Friday Rant: The Joys of Outsourced Payroll

One of my favorite new responsibilities (sarcasm intended) of my new role running Azul Partners, the parent company of this site as well as MetalMiner and Spend Matters UK involves streamlining the proverbial back office -- making sure the company has the appropriate policies and procedures in place to create efficiencies, visibility (into our books and business), and last, scalability. And though Jason has done a tremendous job growing our little rag-tag business (and team) as he likes to call it, he probably had good reason to shift some of these operational tasks to me (I can't operate as effectively, shall we say, as Jason does in a fire-hose type environment). As our team has grown we've obviously needed to add folks to payroll, supply health care, a 401k etc.

In addressing the tasks at hand, my experience with Compupay has been...well...I'll let you read below.

To begin our sad tale, we have had one repeatable issue every time we add a new employee -- even though we completely fill out the bank information, click "direct deposit," etc., the first time we pay that individual, Compupay invariably thinks we wish to issue them a check. A paper one. This has become so problematic that we now notify our customer service rep in advance that we have added someone to payroll to be sure everything goes through as planned.

So one might imagine my surprise to see that this preceding month, our latest addition failed to receive his pay via direct deposit. When I called to discuss (read: flip out) with a sales rep (who was actually quite lovely, despite the system she was trying to explain to me) she helped troubleshoot with me. I thought I would share with you some of that dialog:

Lisa: So how, in the system, can I determine whether or not someone has been properly added for direct deposit?

Compupay: You just have to run a "dummy payroll" to view the pre-transmission report.

Lisa: I don't ever recall seeing a pre-transmission report, let alone knowing how to run one.

Compupay: Well, actually the individual you were attempting to pay is coming up on my screen as direct deposit. So something else might be going on...but you'll still definitely want to run a dummy payroll.

Lisa: Ok, great. Where is the button that says, "dummy payroll"? (okay guys, I am well aware of the fact that I'm the dummy here??)

Compupay: Well, you run a regular payroll but just don't hit the submit button. Then you use your back button to return to the main menu. Make sure you don't actually run the payroll -- of course -- but it should generate that pre-transmission form.

Lisa: it. (??!??!) So in the future, I can find information like this in the FAQ section, right?

Compupay: No, we don't have that.

Lisa: How about a Help section?

Compupay: No, that's why we have a customer support team.

Lisa: Right. So to see this pre-transmittal form, I was supposed to run a "dummy payroll" but with no online guide, no FAQ, no help...?

Compupay: Well, you know Lisa, we do have online training...

Lisa: Oh wow. Ok. Now where on the site can I sign up for that?

Compupay: Well, your customer support person should have told you about that.

Lisa: Well, you know we've been using this service for at least 4 years and I don't recall anyone calling us to set up any online training...


I'm sure much of the confusion involves "user error" -- e.g. my own -- and obviously I probably have some knowledge gaps as to how payroll works. But in 2011, do I really have to call the help desk every single time I need to do anything? Am I really supposed to know how to run these tasks via osmosis?

Executive decision: from now on, I think we're going to have to outsource our outsourced payroll.

-- Lisa Reisman

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