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“We have confidence to grow the business and know KeyPay is aligned with that growth. The worries we had with our old software are now gone. We know that when we bring on large clients, KeyPay can handle them.”


activpayroll is an award-winning global payroll outsourcing firm, helping clients all over the world with their payroll processing as they expand internationally.

Subiaco, WA
Payroll Bureau

activpayroll is an award-winning global payroll outsourcing firm, helping clients all over the world with their payroll processing as they expand internationally. activpayroll opened its own Western Australia office four years ago. Starting off with around 12 clients in Australia, activpayroll now serves over 80 clients in ANZ and plans to continue to grow substantially in the coming years. Melanie Gaensler, Payroll Operations Manager for activpayroll in Australia, joined the team prior to opening their WA office, and brought KeyPay onboard as their key payroll software soon after. We spoke with Mel about activpayroll’s experience with KeyPay in Australia and New Zealand.

What were your payroll processes like before KeyPay?

“I started working with activpayroll in 2016, at one of our biggest partners in Australia. We were using Xero at the time which is very limited in its capabilities, especially when you’re trying to provide an outsourcing service. It became very apparent that we had to find a better solution to suit the growth we were experiencing. Reporting was very limited with Xero and we needed something that allowed much more automation and sophistication.”

What reports do you run in KeyPay?

“Gross to Net is one of our standard suites of reports, previously we had to get an Excel spreadsheet out every pay run and build this report. We used to manually type in all of the employees, earnings and taxes. KeyPay’s Gross to Net report saved a huge amount of time every pay run. We now have no human error or mistyping. We can get a report into the exact format we need for clients pretty quickly. It’s mind blowing how long we used to spend on just that one report and now we can do it with a few clicks. The value that brings is immeasurable.

We provide all clients with a leave liability and leave history report. When working in global payroll, Australian leave and entitlements, and especially long service leave is often an area of missed compliance. This is an important report for us. KeyPay allows us to generate and provide these every month so clients can see exactly what their employees’ liabilities and entitlements are, and ensure they’re compliant.”

What other features have helped activpayroll?

“I was drawn to KeyPay because of the pay slips. They were really easy to read compared to other programs, which tend to have quite complicated and clinical pay slips.

Anything we can automate with KeyPay, we will. Data collection is a big improvement, as well as data processing. We’re still finding improvements in our internal processes now with KeyPay.

Expense reimbursements are a big part of client payroll and we now know we can do that automatically with no manual input. We can get it in and run an automatic checker to ensure the data matches, and it’s all good to go.

When I look back to how I used to run payroll when I first started, it’s chalk and cheese. Some of our clients have 300 people on payroll, and leave data is hundreds of transactions every month - we just pull that straight into KeyPay now with no problems. 

activpayroll is certainly growing, and growing with a software like KeyPay has been so beneficial.”

What are some differences between KeyPay and Xero payroll?

“With Xero you can’t import anything in bulk. There’s no means to get leave requests in. Most of our clients who are running external leave systems will send an extract of any leave taken in any month and we can import that straight into KeyPay to interpret and feed into payroll. There’s no option like that in Xero so if we wanted to enter leave requests in, we’d have to manually type in for each employee.

Setting employees up was also a one by one process. Xero released a new functionality recently for bulk importing employees but it’s very limited - you still had to manually set up data so you may as well do it manually for the entire process.

I think it’s important to remember that payroll is never something that should be left to run itself. It’s an area where checks and updates are always required, laws change, and pay rates change. When we’re not spending time manually entering data, it leaves more time to check the output, ensure calculations are as they should be, and run our cross checks and be satisfied with the results."

What is most important to you when running global payroll?

“Compliance is key. Having the confidence in the engine we’re running and knowing it won’t let us down makes our job better on all accounts. When onboarding new clients, around 80-90% of the time, a compliance issue is flagged from their previous software, which is quite alarming. KeyPay gives us what we need to provide the best service to our clients with confidence. We set up an EBA for one of our most complex Australian clients in KeyPay and the level of detail that had to go in to build that was huge.

When we see changes like tax updates, KeyPay has them rolled out in a couple of hours. Knowing those changes are being dealt with as quickly as possible is so helpful. We often have clients who will send us a news article that they’ve read highlighting changes to things like tax scales. KeyPay will have updated the platform before the article was even released. Leave tracking is completely understood too, especially long service. KeyPay is the only platform that I have confidence in to accurately calculate Australian leave accruals.

We rolled all of our clients onto Single Touch Payroll last year. KeyPay had the functionality, so why wouldn’t we? Otherwise, issuing payment summaries to employees at End of Financial Year is a lengthy admin process. EOFY is now so much easier than it was before. No more issuing PDF summaries out to employees - now we just check off a report, lodge, and it’s done.”

How is KeyPay’s support?

“Having support based in the ANZ timezone is a big tick for us. We can’t afford to wait for people overseas to come back on something. People are always working in the background with KeyPay support. If a ticket can’t be answered straight away, it’ll be escalated and rectified, and bugs are usually fixed within a day, if not hours. I couldn’t imagine running payroll without having the support we have with KeyPay. It’s so important for us.”

How do you measure the success of the KeyPay partnership?

“Our clients rely on us to provide a fully compliant payroll service, and that’s key for us when growing with KeyPay. The fact KeyPay is evolving as we grow and is always up to date with compliance is reflective of the success.

There’s been a huge reduction in time spent on admin. Everything is so streamlined that we can run a headcount of a few hundred employees in significantly reduced time, compared to our manual process when we could spend a few hours just building a single Gross to Net report."

How do you re-invest the time saved from using KeyPay?

“We provide many additional services that fall outside basic payroll processing scope. These value-add services are really growing for us and expanding our scope for what we include in our services using KeyPay.

We manage state payroll tax returns for most clients every month whereas that’s something we didn’t do at all when we started. We get a report straight from KeyPay that helps lodge those returns. We also manage Workers Compensation Insurance renewals and year end services like FBT. Another big one for global clients is Employee Share Schemes - we can easily extract all the employee data from KeyPay.”

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