18 Jun 2019

The rise of the virtual payslip

Gone are the days when payroll was concerned only with pay, tax and National Insurance contributions. Now payroll departments are expected to manage pension contributions, Save as You Earn share option schemes, Give As You Earn charitable giving schemes; salary sacrifice and flexible benefits plans. Not to mention the complex compliance and HMRC demands placed upon them.

Did you know? 1 in 20 employees in the UK is paid using a Pegasus payroll system

Payslips in particular have always been a necessary evil. Not only do they take a significant amount of time to produce and issue to employees, they amass considerable print and postage costs. Not to mention the added worry of employee queries when payslips are not received, mislaid or a include discrepancies.

In an effort to address this administrative burden, e-payslips – whereby the printing, sorting and posting processes are all removed literally at the click of a button – have been the source of much discussion in the industry for the last few years. However, the concept of online payslips has remained a point of discussion rather than a reality. A number of organisations are reluctant to take on this new method due to security concerns, cultural barriers and a lack of robust solutions on the market.

A considerable number of Payroll Administrators have significantly changed the way payslips are managed within their business. Many have adopted a Payroll self-service, whereby employees can access personal information, including payslips, via a dedicated online portal.

Employees can have the peace of mind that they no longer need to worry about losing their payslip under a pile of work, accidently throwing it in the recycling bin or spending a whole afternoon routing through the loft and copious amounts of paperwork to dig out last years P60 to assist with a tax return. The process becomes quite simple. They can simply log on and download. While security concerns around e-payslips were once voiced, when evaluating the scenario of a payslip being left on a desk versus one being held in a file behind a password, it is easy to see why organisations are now embracing this new way of working.

As payroll professionals realise the cost and time advantages to converting, payroll administrators will see the continued rise of payroll self-service, e-payslips and e-P60s, highlighting that the ‘virtual’ payslip model is very much here to stay. Employees get convenience, choice and predictability and payroll departments get to cut their costs, reduce hassle and save time.

If you are currently running Opera 3 and would like more information on Pegasus e-mail payslips and P60s, or simply have a few questions, please contact us on 0345 456 0050.

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03 Apr 2019

Making Big Data work for an SME

We spoke to Tony Poole, Director at Synergy Technology, for his experience and insight into the movement of Big Data and the analytics that goes along with it.

In terms of a Big Data project you have implemented, be it either internally in your business or externally with an SME client, what were the key objectives of the project?

“Traditionally in business you have a number of data “silos” – within accounting, ERP, contact management systems etc. as well as other data, like banking data, sales data – and, both could be national and international. The major problem for businesses is that it’s all disparate data.

What we have in real terms in businesses today, worldwide, is multiple silos of data that do not talk to each other. The objectives we aim to achieve with Big Data for clients, is to integrate these silos of data so that they are unified and easily accessible”.

And that was a challenge – to unify these silos?

“About six years ago the biggest challenge we had was that people had contact management data on one side and accounting information on the other side of their business. And when a customer would write to the organisation the accounts department might get the letter and update the accounts, but nobody would update the contact management system.

Now we have CRM, websites, social media and e-commerce platforms, and of course we have even more silos of data that are all disparate. The first hurdle to get over is linking simple internal systems together so if information is changed in any apex it changes throughout the business. For me that was the start of Big Data.

Now the challenge is even greater. Now it’s about taking data that’s internal to the business or purchased data, with data from the cloud, plus statistical data, and bringing it all together to build a better and more informed picture”.

What does that picture look like?

“We have clients who will take point of sale data, and combine it with data on the weather and data on their own customers.

What that allows them to do is to take a holistic view of sales in a particular store on a particular type of day.

A good example is a major homeware stockist in the UK who stocks barbecues when they know it’s coming into warm weather. But how they determine how many to precisely stock is down to data such as the temperature and the average sales at a certain temperature. We’ve seen this with a few clients and the demand for this data is growing; a one degree change in temperature can double sales”.

Is this the real impact of Big Data?

