Tag Archive: connected services


Philip Meyer

Philip Meyer

Connected Services enables SME companies to extend their desktop payroll with an online solution that eases the growing burden of HR managers and payroll administrators.

Connected Services includes a web-based self-service tool that enables employees to manage and maintain their own information online, thereby carrying some of the overall HR administration responsibility. They are able to make online applications for leave, loans, bursaries, travel claims, view their payslips and update personal information no matter where they are so long as they have an internet connection.

The adoption rate of online business software for new entrants into the market is increasing, posing the question of how to bridge the gap between the growing trend towards online software adoption and the traditional desktop application users in the same market segments.

The advantages and conveniences of connected services assist with expediting the many benefits of dual-deployment business software models such as client-side hosted applications with significant connected services capabilities and functionality, together with a seamless upgrade path to ultimately complete cloud-based models facilitated by vendors.

Connected Services has workflow capabilities based on the organisation chart or specific workflow orders per online form. Once an employee applies for leave online and it is management approved, the payroll & HR systems are automatically updated. The software also provides for leave scheduling, particularly practical over traditional December holidays when “skeleton staff” is required. The programme helps to manage minimum staff levels by providing system warnings.

When applying a connected services solution such as Self Service, companies should consider a hosted solution.  This guarantees quick deployment at low implementation cost, meaning companies do not have to invest in additional infrastructure to host the online application. All a company needs is an internet connection and a computer.

Frictionless (automated) payroll legislative updates
Frictionless updates are another example of connected services. This functionality enables traditional desktop applications to seamlessly update over the internet with minimal intervention from the end-user of the software.

Users no longer need to visit a website to download and install updates or CD versions manually as the connected services functionality does it all for them, directly from their payroll software. The days of CD-based updates and disruptive installation and implementation cycles are over.

RSS Feeds within payroll software
Another component of Connected Services allows HR managers and payroll administrators to receive RSS feeds to their desktops notifying them of legislative and tax changes as well as new system software releases so that the company is always on track and up to date.

The internet and, more specifically, cloud-based and online business applications constitute some of the most compelling opportunities for streamlining the way business is now conducted. It is reassuring that the optimisation of internet capabilities will almost certainly not amount to a one-size fits all model.

It is rather the incremental evolution of traditional desktop software, leveraging the internet where it is appropriate and business enhancing, that is playing an important role in the evolutionary shift to complete cloud-based business software provisioning, billing and deployment. This is providing a flexible and extensible migration path to the cloud, taking into account preferences of individual business requirements, as will pure cloud-only offerings.

Reduce payroll fraud and bank rejections with automated payroll software
Opt for a payroll vendor that can offerID number and bank account validations, as well as Employee Credit Checks and the delivery of secure salary EFT payments directly from the payroll software.

Companies need to take steps to avoid paying fake employees and can reduce payroll fraud and bank rejections, ensuring that they avoid stalling when processing salary payments. By combining monthly employee ID Number validation and verification with monthly bank account validation and verification together with secure payment services, companies  ensure that not only are they paying the correct employee through the correct bank account, but also that the payment is expedited in the most secure manner possible.

By validating and verifying the ID Numbers on the payroll, companies create complete peace of mind in the knowledge that not only has their employee provided a valid ID Number but also that the ID Number has been verified as belonging to the associated employee and is recorded on the Department of Home Affairs list of official ID Numbers. This eliminates both fake ID Numbers as well as ID Numbers not associated with the given employee.

With secure salary EFT payments, payment batches can be created automatically within a payroll system without creating the infamous “text files” which on some payroll systems needed to be stored on the hard drive of the Payroll Administrator’s computer and then forwarded or transferred to the authorised user of the banking software for transmission to the relevant bank. Avoiding editable payment  text files improves efficiency and eliminates yet another potential area for payroll fraud, ensuring a tamperproof payment is imported into the banking software.

By performing credit checks on employees, companies and Human Resource managers are provided with valuable information on existing and potential employees including judgments, defaults, notices / alerts, fraud listings / indicators, marital status spouse details and all residential address details. Reports can sourced from the three main credit bureaus in South Africa, namely TransUnion, Experian and XDS.

For more information on in-payroll software ID Number and Bank Account validation and verification services, contact Sage Pastel Payroll & HR and enquire about their Sage Pastel Connect Module.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR. on Twitter (Payroll News), LinkedIn, Facebook.

By Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at Sage ERP Africa.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

The continued pursuit of mobility will fuel the uptake of Cloud solutions and requests for software on a subscription basis in 2013.

The sales of our solutions in the cloud have doubled in the last year, and I believe it is mostly attributable to the decline in bandwidth costs.  This trend has underscored the uptake of cloud in the last year.  A cloud solution can be tailored to meet the needs and pockets of the user, which makes it adaptable to suit the needs of the organisation.

