Unsung heroes of payroll – meet our product team

By Anthony Wolny | 20th May 2020 | 15 min read

During the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals from various industries and sectors have banded together to maintain business continuity.

One sector in particular that has played an enormous role but may not immediately come to mind is payroll.

Payroll departments across the country have been working tirelessly, paying those still working and also single handily managing the crucial Job Retention Scheme.

To get a greater understanding of how payroll is helping businesses, we spoke with our Payroll Product Manager, Matthew Routledge.

Firstly, could you tell us a bit more about your role and team?

I'm the Product Manager for desktop payroll, handling the roadmap and delivery for our various products which includes legislative compliance, new feature development and support with issues.

As for the product team, we bring together the commercial and technical elements of delivering the products our customers use.

What has COVID-19 and furloughing meant to your department?

COVID-19 has been a continually progressing requirement, which meant we had to quickly react to provide our customers support.

One of the first major changes was the removal of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) waiting days.

We immediately produced guidance to advise payroll professionals on how they can alter their processes within each of our products to accommodate the removal.

The next wave of changes that we had to rapidly accommodate was the introduction of furlough and the Job Retention Scheme (JRS).

We quickly produced guidance, recommending how the changes should be handled so payroll professionals could split out the wages and recognise furlough payments, simplifying the reporting and reclaim process.

Additionally, as more information was and continues to be announced on the Job Retention Scheme, we're reacting quickly to update our software with new features, ensuring furloughing is as simple as possible.

For example, our new functionality allows payroll professionals to accurately calculate the furlough amount, progress it in a way that identifies applicable pay and then report on it to submit their claim.

How has the payroll product team risen to the challenge?

Essentially, we've all communicated as best as possible to make sure that everyone knew their responsibilities so when information became available, we all had visibility and could start working immediately. 

We also have regularly scheduled calls with different departments so everyone is in line with the new requirements, making sure we know when all the updates are going live so we can communicate that to customers.

Additionally, all of the teams involved in delivering updates have worked very hard to deliver for our customers in a time-sensitive situation with a number of people working far beyond their contracted hours.

How have you been proactive when supporting customers?

We're creating a huge amount of business continuity guidance on maintaining payroll while working from home.

Providing support has always been important to us and especially during the current situation, creating content on the current legislative environment is now a staple in our day-to-day.

Do you have plans for supporting customers?

The key thing is we want to make sure the information we're providing is up to date and as accurate as possible.

What we want to ensure is if we make any more tweaks to our software, that they're structured and reflect the current legislative changes.

We're also maintaining a weekly support call to keep on top of any new customer requirements so we can further improve our offering as quickly as possible. 

What advice do you have for customers moving forward?

Make sure you're always using reliable guidance on how to handle anything like furloughing and as long as your using an accurate source such as IRIS you're in good hands.

But remember everything is changing so rapidly that even HMRC struggles at times to keep their guidance inline. 

So, for all the latest payroll updates and news, check out our Payroll Support Hub here.