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The Payroll Manager’s Role in HCM Cloud


There’s no question that the payroll manager plays a crucial role in the success of both HR and Finance. At COLLABORATE 19, there was discussion around the role of the payroll manager during a Cloud implementation, during readiness preparation, during go-live, and when business is simply moving along as usual. While the payroll manager has relatively similar daily responsibilities both on-premises or in the Cloud, there are several roles that the payroll manager additionally takes on during implementation, readiness preparation, and go-live.

Responsibilities of a Payroll Manager

A payroll manager has the same responsibilities regardless of whether the company’s software is on-premise or in the Cloud. One critical aspect of a payroll manager’s job is to ensure that payments to employees, the government, and third parties (pension providers, benefits providers, court orders/garnishments, and child support) are accurate. It’s also important to have an accurate record of information in General Ledger and ensure compliance with legislation. The principles of processing payroll in the Cloud are no different than on-premise, but the methodology looks like this:

Preparation > Calculation > Payment > Costing > Reporting > Tax Returns > Reconciliation

There are two key implementation responsibilities for payroll managers:

  • Acting as or providing a subject matter expert (SME) to the implementer/partner
  • Ensuring that the team is involved from start

The team must stay involved throughout the approval and sign off design. They will also have to approve UAT scripts, sign off on UAT, agree on procedures, tolerances, and exit criteria for parallel running, sign off on parallel running, and agree on procedures for cutover.

On-Premises vs. Cloud

On-premises payroll processing components are held on earning/deduction codes and elements. However, Cloud payroll processing components are held on Calculation Cards and elements.

On-premises process flow is a documented procedure, but in Cloud, it is under Payroll Flow.

On-premises checklists are paper and XLS. In the Cloud, checklists are autogenerated from Payroll Flow. Payroll monitoring on-premises is comprised of individual process checking, and in the Cloud, it is comprised of a dashboard, full view, and drill down capabilities. On-premises analytics are for reporting, and Cloud analytics are embedded and have drill down capabilities. Updates occur rarely on-premises but occur quarterly or monthly in the Cloud.

In the Cloud, elements are created via an Element Template. The template is a series of questions that are assembled depending on certain criteria such as legislation, element classification, secondary classification, and select extension. The element template interprets the answers to the questions in order to generate one or more objects, their input values, associated formula and formula results, balance feeds, and calculation card components for certain classifications.

HCM Cloud Update Cycle

HCM Cloud update cycle includes five main essential updates:

  • Quarterly
  • Monthly
  • Monthly vertex
  • Weekly
  • Legislative updates

Each update is vital to the HCM Cloud update cycle. Quarterly updates are mandatory for all customers and a default update cadence. These updates are scheduled for every February, May, August, and November. Customers have the option to request the cadence for the monthly updates. Monthly vertex updates are mandatory for all customers and are required for those in the United States and Canada. Weekly updates are only made at the customer’s request. Legislative updates are included in weekly updates with varying months depending on whether you are in the United States or Canada.

The Cloud Readiness page is included within quarterly updates. This spotlight includes overview videos and the New Feature Summary with high-level descriptions. The “What’s New” guide gives more details and is the primary resource for update planning. Readiness Training videos give an in-depth look at the new features, demos, and best practices.

What to Consider When Moving to Cloud

There are several operational aspects to consider when looking at life in the Cloud. Generated checklists, Payroll Flows, and dashboards are all best done beforehand or towards the beginning of the process if possible. Reconciliation is also very important. It is vital that you know about the reports available to you and when to use them. Procedures for investigating specific queries will prove useful. Utilize the support model of My Oracle Support and the Share Service Centre as well as in-house IT or a third-party partner.

Continuity is also very important in the Cloud. Regression testing of both quarterly and monthly updates is critical. Your testing strategy needs to be efficient and repeatable. To ensure business continuity, you must concentrate on critical business processes and deploying new features at a later date where it’s possible.

In addition to operational analytics and continuity, innovation is also a key component of life in the Cloud. You can stay up to date by using Customer Connect, Release Readiness, HCM Talk Radio, Knowledge Share, and training resources and videos. You need to understand the impact of new features and consider how and when new features can be enabled and adopted. You also need to evaluate and decide what resources and training will be required.

Roles of Payroll Managers in the Cloud

There are three different payroll manager roles in the Cloud:

  1. Support Manager
  2. Test Manager
  3. Environment Manager

The Support Manager role is your first contact for any issues you cannot resolve. The Test Manager role maintains use cases and test scripts and agrees upon schedules for uptake and testing of new features. The Environment Manager role ensures there is a “shadow” production environment for Payroll and is aware of environment update cadence, updates, and refreshes.

Implementation is one of the most important aspects of the role of the payroll manager in the Cloud. If it is treated as a “side of desk” job, then you will see very few benefits.  When implementing, consider if you and the members of your team have been allocated sufficient time to be involved with the implementation. Have roles been backfilled?

You need to get training up front to reap the most benefits. Ensure that you cover specific, common, and ad-hoc responsibilities and processing. Examples of these might include loading batches, setting up new banks, or End of Year/Start of Year processing. You will also need to start building operational and training documentation. Payroll managers have a key role in UAT and parallel running that includes testing pain points, involving appropriate resources in the implementation as soon as possible, and coordinating with external vendors on the timeline for testing. You should complete a minimum of two consecutive parallel runs. Also, consider what support model will be in place when you are live and be sure to involve appropriate resources as soon as possible.

When preparing for go-live readiness, consider the following:

  • Has a run book been published?
  • Has a payroll calendar that details cut off dates and payment dates been published for each payroll?
  • Is a schedule that details integrations, prerequisites, dependencies, and expected run time available for each payroll?
  • Have checklists been created to be used as the entry gates for critical payroll stages?
  • Is the payroll reconciliation process complete and documented?
  • Is a process in place to purge data sets on a regular basis?
  • Have all team members been suitably trained?
  • Has there been sufficient knowledge transfer?
  • Is a maintenance contract in place?
  • Is the update process understood?
  • Are environments on the appropriate update cadence?
  • Is there a testing strategy in place?
  • Who is the first line of support?
  • Is there a disaster recovery plan in place?

In regard to stability and self-sufficiency, consider the following:

  • Are there any issues arising out of the first live payroll run?
  • What is the plan and timeframe for resolution?
  • Has all documentation been received from partners?
  • Are there any knowledge gaps?
  • What plans are in place to address knowledge gaps?
  • Have you ensured team knowledge sharing?
  • Have you ensured that there are no dependencies on a single person?
  • Has the first update taken place?
  • Did the testing strategy work as planned?
  • Are there any planned changes to processing/run book?
  • Are there any plans to uptake new functionality?

Quick Tips and Tricks

In summary, there are a few tips for payroll managers in the Cloud:

  1. Have your say—get involved from the beginning and stay involved throughout the entire implementation.
  2. Provide sufficient training resources with the appropriate skill set.
  3. Understand Calculation Cards, Payroll Flows, and analytics.
  4. Ensure continuity through an efficient and repeatable testing strategy.
  5. Keep use cases current.
  6. Get buy-in from the business upfront—continuous improvement and innovation require it.
  7. Stay informed and know where to find information.
  8. Understand your support model and know who your go-to people are for all aspects of life in the Cloud.

Additional Resources

For more Oracle HCM Cloud resources, case studies, best practices, etc., check out Quest’s Oracle HCM Cloud Content Center. There are resources and training available for all aspects of HCM Cloud, including payroll, analytics, recruiting, and more!

Other valuable HCM Cloud resources include: