Australian vendor Neller purchased by NorthgateArinso

An interesting move last week international vendor NorthgateArinso acquired Adelaide based HR/Payroll vendor Neller. Finally giving NorthgateArinso a decent foothold of the Australian marketplace. Based on the press announcements all of Neller’s employees will remain and local Neller CEO will take up the reins on the combined entity.

Several years ago Northgate, as it was called back then, acquired vendor Rebus however this never really translated into major growth in Australia. With Neller the outcome could be very different. Neller’s Preceda People product pays around 700,000 employees across about 1,000 customer including large corporates such as Woolworths.

In 2006 Neller re-developed their AS400 based system into a fully functioning web based application using tools provided by LANSA. Since this time Neller have continued with strong sales growth.

It is not surprising that in Australia we are following the global trend of consolidation in HR/Payroll/Talent Management marketplace.

HR/Payroll Software Used in Australia and New Zealand

There are lots and lots of different HR and Payroll systems in use across Australia and New Zealand, a fact that makes choosing a system very confusing. This process is made even more confusing by the lack of good quality information in the marketplace about what each solution offers.

During the years I have selected and implemented many different systems and now help clients select the right option for their business. But the process is never as simple as it should be. During 2010 I am hoping to provide more detailed coverage of the local marketplace.

To kick things off I have created a short (9 questions) survey that looks at the systems used for Payroll, HR and general Talent Management.

Australian Payroll: Chris 21

One of the reasons I have been so busy over the last few months is a specific client project I have been working on: a payroll upgrade and implementation of a new time & attendance system. While I not going to cover the details of the engagement I want to touch on the payroll system that is being implemented: Chris 21 from Frontier Software .

This is the first time I have worked so closely with the Chris 21 product, so I have been learning lots about what it can and can’t do. Overall I am impressed with the product (excluding the employee and manager tools, more on that later) based on what needs to be achieved for the client.

For Australian readers you might be wondering why I am impressed as I like many hear horror stories of tier 2 payroll implementations from all vendors. One reason: the administrative tool kit allows significant configuration and customisation of the core product to meet a client’s needs.

The downside is most clients are unable to take full advantage of these functions as it requires significant Chris 21 and technology knowledge to use the tools. For many clients I suspect the implementation consultants have locked them out of these sections as in the wrong hands you payroll system could easily be broken.

Additionally the integration options on paper are very robust, the product includes the ability to track data changes for outwards integration into message based platforms like an EAI. Inbound integration is a little harder and to achieve fully automated integration requires IT support and potentially custom development. Inbound processing is completed using General Transaction Requests (GTR) a specific data integration language provided by Frontier Software. GTRs allow clients to build complex integrations with their Chris 21 system, however IT support is a must.

The Employee and Manager offerings within the HR21 product are limited in usability, however this is due to the HR21 product being built on an older technology platform. The biggest issue is the lack of configuration offered to clients, without having to engage Frontier Software. Frontier Software is actively working to build a replacement based on more recent technology offerings. But, and a big but, HR21 implemented in an innovative manner could provide significant benefits to an organisation.

A final note I am not commenting on specific payroll processing functionality as this is very client specific.