Is AI Taking Over Payroll?

15/05/2018

Payroll is indisputably the most data-intensive aspect of Human Resources (HR). Every payroll cycle demands hundred percent accuracy, timeliness and seamless coordination of every payroll process – from updating employee bank records and salary data to disbursement of wages to employees.

This has driven many organisations to invest in HR technology solutions, automating mundane and administrative HR tasks such as salary calculations and recording employees’ working hours through punch cards. Today, payroll software are capable of managing complex HR processes such as collating the organisation’s payroll data, calculating the correct wages for each employees including tax deductions and overtime as well as generate detailed payroll reports for analysis.

While there are several facets of HR that would still require a human interface, there are still process automation in other HR areas such as HR analytics and compensation and benefits. Essentially, automation and analytics have transformed HR from an administrative facilitator to a strategic business partner within the organisation.

Following automation and analytics of HR processes, robots – or Artificial Intelligence (AI) – are considered the future of HR. As mentioned by Infosys’ executive vice-president and head, HR, Richard Lobo, AI is “slowly making inroads into HR and one of the forerunners are chatbots”. Broadly defined, chatbots are programmed to conduct online conversations with users via auditory or textual methods for various purposes including customer service helpdesk or information acquisition.

In the HR context, these chatbots are ideal forms of technology that serves to provide a better employee experience. These chatbots can help address basic employee HR requests instead of having a physical HR personnel present, allowing the HR department to save on time and resources.

On the other hand, there are rising concerns that AI might very well take over the entire payroll process. According to a white paper title The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs To Computerisation?, the probability of payroll and timekeeping jobs being computerized is a high 97 percent.

While technology is suited to circumstances whereby the inputs and outputs are known and clear, there are two distinct aspects that AI is completely unsuited to – unexpected and data.

Technology, regardless of how sophisticated and brilliantly designed, will not be able to respond well to sudden changes and spikes in demand. Humans, on the other hand, have the advantage of responding quickly and adapting to unforeseen circumstances.

For instance, should there be the need for ad-hoc salary payments outside the typical salary cycle, human HR professionals will be able to act outside standard procedures to ensure that the software is able to cater to the unexpected circumstances.

Outputs of payroll software and technology is also heavily reliant on the data provided. Payroll software might have difficulty interpreting any data that is outside of the specified programmed examples.

One example is that wrong payroll entries made by payroll staff into the system will result in employees not being paid accurately or on time. The payroll system is unable to pick up minor errors as such. Human HR professionals, however, are able to interpret payroll data with the context in mind and make appropriate judgement on the validity of the data. Simply put, the payroll software can only identify what is right or wrong – whether the decision fits the context of the situation is ultimately decided by the HR professional.

Finally, one thing that technology lacks is the good old human touch. When employees have queries regarding something sensitive such as payroll, employees will want to talk to a real person. Even sophisticated chatbots cannot replace the “human” element of HR.

Despite growing wariness on the complexity of payroll software, HR professionals should regard it with positivity nonetheless. AI, when well used, can work harmoniously to achieve HR goals for both employees and the organisation.

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This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

Strictly Confidential? You need a Non-Disclosure Agreement

10/05/2018

By its very nature, conducting business requires fluid and comprehensive communication. There are many situations where sharing private and confidential information can be crucial. This could be with an individual such as an investor or an entire company as part of a business to business negotiation. So how do you ensure that your confidential information is protected? A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) can safeguard this confidential information. It ensures that the other party fully respects your confidentiality and agrees not to disclose any information that has been shared. After all the most valuable assets a business has are its deepest secrets!

What exactly is an NDA?

Also known as a Confidentiality Agreement, an NDA is a legal contract by which a party agrees to keep information confidential. By signing this agreement, the receiver agrees not to disclose, use or exploit confidential information. The NDA will also specify the purpose of disclosing the information in the first place and how long the confidentiality obligations will apply.

When should you sign an NDA?

Broadly speaking, an NDA is a good idea whenever you are considering sharing valuable information about your business. It is crucial to ensure that the other party doesn’t take the information and either use it as their own, or use it in their own way without your approval.

