Business Strategy

Outsource payroll

Payroll nightmare?

If you know at least one person who takes care of payroll, then you’re probably familiar with all the annoying stories of disgruntled people they have to deal with every day.

Going out for a Friday drink with a friend of mine, who’s a Finance professional, means one thing – listening to her frustrations over payroll, accounts and the constant backlog she has to deal with.

As much as I can imagine payroll being a routine job, to say the least, I still cannot understand why is it such a headache for most companies! At the end of the day, if you’re running a business, you also have to pay your employees and somebody has to deal with this crucial process. If you get the employees’ pay wrong, you’re most definitely asking for trouble.

Working at Quad Consultancy gave me an excellent opportunity to do a bit of research to see why they claim that by outsourcing payroll, people’s life can be made easier.

As it turned out, it’s not payroll itself that is a nightmare but rather the way the companies decide to go about it. If like my friend, you work for a small or medium-sized company, then most likely you don’t have a separate payroll department. It’s either HR or  Finance who ends up doing it, and…guess what? Because of deadlines and other urgent matters, payroll sometimes ends up being seen as a “side job”…and additional task…a nuisance!

They both seem to be thinking that accountants are there for numbers and HR to… well, deal with people. Unfortunately, payroll needs a bit of both and hiring a payroll administrator equals additional cost to your business.

I can imagine how the time to run the payroll function is a cost, but when you add the initial investment in the software, and the yearly costs of software updates, and maintenance agreements, plus the employee’s leave, sick leave, bonuses, NI and other costs, then the natural question is: “is it REALLY worth it?”

And let’s not talk about the headaches of payroll administrators needing to take sick leave at the end of the month. What about replacing them when they leave? Now THAT is a nightmare!

But it CAN get worse! Have you considered the issue of confidentiality? How many times have companies experienced leaks of information about salaries and – horror of horrors – those EVIL performance bonuses?

So, it seems like I got a pretty straightforward answer to my question about payroll being a company’s nightmare.

What’s the solution to your payroll problem?


I’m neither a business owner nor a frustrated employee dealing with payroll. However, I cannot understand why anyone would want to go through so much hassle and expense. It’s just easier to leave it to professionals who will take a headache away at a CHEAPER cost!

Why would you waste time and money on payroll when you can free up the time and boost the productivity by investing in skills they will actually want to learn and use at work? Outsourcing will definitely work out cheaper than hiring a payroll administrator, training them and then watching them leave because they got bored of doing the same thing month in month out…or because they were offered more by someone else. REMEMBER, a good, reliable Payroll Administrator comes at a cost. A huge one indeed!

Now I’m off to meet my friend, and guess what I’m going to be talking to her about! Yes, you’re right. I’m going to talk to her about payroll outsourcing… Maybe in a few weeks, we’ll be able to talk about boys, clothes, hangovers, gossip and other interesting stuff…

What Are You Waiting For?

by Mark J Galea

Many employers are outsourcing their payroll service to third parties, and here are some of the reasons why:

Free up time – Payroll computation is a time-consuming process. Outsourcing payroll can free up staff time to pursue more important value-added and revenue-generating activities, thus boosting productivity.

Reduce costs and boost productivity – In addition to the Payroll Administrator’s salary, as an employer you need to pay NI contributions; statutory bonuses and other entitlements; leave and sick leave (over 1 month of unproductive hours paid to an employee). The direct costs of processing payroll can be greatly reduced by outsourcing this function. In addition to enjoying great savings on the cost of employment, you will save the opportunity cost (not to mention once again the lack of productivity) spent on time dedicated to hiring any possible replacements for long absences and backfills. When, you also factor in other expenses related to the investment and maintenance of hardware and software (yearly updates, license renewals, maintenance agreements etc), you will realise that the saving you make by outsourcing payroll is actually much bigger.

Ensure confidentiality – By outsourcing this function, you are reducing the number of people within your company who are privy to information related to pay packages, pay rises, and other information that can easily be leaked to other parties within the company.

Ensure continuity – If your Payroll Administrator falls ill, or needs to take leave around the end of the month, the timely issuance of employee’s pays and salaries will disrupt other operations (it’s usually Finance that takes the hit). Pays and salaries need to go out on time in order not to demoralise your employees. When outsourcing your payroll function, you are protecting your business from these risks.

