the number of phone calls to the HR and payroll departments. When employees and managers can update information online, less money is spent on paper forms. Because employee information is captured electronically and sent to the appropriate approver or database, less time is spent processing employee transactions. There is no re-keying of data from paper forms.

A prime example of hard savings is in the move to electronic pay statements where employees no longer receive paper direct deposit advice statements. Employees can view and print their pay statements via self-service as soon as the payroll has been posted. Not only do these companies eliminate the time and cost of printing direct deposit advice statements, they also say goodbye to stuffing and mailing envelopes with the attendant postage costs, and fed-ex costs to remote locations.  Employees have quicker access to their pay statements and do not need to worry about losing the document. By using self-service, they can print a new pay statement on demand.

In the area of cost avoidance, HR departments can provide satisfactory service to more employees without increasing department headcount.  Companies with successful self-service implementations report a staff-to-employee ratio of 1:151, while companies without self-service have a ratio of 1:99. In addition, employees experience improved quality of service. Access to information is available to all employees 24/7, whether local, remote or international. The potential to update information online is key. Who is better than the employee to update his or her personal data correctly? HR managers can rest easier knowing the information in their databases will have a higher degree of accuracy than ever before. When managers can submit new hires, salary increases and performance reviews and have them routed automatically to the appropriate HR manager for approval, transactions are processed faster than paper-based systems.

A third area of benefits to consider is revenue generation. Companies are beginning to establish their employee self-service systems as a portal, or doorway, to other products and services. For example, a company might sign up with and place a link to on their ESS web site. Whenever an employee “clicks through” to and purchases a book, the company receives a small percentage of the price.

Finally, employee and manager self-service results in a key benefit for the HR department. For years, HR managers have expressed the desire to play a strategic role in corporate operations but have been bogged down by compliance and clerical work. With self-service handling much of the administrative transaction processing, the HR team is free to focus on issues of strategic importance for the company.

Please contact your PCS Sales Representative for an in person or web demonstration of our HRIS solution.  We will be happy to show you the features that will help eliminate the drudgery of HR paper tasks and at the same time provide the management team with the reporting data while increasing employee communication and satisfaction.

Submitted By:

Jean Austin
Manager of HRIS Services
Payroll Control Systems

M3 and Payentry Tip – When To Use the Rev Code

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Payentry - M3 TipsWhen to use the Reversal pay-type (coded as “Rev” in the system):

The payroll system itself will use the “Rev” pay-type when it is needed.  When voiding a check on the employee pay history screen, the system will automatically assign the entry a pay-type of “Rev” and places the entry into the V/M batch for you.

M3 View

M3 Tip 1 Image

Payentry View

Payentry Tip 1 Image

If you are making a negative manual entry that doesn’t match a specific check in the employee pay history, it should be done using the check calculator.  The check calculator creates the entry as a manual pay-type and places it into the V/M batch.

M3 View

M3 Tip 2 Image

Payentry View

Payentry Tip 2 Image

The most common mistake is negative entries placed in the normal batch, with the pay-type manually switched to “Rev”.  With this setting, even if a check number is added to the entry, the system will still produce a voucher when the payroll processes.  This may result in the employee receiving two check stubs, one being the normal pay and the other being the details of the negative entry, which may cause questions.

The answer to this question is:  You should never have to set this pay-type manually; the system will automatically use it when it is needed.

Submitted By:

The PCS Customer Service Team

Report Writer Tips – Dates

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

ReportsWhether it’s  an employee  hire date or the last raise date, dates have an enormous impact on payroll, and anything with such great impact usually needs to be reported on.  Adding a field to show hire dates on a Report Writer report is easy enough, but here are a couple of tips for formatting dates.

Day(), Month() and Year() are three functions that can be used to breakdown the pieces that make up a date.  One request we get regularly is to show employee birthdates without showing the year.  Using the Month() and Day() functions, this is easy.

Month(ee.birthdate) & “/” & Day(ee.birthdate)

This would bring back dates like “6/15” and “12/23”.  You could even spell out the month using the MonthName() function.

MonthName(Month(ee.birthdate)) & “ “ & Day(ee,birthdate)

Here the birth dates would look like “June 15” and “December 23”.

Sometimes when vendors, like health insurance or 401(k) providers, need information from you, they want to see dates in a specific format.  This is how you could return hire dates in a year first format:

Year(ee.hiredate) & “/” & Month(ee.hiredate) & “/” & Day(ee.hiredate)

These functions can also be used as a part of a filter and or sort.  If you need a list of employees who are up for review in January, you could use this employee filter:

Field Comparison Value
Month(ee.hiredate) = 1

All of these functions can be used on any date in Report Writer, so try them out when you need a little more than just mm/dd/yyyy.

Submitted By:

The PCS Technical Support Team