An NDA ensures that all parties are agreed as to how information is to be treated. In turn this strengthens the confidential business relationship whilst also protecting proprietary information and trade secrets.

When would I need to share confidential information?

A company or individual should always evaluate any potential business relationship or partnership before agreeing to do business. If you are in talks with investors or manufacturers, for example, then a certain amount of confidential information will need to be shared In order to fully understand what a business transaction would involve. Obtaining intelligence on each other’s business models and processes may be necessary before signing on the dotted line. Full disclosure however means that measures must be taken to ensure the information remains solely between the parties involved.

When you are starting out, you may have to tell people about your business idea to get advice from various experts such as banks, accountants, insurance brokers or marketing agencies. Don’t ever assume that such conversations with advisers are automatically confidential.

What are the different types of NDA?

An NDA can either be one way or mutual. A one way or unilateral NDA is required when an individual or business shares information with another party and the receiver agrees not to disclose the information. A mutual NDA is when both parties are sharing confidential information with each other and therefore both need to agree to maintain confidentiality.

Some employee agreements may also include an NDA clause. In this case, the employee agrees not to use or share confidential information that is owned by the company.

How long does an NDA last?

The length of the agreement should be included within the document. After this time, the information may be used or disclosed. However, once the information is launched into the public domain, the NDA is no longer enforceable.

Related reading: Legal Documents Every Business Should Have

What should be included in your NDA?

Most importantly, you must identify and clarify the information that should be included. This involves defining what exactly is confidential and needs to be protected. Examples of types of information that could be protected under an NDA include ideas for a new website, innovations, strategies, software programmes, manufacturing processes, and designs or information relating to finances and customers. The NDA can also state that any information shared in presentations and meetings is similarly protected. Make sure the you include very specific information about any proprietary information and include examples. Define this as narrowly as possible but at the same time keep it concise. You should also clearly list exclusions from the definition of confidential information.

The NDA should also define the obligations of the party receiving the information. Mainly this obligation is to protect the secrecy of the confidential information as if it were their own. This also includes not influencing others to acquire the confidential information by improper means.

The specific dates for the NDA must also be outlined. You must clearly state the start and end date for when information may be exchanged between the parties. The NDA should also define a time period during which the Receiver is obligated to maintain confidentiality of the information.

Final Thoughts

An NDA can only be effective if it has been agreed upon and signed. It is simply unenforceable until this takes place and does not offer you any protection. It is crucial that signing takes place BEFORE you share any confidential information. Also, ensure that the right person with the correct authority signs the NDA such as a company director or a senior employee who is a decision maker.

Don’t just rely on an NDA to protect your information. An NDA is an effective measure and its very presence reinforces the fact that the information is sensitive thus reducing the risk of disclosure. However you should take additional steps to protect your confidential information. Consider setting up information security policies. These could be physical protection of information i.e keeping it under lock and key and also ensuring your information flow is on a need-to-know basis.

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How is GDPR reshaping the Internet?

09/05/2018

If you have been paying close attention, several organizations are quietly rewriting their Privacy Policies. Tech giants such as Microsoft to Google are updating their terms and preparing themselves for the massive shift in the legal space. So far, the ones affected by the new GDPR laws were the legal department, but with these laws going public, Internet users are also going to be affected.

The new rule is known as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and it is set to reshape some of the most complicated parts of the Internet.

What is GDPR?

In 2016, the European Union introduced the GDPR, which covered how organizations shared and managed their personal data. It literally applies to the citizens of the European Union, but given that the Internet is global, it will affect every online service. The new regulation introduces many changes, which users are finding difficult to adapt to.

The GDPR has been primarily built on two rules: Data Protection Directive and Privacy Shield. Firstly, the GDPR laws have raised the bar for protecting personal information with laws that have never been seen before. Going forward, any time organizations need personal information, they will need formal consent from that person. The newer laws are stronger and extend to organizations working outside the EU.