Alleviate the pain – In-house payroll is a headache at best and a nightmare at worst. By outsourcing this function, you will eliminate a tiresome source of regular pain.

Avoid technology headaches – A constant question is whether they have the latest version of their payroll software and the most recent tax and NI bands installed on their computer. Using the wrong tax computations will result in penalties and big employee dissatisfaction.

Leverage outside payroll expertise – Most business professionals tend to be so focussed on meeting targets set by ambitious budgets, that they tend to overlook constantly changing regulations (both statutory and those issued by the EU), yearly changes in NI categories, and frequent changes in tax bands.

Losing the Payroll Administrator – If your Payroll Administrator gets a new job, you will have to spend considerable time and money looking for a resource that is getting scarcer due to a number of different reasons. Consequently, salaries for Payroll Administrators are shooting up. Using an outside service eliminates that business risk.

Should You Make Yourself Indispensable?

by Ian Sammut Dacoutros

Keeping your cards close to your chest guarantees your survival as an individual, right? This idea may have been popular a long time ago but in this age of knowledge and information, it is a big no no.

If you as an individual, a Manager, or an entrepreneur choose to keep your knowledge to yourself, you are essentially slowing down – or even hampering your own and your organisation’s growth and development. If you have employees keeping knowledge from you then it’s even worse.

What happens if these employees want to leave the organisation or if they have an issue with the organisation? Can they effectively hold the organisation at ransom with their knowledge?

Knowledge management is a very wide term and several people define it differently. The main differences come from an exact answer to the question: What exactly is knowledge? Even without this though management in organisations are focusing and investing more and more in it.

Essentially knowledge management is a process that organisations undertake to generate value from the knowledge in and around their organisation. They look both at the knowledge held in their people and the knowledge held outside through their customers.

The ultimate aim is to get this knowledge together and use it throughout the organisation so that the whole organisation will have access to all its knowledge, all the time. Imagine a company where the sales team know all the complaints the company has received and how they were resolved, the sales team could be helped so that the complaints would reduce.

Unfortunately in the age where there is an app for everything many organisations are being fooled into thinking that by simply buying a system all their knowledge problems will be solved, then after spending a hefty amount the project fails because the solution is not the system. A worker can have all the best tools but if they do not have the skill to use them or the training then tools are useless.

In the next article we will discuss what exactly knowledge is and the different types of knowledge.

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Surveys And Other Jargon

by Alexander Bonello

Market research, sampling, survey methodology, client perception survey, survey data collection, statistical reports, questionnaire construction, data analysis – the jargon goes on and on and on.

What I would suggest to the uninitiated is to simply ignore all of the above and simply ask themselves one thing. What are the important details and the crucial information about their market and their customers which would be vital to have in hand?

It might be these daunting terms and the seemingly insurmountable complexity of surveys that put so many businesspeople off this extremely vital function.

Do not steer your business in the blind. You cannot operate in the dark. Your assumptions are much further from the truth than you believe. No matter how improbable this might sound, the reality is such that the more you know your business perfectly from the inside, the less you know it from the outside.

It is therefore always best to stop guessing and assuming and to collect some real facts and figures.

You can do it all yourself, you can outsource it all, or you could also combine both with a mixed approach. Whichever direction you take it will always serve you well to know the basics.
Start off simply and logically from the beginning and ask yourself the most basic questions.
What would you like to know? Is it who your clients are? In that case your questions will relate to relevant issues such as gender, age, marital status, location of residence, occupation and interests.

You might want to know their purchasing behaviour and ask questions such as how much they spend, how often they buy, how and where they purchase and why, what they look for before buying and even test some of your sales ideas to see if these sound attractive or not.

You could also focus largely on your competitors and inform yourself perfectly of how the market is divided and why. In this case your questions will be based on asking for preferences of suppliers/outlets, brands, product types, pricing and other related issues. This could be given different perspectives. You could ask the customers to quote names themselves, you could ask them to comment upon your pre-established lists, or you could also ask them what each of your selected competitors signify to them and to what they associate each one of them to.

Your survey could also focus on the perception both customers and non-customers have of your business. You could start by asking who and how they heard of you initially, then inquiring about the products they purchase from you and the ones they don’t, their likes and dislikes, their suggested improvements to what you offer and gauge their satisfaction in various aspects and levels.

