Ideas about scoping your bookkeeping and payroll functions

It may surprise you just how many different skills or qualifications could be involved in the breath of bookkeeping and payroll functions in your business or organisation

Assumptions and Approach

Earlier we touched on what we called a dangerous assumption when it comes to resourcing your organisational finance function. Let’s repeat this here – the assumption is that:

If someone is a whizz at one aspect of your business finances, they’ll be a whizz at all aspects of your business finances.

You can see the danger. Organisational accounts, bookkeeping and payroll span such a huge scope of tasks and responsibilities that indiscriminately dumping this all on one person could be a recipe for overwhelm and distress.

So how can you approach this in a more helpful way? In this section we walk through an overview of how to bring together various potential resources in a workable structure. We’ll do this by:

  • Summarising the various functions that touch on your bookkeeping and payroll
  • Looking at the types of tasks within these functions
  • Exploring the different types of skills that you may be looking for
  • Understanding the different capacities that may be required
  • Looking possible avenues to resource the scope (internal and external)
  • Thinking about systems that may support you
  • Considering the broad responsibilities of implementation, oversight and development of your finance operations

We trust that this, combined with the other overview information contained in this book, may give you a flying start on putting some helpful changes in place.

Functions and Tasks

Earlier we touched on some of the broad range of function across organisational finances. It may be helpful for you to think about your local situation in this regard, and list all the functions and the types of tasks that may come under each one.

Here’s a bit of a list to get you started (with some quick non-exhaustive examples):

  • Data-entry functions – keying in information, for example:
    • Creating and updating system contacts
    • Entering bills into the system
    • Creating and issuing receipts
  • Bookkeeping processing functions – coding financial information into the accounting system, for example:
    • Bank reconciliation
    • Reviewing and repairing transactions
    • Developing and processing general ledger journal
    • Checking the accounting system data integrity
  • Payroll and remuneration functions- managing set up and processing of things like:
    • Set up of payroll system
    • Set up of employees
    • Processing pay runs and related banking
    • Resolving payroll enquiries and issues
  • Expense management functions – keeping on top of the nitty-gritty of tasks like:
    • Managing incoming receipts and reimbursement claims
    • Administering the usage of staff benefits and allowances
    • Maintaining expense management systems
  • Compliance control functions – your interaction with official bodies on items like:
    • GST
    • Superannuation
    • PAYG Tax
    • Single Touch Payroll
    • ACNC Reporting
    • Insurance obligations
  • Reporting functions- attending to a variety of reporting such as:
    • Regular financial reporting
    • Ad-hoc or customised reporting
    • More detailed synthesis and analysis
  • Strategic development functions – thinking through higher-level concerns like:
    • Chart of accounts
    • Budgeting and monitoring
    • Consulting and streamlining
  • Administrative and workflow functions – keeping information moving between functions, like:
    • Fielding bills and requests and obtaining approvals
    • Pushing items through to next stage of processing
    • Chasing breakdowns of information or process
  • System set up and integrity monitoring functions – keeping an eye on when unnoticed errors may be creeping in, for example:
    • Reviewing for internal rogue transactions or duplications
    • Aligning local records with external banking or ATO records
  • Communication functions – crafting and disseminating information, like:
    • Updates for operational, admin and finance teams
    • Helpful information for members
  • Governance and approval functions – performing a delegated part of the decision-making process, like:
    • Review and approval of budgets
    • Assessment and authorisation of payment requests
    • Signoffs on compliance items

Identifying functions and tasks in this way can then help feed into the next steps of skills and capacity and resourcing of the functions.

Skills and Capacity

For each set of functions that you are seeking to fill in the bookkeeping and payroll management scope, consider the skills or qualifications that may relevant. Types of skill areas that you may want to include at various points could be:

  • Data and system skills
  • Bookkeeping/Accounting qualifications
  • Management and workflow development aptitude
  • Communication and people skills
  • Strategic / Analytical experience
  • Payroll / HR knowledge

As well as considering the skill sets that may be relevant for various functions, also consider the capacity requirements. This capacity can be thought in terms of both time and temperament.

Time is an important consideration, for both volunteers (if relevant to your organisation) and paid support. For volunteers (again, if relevant) as you will be aware, people are often juggling other work and responsibilities, and so time considerations can play an important part in the sustainability of their contribution. And where you are considering paid support, understanding the time scope of the functions will also be important when constructing a role description and budget for the function.

The other area of capacity to consider is temperament.

Some aspects of organisational finances are behind the scenes in a more processing type of role – and this suits some people.

Other aspects may be more of a public type of responsibility with lots of communication and interaction with others – and there may be people that enjoy this opportunity to collaborate.

Still other aspects might be more demanding in terms of handling conflicting demands, pressures or sensitive situations and this may not be easy for some people to cope with on an ongoing basis.

So, having a feel for the types of capacity that different people have in terms of their temperament be a helpful factor to understand and explore.

Would you like to explore further topics related to bookkeeping and payroll in your business or organisation? eBook available now:

Your Handy Overview of Strategic Bookkeeping and Payroll

(including your 80+ point Bookkeeping and Payroll Management Overview Checklist)

This overview aims to provide a useful and helpful big-picture view – to assist you in further developing the financial function in your context. Designed for business owners, organisational leaders and teams.

Request your free eBook here


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