A payroll solution you can trust (Sponsored)

Jun 03, 2020
Jason Collins, Founder of CollSoft, explains the magic behind his specialised and responsive business model.

Payroll administration has become an increasingly complicated process over the years, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another layer of complexity. Companies availing of the Government’s COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme have had to contend with changes to an already less-than-straightforward scheme while dealing with the broader business impact of the pandemic.

Adapting to the rapidly changing payroll world has been the stock-in-trade of the Irish software firm, CollSoft, for the past 20 years. “We are highly specialised and only do payroll software for the Irish market,” says Founder and Chief Executive, Jason Collins.
He explains that market share can be measured in two ways when it comes to payroll software – by employees or employers. When measured by payroll submissions to Revenue by employers, CollSoft ranks number three in its market segment – quite an achievement for an indigenous Irish software company.

“Our software is aimed at the small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) market,” Jason adds. “We cater to companies that do their payroll internally, and also to payroll bureaux and accountants. Overall, our software is used by 35,000 employers. Of those, about 8,000 look after their payroll themselves while the balance is looked after by bureaux and accountancy firms.”

Jason attributes the company’s success over the years to its customer focus and high degree of specialisation. “Our main goal is to provide maximum customer value in everything we do. Over the years, we focused on getting the software right and let our customers tell other people about it.”

Continuous improvement is critical. “We actively listen to our customers and work with them as a team to research new and best practice. We also deliver payroll improvements on an ongoing basis free of charge,” Jason adds.

And that includes in-year changes to payroll-related legislation or processes. “Payroll legislation may change in the middle of the tax year due to new government initiatives or emergency measures such as those introduced to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jason notes. “We engage proactively with all regulatory bodies so that we are informed immediately of planned changes. All software updates are released to customers free of charge in advance of the implementation date to ensure that all our customers are payroll-compliant.”

Looking back on the changing nature of payroll over the years, Jason says it is far from a straightforward process. “You can’t do it on an Excel spreadsheet anymore. We have seen numerous changes to the tax system as well as to PRSI. The USC was introduced in the wake of the financial crash 12 years ago and more recently, we have seen PAYE Modernisation, which has changed everything.”

The objective of PAYE Modernisation is for Revenue, employers, and employees to have the most accurate, up-to-date information relating to pay and statutory payroll deductions. Its introduction saw the reporting process by employers to Revenue becoming fully integrated into the payroll run and the PAYE system being brought into real-time.

“Under the old system, you did your monthly P30 and paid the tax due,” says Jason. “There was no real detail included until you filed the P35 in February. The old P35 and P60 was the only detailed analysis of who was paid what. That put things on the long finger, and it suited lots of people. But modernisation changed everything completely. You have to report to Revenue on or before the date you pay people and employers consequently had to change their payroll processes.”

This brought challenges for everyone. “It changed our business as well. We used to have peaks and troughs during the year, but we are busy all the time now. It changed our business model. It wasn’t just a matter of us making the changes to the software on time; our customers found it challenging as well. People are human, and it doesn’t matter how much warning you give them – things are often left until the last minute. 1 January 2019 was like a big bang for a lot of businesses and it was a bruising experience for many of them. We were glad to be able to support our customers through the transition.”

The experience of helping customers during that major upheaval is paying handsome dividends now. “The good thing about it was that when COVID-19 kicked off, we knew what was likely to happen and we looked at what we could do to help people.”

The rapid changes introduced by Government in the wake of the initial stages of the COVID-19 lockdown would have challenged even the best-resourced businesses. “The emergency solution announced first saw employers claiming €203 per week as a subsidy, but there had to be a way of identifying which employees were due to receive it. The software industry came up with the idea of using the old J9 PRSI class to tag those employees. That used to apply to things like SOLAS training schemes, for example. That suggestion was adopted, and payroll software was updated in a matter of days.”

CollSoft was also able to amend its software almost instantaneously in response to alterations to the subsidy that saw it change first to 70% and then to 85% of net pay subject to certain limits and subject to revisions to its application to people earning above the upper threshold of €960 per week net pay.

“Two things made that rapid response possible,” says Jason. “The first was PAYE Modernisation. In the old days, employers would have had to wait until year-end to get the subsidy or some new process would have had to be developed. Because we spent two years preparing for modernisation, we built an excellent working relationship with Revenue. We were therefore able to work with Revenue to ensure that our software would calculate the subsidy accurately. This took a lot of work but as a result, our customers can trust the software to do all the work on their behalf and ensure that they are fully compliant with Revenue requirements.”

That level of trust is critically important. “Half of our customers have five employees or less and according to Revenue, the majority of employers in the State have just one or two employees,” Jason points out. “They cannot be expected to keep up-to-date with regulations at all times. They rely on our software to do that for them, and they trust us to get it right. We have been developing payroll software for 20 years, and we are passionate about what we do. Our sole focus is on the Irish payroll market and that will bring tremendous advantages to our customers over the next three to six months, with the situation likely to be in a constant state of flux as we emerge from the lockdown.”
(This article is sponsored by CollSoft.)