Tired of running payroll on a less than stellar platform? Have you gathered what you thought was compelling evidence of the benefits of, and the acute need for, a recommended payroll solution only to be denied and never get your business case heard? You are not alone.

Simply knowing there needs to be change doesn't get you a seat at the executive table to pitch your idea. The biggest hurdle is creating substantiated reasons for the change, and being able to articulate the pain points and associated costs.

Your leadership team and executives have many competing priorities to evaluate and a finite amount of resources available for projects. In order to get their attention and persuade them to review and approve your business proposal, you must confidently be able to answer this question: How will new, upgraded payroll software assist my company in reaching our critical business goals?

Payroll business case

The answer lies with you. It might be that you will be able to save time on processing payroll, better understand how to control labor costs or ensure that you’re in compliance with your processes. Once you’ve determined your approach, the key is to prepare a compelling business case that shows both the financial benefits and which business problems can be solved by making a change.

Articulating the need and value in terms that will resonate with your leadership is key to moving your case from a “nice-to-have” to actuality. For example, instead of just stating “our payroll system is outdated”, you need to provide the value of new technology to the business. Try expressing your business need as “if we invest in a new payroll management system, we’ll be able to reduce processing time, provide more relevant and timely reporting, and initiate our mobile and self-service project.”

Get started building your case using these four foundational areas:

1. Define the business impact

Every business case should identify the costs and potential cost savings as part of the benefit from new payroll software. Getting benchmark data is a critical way to understand where you can save costs for the business. Key areas that you should have benchmark data on are: payroll errors and error rate, payroll productivity, self-service and mobile, total cost of current system, and compliance risk. With documented costs for each of these areas, you will be able to show the cost of doing nothing. If you stay as-is, what is it costing the company, and at what risk are you putting the company in by not investing in modern payroll technology?

2. Establish the business need

Using the costs items from the business impact, the business need can draw upon those for a compelling argument to present to leadership. For payroll, important business goals include streamlined processes, eliminating redundant data entry and manual processes, increasing productivity while reducing costs and improving compliance and controls. Use a list of business drivers to help identify areas for savings as well as account for shortcomings in your current payroll management system.

3. Identify stakeholders and gain support

Connecting the business impact to business drivers will link how the new technology can make a positive impact to the company. And inclusion of stakeholder’s interests and concerns completes the picture of how change will impact not just payroll, but the company overall.

Generally, there are two key stakeholder roles in a project: the sponsor, and the business owner. Identifying and gaining their support early-on helps pave the wave to presenting your business case. And these stakeholders can help get buy-in from other areas of your organization. Needless to say, the more muscle you have on your side helps get your project off the ground and make it a success.

4. Provide value-added benefits

There should be a direct link of a new technology improvement to a benefit realized. This might not always be hard dollar savings, but every case should show how the new technology equates to an actual benefit for the company and the company's goals. To know which benefits to highlight in the new technology, ask the following:

What value does a new or upgraded payroll system provide that our existing technology does not provide?

Once you have a short list, I recommend creating a chart, a grid, or similar, to easily show your stakeholders and leadership each technology area, the improvement and the benefit it brings to your company.

Payroll touches every person in your organization. And change is never easy, even less so when it comes to changes to your paycheck. So, it’s no wonder it feels like moving a mountain sometimes to implement something new in your payroll process. All the more reason to have a solid foundation to your build your business case on. The more accurate and complete your data and value proposition, the easier it will be to get your leaderships' attention to move forward with making a change.

Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2018