Secondly, the penalties with GDPR are even more severe. The GDPR brings hard deadlines for the organizations and will come into force on 25 May 2018. 

What is going to change?

The most important and primary changes would be on the other warnings and Terms of Service section. The new GDPR regulations would require more consent as compared to the previous laws, which means that organizations would be knocking on your door always for consent to use your personal data. In technical terms, this means clicking on more ‘click to proceed’ check boxes, with better transparency.

However, the real action will be happening behind the scenes. The GDPR sets rules for organizations as to how they share the information they have collected, which means now every organization will have to rethink their approach on analytics, advertising, logins, and more. Generally speaking, most of the websites currently have 20 ads running on the website, often unknown to the person whose data they are using. But, this won’t work anymore; GDPR will be adding better features for organizations that retrieve such data and providing better transparency in understanding what they are doing with your information.

Complying with the GDPR isn’t as simple as simply adding a ‘I Agree’ or ‘I Disagree’ dialogue box for consent. There are numerous issues in play, such as whether the authors will have control over the audience data or whether search engines can piggyback on authors for getting the data.

Related reading: GDPR: What are the changes and how to keep your business up to date?

Will this make the Internet clutter-free?

It’s too early to understand the effects of this. We have a brief idea of what compliance would look like, but have no clue what EU law enforcement will be. The simplest understanding from all this is that breaches will become expensive, and cost will run further down the network. It is going to get costlier to share data, and websites will be making new partnerships only to win on the grounds of privacy.

For the last 15 years data has been freely shared on the internet, but with the GDPR things are going to roll back. However, the most profound changes will take years to arise, potentially changing the web as we know it.

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This a guest post by Abhinav Sethi. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

Author Bio

Abhinav Sethi is an avid blogger and a tech enthusiast who enjoys writing about technology and has a keen interest in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, gadgets, etc. In his spare time, he does a bit of backyard gardening and enjoys exploring new avenues in the social sphere. Follow him on Twitter @Abhinawsethi

4 HR Tool Mistakes That Might Cost You

07/05/2018

As a small business, finding the right HR tools is more challenging than it is for a huge corporation. Unlike large organisations, your small business might lack the necessary capital to invest in more expensive HR resources.

More often than not, many small businesses tend to make costly mistakes when trying to find the right HR tools. If you, as a small business owner, are unsure what to look out for, here are some of these mistakes which you definitely cannot afford to make when choosing your HR tools.

1. Choosing a tool before understanding the implications

Given that technology is constantly evolving, you might find it tough to keep up and test out the plethora of HR tools. However, simply scanning through the various HR tools without really understanding the possible challenges and implications might result in wasted time and money for your business. While there are certainly plenty of fantastic HR tools to choose from, first determine which is your primary HR need – payroll, benefit, compliance or general HR matters. This will help you narrow down your choices before diving deeper into the specifics of each tool.

2. Lowering your security expectations

Employee information is sacred and this simply means that you cannot compromise on the cyber security of your HR system. As most HR systems contain a huge chunk of personal information, there could be significant ramifications should these highly confidential data be leaked out. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly vet through the information security protocol of the HR tools before choosing them. Additionally, ensure that the vendor which you have deciding to purchase your HR tool from keeps your personal data in an environment that meets your company’s security standards as well.

3. Dividing your HR information across tools and team

Small businesses tend to be made up of a handful of team members who at time, juggle between multiple roles. This also means that important tasks tend to be split up and shared among co-workers across different departments. While such teamwork is undoubtedly a recipe for success, dividing HR responsibilities in such a way could possibly result in miscommunication. Instead of spreading crucial HR information across various systems, ensure that all your important HR information is stored in one easy-to-find system and have only one or two people dedicating to handling your HR tasks.

4. Choosing tools that cannot grow with the company

Of course, the ultimate aim of every small business is to grow into a large and successful enterprise. At the same time, your HR tools need to be able to grow with your company. Spending time and money to find a HR tool which your company might outgrow in a few short years will only bring your business back to square one. Find a HR tool that include features which allow you to handle more HR information in time to come.

