We’re pleased to announce that BrightPay Cloud is now available.
BrightPay Cloud brings several new features to BrightPay. These are described over on the dedicated BrightPay Cloud section of our website, and they aren’t covered in the same detail here. In this article, I’ll give you a background to BrightPay Cloud, where it currently stands, and where we’re heading next.
When we launched BrightPay in the UK back in 2011, the payroll software landscape was different. There was no RTI, and Auto Enrolment was still half a decade away for most employers. After noticing that the majority of payroll software product options had stagnated and were drawing many complaints from their customers, we entered BrightPay into the market as a nice, modern, easy to use and fairly priced alternative. We had our work cut out for us over the subsequent years adding features and responding to the big industry changes as they transpired. We’re very pleased to have been successful in our endeavours, as attested to by a browse through the BrightPay customer testimonials.
One feature area that has been trending in recent years is cloud functionality. BrightPay has always had a certain amount of cloud connectivity – software updates, licensing, emailing payslips and help documentation are all powered via the cloud, as are features like RTI and NEST submissions, as well as Auto Enrolment staging date checking. But there have been a number of big requests from customers over the years that we have not provided a solution for.
Your payroll data is important. You need it to pay your employees accurately and on-time and to comply with HMRC reporting requirements. It’s not something you want to lose.
But backing up this important data often succumbs to human error. For example, we’ve heard from many customers over the years who requested that BrightPay would regularly remind them to backup their payroll data, simply because they forget. But a problem with a solution like this is that manually backing up data adequately is complicated. It’s not good enough to keep a backup of your files on your computer, as you can lose everything if your computer breaks. USB keys are handy, but they get lost. An off-site storage solution with data redundancy and geo-replication works great, but not everyone’s an IT expert.
So we wanted to provide a backup solution for BrightPay that just works.
With BrightPay Cloud, your payroll data gets automatically backed up to a secure cloud repository without you having to do anything – it’s that simple. As you run your payroll or make any other changes to data in BrightPay, it synchronises in the background. And it doesn’t just keep the latest backup - it keeps a history of backups, so even if you accidentally delete or change anything only to realise the mistake much later, you’re still covered. You can restore a cloud backup onto your current computer, or onto a new computer, at any time.
Many employers have already transitioned from printed payslips to digital payslips, often delivered via email. But wouldn’t it be great if employees had somewhere they could go to not only get their latest payslip, but to also access their entire history of payslips and other payroll documents at their own convenience? And what if they could easily see their own calendar of leave and personal tax details without having to contact HR?
BrightPay Cloud provides this facility through a feature called Employee Self Service. Using Employee Self Service, employees can do all the aforementioned tasks using their PC, Mac or smartphone. They can also make requests for leave and submit updates to their personal details, which, if approved, automatically synchronise back down to BrightPay on your PC or Mac.
You can set up Employee Self Service for your entire workforce or just a subset of employees, and you can control what they see and which features they have access to. Self Service will automatically notify your employees via email when their latest payslip or P60 is available.
How does BrightPay Cloud ensure employees always have access to the latest data? Well, as mentioned above, BrightPay Cloud automatically backups up your data to the cloud as you make changes. Self Service is powered by your most recent backup, and so, it just works.
Accountants and payroll bureaux get both of the above features with BrightPay Cloud – employer data files are automatically backed up, and your client’s employees can all get access to Employee Self Service.
But there’s more. Using BrightPay Cloud, you can provide an Employer Dashboard for your clients as well, allowing them to not only view their employees’ information, but also see an employer-wide calendar, access payroll reports that you define in BrightPay, and view the schedule of HMRC payments and liabilities.
Your clients can also use their Employer Dashboard to approve the leave requests and personal details update requests made by their employees, all of which synchronises back down to your data in BrightPay. You can give access to as many contacts for your clients as need be.
Our number one priority when creating BrightPay Cloud has been security. We spent a lot of time getting the best possible foundation and architecture in place before doing anything else.
The various data repositories and services which make up BrightPay Cloud are built using a compartmentalised design that maximises security. Strong encryption is used to store all data, as well as in communication with your PC or Mac. All popular kinds of attack are protected against. Your data is accessible only by you.
We selected the Microsoft Azure platform to power BrightPay Cloud, giving us reliability, scalability, data redundancy, geo-replication and timely security updates out of the box.
It’s worth noting that the most common weakness in any system like BrightPay Cloud is a poor password, so when choosing a password please remember to select something adequate, keep it safe, and change it often.
BrightPay Cloud costs just £49 per employer, per tax year (plus VAT). That price gives you a full year of cloud backups and Self Service for ALL your employees. When you renew BrightPay Cloud in the following year (at the same price), we will maintain the previous year’s data.
Bureau users, who may wish to purchase BrightPay Cloud for multiple clients, can get a bulk discount depending on how many employers they require (see pricing for details). The BrightPay Cloud pricing model is employer-based, unlike that for BrightPay on your PC or Mac, because it runs on a cloud platform that costs us in direct proportion to its usage. But we're competitively priced, and you still get the same support at no extra cost.
Our immediate plan is to continue making improvements to BrightPay, while enhancing BrightPay Cloud with advanced configurability, more features and additional access options.
We received a lot of responses to our recent BrightPay customer survey, which we have used to build a prioritised development plan. You can expect see several more BrightPay upgrades during the 16/17 tax year, and some nice new features for 17/18.
We’ve started building Self Service mobile apps for BrightPay Cloud to make it even easier and more convenient for employees to access their payroll information. And we have plans for improved branding and customisation, timesheets and more HR features.
We get asked from time to time about any plans we may have for a complete cloud version of BrightPay which could be used entirely via your web browser. While this is something we are continually looking at as we monitor the industry and customer expectations, we don’t have any announcements at this stage. Rest assured that even if we do go down that route in the future, the existing PC/Mac version is not something that would go away any time soon – we foresee a long lifespan for BrightPay and BrightPay Cloud, and look forward to working with you for many years to come.