Why software is better than spreadsheets for UAE payroll

For years, spreadsheets have been the standard tool for businesses, as they are great for storing, managing, and visualizing data. Many teams know their way around their rows and columns and find them to be helpful in completing their daily tasks. You might have even used one today.

It is undeniable that spreadsheets come with numerous benefits. However, as your business evolves, so does the complexity of your operations. Spreadsheets are not designed to scale with you. Handling large volumes of data becomes challenging, and integrating spreadsheets with other apps is even more difficult.

Relying on spreadsheets for critical functions, such as payroll, also puts your business at risk of inaccuracy, data compromise, and non-compliance with the laws of the land. This blog weighs the pros and cons of using spreadsheets for payroll and explains how making a switch to cloud-based payroll software, such as Zoho's, can benefit your business in the long run.


Running payroll using spreadsheets

A simple search on the internet will tell you that payroll is the process of paying your employees, but you know that it involves much more. It also includes tracking your employees LOP, staying compliant with UAE labour laws, posting salary journal entries, and maintaining up-to-date books of accounts. While spreadsheets are great with numbers, they fall short in managing these cross-departmental functions.

Here are a few challenges you may face while running payroll on spreadsheets.

1. Inaccurate calculations

You are worried about making inaccurate salary payments to your employees, not because spreadsheets are prone to errors, but the people preparing them are. With tons of numbers involved and dozens of formulas to be applied, it is only natural for humans to make mistakes.

2. Over-dependencies

You may have hands-on experience using spreadsheets, but the chances of you mastering complex functions like concatenate, VLOOKUP, and pivot tables are slim. You need someone who is well-versed in these to handle your company's payroll. This leaves you heavily dependent on one staff member who knows these functions to complete payroll every month.

3. Manual computations

The preset formulae in a spreadsheet help you automatically calculate statutory deductions to some extent. Whenever the social security contribution rates change, your payroll admin invests hours manually adjusting the preset formulas to reflect these modifications.

4. Data spread across multiple spreadsheets

You maintain employee details, their attendance data, and payroll calculations in separate spreadsheets, and your HR and payroll teams work in silos, resulting in data discrepancies and delays in paying employees.

5. Data is not secure

Unlike a dedicated payroll system that needs login credentials to access them, spreadsheets can be shared with anyone. This leaves room for sensitive payroll data to be exposed, and you may even end up violating UAE's data protection laws.

In conclusion, spreadsheets may seem familiar and initially helpful, but using them well for payroll requires a lot of expertise and diligence. You can avoid the pitfalls associated with spreadsheets and streamline your process by adopting Zoho Payroll.

Zoho Payroll comes with a minimal learning curve, built-in automation features, advanced security, and integrations with in-house HR and accounting apps to make your business's payroll a success.

Benefits of upgrading to Zoho Payroll

1. Clutter-free UI for better experience

By choosing Zoho Payroll, you gain access to a simple, clear, and responsive UI that makes it easier for you to comprehend big volumes of payroll data.


Everything you need to complete a pay run is intuitively organized and available right at your fingertips in Zoho Payroll.

The helpful UI, designed with your needs in mind, presents complex payroll calculations in an easy-to-understand format, minimizing the learning curve for new users. You and your team members can quickly adapt to the software, reducing the need for extensive training sessions and eliminating over-dependencies on a single person.

2. Precise calculation for error-free payroll

Accuracy is integral to Zoho Payroll. It makes computation of earnings, deductions, and other components easier, regardless of your employee count.

Consider the payroll structure within your organization, where employees from various GCC countries and expatriates with different pay grades are part of the monthly payroll. Their earnings and contributions to social security schemes will vastly differ. Factoring in these components and arriving at the salary figure can be a painstaking task when done using a spreadsheet. In contrast, Zoho Payroll automates this process, checking and calculating earnings and deductions for your employees based on applicable regional laws.

3. Confidently meet compliance standards

Unlike spreadsheets, which lack automated compliance features, Zoho's payroll software ensures compliance with UAE labour laws, so you can keep your business on strong legal footing at all times. With Zoho Payroll, you can:

  • Effortlessly generate prefilled salary information files (SIF) and pay employees in the format mandated by the Wage Protection System.
  • Automatically calculate and deduct social security contributions for your employees based on applicable pension schemes and help them build their retirement savings.
  • Reward employees who go beyond their call of duty with overtime allowance in monthly pay runs.
  • Provide end-of-service benefits to expatriates leaving your company with their full and final settlement pay.

4. Centralized management of data

Organizing and categorizing your business's payroll data has never been easier with the software doing most of the work for you.

Imagine having all employee details, attendance records, and payroll calculations seamlessly integrated and accessible from a single, centralized location. No more silos—your teams can work in sync, sharing real-time updates without the hassle of manual data transfers. Every modification, from employee onboarding details to salary adjustments, is recorded and instantly reflected across the system.

5. Secure sensitive data with access control

While spreadsheet files can be password-protected and locked, preventing others from accessing them, this alone is not sufficient to protect your company's crucial payroll data.

You need a tool that will let you invite qualified staff to process payroll while maintaining control with finely-grained user roles and permissions. That is where Zoho Payroll comes in. It is built on the foundation of security. You get to determine who can access what information and delegate specific user roles and permissions to your teams. In this way, your payroll, HR, and finance teams have access only to the information relevant to their responsibilities.

6. Seamless integration to scale operations

Spreadsheets do not easily integrate with other apps. Using them for payroll, which requires multiple teams to work together, imposes additional work on your teams. By switching to Zoho Payroll, you will free up their time and enable your apps to work together for you.

Zoho Payroll comes tightly integrated with Zoho People, a cloud-based HR software, and Zoho Books, a powerful VAT-compliant accounting software, ensuring employee data flows seamlessly throughout. From onboarding an employee to tracking their attendance and recording salary journal entries, entire operations can be automated with ease.

7. Payroll solution tailored to your growth

Every time you hire a GCC national, your payroll admin will spend hours modifying the spreadsheet based on applicable laws and updating the individual's pension contribution rates. This will inadvertently slow down hiring and negatively impact the growth of the business.

When you're setting up a system, you must always look for the solution that scales with you. Zoho Payroll lets you accommodate a growing number of employees and multiple work locations without compromising productivity and compliance with regional laws.

The better way to do payroll

Payroll is more than just calculating salaries and sending out payslips. It is one of the most complex, yet critical, processes in every business. Using outdated spreadsheets for payroll increases the likelihood of errors, data compromise, and non-compliance with labour laws.

Transitioning to dedicated payroll software is not only necessary but also a strategic move towards overcoming these limitations and ensuring streamlined, error-free payroll management for your business. Sign up for a free trial of Zoho Payroll, enjoy full access to all its intuitive features, and see the benefits of upgrading to payroll software for yourself.


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