Kristine Willson, CPP, a senior payroll consultant at Sikich, sat down with us (virtually, of course) to tell us more about what it means to be the American Payroll Association’s 2019 Woman of the Year and to share her candid thoughts on the future of payroll.
A: Thanks for having me!
Q: To start us off, what does it mean to you to be the 2019 APA Woman of the Year?
A: It is a huge honor. It’s been an exciting time; actually, quite overwhelming! My colleagues, both at Sikich and with the APA, have been a great support system.
Throughout my career, I’ve gradually stepped out of my comfort zone. My involvement in the APA has led me to teach classes and run meetings with a confidence I once never thought I’d possess. I owe a lot of my current self-assurance to the APA, so I’m completely honored by their recognition.
Q: What do you like best about payroll consulting? What initially drove you to pursue payroll consulting?
A: I wanted a career that would provide me both the opportunities to teach and learn on the job. In a consulting role, clients rely on me to solve their payroll problems, successfully getting them from “here” to “there.” I’m often approached with tasks and questions that I have never previously worked on or encountered. Different payroll processes and industries present their own challenges, which gives me the opportunity to continuously learn. It keeps my work varied. I’m never bored when I’m consulting and problem solving with clients. This field is exciting.
Q: How do you see payroll technologies evolving?
A: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are quickly realizing that work can be done remotely. I don’t think many organizations were prepared for a “work at home” workforce, and most did not have a business continuity plan in place to accommodate for situations like this.
Home internet security is not as robust as security is in a corporate office environment, and therefore, security and data privacy enhancements should be high on a business’ list of evolving technology. From payroll providers developing software with heightened security to companies equipping home offices with additional protection, these necessary controls are put in place to ward off the ever growing world of hackers.
Further, a demand for a daily paycheck (versus bi-weekly or monthly) is likely to become more relevant. Physical paychecks will go away, and employees will be paid electronically and on demand. This will spur an increased need for mobile and online banking, having a direct impact on the payroll field.
Beyond this, employers are going to be expected to improve their current time and billing systems. Employees are working from home now; they aren’t punching into a physical time clock. Organizations may consider executing a mobile app for tracking work hours or move to an online platform, if they haven’t already.
Q: What is one mistake that organizations make when implementing a new payroll system that could be easily avoided?
A: Unfortunately, we find a number of organizations fail to pre-plan before implementation. Organizations will struggle to use a new system, or even their current system, if they haven’t done the prep work. This can be avoided by clearly outlining their business’s expectations and challenges with their payroll system providers prior to an overhaul. Management needs to make decisions as to what they want from a payroll process and then, most importantly, communicate that with their providers.
Q: Tell us one random fact about you.
A: Oh, let’s see. I’m a quilter. I have been for a while; I think it dates back to my high school years when I would sew clothing. Back then, I even sewed my own prom dress. Today, I stick to quilts. I’m a member of a few quilting groups—of course, we can’t meet in person during the current stay-at-home orders, but we’ve been keeping in touch.
Q: Thanks for speaking with us today, Kristine.
A: Thank you. It was my pleasure!
Kristine K. Willson, CPP, is a senior consultant with over 30 years of professional experience in payroll services. Kristine provides payroll administration, taxation and implementation services to her clients. She also serves organizations with their benefit administration, garnishments and process documentation/improvement needs. Her experience includes international payroll and payroll SOX compliance work, too.
Kristine works with clients in a range of industries, including manufacturing, biotech, retail, travel, medical services, property management, construction, insurance and not-for-profit.
Interview conducted by the Sikich internal marketing team.