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RSM US LLP

Payroll Implementation: Developing a Realistic Schedule – Two Viable Options and One Option to Avoid


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When setting a go-live date for a payroll implementation project you must take a variety of factors into consideration. Some of the most import factors are related to government tax and reporting requirements. January 1 is always the best selection for a US payroll go-live date.  Going live at the beginning of a tax year allows for W2 reporting for the previous tax year to be accomplished in the legacy system and the new system can start with a clean year-to-date payroll data slate. Also, period by period employee data migration is not required with a January 1 go-live.  This significantly reduces the volume of payroll data which must be migrated and validated and, hence, reduces the cost to implement.

The next best go-live date is the beginning of a tax quarter. This allows for the current year-to-date data to be migrated at the quarterly summary level and quarterly tax reporting (941 reports) for the just ended quarter can be handled in the legacy system. The volume of migration data which requires cleansing and validation is significantly smaller than if you go-live mid quarter, again reducing the cost to implement.

Sometimes, however, it is impossible to avoid a go-live date which does not fall on the beginning of a tax year or quarter end date.  Perhaps the legacy system is malfunctioning and support is not available.  In this case, you must be prepared for the extra work and cost associated with migrating and validating period by period employee data. We recommend a mid-year, mid-quarter go-live be avoided if possible.

The bottom line: set a conservative go-live date and manage aggressively to meet that date.  Remember payroll mistakes are costly in terms of employee confidence and moral, and possibly even in financial liability.  Do not go-live before you are sure you have it right.  If you have multiple facilities, consider a phased implementation schedule. Work with your Payroll Consulting Partner to develop a flexible schedule which ensures adequate data validation, employs use case testing, and provides extensive staff training.

RSM McGladrey is a Certified Payroll Implementation Partner with a proven record of successful payroll projects.  Our payroll and human resources systems implementations range on average from 500 - 2500 employees.  We understand the challenges with payroll implementations and have an implementation methodology with proven results.

By:  David Funk, RSM McGladrey –  Microsoft Dynamics ERP Certified Partner in New York

2 Responses to “Payroll Implementation: Developing a Realistic Schedule – Two Viable Options and One Option to Avoid”

  1. In this case, you must be prepared for the extra work and cost associated with migrating and validating period by period employee data. We recommend a mid-year, mid-quarter go-live be avoided if possible.
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    Steven