Accsys: “Staying power is just one element of sustainability”

Accsys (Pty) Ltd

#TT1002016 Winner of the Blank Canvas International Award for Sustainability
Category for medium enterprises

Staying power is just one element of sustainability

Accsys has been in the payroll business long enough to remember the days when employers still handed paper cheques or pay packets of cash to their employees on payday. No doubt they will still be in business when salaries are microchipped or light-beamed or transferred in blockchain currencies like Bitcoin.

“For us, it doesn’t matter how employers want to pay their people. What matters is that our software allows them to do anything they choose,” says Cathie Webb, chief operating officer. “Electronic transfers have been the main payment method for the past 15 to 20 years, but we also work for clients who have unbanked employees. South Africa is still a cash economy in parts.”

This mixed economy is one aspect that makes payroll more complex than meets the eye. Other complicating factors are ever-changing statutory requirements from government agencies such as SARS and the Department of Labour.

“There are about 250 000 companies – a lot of them tiny – that submit to SARS and approximately eight million people paying tax,” says Teryl Schroenn, chief executive officer. “Some people feel they can do their payroll using Excel, but there is a lot of risk in not using a designed-for-purpose solution.”

Accsys is able to adapt its proprietary software relatively quickly and easily – a quality that appeals strongly to clients, their satisfaction being a key success factor in its sustainability strategy. “Our systems are pretty efficient and we have happy customers,” Cathie says.
Earning annuity income and following the money

Another critical element of Accsys’s sustainability is its financial model, says Teryl. “Our model is annuity based; clients pay a licence fee for the right to use our software, which gives us the financial stability to continue developing the software. With a stable amount of money coming in every month, we have a strong financial base.”

Accsys also knows how to “follow the money” – understanding what the company is spending money on. “There is very little here that Cathie and I don’t sign off on. That might sometimes seem like micromanagement but we believe it’s critical to be extremely careful and know exactly where the money is going.”

Other critical success factors for business sustainability in South Africa are fulfilling social responsibility and statutory requirements such as broad-based black empowerment (B-BBEE). “We have to think about B-BBEE all the time. We have got to keep looking at the full context of how we fit into the South African economy,” says Cathie.

Teryl agrees. “It comes back to the South African context; there is a price for doing business in every country and if you want to do well and be sustainable, you’ve got to make it constructive in your own environment. Wherever you are, whether the United States or Mauritius, business is not for free. The question you have to ask yourself constantly is, how do we make this work for us? I think Accsys does quite well at that.”