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    Getting Ready for Quarter End After Implementing Payroll & HCM

    Getting Ready for Quarter End After Implementing Payroll & HCM

    March 14, 2024

    The first quarter-end after implementing a new payroll and human capital management (HCM) system can be daunting. Processing final paychecks in the old system while gearing up for tax filings, quarterly reconciliation, and new pay cycles in the updated platforms is a complex transition that requires thoughtful preparation.

    Whether upgrading disconnected HR platforms or moving from paper to SaaS, streamlining processes through integrated payroll and HCM unlocks significant efficiency gains. However, optimizing starts by ensuring compliance amidst the changes, especially for mid-year conversions. With volumes of employee and tax data to migrate and validate ahead of filings and the following fiscal period, cross-functional collaboration is vital.

    A critical consideration for mid-year payroll/HCM system conversions is handling quarterly and annual tax filings.

    Most top vendors offer a Full Tax Level service that manages all payroll tax compliance on behalf of the client, including quarterly and annual filings. However, not all providers have this capability. If converting mid-year to a system without Full Tax Level support, the organization must work closely with the vendor to ensure all quarterly and year-end tax filings are completed accurately across the legacy and new systems. This requires diligent data validation and balancing of tax liabilities between platforms.

    Before Go-Live: Data Validation & Migration Mapping

    The quality of quarter-end reconciliation relies on clean baselined data in the updated platforms. Before transition, HR and payroll leaders should complete full audits validating employee master records, YTD tax balances, deductions, benefits enrollments, bank account info, and more.

    Identify control totals from Q1 (hours worked and paid, pre/post-tax deductions, company matching amounts, etc.) to cross-check following conversion. Map legacy payroll fields to the new system's data structure and confirm the treatment of historical balances. Doing so accelerates validation when live and limits downstream issues.

    Approaching cutover, coordinate final pay cycle close in legacy tools vs. timing of first cycle kickoff in the new solution. Validate data is updated accurately across systems for the transition period to prevent incorrectly reported balances or missed filings at quarter end.

    During Implementation: Cross-Functional Collaboration

    During Implementation_ Cross-Functional Collaboration

    As leaders balance employee support with adapting to new HCM technology capabilities, clarify quarter-end requirements across teams early on. Doing so optimizes planning as the quarter one close approaches. Critical focus areas include:

    Tax & Compliance Teams:

    • Review updated year-end processes together, identifying new system dependencies or timing changes vs legacy close procedures.
    • Confirm the handling of quarterly/annual tax filings given the mid-year conversion. Update internal controls documentation accordingly.
    • Conduct initial filing tests in the production environment at least one month post-go-live to surface gaps that allow tracking back to root causes before the quarter's end.

    Payroll Teams:

    • Review pay group mappings from legacy to updated HCM solution, ensuring groups remain aligned with filing requirements in the periods ahead.
    • Identify new quarter-end audit and reconciliation needs based on modern platform tools and efficiencies.

    HR Teams:

    • Confirm data validation protocols to support accurate W-2c and other filing corrections that meet compliance needs should employee record changes emerge post-transition.

    As updated workflows cement across groups, keep change leadership in mind to support employees managing new quarter-end processes.

    Post Go-Live: Reconciliation, Validation & Optimization

    Once over the implementation hurdle, reconciliation and reporting optimization sustain ROI long-term. Critical areas HR and payroll managers focus on include:

    Reconciliation

    • Does HCM system reporting match control totals from legacy payroll, general ledger, 401k platform, benefits admin portals, and other downstream systems following the transition?
    • For mid-year conversions, do tax liabilities balance between the legacy and new payroll systems?
    • Where mismatches emerge, can specific transactions and root causes be pinpointed to support corrections or system configuration changes to prevent issues downstream?

    Auditing

    • Do internal control procedures support compliance needs with updated workflows?
    • Are teams adequately staffed to support running final reports, filing draft reviews, validation checks, and other close activities within the processing window required?

    Optimization

    • Are teams leveraging all the efficiency tools now available with automated payroll reconciliation against sub-ledgers in the modern platforms?
    • Can analytics identify process improvement areas to enhance compliance accuracy or speed?
    • What new system functionality applied to reconciliations or reporting would yield further ROI if adopted next quarter?

    While IT, payroll, and HR managers have just tackled significant change absorbing a new system, taking stock at quarter end ensures it's embedded successfully. Pausing to optimize again before the next fiscal period equips the business to realize the total value modern platforms can deliver over time.

    Preparation Tips For Maximizing Value From Your New HCM Stack

    Preparation Tips For Maximizing Value From Your New HCM Stack

    Transitioning business-critical functions like payroll onto updated platforms involves considerable effort. While focusing resources on a smooth cutover, it's easy to underestimate the work required to leverage new long-term solutions. However, organizations reinforce transformations that enhance productivity, reporting, and employee experience over time by proactively realigning teams, processes, and focus areas around quarter-end compliance post-go-live.

    Key ways payroll and HR leaders can prime their business for quarters ahead include:

    Updated Process Documentation

    • With system changes spanning various teams, ensure everyone has access to new SOPs detailing revised quarter close protocols well before the first reconciliations.
    • Specifically document updated sub-processes around quarterly/annual tax filing ownership for mid-year conversions, reconciliation task owners, timing, and internal controls now available or changed with modern systems for accurate Q2 compliance and beyond.

    Cross-Functional Quarter-End Simulation

    • After reconvening tax, payroll, HR, and finance teams to orient around revised quarter close procedures, have them simulate updated workflows together at least one month before the first live close.
    • Identifying disconnects or gaps proactively prevents reconciliation delays or misfiled returns due to process knowledge gaps across groups.

    Ongoing Employee Change Management

    • To sustain adoption after launch, revisit change management strategies targeting HR/payroll administrators and general employee populations.
    • As administrators engage updated platforms daily post-go-live, reignite training that deepens system expertise through nuanced functionality.
    •  For employees, share platform tools that enhance access to data and drive engagement.

    External HCM Expert Support

    • Consider engaging specialized HCM consultants offering services from quarter-end compliance reviews and updated policy guidance to system optimization advisory.
    • Leveraging outside experts through the transition helps organizations vet procedures against industry best practices while tackling process improvements with expanded bandwidth.

    IgniteHCM for Informed Payroll & HCM Transformations

    IgniteHCM for Informed Payroll & HCM Transformations

    As a full-service HCM consultancy, Ignite HCM guides companies through the entire system selection, implementation, integration, change leadership, and support continuum based on industry best practices and its proven methodology.

    With experts in long-term HCM optimizations and robust services spanning strategy, payroll integrations, and training development, Ignite HCM enables organizations to realize maximum ROI from their workforce management technology investments. Ignite HCM is a Certified ADP Partner.

    Learn more about envisioning success at www.ignitehcm.com.

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