Payroll added to API


#1

I have used FreeAgent now for five years. Thankfully in this time my company has now grown to thirty employees. Payroll has now become my major accounting pain point. The time sheets for employees are automatically recorded outside of FreeAgent. I desperately need the API to be expanded to be able to create payroll records. Moreover there should be some automatic connection back to banks to create BACS files for payment.

I have to say it has got to the point that I am seriously contemplating moving wholesale to Xero. The more systems I peruse to try and make my processes robust (time sheet recording / HR ) etc every single one offers connectivity to Xero with FreeAgent nowhere to be seen. This reluctance to offer a full API will only lead down the same route as the first incarnation of Apple - beautiful but closed leads to slow but inevitable death.


#2

Hi Khayam,

I can appreciate your frustration here. While we have recently added our first payroll API endpoints, these are read-only and so are not going to be much use to you as they stand.

It would be good to understand what functionality you would need to achieve your goals — when you say you need to be able to “create payroll records”, would you be expecting to run your payroll through FreeAgent, telling FreeAgent via the API to generate payslips for existing users each month and then amend them via the API based on time worked, before filing RTI through FreeAgent’s interface? Would you need to create and update payroll profiles via the API? Would you be looking to run and file payroll outside of FreeAgent, simply creating payslips via the API to keep your accounting correct? Or some other mechanism to help you keep FreeAgent up to date with your company’s position?

Once we have a better understanding of your specific needs, they can be added to our public API feature request Trello board to gauge what demand there is out there for a richer set of payroll API endpoints.

Thanks again for your questions and candid feedback,

-JB


#3

Hi Jonathan

Thanks you for your quick response. Although I focussed in my last post on all the things FreeAgent does not do, it is worth spelling what I do look for FreeAgent to do for me re Payroll so as to clarify what the point of separation / decoupling from timekeeping systems.

I love the fact that FreeAgent calculates all UK tax for me and the employees and is kept in line with current legislation. I give all my employees logins to FreeAgent for want of a better word for Tax Self Service - view payslips , download P60 / P45 etc. With the salary payments going through the bank I can then double check by looking at the payroll accounts that I have not mis paid anyone.

Although some of your competitors have gone down the route of trying to cram a timesheet management / recording system into their accounting offerings, I think this is a mistake. In my particular case I run a shift management / rota system that the staff can record their arrival / departure / break in. It has lots of features GPS location of sign in etc hence why I think accounting systems should stick to their bit.

The net result of all of this is I have a set of users ( i can even assign them external identifiers) with a total number of hours worked and gross pay due to them in the system. This would be the first point of call into FreeAgent: create a Gross Payslip in FreeAgent for that user / period. I would expect myself to have made the relevant API calls prior to this to ascertain the user freeagent URL etc. For new employees, I would need to be able to setup a Payroll profile for them using the API as well. I would then review / sanity check them in FreeAgent.

Finally I would love to press a button and have a BACS file sent automatically to my bank to pay them. I have to confess on this last step I am bit unsure of what is possible banking wise. I have to manually type each net figure into a rather crude Bulk Payment screen on Barclays.


#4

Hi Khayam,

JB is tied up in meetings all day today so has asked me to get back to you.

Firstly, thanks for sharing your workflow with us - it does give a clearer picture of what you’re looking for.

I couldn’t agree more on your point about individual apps sticking to what they’re good at - we’d rather concentrate on our core accounting features than add extra functionality which will be of limited appeal to the majority of our users.

While we can’t commit to any timescales for adding the functionality you require, I can assure you that they’ll be added to our backlog for consideration when planning future work. Please don’t think that we’re reluctant to add full functionality to our API or that we prefer closed to open - any gaps here are due entirely to competing priorities and finite resources.

While the API was initially developed with third party integrations in mind, we have since been “dogfooding” it ourselves internally for some time, and have plans to further improve it both in terms of range and ease of use for developers.

Sorry I can’t offer anything more concrete at this time, however we’ll update you (and the other members of the API group here) as and when we have more to announce.

Kind Regards,
Paul.