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10 employees payslips errors out of 1623 employees, is this acceptable using Excel

Greetings all,
Am managing at the moment 1623 workers payroll with microsoft excel, recently my manager identified 10 employees whose payslips had some errors. In being objective, can anyone be kind to offer advice, though am hoping to finding the source to forestall any future occurrence, should this rate of errors be unacceptable as my boss is saying.?


  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    Find out WHY the problems are occurring. WHO is responsible? Using an Excel worksheet it is very easy to proof the math. However whether Bob worked 40 hours this week or was actually fired last year is something payroll cannot tell from it's own resources. Supervisors need actively proof time sheets and PR needs to work very closely with HR on terminations. Nuke the payroll employee master for terminated employees. Also, ALL time needs to be accounted for. Do not assume that a blank time sheet means that no hours were worked. Use absence codes to fill to 40 hours/week. When you are comfortable with your results, use Excel to directly import to payroll.

  • @David Warren Sure, but we do not use a Payroll software. So i have to use Excel for everything. I have designed the payslips with Excel, and everything from attendance to overtime and salary transfers all with Excel. But for the standards, 10 out of 1623 is it soo damning as my boss makes me feel.

  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    Every boss I ever worked for would have considered 10 out of 1623 unacceptable and would want to know what I was doing to fix the problem. Having an error by itself is not necessarily a big deal (depending on what type of error we are talking about). Failure to fix whatever holes in the process caused the errors would be a very big deal indeed.

    In the 1980s my employer put in one of the first 401(k) plans ever. I took over payroll literally with no notice in 1986 and the notion that I should be reading the already existent 401(k) plan never crossed my mind. Not that payroll ever received a copy. We were audited in 1987, and got hit with a $250K fine for what amounted to some minor technical violations, mostly not effecting payroll. Very Senior Management fired the entire HR department. They could have fired me for cause and been correct to do so, but VSM incorrectly did not regard this as a payroll issue. I got lucky. In 1996 I went to work for a very large software company you have all heard off and in the first 24 hours I made a point of going to HR and getting copies of all benefit plans (the Summary Plan Documents, not the stuff they give employees). HR did not see the point but they did so anyhow just to make me leave. Within the month I had a long list of well established payroll practices which did not follow the SPD. Including a quick payment of all 401(k) related items to the trustee even though our formal commission plans were paid quarterly plus 15 days and it was not physically possible to comply with our own benefit plans as written. I requested we bring in our benefit plan consultants and re-write all plans to something we could actually comply with. Not my fault. I did not write the plans, I was not responsible for them, but if we got tagged by IRS, the word "payroll" would have featured predominately in their report.

  • rrupertrrupert ✭✭✭

    In this day and age, I would strongly question why you are doing payroll via Excel unless it is the most simple payroll ever. Just for data storage and retrieval purposes alone, that sounds like a nightmare. Especially for 1623 employees. Just too many chances for data errors and things that you might not even think to check, like David stated. I had Excel backup payroll calculations for all of our businesses at my last job where I was responsible for payroll, but I can't imagine for that many employees and not having a payroll system to compare it to - one that someone else is responsible to update (Btw, have you even looked at the 2019 W-4 yet? That's going to be interesting...why re-write what a payroll software has already done?)

  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    I am in agreement that using a purpose built payroll and time accounting system makes a lot of sense. Modern tools generally speaking are vast improvements over the older methods.

    I am not in agreement that Excel = errors. I have done error free payrolls of this side with tools a lot more primitive then Excel. Whenever I hired someone I had them do some completely manual payroll actions, including hand checks. Someone who cannot take accurate payroll actions with weak tools is not someone I want doing my payroll. You never want someone who lets the computer do their thinking for them anywhere near the computer.

  • rrupertrrupert ✭✭✭

    don't disagree - I just know I found many more errors in my handmade payroll worksheets and inputs (that I used to compare to the payroll software) than I ever did in the software calculations themselves. I found it too easy to overwrite a specific cell without sometimes even realizing it.... I loved the spreadsheets as a double check since I didn't really have anyone else reviewing me at the time (or at least not until the employee saw the live pay!) and my payrolls were pretty simple calculations at the time. I could actually have done each in Excel without needing software....but it meant changing the programming as laws/taxes and other things changed. Something my payroll provider does automatically....

    Of course that also means someone has systematically setup the payroll correctly originally and for any ongoing changes and that the software provider is dealing with the hard stuff (taxes, deductions, calculations, etc) behind the scenes...

  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    Good last point. I went to work for a very big software company that had a very high error rate precisely because the automated tools were not setup correctly. Our workweek ended Sunday midnight per HR and our board postings, but ended Saturday midnight per the time accounting system. We had three different "Other" earnings codes established, each with different tax grids, and staff randomly choosing which one they used. We were issuing salary checks to people who had died in prior years. We had people being charged different amounts of money for exactly the same health insurance. And everyone's answer was "but that is what the computer says". The computer, any computer, is no smarter then the user.

    If a person cannot drive a VW bug, upgrading to a Fierra just puts you in the ditch faster.

  • jadegurljadegurl ✭✭✭

    I'm a little late for this but before we switched to a hand scanner/time clock we used to use an old fashioned time clock/timecard system. Each manager would review the timecards and input the hours onto the excel sheets for payroll and then forward the cards to us for our records. My payroll is only half of your size and I am cringing at the thought of having to run payroll that way now.(we made the switch in 2009)
    Find out the source of the errors to avoid a repeat but do your research to convert to automated timekeeping. It can prevent a whole host of problems as well as make your life a whole lot easier.

  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    We used 1950s era Simplex door clocks in the 1980s, and we had 1,500 employees in 5 plants in 3 states. I am not saying it was not work, but it was not that big a deal. We had one clerk spend the entire day with a calculator and a Lotus 1-2-3- worksheet. People have been doing payroll for many hundreds of years now. Checks only became common in the early 1960s. I am old enough to have done cash payrolls with ADP.

    When we finally replaced the simplex door clocks, it had nothing to do with management wanting to help out payroll. We had tons of manufacturing process information that needed to collected, and we put in a very big bar code system that included door "clocks".

    Any modern payroll system or time accounting system is a big improvement over the old methods. Pick one at random and it will be an improvement. HOWEVER. Errors are not made by computers or old programs. Errors are made by people. Errors are also found by people and fixed by people. Errors are a function of attitude, not technology.

  • Thanks folks, your comments/advises are greatly noted. After going through some of them, though i have not finished, i realized it could be links in the master file which pulls data to and from the other files. Because some of them had an amount(net) on the master file which was different from what is on the payslip. But corresponds with the correct calculations an employee worked for and paid.

    Am also realizing that timing could play a role, i have been the only one managing the payroll, entering manually all attendance, overtimes, deductions, processing and recording transactions, and sending payment files, etc. Reviewing payslips is very daunting as i am unable to finish, takes days. Recently a new person has been employed who will assist, but the lack of experience is still putting all task on me.

    Is there an easy way or anything or process or trick that can help?
    But i suggested to my boss that we should consider a Payroll software, my suggestions rather seemed that i am finding an escape, and that it rather showed perhaps am unable to do the job, so i had to be quiet, but anyway i have been doing that for 2 years.

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