This guest blog post is courtesy of Robin Rothman, Sage Product Marketing Manager. She has over 25 years in Human Resources Management and Director roles. She is an expert in the areas of: Associate Relations, Compensation, Affirmative Action, Recruitment, Legal Compliance, Training and Development, HRIS and Employee Benefits.
Data integrity refers to maintaining and assuring the accuracy and consistency of data and is a critical aspect to the design, implementation and usage of any system which stores, processes or retrieves data. The term data integrity may have widely different meanings depending on the specific context but for our purpose, we’ll discuss how it pertains to the implications of your HR and Payroll data.
The overall intent of data integrity is to ensure data is recorded exactly as intended to your HRIS system or database. When you are ready to retrieve the data at some later point in time, maintaining an accurate internal record of your data ensures that the intended data is the same as it was when it was originally provided to you and recorded to your database.
For the HR and Payroll professional, producing reports is one of the essential functions of the job. Inputs can (and probably are) received from various sources. You probably produce a lot of reports for various areas within your business. Different departments within your organization may also have access to your central repository. The individual responsible for data reporting should feel some level of comfort knowing that the reports they eventually produce, contain the intended data.
For example, there are times when pieces of data are input incorrectly. Fields such as first name, last name and social security number are one of those easily overlooked items. At the onset, it may seem insignificant and/or have an easy fix. However, if not corrected timely could have far stretching implications aside from just having the wrong name appear on a report. No big deal, right? Well, not so much…
For example, here’s what can happen…”last name” field is input into a database incorrectly. Someone generates a report that retrieves that particular field from your database. That piece of data may be used for presentation at a meeting where that particular employee may be in attendance. For example, some staff or other Execute level meeting where new employees may be introduced. So, someone who is not familiar with that person introduces them at the meeting. But…their name is spelled incorrectly (or confused with another name). Here’s how it goes…Good afternoon everyone, I’d like to introduce you to our new employee Tim Jones. Tim Jones will be working with our Merchandising Department. Ok, but, Tim Jones’ name is really Jim Jones. Better yet, he uses the name James. Where did Tim come from? Is he Jim or James? Confusing, isn’t it? Think for a minute how that person being introduced may feel. They may have felt the company doesn’t even care enough about their employees to get their name correct. They may also have felt that the company they just accepted employment with isn’t professional enough to get their employee’s name correct. What about his email address? Has it been set up in the system as Tim.Jones @ wherever.com? There are so many areas that need to be corrected. It’s like branches of a tree that grew out everywhere, but even quicker. I’m sure you see the point by now.
This just talks to the employee relations side of the error. Wrong names input into a database cross referenced with incorrect social security numbers yields errors for both Social Security Administrative reporting for the employee as well as incorrectly stated year end W-2 reporting for both the employee and your Payroll department. Information input into E-Verify is inaccurate causing unnecessary time for the HR or Payroll Professional as well as an inconvenience to the employee in trying to resolve the discrepancy. Hmmm, what a mess!!!
Does this happen? You bet!
Here’s another example. Salary information is provided to you from one source or external process. Data input then occurs through another source. Failure to verify/cross reference the data could result in inaccurate reporting, cause major financial implication and simply put, cause the department providing the data to lose credibility within their role and/or functional area of responsibility. This is one of the easiest, most controllable but overlooked area from an administrative perspective. So what can you do if you don’t have the time to check your data? Enlist the assistance of another area within your organization to help. Taking the time to ensure that your data is correct could save you many hours of lost productivity at a future point in time.
Carefully, taking the time to check the work entered/input into any system ensures that when you produce a report for yourself (or another entity), credible information is produced. Maintaining your credibility; it’s impossible to put a price on that!