Instead of simply rushing to purchasing the latest or fanciest HR tool, the best way is to spend some time to do your due research. Again, it is best to find determine which aspect of HR does your small business need the most. That way, it would help narrow down your options and save you time and money from looking at countless of HR tools.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

Successfully scale your startup with these helpful tips

30/04/2018

Entrepreneurship when successful creates financial freedom and opportunities to flourish. However, the rate of failure amongst startups is enough to deter people from even trying. The thought of working harder than you ever have in your life to earn a pittance or to be in arrears with finances is a scary thought. However, if you have the right tactics to grow, your startup can grow to an income-generating machine that can work on autopilot. Here’s some tips that you should keep in mind.

Brand your business

If you want your product or service to stand out and be valued, you need to develop your brand. There are many factors around developing a brand. However, the most valuable factor that you will invest in is a logo. The logo will represent everything that your brand stands for. The quality, the trust, the appeal, and the message that it stands for. Your logo will define the message that your business stands for.

It can be costly to setup a logo from a professional designer, however, you can create or design logo templates using LogoSnap, which allows you to develop modern logo designs for free using their suggested templates.

Create a funnel strategy

Many people expect to get sales straightaway from their marketing promotion efforts. The reality is that some of the leads will convert into customers straightaway, whilst the majority will be at different stages of the sales cycle.

By realising this, you can set up navigation paths for your leads to follow so you can convert more customers over the long-term. For example, you may have people that visited a product on your webpage, but didn’t convert. They can then be retargeted with the product or even related articles that can bring them back to the website.

Related reading: 7 online marketing tips for small businesses

Incentives can be used to get them to convert as customers or become a more qualified lead. This might involve using lead magnets, coupons, special offers or bonuses. All of these varied incentives can then be tested to see how customers convert through their consumer journey.

Commit to doing business development

This is the most crucial part for growing a business. In order for the business to grow, you must have a system that will allow you to attract qualified leads, which you can then turn into customers. For example, if you are in the service industry and run a cake toppers business from home, you want to focus on getting customers for birthday parties, weddings and special occasions. This might see you having to go to your local schools or extra-curricular events for students and meet with their parents to let them know about your cake topper service.

As a rule of thumb, 100 new contacts can lead to 1 or 2 sales. So in order to scale your business, you need to continually reach out to people in your market. It will become a numbers game and you can branch out into promotional methods such as direct marketing, leafletter drops, referral marketing, sales letter or newsletter marketing, media marketing and more.

Limit distractions

This is challenging for any entrepreneur due to the amount of multitasking that they have to do. Since they do so many tasks at once, they often end up being busy without being productive. In an employment environment, you can get away with it because you are paid for the time that you are there. But if you work for yourself as an entrepreneur, time is money. And the more time you waste, the more money you will end up losing.

Some ways you can minimise your distractions include:

Commit to an action plan

Set certain tasks with deadlines that need to be completed each week. And only focus on those tasks so that they are completed successfully. You can use web tools like Asana to help you manage the tasks that you need to complete.

Use the Pomodoro technique to improve your productivity

The Pomodoro technique uses a focus timer that you can use to work in intervals. So this might be in intervals of 25 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour. Then you reward yourself with a break in between.

Set a goal to accomplish a certain amount of tasks (e.g. 6 tasks) using the Pomodoro technique. This will help you improve your time management.

Work towards building a virtual workforce that can run your business

You want to be able to run your business and not have your business run you. You can hire local staff to manage the tasks needed to run your business. However, if you can leverage the virtual workforce, you can make sure that your business is always running 24/7. You can use sites like Upwork to find freelancers who can help you.

Related reading: 3 tips for managing your virtual office

By applying these tips, you should be able to scale your business within the next 60 days to be successful. So review what you are doing and see how you can fill in the gaps to become more successful.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This a guest post by Janil Jean. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

Author Bio 

Janil Jean is an idealist blogger and social media addict who loves conversations related to branding, storytelling, startups and small business technology and design. You can follow her on Twitter.

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