photo. My bike. In Italy last summer
As my readers here know, I enjoy long distance cycling. Throughout the warmer months of the year, I try and get out on my bicycle most days. I normally train for a big event, involving some big hills, so that I have a goal to aim for. I do my best thinking on my bike. Pain somehow helps clear the brain.
It also means I can talk about bicycle components and bore people to death at will.
I had a quick trip to the US last week, and because of meetings, I couldn’t fly out on Friday evening. So I got to sneak in a quick ride with some friends before I flew back on Saturday lunchtime. I packed my cycling shoes, pedals and a helmet, and Mark kindly lent me a bike. It was easy to plug my pedals onto his spare bike. Standards in the physical world just seem to work, unlike those in software.
It was a much better way to spend a Saturday morning than trawling a mall, or doing email in the airport lounge. We rode through the pretty rolling hills between Woodside and Redwood, just south of San Francisco. 6 months ago, it would have been a gentle spin, but I felt it in my legs and lungs by the time we got back. Putting it simply, I’m not as fit as I was then. That fitness that I worked at constantly through last spring, summer and autumn has faded. This was a sharp reminder that last year’s efforts matter very little this year. Now that the days are a bit longer, I need to find time to get out on the bike again. Use it or lose it.
What has this got to do with payroll?
Well, quite a lot.
A payroll also gets out of shape very quickly if you don’t focus on regular maintenance, much more so than most other systems. Rules and laws change often, as governments add new layers of regulation. New laws and taxes often make what worked perfectly last year no longer valid. When looking at HR systems and especially payrolls, you need to ask the tough questions. Getting payroll fit isn’t easy, but staying payroll fit is even harder. Look your vendor in the eye. Figure out whether they are just selling you the bicycle or whether they will help keep you in shape.