The Aurion-ATO Partnership Building STP2

Do you realise how much effort it takes to bring to life the next phase of Single Touch Payroll? Look behind the scenes as the ATO and registered DSPs like Aurion test and release a trove of new requirements for government and seamless STP2 compliance for our customers.

For Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is expanding the range of data they collect each pay run to support Australia’s social security system and reduce the burden on employers reporting to multiple government agencies.

To comply with these changes, registered Digital Service Providers (DSPs) like Aurion have been working in partnership with the ATO to adapt current integrations to collect new kinds of data. We’re striving to be ready before the mandatory STP2 start date on 1 January 2022 and make the new transition as easy as possible for our customers.

Over time the ATO has built up their understanding of each DSP, and they’ve engaged closely with Aurion and other DSPs, running workshops and being available to discuss requirements and analyse problems.

You need what?
STP Phase 2 requires employers to report a more detailed summary of amounts paid to staff, their types of income, and employment conditions. For Aurion, this means creating new fields and new tables to accommodate potentially more than 100 data points for each employee.

Before the ATO can certify us as compliant for STP Phase 2 reporting, Aurion and every other DSP has been required to satisfactorily complete a series of increasingly varied test scenarios.  For Aurion that means completing more than 60 case scenarios covering more than 100 individual STP payload submissions.

Test until best
Our STP2 upgrades are being led by Aurion’s Chief Software Architect Brian Coleman, who interprets the ATO’s requirements in terms of new fields and tables and how to best present it to a payroll administrator. There is a balance of elements to achieve, considering the unique payment needs of the hundreds of Aurion customers, including major enterprises and government departments.

Brian assessed the ATO test scenarios to see if any change was needed to Aurion software to meet the requirement. The test team run the scenarios, under guidance from Brian and Aurion Product Owner Jason Mackie, until they think they’re seeing the right result, before sending it to Jason for review, and then on to the ATO.

Many of the test scenarios were common to all DSPs, based on their product’s performance for STP Phase 1 – and the ATO provided feedback on the types of errors experienced by DSP customers – some scenarios reflected a DSP’s specific capabilities and set up. Aurion was exempted from a few scenarios due to our automated processing. The security and controls around payroll processing and data input meant that we would have to break the Aurion product to provide the test data.

A lot of effort went into testing the new user configuration screens required by our STP2 solution, which requires the team to work with a myriad of complicated data sets and perform a high level of manual testing for functions, usability, and regression.

Release and roll out
Testing continues at Aurion as we move step-by-step toward the complete STP Phase 2. It’s looking good after a few iterations, and our customers will find further improvements to the user experience.

Bringing to life the next phase of STP2 is a complicated process, but won’t necessarily be difficult for administrators to configure. Because our customers can be using different code configurations for the same ATO payment types, we’ve introduced an STP2 configuration screen where they can map the codes to ensure accurate reporting, and we’ll be offering to support them with comprehensive STP2 assistance and training.

Learn more about the recent STP updates to Aurion software and how we’re delivering STP Phase 2 compliance to our customers.