Many surveys are in fact a mix of all or several of the above. Often surveys are also utilised to obtain customer contact details which are then used directly for marketing purposes. However always keep in mind that people’s time, patience and attention span are very short, so your questionnaire must be brief, or at least look brief. In many cases consumers are offered some form of reward or incentive for completing the survey.

You then need to identify the best channel to run your survey and here again there are many convenient options. If it is a client perception survey where you are targeting your existing clients, then by far the most practical method might be to conduct an in-store/onsite survey, as that is where you can most easily find them. Otherwise you could create an electronic survey via many of the dedicated web sites and forward this via email and other online methods to your contacts. You could create a dedicated area on your web site or Facebook page. You can also conduct telephone surveys and you could engage interviewers to physically interact with consumers, either in public places, or in strategic locations.

The size of your sample base is another decision you will have to make based on practicality and resources. It is obvious that the more data and information you collect the richer and the more precise your data bank will become. In most cases the benchmark of 500 questionnaires is taken as a minimum quantity, but this too depends entirely on the circumstances at hand.

So this leaves us with the analysis of the data collected, which again does not need to be a weird and wonderful science. You can do miracles with a simple Excel spreadsheet.

Create a column for each separate question/reply and enter all the data accordingly. Naturally you can create pop down menus for the answers with set replies to speed up the process of data entry.
Once all the data has been duly entered, you can create different sheets presenting the replies in different formats and each sorted accordingly. Add in your formulas and calculations to indicate totals, subtotals, averages, medians, etc. And you can finish it all nicely by also including any percentages you find of interest. Percentages may be calculated for the same answer within the same column, as in how many of these people purchase product ‘a’, ‘b’ or ‘c’. It may also be calculated across different columns/questions, as in how many people over 40 purchase product ‘a’.

The permutations are endless and you may analyse any data against another, finishing off with figures and proportions of say females, who have heard of you, but who have never purchased from you (non-clients), who shop at competitor x, but who would shop from you if you stocked product ‘y’.

The last and by far the most important factor in all of this is that you do not conduct the survey for nothing. Quite incredulously this is often the case. A survey is commissioned, conducted and analysed and the data sits in someone’s in-box/tray for months on end, until it is filed somewhere in the dark never again to see the light of day.

Conducting a survey is a very good idea. But only if you then read and reflect on the finding and truly use them to adjust your overall business plan, your marketing strategy and your promotions accordingly.

Jobs in Financial Services – The Reality

by Cyril Chanson

Advertising many positions on the web, I realised the significance of financial job offers. Wanting to further my knowledges I researched it and you could find my research below. I hope it would be useful.


What are “Financial Services”?

First of all, before digging into the topic, I thought that it is relevant to explain what financial services means. In fact, this term gathers all services offered to consumers and companies from a broad range of organizations such as insurance companies, banks, investment companies. The proposed services include corporate services, financial planning opportunities and money management, as well as providing information.

The financial services has several functions such as enabling exchange of goods and services in the economy, mobilizing savings and transforming risk, just to mention a few purposes.

Malta, thanks to its location in the Mediterranean, is an interesting place for doing business. It became more fruitful since the country became an EU member and has enjoyed the benefits from this market.


How has the financial industry in Malta changed since joining the EU?

Since Malta became an EU member in 2004, Malta has accelerated its growth in all sectors of its financial services industry. Malta’s legal and regulatory framework met EU standards in 2004 which encouraged financial advisors to invest in a strong economy and framework. A few years later Malta adopted the Euro in 2008 and this step has made the financial services sector grow much faster.

The introduction of passporting rights has provided companies the chance to establish branches on the island, and thus many opportunities have opened up between Malta and the EU. In these days, the financial industry benefits from the EU international market of over 500 Million people and 28 countries.

Malta has set an objective to become the European financial centre and has achieved a lot towards that goal.


What has helped the financial market to flourish?

