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The beginning of a beautiful friendship

By SmartPayroll | January 15, 2021

Republished from

Launched in 2004, the original founders of SmartPayroll found themselves on what was to become a serendipitous plane ride with Datacom’s then head of PaySystems.

On that trip, they discussed how the two companies could work together — how the Datacom ecosystem could help the fledgling company grow to become a major payroll provider in the New Zealand market.

Fast forward 15 years, and what was discussed on that plane trip had become reality — so much so that Datacom saw the company was a fantastic opportunity for it to expand its own offering in the payroll space and drive the business forward. Datacom bought out the last of the SmartPayroll’s independent shareholders in September, 2020.

SmartPayroll CEO Melissa Cheals has led the company for more than two years, leading her team to improve processes, delight customers and unite behind a vision to grow the business. “We’re looking to expand the business, revenue and offering over the next decade,” she says, adding “We want to be the leading payroll provider in the New Zealand market — something we’ll work to achieve by expanding our product platform and broadening our customer base.”

It’s an audacious proposition but one she believes will be possible now that SmartPayroll has joined the Datacom ecosystem.

“The business is a strong entity in its own right but now it has the powerful backing of Datacom and all its resources, expertise, talent and support,” Melissa says.

With a strong customer following, SmartPayroll’s sales have traditionally come from referrals and word-of-mouth.

“Our driving ethos is to support customers. We place them at the heart of everything and that drives satisfaction. We like to amaze our customers — we don’t want to just be average or do things well,” Melissa says.

Amazing customers when it comes to payroll, something that generally feels like a back office, compliance-driven task, is something Melissa has led. She says while it may feel dry, payroll is actually “surrounded by emotion”.

“Payroll may not be exciting but getting paid is. Developing people should be the centre of it. Business owners can better look after their employees, paying them accurately and on time. People come first and success follows in all kinds of ways, shapes and forms,” she says. Payroll is a complex task — especially in sectors like hospitality or for temporary workers. The news has been littered with stories about inaccurate payment and noncompliance but technology is helping businesses stamp out these errors.

“For people whose hours change all the time, it’s difficult to keep track of. We now record leave in weeks rather than hours or days so we can be more accurate. We’re actively trying to think about compliance to ensure businesses are fair and right when completing payroll. Technology really helps businesses keep up with changing legislation,” Melissa says.

One way technology is stamping out incorrect payments is by placing compliance at the centre of product design — making it easy for businesses to do the right thing.

“We’ve set our product up so the way you put the data in and how it moves through the system means you minimise mistakes, minimising human error,” Melissa says.

Looking ahead, the investment from Datacom means SmartPayroll can continue to deliver what its customers want, building out its core offering as it works to become New Zealand’s leading payroll provider.

You can read more about Datacom in their 2020 annual review.

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