A trend that will certainly continue to stamp its presence into 2013 is the demand for connected services, especially around service, sales and stock.  The days of spending hours to compile data and to debug excel formulas, are numbered.  Clients want to know what their key performance indicators (KPIs) are at the touch of a button and with a host of cloud enabled Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions you literally need an internet connection and a laptop, tablet, PC or smart phone to review your performance.  Slick and easy to use is the name of the game and that is why the uptake of applications for mobility has mushroomed.

Many vendors with modern architecture have easily adapted to the new challenges of mobility, but not all software is architected to allow for a rapid response to changing market conditions and that is something that the industry will need to work on in 2013.

Mobility will continue to gain traction well into 2013, in addition to the uptake of solutions in the cloud from both a consumer and enterprise point of view.  Devices, applications and social media are revolutionising the way that we communicate and it will have far-reaching effects on the South African IT industry going forward.

Payroll and HR software specialist Softline Pastel Payroll has a Connected Services division that enables SME companies to extend their desktop payroll with an online solution that will ease the growing burden of HR managers and payroll administrators.

Connected services includes a web-based self-service tool that enables employees to manage and maintain their own information online and thereby carry some of the overall HR administration responsibility as they are able to make on-line applications for leave, loans, bursaries, travel claims, view their payslips and update personal information no matter where they are so long as they have an internet connection.

“The internet is here to stay and its capacity and connectivity have tangibly improved recently, providing an increasingly compelling service at progressively competitive prices although South Africa still has some way to go in terms of truly competitive pricing,” says Philip Meyer, technology director at payroll and HR software specialist Pastel Payroll, part of the Softline and Sage Group plc.

“Generally accepted standard online applications – those which many people are comfortable using on a daily basis such as internet banking and online flight reservations systems, news feeds and social media sites are all being complemented by steady streams of new online business applications and services.”

Meyer says the adoption rate of online business software for new entrants into the market is increasing, posing the question of how to bridge the gap between the growing trend towards online software adoption and the traditional desktop application users in the same market segments.

“The adoption of what many consider to be commoditised uses for the internet is seen as a steady evolutionary process and the switch from legacy desktop applications to the cloud is proving to be a gradual adoption rather than a rush to jump on the bandwagon.”

The advantages and conveniences of connected services can aid and expedite the many benefits of dual-deployment business software models such as client-side hosted applications with significant connected services capabilities and functionality together with a seamless upgrade path to ultimately complete cloud-based models facilitated by vendors.

Connected Services has workflow capabilities based on the organisation chart or a specific workflow order per online form. Once an employee applies for leave online and the manager approves it, the payroll system is automatically updated. The software also provides for leave scheduling, which is particularly practical over traditional December holidays when “skeleton staff” are required. The program helps to manage minimum staff levels by providing system warnings.

Meyer reckons frictionless updates are another example of connected services that enable traditional desktop applications to seamlessly update over the internet with minimal intervention from the end-user of the software. “Customers no longer need to visit a website to download and install updates manually and install CD versions, the software now does it all for them. The days of CD-based updates and disruptive installation and implementation cycles are over.”

Another component of Connected Services allows HR managers and payroll administrators to receive RSS feeds to their desktops notifying them of legislative and tax changes and new system software releases so that the company is always on track and up to date.

“The internet and, more specifically, cloud-based and online business applications constitute some of the most compelling opportunities for streamlining the way business is conducted in the 21st century. It is reassuring that the optimisation of internet capabilities will almost certainly not amount to a one-size fits all models.

“It is rather the incremental evolution of traditional desktop software, leveraging the internet where it is appropriate and business enhancing, that will play an important role in the evolutionary shift to complete cloud-based business software provisioning, billing and deployment. This will provide a flexible and extensible migration path to the cloud taking into account preferences of individual business requirements, as will pure cloud-only offerings,” concludes Meyer

By Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Netcash, part of the Sage Group plc.

Charles Pittaway

Charles Pittaway

Connected Services is a buzzword in the industry at present, though many people are still grappling to understand just how important it will become.  I strongly believe that any business or personal solution simply cannot afford to operate in isolation.  In order for software, handheld devices and hardware to offer something of real value, they will have to be developed to interact with one another.

In the face of the information explosion that is changing the way that we communicate at core level, I feel it necessary to take a step back and investigate where it all started.  When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it was initially intended as a voice communication tool.  The realisation that the telephone was able to transfer data set the wheel in motion for the evolution into the telex and faxing sphere.  The connection of the humble telephone into cellular networks ultimately formed the foundation for the internet, which was the big game changer.

