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.