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Working with an employer services provider: five ways to ensure a healthy relationship !

Written by : ADP Canada
2006-08-15
For many years now, entrepreneurs and business leaders have looked for methods to allow them to focus on strategic growth, shying away from the day-to-day administrative processes of running a business. In fact, many business owners and administrators would agree that these functional tasks are not only time consuming, but costly and cumbersome.
Large, medium and small companies increasingly outsource their administrative services to external suppliers. Payroll and HR are two of the most common functions that are being outsourced. The complexity of payroll as well as the impact of legislative compliance have prompted entrepreneurs and business leaders to turn to outsourcing. For example, legislative changes in health care premiums or new parental insurance plan premiums often require payroll departments to re-train and re-tool their employees and systems in order to conform to new legislative requirements.
But once you make the decision to outsource part or all of your company's administrative functions, it is important to ensure that your new partnership gets off on the right foot and successfully flourishes in the future; so choosing the right employer services provider is critical. Here are five steps to follow in order to ensure a healthy relationship with your employer services provider:

  • Do your homework carefully :

  • When shopping for a service provider, begin by selecting the companies that meet your basic criteria. Ask the pre-selected firms to provide references and by all means, check them! Make sure the provider has tangible experience in your specific field of expertise and holds a proven track record in the industry. Moreover, remember to also look at the number of clients they serve and the longevity of these relationships. These elements should contribute in reassuring you of the credibility of the outsourcing firm.

  • Building a trustworthy relationship :

  • One of the key factors in a successful business partnership is for both parties to be on the same wavelength. Building trust with your service provider begins with a solid understanding of the way each party does business and a compatible corporate culture. Invest the time and energy needed to get to know the customer service team that will handle your account in order to evaluate his or her personality and professionalism, as you will be dealing with each other on a regular basis. Make sure you can communicate and negotiate effectively in various situations. The final decision to choose one outsourcing company over another equally skilled provider has often much to do with the person you want to do business with.

  • Assign a single contact

  • While your employer services firm will likely get to know many of the people in your organization at the beginning of the process, giving the company one "client contact" to deal with on a day-to-day basis will ensure consistent direction and avoid confusion. This person should be involved with HR, payroll, and/or information technology function, be senior enough to make strategic and budgetary decisions, readily available during the analysis and implementation phase and as open-minded as possible. The person negotiating with the service provider must be in full agreement with the decision to outsource and must not have any animosity towards the delegation of the outsourced tasks.

  • Write a contract that foresees change

  • Entrusting an employer services provider with the responsibility of your entire payroll process should not be done impulsively. Both parties need to clearly state their respective responsibilities in such a way as to limit confusion and any future conflict. Carefully negotiating a service contract of such magnitude requires preparation and time. The contract should be specific enough, clearly indicating all necessary conditions, while providing the necessary flexibility to allow the parties to adapt to any upcoming changes. That said, any room for interpretation should be limited, so it is preferable to consider potential situations that may arise and include them in the contract.

  • Plan together

  • The reason you hired an outsourcing expert is for the provider to offer their knowledge and expertise, which will ultimately make your business more profitable. There is nothing more discouraging or worrisome for a newly-hired employer services firm than being handed a freshly minted "outsourcing plan." Consult the experts you've hired before creating a plan to handle your company's mounting front- and back-office needs. Working hand-in-hand with your outsourcing provider will ensure better results and will establish a relationship of trust from the onset.

    Payroll management: a legislative headache for franchisees

    Several franchisees dealing with the same management issues as small and medium-sized businesses, have found that outsourcing their payroll services alleviates the legislative headaches that come with performing this task on a daily basis. By understanding the complexity of managing payroll for numerous employees with different statuses, terms and schedules, making the decision to entrust these tasks to professionals becomes more obvious.

    For the Muffin Plus and Cafe Dépot franchises, which employ hundreds of workers in Québec, outsourcing their payroll processing was a matter of saving time and money. "Managing the payroll for a labour force that is primarily comprised of part-time workers, some of whom are students and seasonal workers, meant we had to manage frequent changes in the payroll," explains Line Couvrette, Controller for Café; Dépôt and Muffin Plus and an ADP client for more than three years.

    Mrs. Couvrette confirms the last stage of payroll information for all the corporate franchise employees under the Muffin Plus and Café Dépôt brands in Québec. "The key element that I look for in my payroll service provider is flexibility. The outsourcing firm must be able to quickly adapt to the specific requirements of its client," she adds.

    In fact, in order to meet the particular needs of its clients, the outsourcing firm must provide flexible customer service. "The key success factor of a good employer services provider is the quality of its customer service," states André Poitras, owner of a Boston Pizza franchise in St-Bruno, on the South Shore of Montréal. Mr. Poitras, who has been an ADP client since the Boston Pizza brand penetrated the Québec market a little over a year ago, believes that his outsourcing firm's quick reaction greatly affects his own productivity.

    "As far as I am concerned, a vital element of the relationship with a payroll service provider is knowing that there is a customer service team assigned to my account that can answer all my questions, at the very moment when I need answers." Another element that André Poitras believes is critical is the implementation and training phase, as the client needs continuous support during this stage. "If my payroll provider solves my problem almost instantly, I can then focus the rest of my time on the more strategic aspects of my operations," he concludes.

    The relationship that is created between a company and a service provider is generally for the long term. Therefore, not only must companies consider the above-mentioned factors in their decision-making process, but must also re-evaluate their supplier regularly. The relationship between the two parties must be extremely tight. One must not forget that every company has its own unique culture and, if both parties do not endeavour to work very closely together, they will undoubtedly have difficulty understanding each other.

    ADP Canada Employer Services (ADP) is the country's leading provider of integrated business solutions that help its 50,000 clients increase productivity, ensure regulatory compliance, improve employee retention, and control costs. ADP's offerings include traditional, Web-based and comprehensive outsourcing products and services, including payroll, human resources management, time and labour management, occupational health and safety, comprehensive outsourcing and consulting services. ADP pays one in five Canadians. For more information about ADP clixk here
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