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Best practice in readiness for epayslips and auto enrolment

This month we are going to talk about data….yes, I know…. I can see your eyes glazing over now BUT hear me out on this one.

Organisations usually have at least two databases; one for employees (HR or payroll system running epayslips) and one for your clients (CRM system).  For the purposes of this blog, let’s assume you are running epayslips, auto enrolment and marketing emailshots via third party platforms or software.

In order to find what you need to enable the software to work correctly, this data needs to be organised into clear, defined fields.  All data within your organisation should be squeaky clean for you to run reports, extract data accurately, provide epayslips, produce letters or emailshot your database.

Let’s start with some basics:

What is a database?
A database is a “receptacle” for holding information.
Imagine a cupboard. 

How is the information held?
Information or data is held in fields within the database
Imagine the cupboard has shelves inside

How can I find information on the database?
By interrogating the field contents
The shelves are labelled making it easier to find what you are looking for

What happens when I cannot find what I am looking for?
The data has probably been placed in the wrong field
You have probably put it on the wrong shelf

Why is it important to put the data in the right field?
Because it takes much longer to find information if you have to look in every field for it.
Imagine turning the cupboard upside down to find that illusive red jumper!

Eventually you will get to the stage where you do not want to even look!

What can we do about it?
You can put the information in the correct fields and check it before saving it to the database.
Put your red jumper in the area marked “jumpers” on the shelf.

It is as simple as that!

The problem is that without basic guides to data completion that are issued to all staff, each person will enter data in whatever fields appeal to them at the time.  Then when you need to analyse how many clients you have in Newcastle, for instance, you can’t because the post town of Newcastle could be anywhere in the five fields you have for the address.

By issuing basic instructions about what you want to see where within your payroll and customer databases, extracting and processing this information becomes so much simpler for everyone.  In addition, when addressing your clients or employees, the address fields are produced in a consistent format making presentation much more accurate and aesthetically pleasing.

Now, when you extract epayslip data to send to a pension provider from your payroll system, this becomes so much more important.  Pension providers need to have data in the right fields in order to manage the contributions.  This does not just apply to contribution percentages and amounts but to National Insurance numbers, addresses and names.  Here are some common issues:

  • Postcode has no space (NN121UT instead of NN12 1UT)
  • Postcode field is empty (look it up on Royal Mail website)
  • Postcode is not in a fixed field (instead it is somewhere in the street address fields)
  • National insurance number is less than 9 characters (big no no for pension providers!)
  • Post town is not present
  • Post town is in the country field
  • Fields contain spurious characters (commas, full stops, apostrophes etc.  None of these should appear in your data)

When you are handling timed requirements such as epayslips and pension contribution reports; governed by laws and legislation, you cannot afford for the process to be delayed whilst the data is amended, completed or repositioned.  For instance; if you are late sending pension contributions data and payment to a pension provider, you can be fined heavily by The Pensions Regulator.

Take some time out today and make those changes; your epayslips processing will run smoother, your pension contributions will not be delayed and your marketing communications will look so much better!

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