By Karen Schmikl, Legislation and Liquid Product Manager at Softline VIP, part of the Sage Group plc. 

Karen Schmikl

Karen Schmikl

When Softline VIP launched its first online payroll system, Liquid, we never dreamed the uptake of the product would be so astonishing.  One year later, we have 900 clients that have signed up to Liquid, servicing around 8 200 employees.  Liquid is experiencing tremendous growth for a young system and serves as a good example of the increasing shift in the industry towards an online mindset.

At the heart of Liquid’s design, was the development of an online payroll system that is user friendly.  We wanted to make sure that the user did not need a trainer or a consultant, negating the need for human intervention to a large extent.  The fact that a score of clients signed up – online – without even contacting Softline VIP, speaks volumes for the product.

I believe that online offerings will be playing an increasingly larger role in all markets across the board.  The cloud is however far from replacing desktop applications and greatly compliments any desktop offering at present.  The demand is certainly there with clients increasingly showing interest in the use of desktop solutions in the cloud.  A solution that provides more accessibility and something that is not bound to a desk that can be used from anywhere, fits the description of what the market wants.  New technology, such as the launch of HTML5 will further enhance this thinking by making online offerings platform friendly, further mobilising the market to use any device, anywhere.

The beauty of using an online solution is that you don’t need to be a technical IT guru to use the programme, you simply log on.  You actually need to be more tech savvy to load a software programme on your desktop machine or laptop.  Some of our users find themselves in rural areas and having access to a consultant or IT support is challenging, whereas an online offering eliminates the need.  Connectivity does however remain a concern with many outlying areas only having access to 3G, if at all.  Despite the fact, many still prefer an online solution as it makes financial sense.

If you had to look at an online offering purely from a software perspective, you would however be forgiven to think that it is the more expensive option.  But when you consider the bigger picture, it may not necessarily be the case.  Users do not have to worry about antivirus programmes, upgrading hardware, loading software, the running of a datacentre or making back-ups.  It is part and parcel of an online offering in addition to a telephonic support centre for added peace of mind.  It just makes financial sense, making it the ideal vehicle for SMEs who do not have the initial cash flow to afford the software infrastructure needed.

A year ago, very little people knew about online payroll systems.  The enormous growth that we have experienced with our online payroll solution, clearly indicates that the market is considering different ways of doing their business.  The demand for online solutions will continue to accelerate, slowly but surely closing the education gap and the fear of the unknown.