“Well, if I was running a store selling barbecues then Big Data has an impact and this would be: if the weather forecast tells me that next week will be on average 22 degrees, I’m going to have to stock up very quickly on barbeques. Because of the ease of access to data, I can now combine my predictive weather forecast with my historical sales data – which is sliced into specific temperature headings and predict how many barbecues I should have on order from my wholesaler, on their way to me, to satisfy the potential demand.

If this is done properly the impact is: more sales. If badly planned, I could be out of stock and thus not meet demand. By using the data that’s available and by bringing it all together it allows us to predict more accurately”.

How has it changed your clients’ processes?

Unless you have access to the right data – both internally to the business and external subscription data – you can’t bring it together. What we are seeing is that our clients are becoming more aware of this.

The largest area of this is in e-commerce and website purchasing, particularly for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) businesses, because people’s trends change based upon the time of year, their requirements, seasonal events etc.

It’s important to remember that what we’re really talking about is just the joining of the silos of data. Whether it’s data you own or that others own and you’re renting, or whether it’s just you keeping all your silos in sync, this end result is consolidating and joining to create Big Data.

If you would like to find how to consolidate your business data and utilise it more effectively for your buiness then contact Synergy Technology on 0345 345 0050 or send us an enquiry today.

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23 Apr 2018

Realise your business intelligence

Often, the image surrounding Big Data and business intelligence focuses on how giant corporations can hoover up an extraordinary amount of information, feed it into powerful computers that spit out a stream of crucial analysis and insights that the corporation uses to save itself billions.

According to a recent report by Research and Markets:
“the global big data market for small and medium-sized enterprises will grow at a compound annual rate of annual rate of 43 percent until 2018.”

While certainly a cliché, there are big companies harvesting incredibly large amounts of data, putting it to work and achieving great results. However, Big Data is not only reserved for ‘big companies’. More and more small and medium-sized enterprises are capitalising on the advantages that Big Data gives their business processes. By harnessing a large volume of data, and based on the right analysis, SMEs can:

  • Improve knowledge of what makes customers tick
  • Find new entries into markets
  • Reduce costs
  • Uncover new insights
  • Make better and more precise business decisions

‘Little’ Big Data – how to make it work

Analytics is the essential component when it comes to making your data work for you.

For SMEs, smaller data sets gleaned from social media, email marketing programmes or CRM tools can provide customer patterns and marketplace trends or reveal overlooked opportunities, which can be turned into important business insights.

The benefits of the cloud and Big Data

When we talk about recent technological innovations, the cloud is never far from the conversation. The thing about Big Data is, there’s a lot of it. So, companies need to be able to handle the bandwidth that the continued cycle of collecting, analysing and storing a large amount of information will cost. This is especially true for SMEs. The cloud is a far more cost-effective platform when implementing Big Data analytics and allows SMEs to control how they scale their data function.

For example, imagine you are a medium sized company whose flagship product is doing well. With the right analytics, you can study who is buying your product and start to build a profile of your ideal customer, demographic, etc. Naturally, you want to figure this stuff out fast because a rival company is gaining on your market share, so Big Data will be crucial. Similarly, if your product is not doing well, analytics can help you gain insight into why.

Synergy Technology can help you develop your BIG Data strategy. Our business applications all include data reporting modules to help you maximise the amount of business intelligence you can gain from your data.

Getting started with business intelligence

Beyond the question of budget, storage and physical capacity to engage with high volumes of data, one of the keys to utilising Big Data effectively as an SME is preparation:

1. Define your goals

Are you looking to increase customer satisfaction or to get a better sense of your competition? One of the first steps to make big data work for an SME is through defining what it is you want to achieve from your data strategy.

2. Start with the data you already have

Most SMEs have data stored across several different areas – information is often isolated from other information. By bringing these isolated sources together you can consolidate your data and build a strategy. Imagine, as a small retailer you could look specifically at the relationship between social media conversations and buying trends.

3. Create a centralised view of your data

Make your data easier to discover and access. Once you’ve identified the various sources of data you hold, you can bring that data together in a single place. For example, many organisations opt to build a customer data hub, where information is gathered one everything to do with customers, helping analysts to pull out customer insights.

4. Fire up the dashboard and get analysing

Once you bring the data into a single location, you can put the dashboard to work. Using the same customer data hub example, you should be able to test your key performance indicators against communications data that you already had. You will be able to see previous orders, email and phone correspondence, and who you have been in contact with. You can review recordings of previous calls and turn that experience to a more positive customer service in the future.

5. Refine and retune your process

It might take a teething period, but once you are up and running you’ll know what works best for your data strategy, and can tweak it accordingly. Based on a specific workflow you can be sure of what customers are expecting and in that way predict customer behaviour, which will enable you to enhance your business processes and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Synergy Technology can advise you how to maximise on the business intelligence you can gain from your data call us on 0345 456 0050 for further information.

Click on this link : Read our Business Talk online

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18 Nov 2017
06 May 2017

Create a virtual workforce

How can you begin creating your new environment?

Virtual working has never been more cost effective or easy to implement.

In the last few years, a plethora of technological advances have put the possibility of creating a virtual workforce within reach for most companies. No longer is the virtual workforce only relevant to international organisations or businesses that depend primarily on office-style working. The technologies that support virtual working can be used by anyone from warehouse workers to wholesalers, from delivery drivers to directors, from consultants to counsellors. This technology allows access to crucial data, documents and software wherever the user is, whatever device they use to connect to it.

However, while the technology is now widely available, many employees are continuing to use existing and often outdated software which requires that they be in a physical place at a specific time to be productive. Creating a virtual workforce and accessing the benefits it promises will require some investment – although this need not always represent huge up-front costs. Many tools used to build a virtual workforce are provided as a service, meaning you pay a relatively low monthly fee for each individual licence.

So, what are the investments you’ll need to make in order to build your virtual workforce?

  • Equipment and hardware
    While the virtual workforce can help you spend less money on maintaining servers in your company’s buildings, you will still have hardware requirements. First among these will be devices for ‘virtual’ staff. You may opt for a policy that allows workers to use their own computers, laptops and tablets to access company data, but it may be more effective to provide your own tools for consistency and training purposes.
  • Additional materials
    If some employees are spending much of their time in home offices, you may need to think about providing appropriate office chairs, desks, keyboards, headsets for voice calls and additional monitors, for example. You will also need to consider broadband in your employees’ homes. While internet connections are generally improving in the UK, there are areas where coverage is still poor. You will need to investigate this for your area, and explore the costs of providing employees with the best service possible.
  • A central document storage and online hub
    It will be essential to provide access to company data in the cloud. Typically, this will require file storage, sharing and collaboration tools which allow virtual employees to access data from wherever they are working.
  • Effective enterprise mobile apps
    Many of the major enterprise IT providers offer their tools as apps that can be used online via mobile devices and laptops. However, if you currently use any custom apps in the business, investigate how you can bring them online so that distance workers can access them.
  • Telecoms, video and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Communication is central to virtual workplace success, and you will need to select a communications tool which supports this; allowing virtual workers to make and receive calls and communicate with colleagues regardless of location.
  • Security
    Essential in any business but especially so when the workforce is accessing data from outside the office, you will need to decide on a security strategy. Central to this will be the granting of permission levels and methods of authenticating the identity of employees accessing data from outside the office walls. You should also investigate mobile device management tools which offer the ability to wipe all data from a device remotely in case it is lost or stolen.

Infographic-Two

While creating a virtual workforce may involve some upfront investment, the long-term benefits and ROI will outweigh any initial costs. An immediate benefit is that you reduce your IT costs and end the need for expensive upgrades – instead, your service provider takes charge of hardware maintenance and you pay a much lower, scalable and predictable monthly fee. Longer term, you provide staff with more flexible working that fits better around how they actually want to work – encouraging greater loyalty and higher productivity.

Contact Synergy Technology to get your virtual workspace off the ground and going, call us today on 0345 456 0050.

