Tag Archive: starting a business


By Sandra Swanepoel, a Director of Softline VIP, part of the Sage Group plc.

Sandra Swanepoel

Payroll software is a mission critical function to any business.  There is a definitive necessity for any business to ensure that all changes, upgrades or installations of a new or existing payroll system are done in conjunction with a service provider that can deliver.

The relationship between the employer and employee is delicate and can easily be derailed if the payroll system should fail.  Making the correct choice is crucial.  The company’s software as well as its internal processes will suffer a major setback if the payroll installation is not done correctly.  The process needs to be underpinned by thorough training and supported by a concrete change-management process that documents all the procedures that need to be incorporated into the payroll solution.

The choice of a payroll system should be made with a long-term objective in mind.  To make this a reality, the company needs to consider the longevity of their payroll software investment.

It is of cardinal importance to ensure that the software is stable.  It is a very difficult aspect to ascertain during a demonstration.  There is however nothing stopping you from asking your prospective payroll software provider to provide you with client names as a reference.  This will help you to establish whether the payroll software that you are considering has a history.  Also ask them how often their software is updated; too many updates will point to an unstable product.

Another crucial aspect to consider is support.  If you install the product now, will the service provider’s support staff be available during peak times?  The company’s financial year-end is generally considered to be the busiest period for payroll administrators.  Support staff are normally flooded with queries or requests at these times and you want the assurance of knowing that your service provider is up for the challenge.

Investing in sustainable technology would be wise.  We live in a fast-paced business environment where technology changes rapidly.  You will want to invest in something that is up to date and current.  A good gauge would be to ask what technology your service provider is using and how often a new product is launched into the market.  If the product is versatile and adaptable, you should not have to change or update your payroll software too often.

One of the biggest concerns in the payroll software industry is leave management.  A company can stand to lose a great deal of money if their employee’s leave is not calculated and managed correctly.  Ensuring that the company’s payroll system operates its leave policy within the parameters set out by the basic conditions of employment act should be a given.  Companies that utilise an employee self-service strategy, often reap the benefits of having an electronic and accurate system that ensures that there are no mislaid leave forms.  It also facilitates a timeous leave approval process.

Having payroll software that is in tune with the country’s statutory changes and legal requirements is fundamental.   Ask whether your service provider keeps track of all the changes in the country’s laws.  Adherence to the parameters of the basic conditions of employment act is crucial to the maintenance of amicable employee relations in addition to complying with legislation.

Making the correct choice when it comes to HR and payroll software is therefore crucial.  Keeping these basic guidelines in mind, will ensure that your company makes a decision that it will not regret.

By Ivan Epstein CEO (and co-founder) of Softline and Sage AAMEA 

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Ivan Epstein

In the lead up to World Entrepreneur Day this Friday, I am constantly inspired by the tremendous entrepreneurial talent in South Africa. The desire to succeed by South Africans has resulted in an entrepreneurial culture which continues to grow at an encouraging rate in our country. This growth will be vital to fuel economic development in South Africa this year, and beyond.

While people can learn the principles of entrepreneurship, I think it’s very hard to train someone to be an entrepreneur. The steps and the risks you have to take to succeed in your own business can’t be taught. Ultimately, building a successful business and constructing a legacy is about passion; having a vision and sticking to it no matter what.

Starting a business and finding the right concept and vision is a gruelling process. Here are some insights that I gained along the way:

Work with people that support your vision

Finding a business partner that you trust and who shares your common interest and a similar drive to succeed is critical to making a business idea work. In many instances you will question your decisions or the direction you are taking, but having partners and staff that support you and share your vision makes the process substantially easier.

Find the right idea

The right idea might not present itself immediately, and is likely to be the result of a lot of investigative work as well as the current situation.  Revisit your initial idea often. Look back at where you’ve come from, and how the concept might have grown, expanded or improved. Be inspired by this, and use it as a learning experience to grow.

Persevere. It just takes one

With no track record, starting a business and selling a service or product can be difficult. A stand-out piece of advice that I received was simply to persevere until you find that one person that will give you a chance. Once you have gained your first customer the second one will follow. The challenges are many to start with, but these decrease as you persevere and focus on steadily moving forward.

Making mistakes is part of the process

With most decisions it takes time to get into a rhythm of knowing what to look for and how to make an informed decision. It is important to recognise that not every decision will be a good one. Entrepreneurs make mistakes; the secret is that they need to be big enough to admit it, learn from it and move on.

Trust your gut

Many entrepreneurs look for mentors to guide them along the process. Mentors are important, but trusting your gut is just as important to succeed. Taking the advice and guidance of others on board is helpful, but most entrepreneurs will also have that basic instinct for their own businesses. It’s important to tap into that instinct.

In closing, continue to look ahead and to see beyond where the business sits today. Your interest should always lie in the future. That is, after all, where you are going to spend the rest of your life.

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