How to Plan and Manage a Successful Payroll Parallel Run

  • by Owen McGivney, Senior Consultant, iProCon Ltd.
  • April 14, 2011
Parallel runs are often the most demanding phase of any HR and payroll implementation. Yet little formal advice is available and most users seem to learn through experience only. This general overview of the process shows that detailed planning, setting expectations, and good communication are the keys to a successful parallel run.
Key Concept
A payroll parallel run is the process of verifying that a new SAP payroll system is as good as (or better than) the legacy payroll system it is replacing. A set of employees and data is loaded onto the SAP payroll system so that it matches the legacy payroll system. A payroll period that has already been run on the legacy payroll system and used to pay employees is then recreated on the new SAP payroll system. The payroll results are then compared between the two systems down to employee and pay element level. By proving that the new payroll system matches the legacy system, the business can have confidence that the new system has been configured well and will pay its employees correctly.

Most people who work with SAP systems are familiar with the testing model necessary to get an enterprise-wide business system up and running. Units of functionality are tested in isolation, and then grouped together by business transactions as functional tests. A string of transactions are run together to test an end-to-end business scenario, and business scenarios are tested with their links to interfaces and external systems as integration tests. Other test phases, for example, user-acceptance testing and stress testing, may also be incorporated. Most ERP modules, however, don’t have a test phase in which direct comparisons are made to the legacy system that is being replaced (Figure 1). This is because the functionality differs so much in terms of scope, process, method, and data that comparisons between the SAP system and the legacy system are impractical.


Figure 1
Typical ERP testing hierarchy

Owen McGivney

Owen McGivney is a senior consultant at iProCon Ltd., part of the iProCon group, based in London, England. He has worked on implementing SAP HR and payroll systems since 1998. Owen has delivered UK, Irish, and multi-national payroll solutions for a wide range of private- and public-sector clients. He has a special interest in combining ABAP programming with configuration to create innovative and effective solutions.

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