I was wondering how Malta could be so attractive to foreigners’ investors. After some research and questions I was able to highlight several assets. Malta owns a stable macroeconomic environment in which every streetlight are in the green. The current legal situation remains to be focused on attracting investors by the government and the status-quo is maintained. Malta is viewed as a safe country and stable one, which make the country interesting when a CEO is looking to it. The politic system is predictable and extremist parties do not have a place in it. For a financial perspective, the investors like nothing more than predictability continuity, which can be fully offered by Malta.

In January 2015 the minimum wage set up at 720 euro per month which corresponds to 50% of original EU 12 states.

The booming of Malta’s financial centre has happened due to its pro-business attitude, excellent regulation and competitive cost of doing business. The successive Maltese governments have gone about concluding double taxation treaties with 70 countries. This policy encourages trade not only with important trading partners but also with emerging countries.

The location of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea helps the island benefit from the Islamic finance as it has stronger links with North African countries such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Financial companies from these countries who locate their subsidiary in Malta benefit from the EU market and an attractive and efficient tax structures.

Indeed Malta’s labour costs are comparative to the newer EU member states and lower than other established members of EU. Malta labour costs offer greater value for money than two thirds of those in the Western European countries.


What are the consequences on the labour market?

At a glance, the financial service market contributes to GDP up to 13% with more than 10,000 employees. In Malta, the GDP has being increasing at over 3% per annum compared to the EU average of 1.3%.

This growth is not predicted to decrease due to positive actions by the government to encourage the sector to prosper. For instance, the annual expansion of Malta’s financial sector stands at 25% meaning many new positions are appearing into the work market.

Furthermore, ranked the third lowest unemployment rate of the EU with 5.1% -behind Germany and the Czech Republic- Maltese workplace is highly active. For a decade, focus has been made by the government on the academic front. More than 60% of Maltese students are going to further education, although it is an English speaking nation, people are also trained to different professional such as Italian, Arabic, Spanish or French.

With a low unemployment rate, companies and especially HR firms are faced with the shortage of candidates; they have to find highly qualified people to fit their positions. In fact, integrating the EU has facilitated the mobility of EU workers; employers now have access to a much larger pool of workers than before. Actually, to attract further foreign talent Government offers 15% off on flat tax rate to highly qualified persons into key positions within those industries.


Why are professional HR firms better placed at handling this growth?

I interviewed Simon Casolini Operations and Recruitment Manager for Quad Consultancy’s Malta branch  in order to further my knowledge about the move appearing in the Financial Service field.

In fact the work market is currently changing, the global rapid growth from the EU’s companies in the Financial Sector in Malta has created a lot of new positions but the pool of candidates isn’t big enough.


Outcomes from my interview

First of all, the sector has seen much more movements than previously, many new positions have emerged and wages have been incressing steadily for the last 3 years. Indeed, applicants are in a stronger position nowadays than they were in the past.

At the same time, the requirements, including experiences and qualifications has been going down due to the scarcity of talent. For example, where companies previously sought candidates with a specific degree and 5 years’ experience, they are now seeking people with a related degree and 3 years’ experience. Companies are reducing their requirements due to a lack of employees.

By reducing requirements, moves have been observed in terms of certifications related to the financial service. In this field, background in banking, accountancy as well as financial compliance is needed by companies without degree; certifications in those fields would be of advantage for candidates.

A good candidate with a moderate experience has now several advantages that applicants had not before. The wages have been going up and applicants have more opportunities within several companies.

Nowadays, employees are exposed to more duties and areas of competence compared to the past when they spent much more time focused on functions in one or two areas. Therefore, they are increasing their employability skills and general responsibilites.

This new trend is interrelated with the growing of Head-hunting. Moving people has become an issue especially because the market is small and people physically know each other and companies provided services.

It is at this stage that the professional Consultant comes into the process. By “professional Consultant”, I mean HR professionals who are able to fit position on behalf of companies. The professional Consultant has various assets such as a great database of candidates which can serve the demand effectively and professionals who are very well connected. Using a reputable HR firms allows companies to save time and money, such as advertising expenses and CV screening.

As the professional Consultant, having a very strong network of valid candidates, knowledge of their background and professional expectations is a great benefit. HR firms are able to offer an efficient and effective way of helping the client to find perfect fit, and providing their manpower needs.

They make sure the candidate understands what the company is looking for, going deeper than just the job description, giving them the background required about the company and ensuring that they have the right cultural fit. Therefore candidates are better prepared, and both of candidates and clients are reducing the risk.

