Staffology Payroll: how past meets future in powerful cloud software

Posted on Tuesday, 25th Apr '23

Duane Jackson by Duane Jackson

Fran Williams, Senior Product Director at IRIS, is on a mission.

He and his team are taking the company’s four decades of payroll success and channelling it into the latest apps and services.

This is no small task!

When Fran joined IRIS, he was given oversight of 25 different software and service lines, ranging from 40-year-old heritage products to present-day solutions.

With its acquisition announced at the beginning of 2021, it was decided Staffology Payroll would take the lead in this consolidation project.

By then, Staffology Payroll had already established itself as the first cloud payroll platform on the market to have a comprehensive API.

Why did IRIS choose Staffology?

“There were two reasons why we picked Staffology Payroll,” Fran explains.

“Firstly, it was a great cloud platform we could migrate our customers to. Secondly, it was perfect for enhancing, developing and maturing, meaning we could better serve both niche and larger companies – until then, IRIS had focused on payroll for businesses with 300 employees or below.”

Fast forward two years and Staffology Payroll has stepped into its leading role well, proving Fran and his team right.

With new features, including portals and nuanced pay functions, and it serving outsourcing businesses as the Staffology Bureau variant and acting as a backbone to the IRIS Fully Managed Payroll service, Staffology’s growth has been rapid.

Recent figures show a 73% jump in the software’s use year-on-year; that’s 170,000 people live on the system, being paid by more than 5,800 employers.

But how did Fran and his team get everything ready for this big jump, catering for such a diversity of businesses and how are they gearing up for other major upgrades on the horizon?

Fast, consistent development

Rather than getting side-tracked by successful but constraining older software designs, Fran and his five teams of developers took more of a ‘first principles’ approach to growing Staffology.

They looked at the very essence of every new function they wanted to add and then decided, based on Staffology’s modern architecture, the best way forward.

Fran says: “Our teams move quickly. We have developed and released improvements weekly, sometimes daily. Duane Jackson, who created Staffology, heads one of our teams and plays a hugely important part in this. He approaches things differently, often looking at the software landscape outside accounting and payroll to create fresh, best-in-class solutions.”

But there’s no point in moving quickly and thinking outside of the box without a plan.

Much of Staffology’s plan is based on utilising the know-how IRIS has learnt from four decades of payroll experience, but an equally important contribution comes from customers.

The Staffology Ideas Portal is where Fran and his team keep in touch with people using the software every day; customers post their ideas for new features directly on the board, and then the wider community vote on those they want to see in the future.

A new feature for avoiding the “Apollo 11 experience”

There’s a moment Fran likens to Apollo 11 re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere; it happens after a client fills out their monthly paperwork, sends it to a payroll bureau and waits to see the result.

During this time, everything goes dark. Communication stops.

Fran was not happy with this, describing it as a “black-and-white experience” for payroll clients.

The solution was one of the biggest changes to Staffology since it arrived at IRIS: to build an Employer Portal, letting customers get involved in their outsourced payroll in a way that’s very transparent and far more secure than emailing spreadsheets or PDFs.

Fran says. “We allowed employers to make changes on the understanding that we could see, via an audit trail, every single thing that they’ve changed, and we could go in and check it was done in line with legislation.

“This makes for a much more transparent and secure payroll process, encouraging collaboration between our customer and our CIPP-qualified payroll processors.”

Growing for big businesses

There is a range of other features that Fran’s developers concentrated on beyond this new portal.

Intense focus was placed on streamlining auto-enrolment and making sure the software had greater connectivity – taking its already gold-standard data-sharing capabilities to the next level.

At the time of writing, Fran and his developers were working on functions around occupational sick schemes, future-dated pay-rises, average holiday pay and the gender pay gap, addressing the needs of larger organisations who are either currently using the platform or are eager to move across.

And remember how Fran’s mission is about consolidating 40 years of software and service know-how?

As part of this, his teams are also taking decades of legislation and weaving this rich history into Staffology Payroll, so the software has even deeper, more nuanced features.

But there is much more to come for Staffology Payroll.

A positive momentum

IRIS has a plan: migrate more than 3 million payslips onto Staffology Payroll from heritage platforms.

“When we do that, not only will it be one of the most used payroll platforms in the UK, but it will still be one of the most innovative because we plan to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” Fran says.

The next year will see a raft of improvements lined up for Staffology Payroll.

Fran explains: “We have this really positive momentum within the team, and we’re hungry to deliver more.

“We’ll start to look at advanced reporting, making it faster and easier to produce information. You will be able to generate more detailed summaries of your payroll and quickly pinpoint anomalies.

“When we have finished addressing everything we feel large organisations need, we’ll have our sights set on how we can support the work IRIS does across software and services in education, healthcare and the wider public sector, deepening functionality for bureaus in the process.

“It’s an exciting journey, we have a lot planned, and – with the help of our community – we’re confident the best is yet to come.”

Duane Jackson, April 25th, 2023

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