What’s New in Version 7.3

Version 7.3 of Aren Payroll and Aren Register was released in June 2017, replacing version 4.3. Here are the main improvements as of Update 3 (post-release changes are shown in blue).

General

  1. Backup and restore speeds have been greatly improved.
  2. An audit trail to track major events such as user logins, month end procedures and backups has been added.
  3. The program is able to detect failed month or period end procedures and alert the user. The user cannot open employee data files or run another period end procedure without restoring from an earlier backup.

Employee Details

  1. Additional personal details are captured in the personnel file—photo, next of kin and dependants. (Register only)
  2. Passport number and work permit number are captured to cater for employees who are not citizens.
  3. Data in the personnel and payroll master files can be exported to text files.

Absence and Leave

  1. Processing of absence and leave for individual employees has been made optional. (Register only)
  2. Maternity leave has been generalised to parental leave so as to cater for paternity leave. Compassionate leave has also been added. (Register only)
  3. The user can comment on why someone was absent from work, and on leave days brought forward, earned, sold or forfeited. (Register only)

Payroll Processing

  1. Earnings can be calculated on the numbers of days worked.
  2. User can select which earnings are taxable.
  3. Up to two pension deductions are permitted, instead of just one, to cater for voluntary contributions and arrears.
  4. Interest rate for company and co-operative loans can be set centrally so that all employees are charged the same rate for a particular loan.
  5. Profiles have been introduced where users can specify the working hours per day and pay period, leave entitlement, etc, for a group of employees.
  6. Pay groups have been added to the Standard edition. This makes it possible to filter certain reports (e.g. payslips, cash list and bank transfer report) by pay point, pay date or any other user-defined criterion. Previously, pay groups were only available in the Premier edition.
  7. The payroll can handle employees paid in foreign currency e.g. US Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling. (Premier editions only)

Payslips

  1. There are options to print:
    • Job titles
    • ID numbers (PIN, SIN and national ID number).
    • Payment mode (bank transfer, cheque or cash). Where the payment mode is bank transfer, bank account details are also printed.
    • Generic messages e.g. Merry Xmas. Employees in each pay group have their own message.
  2. Co-operative contribution balances and the Tax Information section are now optional.
  3. Headings in payslips can be printed in black, royal blue, firebrick or forest green.
  4. There is an option to print each payslip on a full page.
  5. Payslips can be emailed to employees from within the payroll as password-protected PDF files.
  6. Payslips can be sent in batches, instead of just one or all of them at one go.
  7. Should the connection fail while sending payslips, the software no longer tries to send the remaining messages.

Other Reports

  1. Posts report has been split into two reports, one showing a breakdown of posts by tenure (permanent, contract, casual or temporary) and the other by occupancy (occupied or vacant). (Register only)
  2. There is a joiners report showing employees who joined the organisation in the last one year, last three months, or in the current year.
  3. Emergency contact and leave liability reports have been added. (Register only)
  4. Leave booked report has been replaced by two reports—absence by employee and absence by type. These show planned and actual absences from work grouped by employee or arranged chronologically. (Register only)
  5. Remarks in absence sheets have been made optional, allowing user to keep them private. (Register only)
  6. Formatting of absence analysis, leave analysis and posts reports have been improved by replacing zeros with dashes. (Register only)
  7. Payroll variance report has been added. This report shows the differences between the muster rolls for any two pay periods.
  8. Individual social insurance statements for a calendar year have been introduced.
  9. Bank codes report has been added to make it easier to review the list of banks, bank branches and sort codes stored in the banks file.
  10. Annual reports can be printed for a range of month within a calendar year (e.g. Jan-Jun or Jul-Sep).
  11. All reports can be exported to either plain text or Excel 2003 XML files. In the previous version only about half the reports could be exported.
  12. Unlimited report history has been scrapped. Instead, report files are retained for a maximum of ten years and a minimum of two before being discarded.

User Interface

  1. In the previous version arrow keys were inactive within edit boxes in data-entry forms. This has been fixed.
  2. There is a single Find dialog box. Previously, there were separate dialog boxes for finding by employee number and finding by last name.
  3. The message Do you wish to back up your data? that appears when the program is closing can be switched off.
  4. The login dialog box defaults to single-user or multi-user mode depending on which mode was last used. (Premier editions only)
  5. A list of available data folders can now be viewed from the Start dialog box. This makes it much easier to work with multiple data folders.
  6. In the Banks dialog box, on adding, deleting or editing a bank branch, the payroll would at times select a branch with the same name but in a different bank. This has been fixed.
  7. Report options have been moved from the Organisation menu to the dialog boxes for opening individual reports. This makes it much easier to locate and edit the options for a specific report.

Other Refinements

  1. In data-entry forms, when records are ordered by last name, the first name is also taken into account so as to correctly order employees with the same last name. For example, Deng, Anne comes before Deng, Esther. In the previous version, only the last name was considered, so the order of employees with the same last name was often wrong.
  2. When the control account is longer than one page, the program prints as many rows as possible then prints --more-- to indicate the there are some missing rows. To print the entire report, the user can save it as an Excel 2003 XML file and then open it with Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice.
  3. In some unusual cases, reports for the current period are not updated automatically by the program. It is now possible fix this problem by deleting all temporary report files using a menu option.
  4. Users can use any file name for the logo, not just logo.bmp.
  5. Users can edit the coinage denominations used in the cash list and coinage summary report.