Piecework is something that sets the agricultural industry apart from others. There are clear advantages of paying by the piece in an industry where certain jobs are very time sensitive and labor is in short supply. If employees are more efficient and productive, they will be compensated more for their hard work and skill. Seems simple, right?
Well, there are always two sides to every coin. First, tracking pieces per employee, per job, and per rate can complicate the payroll process (and cause a big headache) if trying to do this by hand. The second issue can be finding a suitable payroll system that accommodates piecework pay. Acquiring the data to pay by piece can be tricky, but that is why we have developed hardware and software solutions to make it easier to pay by weight, by piece, or by container. Using RFID employee badges and intuitive software can ease the headache of all the paperwork and calculations. Now that total time, total pieces, and total piece wages per employee are calculated and ready to go with a few button clicks, the next step to further automate and save time is to directly import this data into payroll.
Another customer asked me last week if 2nd Sight had any recommendations for payroll software packages that integrate well with our labor tracking software. Over the last five years, we have worked with growers that use a variety of payroll software, and some have been easier to work with than others. Here are my thoughts about a handful of payroll software options that we see specialty crop growers using.
Everyone has heard of QuickBooks. I can attest to the simplicity of the software and the power of the reports. However, QuickBooks can be difficult to use for manufacturing or agricultural companies. One reason is the inability to import CSV or Excel-type files into the payroll module. The only file type accepted is unique to QuickBooks and does not allow for importing pieces. If you use QuickBooks, there will always be that final step of plugging in total hours and an hourly rate (calculated based on the piecework) which will take extra time and can be error prone. With Sage accounting software there is a similar issue. You can import a CSV, but you cannot import pieces and piece rates. On the support side, there are many resources available online for QuickBooks and Sage, but talking to someone who can make something happen will take time, patience, and persistence.
In terms of developing specific imports that generate the required data in the proper fields, we have had better luck with Advanced Grower Solutions’ GrowPoint, AgStar, Datatech, and Mobile Farmware. These software packages accept .csv or .txt file imports and provide the specifications and customer support needed to build and test imports of 2nd Sight data. Famous and Paylocity also offer resources to build an import to streamline the payroll process.
Implementing 2nd Sight electronic labor tracking is a step in the right direction to keep more accurate records and better manage piecework pay. The next step is creating that seamless link between data acquisition and payroll. Although some custom software and setup is involved, that first payroll that takes you just a few minutes instead of hours makes it all worth it: upload data, review, generate, download, import, and print checks. Payroll complete.