We now had the ability to transfer information and data across multiple platforms, which has had a tremendous influence on how we do business.  An example is internet banking, which essentially allows two different banking systems to connect in order to perform a transaction.  The user then receives a notification via SMS or e-mail, which brings two additional platforms into the equation, beautifully illustrating the concept of connected services.

The question however remains as to what further evolution may be on the cards for connected services and the ramifications it may have.  There are currently two very different schools of thought in play.  The advent of the cloud led to the creation of Software as a Service (SaaS), which essentially allows us to utilise software such as accounting and payroll solutions through the web on a pay per use basis.  The traditional business model is however application based, where the software is downloaded onto a personal computer and utilised from your desktop or laptop.

I foresee these two schools of thought merging in the next five to ten years into hybrid solutions.  In order to evolve into true connected services, both online and offline solutions will need to change its platforms to allow inter-changeable communication to take place.

The international business economy was non-existent 20 – 30 years ago.  Countries were isolated and restricted to trade within its own borders.  It has since developed into a global economy that is interlinked:  Whatever happens somewhere in the world has a knock-on effect elsewhere.  If you bring that same analogy back to connected services, then hardware, the internet and software has given rise to a global economy of technology.  All the different vendors cannot operate in isolation and truly successful vendors and service providers will be the companies that get that right.

Inter-operability is already well on its way to becoming the next buzzword, paving the way for strategic alliances and agreements that will allow every application or software solution to be accessible from any device.  Business Intelligence (BI) will become a key aspect in the process of collating all the available information in such a way that it will assist users to make intelligent decisions about their business.  Imagine if you had your order system, warehouse, banking, accounting, distribution and every other aspect you can think of, connected with one click of a button?  The vendors that can ultimately get all the links in the chain connected, will be king.

Connected Services allows for transactions to be owned by various vendors, whether it is a banking system, order system, e-mail or SMS.  It is ultimately not about the number of systems to be linked in a supply chain, but how these systems interact to automate a total solution.

Connected Services

Grant_Lloyd

Grant Lloyd

There’s very little doubt that the internet has arrived and is here to stay – for better or for worse…..

Not only has the availability and the capacity of internet connectivity improved markedly of late, but, the price of such services has shown increased (albeit very gradual) signs of commoditisation in the past year, providing an increasingly compelling service at progressively competitive prices (although South Africa still has a LONG way to go in this regard).

Generally accepted “standard” online applications i.e. those which we are (largely) comfortable using on a daily basis, such as online shopping, internet banking, flight and hotel reservation systems, news feeds and the ubiquitous social media sites, are increasingly being complemented by a steady stream of new online business applications and services.  One has only to consider the initial launch success of both Pastel MyBusiness Online and VIP Liquid Payroll to confirm that the adoption rate of online line-of-business software is on the rise for new entrants into the market segment.

How then does one bridge the gap between the inexorable trend toward online line-of-business software adoption and traditional desktop application users in a similar segment?

In the same way that the adoption of what we (today) consider commoditised uses for the internet (listed above) has been a steady evolutionary process, so too will the switch from legacy desktop line-of-business applications to cloud-based services prove to be a gradual yet inevitable “chicken-little” adoption process rather than a single cataclysmic “big-bang” event.

It is in this evolutionary shift that the advantages and conveniences of connected services can not only aid, but expedite the considerable benefits of dual-deployment business software models i.e. client-side hosted applications with significant connected services capabilities and functionality, together with a vendor-facilitated seamless upgrade path to ultimately complete cloud-based models.

Consider frictionless updates as one example of connected services enabling traditional desktop application to seamlessly update itself over the internet, with little or no intervention from the end-user of the software.  New updates are made available by the vendor on a periodic basis and are shipped invisibly to the end-user leveraging the internet as a transport mechanism.  Gone are the days of CD-based updates and often disruptive installation and implementation cycles.

Imagine to a world of connected payment and financial services where both desktop and cloud-based line-of-business applications offer tightly integrated and yet transparent payment, reconciliation and receipting functionality without the use of traditional front-end banking software in a “clunky” 2-phase approach, once again leveraging the internet as bi-directional transport facilitator.

Whilst the internet and more specifically cloud-based and / or online business applications present some of the most compelling opportunities for re-imagining the way one conducts business in the 21st century, it is reassuring to observe that such leveraging of internet capabilities will almost certainly not be a “one-size-fits-all” model.  Incremental evolution of traditional desktop software, leveraging the internet where appropriate and when business-enhancing, will play as important a role in the evolutionary shift to complete cloud-based business software provisioning, billing and deployment, thereby providing a flexible and extensible “to-cloud” migration path as deemed preferable by individual business requirements, as will pure cloud-only offerings.

-BY GRANT LLOYD, CTO Softline and Sage AAMEA