When you started your business, it might have been just you working alone, but now your company has grown and you have employees who are crucial to its continued growth and success. Finding and choosing the right payroll system helps ensure you pay your valuable personnel correctly and on time. You have a variety of payroll options to consider before selecting small business payroll software for your enterprise.
Choosing Wisely Between Using Desktop Programs and Doing Payroll Online
In choosing an accounting or small business payroll system, one of the big decisions you must make is between online and desktop software. Opting for desktop software means installing the program directly on your computer. You don’t need internet access, but you must run payroll on the computer containing the program. If it’s on your stationary desktop office equipment, your mobility might be limited on payroll days, because you have to work at your base computer. And if someone steals your equipment or the hard drive crashes, there goes all of your data, including sensitive employee information that you’re responsible for protecting.
The cloud payroll option, gives you ultimate flexibility. You don’t need to be in your office at your desk to run payroll. As long as you have internet access, you’re able to take care of your payroll responsibilities, whether you’re across town on your smartphone, in another province with your laptop, or using your tablet in another territory. With your data in the cloud, it’s secure and you won’t lose it if you run into problems with your computer or handheld device. And since updates occur automatically, you won’t be spending valuable time sitting in the office downloading new software.
What Small Business Payroll Features and Benefits Should You Look For?
In your search for a payroll service, consider a small business payroll system that offers features such as record-keeping, invoicing, online bill payment, and expense management. To find the best payroll software for your business, you should see whether it meets your specific business requirements and can grow with your enterprise.
How do you pay your employees and how often? Your small business payroll system should mesh with your payment methods and timing. The system you select ought to run smoothly and economically whether you use cheques, payroll cards, or direct deposit, and whether you pay weekly, biweekly, or monthly. For example:
- When using pay cheques, your service should support printing the documents
- Your payroll administrator should have quick, one-day turnaround for direct deposit of payroll funds
- Check to see whether your payroll system saves you money with free direct deposit
- Your payroll system should allow you to pay employees on your schedule
- Consider whether a system charges a flat rate regardless of how frequently you make payroll
- If your business has employees that earn supplemental wages, such as tips, commissions, or bonuses, your payroll option should handle those payments seamlessly.
Your business is responsible for calculating payroll taxes correctly, and depositing and filing them on time. A small business payroll service that does the work for you takes a big burden off your shoulders. If you’re paying employees based on the number of hours they work, either you or they must track and enter their hours. Payroll software that offers or integrates with time and attendance tracking apps saves employee and administrative time, and enhances accuracy of records.
Finding a Quick and Easy Small Business Payroll Option
You’re good at what you do, and that’s been demonstrated by the success your business is enjoying. Now that payroll processing is on the agenda, select a well-designed, practical and user-friendly system that you can learn quickly. Before purchasing a new system, look for one that offers a free trial period. You don’t want to spend so much time learning and operating a payroll system that you end up losing time and money, or neglecting other aspects of your business. If you pay employees weekly or even monthly, a 30-day free trial gives you time to learn the system through hands-on experience. That way, you can see whether it fits your business needs and how easy it is to use.
Obtaining Strong Customer Service and Support
During and after the free trial period for your payroll system, you’re likely to have questions. When you make your final selection, you want to know the company that created your system has a reliable level of customer support. For example, you might need set-up assistance, have questions about access, or wonder how to implement new tax or payroll requirements. An available and responsive team of knowledgeable customer service agents offering comprehensive support makes it easy to learn and work with the system. Consider the forms of support that comes with the system, such as phone, online chat, email, or a combination, and whether it is in operation 24-7.
Ensuring the Security of Your Small Business Payroll
As a small business owner, you’re legally responsible for safeguarding financial information and your employees’ personal identification. When you choose a cloud payroll option, find out what security arrangements are in place for you and the provider company.
Security features you should look for include:
- Professional monitoring 24-7
- Automatic data backup
- Secure sockets layer (SSL) Certificate Authority
- Password-protected login
- Firewall-protected servers
- Redundant servers for data integrity
- Close to 100 percent up time
- A self-correcting error detection program
- Multi-factor authentication to protect your account information
If the payroll product uses encryption technology such as 128-bit SSL, which is what the world’s top banks use, you can rest assured that your and your employees’ sensitive information is secure. The best payroll software includes a built-in backup system to protect data your business might lose, and a service provider to help retrieve it.
Examine the Contract Terms
Dealing with contracts always involves reading the fine print. Check the details before signing any agreement for your payroll software. Look for contract requirements such as early withdrawal fees, hidden fees, and costs for upgrading or adding features. Try to avoid a system that requires a long-term contract so you won’t be locked in if your needs change.
Calculating the True Cost of the Best Payroll Software
When you’re evaluating small business payroll software systems, your final decision might hinge on the product’s cost. The real cost and value to you is more than the sticker price, so compare features carefully when considering the cost of one company’s product versus another, and make sure you understand their respective pricing models. You might want to ask how the product’s price increases as you add more employees to your staff, and think about the ease of paying independent contractors, freelancers, and short-term consultants.
When deciding to go with a cloud-based software product, expect to pay a subscription fee on a monthly or per-payroll basis. Ask about discounts. Desktop software products typically start with flat-rate pricing and charge fees for periodic or annual software upgrades. Whether you choose an online or desktop product, the provider’s experience and reputation for high quality, integrity, and dedicated customer service make a difference, just as they do for the clients of your own business.