Payroll is a game of detail. Acknowledging each and every tiny detail is critical for correct payroll processing. We all know how to do our jobs and we know what details we must pay attention to get that gratifying “job well done.” But after a day jammed packed with back-to-back meetings, To Do Lists that only keep growing and endless daily tasks that start to steamroll about 3:30pm, sometimes those job-well-done-details can slip just beyond our reach. Even with a water-tight processing system you really must find the time to audit for every little detail. Payroll audits are critical but the earlier and more often you complete them, the better off you will be. Even on a small team, or a one-man wolfpack, you need to stop and review everything you are completing.
Payroll audits are just like proof reading a term paper in college. It takes time and you often don’t have to change much of anything, but it is important to make sure you didn’t use there instead of their, or that you didn’t add an extra 0 to the end of that bonus amount. But skipping the audit step in payroll, you aren’t just risking being docked for ending a sentence with a preposition but you risk an unhappy employee/employer and potential labor disputes.
Keys to a successful audit plan:
- Whenever possible, enlist a third party to complete audits
Having an outside auditor, not involved in the adjustment process is important for a fresh review for all changes made. When reviewing updates we have personally made, we often let our experience and expertise blur the reason for the audit in the first place. Accidents happen and an audit is simply a process to catch any accidents before they become catastrophes.
- Checklists, Checklists, Checklists
Procedural Checklists ensure that all critical checkpoints are quite literally signed off on during the processing phase. While they can become cumbersome, they are a key player in the audit game, because they will limit the need for audits in the first place. This is particularly important when you don’t have the luxury of a fresh set of eyes for audits. A checklist is a great way to remind yourself to check all critical aspects during the processing phase.
- Save documentation for all changes made for review
This won’t only help to have something to verify the changes are appropriate and should be made in the first place but all documentation you have will be helpful should a change be challenged down the road (by an employee or even scarier, the labor board). You can never have too much documentation in the payroll world.
- Set internal deadlines that provide ample time to for your audit
We are all busy bees but by NOT carving out time to review each payroll is preparing to fail. No one means to make mistakes, that’s why they are called mistakes, but they do find their way to sneak into our work every now and then. Accepting the fact that we are all human is important in realistically planning your audits timing.
Chrissy Angiola, Sr. Payroll Coordinator
1+ years in Finance in the Staffing Industry