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09 Jan 2017

The birth of Big Data

The term Big Data is more than just jargon: in fact one of the most commonly heard buzzwords in business today is ‘Big Data’

This particular phrase is more than just jargon however. In fact, it’s potentially one of the most significant disruptors in the enterprise since the Internet itself. Relevant across almost all verticals in any industry you can think of, from banking and finance, healthcare and education to manufacturing and government, Big Data can bring us brilliant insights from the ever-increasing volume of data we create. And, importantly, it’s as relevant for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as it is for giant conglomerates.

There is certainly a potential here for your organisation. For example, the ability to run different scenarios of your business plan and see the various outcomes of your choices will help you see problems before they arise, discover new business opportunities and ultimately plan more targeted strategies.

Seeing new connections will give you a fresh perspective on your processes and being able to analyse situations in ‘real time’ means you can use your available resources more efficiently.

What is Big Data?

Big Data is the term we give to the large amounts of digital information collected by businesses which is then analysed using specialised tools to uncover patterns, trends and insights within a business, industry or marketplace. This information can then be used to help an organisation be more strategic and ultimately run itself more efficiently.

Big Data can help us make more intuitive and well-informed business decisions by:

  • Helping us predict what will most likely happen in the future.
  • Discovering surprising connections.
  • Monitoring situations as they change.
  • Highlighting the consequences of an action or choice.

Synergy Technology is very proactive about the potential Big Data has to boost your business. Contact us today on 0345 4560050 to get started.

Our growing digital footprint

Ninety percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. One of the effects of the digital revolution is that we now create and collect data from a huge and constantly growing number of sources: social media posts and interactions, digital photos and videos, retail transaction records, GPS mapping, internet searches, mobile phone use, etc. We can access and create content faster than ever through multiple mediums, leaving a trail of data along the way that can be treated, analysed, and used to find out things about our customers and our businesses.

Data Analytics

Data analytics is the science of examining raw data for drawing conclusions about that information. It’s used across many industries to allow companies to make better decisions. For example: A?B testing is a form of analytics where two versions of the same output (like an email newsletter’s subject line…) are tested to see which performs better.

The engine behind Big Data

The transformation of regular data into Big Data is down to advancements in technology. The software, apps and tools at our disposal that enable us to analyse such volumes of valuable information have resulted in a revolution in business insights, decisions and strategy. So, you might say that Big Data is only as ‘big’ as the data analytics solution that’s behind it.

By using the data that they generate and feeding them through data analytics tools, companies can begin to understand their own business better, and make decisions to boost efficiency and cut waste. Let’s look at how the concept of Big Data could be deployed and capitalised on in a couple of different industries:

Manufacturing and supply chain management

Big Data and advanced analytics can give businesses an important overview into how best to arrange for the actual distribution of their goods or services to increase yields and reduce costs. The right data will also indicate the best channels to use. The scale and depth of data that supply chains are generating is constantly getting faster which in turn generates massive data sets that can then drive the right kind of contextual intelligence, providing businesses in the industry information to make better decisions.

Construction

Knowing precisely how resources are being used can save a project from going over budget. Big Data provides innovations like predictive modelling, allowing organisations to estimate costs better and avoid waste.

Financial services

The ability to monitor financial market activity with network analytics and natural language processors can highlight potential illegal trading. Also, enterprise credit risk can be reported, potential card fraud detected, etc.

The History of Big Data

1950s: most data collection and analysis was quite basic compared to today’s standards. It was a much more manual process involving reading and sorting through many documents and inputting relevant information into physical spreadsheets which could then be crosschecked against other information.

1980s -1990s: with the advent of Microsoft Excel, spreadsheets were digitised and semi-automated, productivity and business analysis received a major boost as a result.

2000 to now: the introduction of specific business intelligence tools has increased the clout and scope of data analysis. For example, data visualisation tools put large amounts of data into more easily digestible visual forms so that patterns and trends can be discerned quickly.

So, Big Data looks like it’s here to stay: and it’s not only relevant for large companies, but accessible and also valuable to SMEs. To understand how data analytics and business intelligence tools can make a difference to your business processes, contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050.

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