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Simplifying payroll with software

3-minute read

If you were to list what inspired you to set up on your own, it’s highly unlikely that ‘nailing payroll’ would be anywhere near the top spot. Of course, paying your people is something you cannot afford to get wrong – but for many small businesses (those with 19 employees or fewer), the actual process seems to take up far more time than intended. In fact, according to research1, small business leaders are spending an average of one in every five working hours on back-office paperwork. That’s 541 hours per year.

Key take-outs
  • Payroll is often one of the key reasons small-business owners get bogged down in admin.
  • The right digital payroll applications can help save time, money and stress.
  • Platforms like Westpac Live can streamline payments and integrate with a range of payroll software.

It’s not just a case of paperwork and admin taking up time that could be otherwise used to build the business. As of 2019, government legislation now requires businesses with under 20 employees to file every pay run with the Australian Tax Office using Single Touch Payroll2.

So often, a business will concentrate its resources on technology that directly helps its customers. Yet when you peek behind the curtain, crucial admin processes such as payroll are being powered by spreadsheets, reams of paper and lots of late nights.

It needn’t be the way. Tools like Westpac Live* are changing the way small businesses operate by helping to make those awkward, time-consuming jobs easier and quicker. Which means more time to chase new goals, both at work and, well, not.

Automate the tedious stuff

Your business might be all about the hand-crafted, the artisanal, the time taken. But let’s be honest: if there’s one thing you shouldn’t be burning the midnight oil over, it’s payroll.

Even if you’re not writing out cheques ahead of payday or updating the books by pen, you might still be missing out on the latest payroll solutions. Technology moves quickly and even off-the-shelf applications that are just a few years old could be lacking things like integration with other accounting packages, reliable automation and real-time reporting to the Australian Tax Office.

What to look for

The trick is to find something that will grow with your business. Look for an application that’s:

  1. Easy to use.
    You’re looking for something that’s going to free up your time. Check forums and reviews before making your choice – you should be simplifying your payroll, not confusing it.
  2. Compatible with your business.
    Can you integrate your existing accounting tools with a new payroll platform? Make sure you’re not entering the same information all over again, or fiddling with file formats.
  3. Always compliant.
    You need to make sure you’re up on the latest legislation and use Single Touch Payroll to file every pay run with the ATO. A digital payroll package should help you roll out essential changes with minimal effort.
  4. Flexible.
    You might only have a couple of staff right now, but what about three years down the line? Room to grow is essential. You shouldn’t need to upgrade your tools to cope.

What’s in it for you

Win back some time, and save money doing so: that’s what you could be looking at with the right digital payroll package for your business. You’ll be:

  1. Cutting down on admin.
    Tools like Westpac Live could help you make one payment to multiple people, create payment templates for those you pay regularly and import files and payee lists in multiple formats. Which should mean less stress come the pay run.
  2. Doing your bit for the environment.
    Reducing your paper outlay is one of the obvious benefits of going digital. You could also be saving on printers and toner, not to mention storing files.
  3. Freed from the office.
    Many online tools also offer the capability to securely sort the payroll wherever you are, whenever you like (so long as it’s before payday, obviously).


Choosing a digital payroll platform will need a bit of careful thought. But the potential benefit may be worth it. It could help reduce the risk of making costly mistakes, cut time spent on admin and help to future proof your payroll processes. All of this should add up to give you more time to take your business forward.

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Things you should know

Deposit Accounts for Business Customers Terms and Conditions (PDF 876KB)

Business Debit Mastercard® Terms and Conditions (PDF 304KB)

Important information for Westpac business account customers - 19 December 2018 (PDF 29KB)

Foreign Currency Account Terms & Conditions (PDF 284KB)

International Products and Services Standard Fees (PDF 156KB)

Online Banking Terms and Conditions (PDF 409KB)

This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Consider its appropriateness to these factors before acting on it. Read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Terms and Conditions or Product Disclosure Statement and consider whether the product or service is right for you.

1. In the Zone Report, commissioned by Reckon and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 1,328 small business leaders throughout Australia. The survey was conducted online between 20 March and 1 April 2019.