Where payroll traditionally failed the bureau

Payroll for bureaux

It’s not uncommon to hear stories from bureau payroll managers talking about antiquated desktop software that requires manual data input for each pay run. If an employee moves house, changes their bank account or applies for leave, the payroll manager must manually update the system each time, often by sending a spreadsheet to fill out and return. Not only is this a time waster, but processing in this way will make it harder to be GDPR compliant as you’ll need to have manual processes in place in order to comply with ‘the right to be forgotten.’ It’s time for bureau businesses to change the way they work and pay by incorporating technology in their processes.

Manual Efforts

Traditional payroll systems have not been built specifically for the bureau market, requiring copious manual entry, duplication of efforts, excessive spreadsheets and back and forth emails needed for even the smallest changes to the pay run. This has made it nigh on impossible to have visibility into the pay run from a bureau perspective, and how much time is spent on each client processing each pay. Likewise, bureau clients aren’t able to easily see what stage the pay run is at directly, taking precious time away from the bureau business. This lack of visibility has traditionally hindered a bureau's ability to grow their customer base and optimise payroll processing. Nowadays, payroll bureaux can incorporate modern, cloud-based payroll systems online anytime, anywhere, that offer their clients a real-time view of the pay run - with no need to contact the bureau. Likewise, bureau businesses also have complete visibility across all stages of each client’s pay runs and allow managers to optimise operations accordingly.

Multiple Systems

On average, bureau payroll managers use 6 systems before they start processing the pay run across expenses, leave, time and attendance, rota management, and document management etc. Not only does this generate extra work on behalf of the payroll processor to match up the data, but it also adds significant costs to the bureau, paying for each system, as well as someone to maintain those systems.

Instead, bureau businesses should look at an all-in-one package that streamlines the process and reduces costs. Additionally, a consolidated system adds extra benefits to a bureau when you consider client service. For example, expiring leave for most companies occurs at the end of the financial year. Suddenly employees realise in March that they can ‘use it or lose it’ and an influx of leave requests occurs. As a bureau provider, they can include the leave balance report and also take a quick look every quarter and say “Hey, you’ve got 9 employees with 3 weeks leave left, maybe you should have a chat to them about taking time off ”; in that way, the bureau has created a positive, proactive interaction with their client, provided an additional service and added extra value.


Regulations surrounding RTI, HMRC, pension auto-enrolment communications and now GDPR can also complicate the payroll process across different systems; and quite simply, make it difficult to keep track of what’s been done – and when. Sourcing a solution that automates this process will ultimately ensure compliance at all times, without any anxiety.

Employee data

Bureau businesses that have traditionally used email for communicating with clients will need to change the way they work as a result of GDPR. Systems that empower employees to manage their own data through an employee portal or mobile app that ensures compliance are increasingly important for bureaux who want to spend time on scaling their operations rather than changing an employee’s timesheet or emailing a payslip.

In an age where 27% of our day is spent on our mobile, why wouldn’t we embrace mobile for payroll? KeyPay offers both an employee portal and mobile app (WorkZone) that allows employees to log in, onboard themselves with all the information required for payroll, as well as submit leave requests, expenses, update their personal information, view payslips and, where required, view timesheets and rotas. The employee portal allows for full employee GDPR compliance and easy accessibility of payroll data, right at their fingertips – any time, anywhere, no matter the number of employees.

Source technology that scales with your business

Over 60% of UK businesses outsource their payroll to a third party, so there’s no shortage of growth opportunity for bureaux to capture a greater piece of the payroll pie. By leveraging technology to automate processes, and ‘outsource the outsourcing’ to a comprehensive payroll solution that integrates with their existing cloud accounting software, businesses will be in a far better position to grow.

Phil Bernie

Co-founder of KeyPay. Follow me on:


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