Online Or Offline?

by Alexander Bonello

Clients often ask me the question – Should we focus our marketing online or offline?

I will start off immediately by saying that this is not really a very pertinent question. It is not what a businessperson should be initially asking.

Whatever you are promoting, you must first set out your marketing ideas and intentions. It is true that in today’s business world the traditional long term marketing plan has become less relevant and in many cases has been replaced by campaign-driven marketing and opportunistic marketing. However, it is vital that some planning and budgeting is concluded from time to time to set you back in line and not operating haphazardly.

Our choice of marketing and ensuing promotion should always follow the same strategic steps. Who is my target audience? Which are the best channels and media to be seen by my audience? How can I best communicate through these channels? What budgets can I allocate to do this?

These are the questions we should be asking. The answers could lead you to both offline and online media, or they could possibly lead only to one. But your train of thought should be the one above and not one starting off by differentiating specifically between online and offline, which in many cases is incidental to this process.

There could be circumstances where you might be compelled to make this decision. Your might obtain ambiguous results, or perhaps due to limited resources and other factors you are truly led to having to choose between one or the other.

In this case also it would be preferable to assess and consider each specific medium on its own right and forecasting its effectiveness, as well as its pros and cons, rather than evaluating it purely upon it being an online or offline platform.

If however, for whatever reason, you really want to make this distinction, then these are the principle considerations. Are most of your clients constantly online as so many people are today? And if this is the case, are they more likely to see and be influenced by your online message rather than through an offline media they are also likely to view? The answers to these questions often lie in the way people function when online and when not. More so it will depend on what you are promoting.

Here are a few very obvious examples, to drive the message home. If you are promoting say a discount scheme which operates online via web site or social media, then the most obvious manner of promoting this is by sprinkling around as many online links to your site or page as possible, through countless means and ways. As your potential customers are browsing around they are likely to encounter one of these and hopefully click on that link, taking them instantly where you want them to go. Doing this via traditional offline media is very difficult indeed.

If you operate a purely online shop selling say gift hampers, then you might want to focus your promotional efforts on online groups and fora where your audience usually congregates and communicates. You could also consider being included in most popular directories and listings, as well as work on your Google search optimisation, perhaps also putting some budget onto the key search words.

You operate a fairly large casual diner just off a busy main road. There is a large billboard on the main road just before the junction leading to your establishment – grab it and don’t let it go!

You are importing and reselling luxury branded products largely reserved for a select audience. You have a decent budget purely for branding purposes. In such obvious cases there is absolutely nothing wrong with a back to basics approach, so full page or back cover adverts in a couple of glossy magazines would hit the spot nicely.

There are also other considerations between these two main platforms which you need to keep in mind. Offline promotion is often in-your-face display advertising and is usually more effective for this particular function. That is why branding is still so prevalent in this sphere. Naturally offline also includes a long list of direct marketing methods as are mail drops, in-store promotions and telemarketing, which can be very effective means of pushing your products and services forward.

It has also been shown that in certain circumstances reaching your audience offline can have a much greater impact on them and on their purchasing decisions, rather than online when they are literally bombarded with all types of information from all sides, making them less receptive to it.

On the other hand when searching for specific products and services, most people now do this online and you want to be there when they search. An online presence also allows you to modify and update info at the touch of a button and as often as you want. It also allows for full interaction with your audience.

Most businesses are comprehensively featured online and this is where you ultimately want to direct your viewers. Reaching out for them using the same platforms, allowing them to reach their intended destination via a mere click, is therefore often the most effective and direct means to your end.

Having a sound and an extensive online presence is no longer an option today and in fact hasn’t been one for many years now. When you are conducting a marketing campaign you are often best to start off by ignoring the main on-off distinction. Just think of what would work best with your allocated budget, then tweak things to make it even more effective and affordable, being online or offline and never losing sight of costs, which admittedly are often much less when going online.

Lastly, there are many means of carefully targeting your specific audience, even with several types of offline marketing, however, few come close to the precision available when using online methods.


About The Author

After having created and directed a wide ranging number of businesses in various service industries, Alexander now dedicates much of his time advising others on how to succeed in their business.

He also spends as much time as possible doing what he enjoys best – writing.