Every company, and industry, faces unique challenges related to payroll software. Not only is there a considerable amount of work that goes into it, but there are also plenty of laws to comply with along the way. If you make a mistake it can be a minor inconvenience or a serious issue that leaves you in financial and legal hot water.

How your company deals with payroll is directly tied to your profitability, and your ability to compete and grow. Understanding that makes choosing payroll software an issue for serious consideration. If you don’t know how to evaluate payroll software for your company, the following questions can help you get started.

How is Time Tracking Handled with the Payroll Software?

Time tracking may not seem like an important business function, but it’s directly tied to your cash flow and overall profitability. If your company relies on bidding and estimates to get new work, it can also impact your ability to compete. So before you commit to any payroll software, take a close look at how time tracking is handled.

Here are a few questions you’ll want to consider:

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  • Can you keep your current time tracking system and if so, does it easily integrate?
  • Does the payroll software come with a time and attention solution and, if so, is there an additional cost?
  • What type of time and attendance data can you report on?
  • How will entering time impact the overall payroll workflow?

How is Overtime Handled?

Overtime rules can be complicated, and there are federal and state laws to manage, particularly for Davis-Bacon compliance. For companies that do prevailing wage work, work in multiple states, or have tipped workers, overtime can be even more difficult to calculate. Since failing to pay required overtime can lead to major problems, it’s important to take a close look at how it’s handled. Ideally, you want a solution that can handle the complexities of your industry, with the ability to automate overtime management to control costs, reduce errors, and streamline your payroll process.

How is PTO Handled?

PTO payroll software policies

Paid time off (PTO) policies are guided by legal requirements and each company’s own policies. You’ll want to make sure that the payroll software or service you choose is capable of adjusting to your needs. It should easily be able to manage your PTO policies, calculate jurisdictional requirements, forecast balances, and prevent negative balances. Look into all of these areas before you make any commitment.

Does the Payroll Software Allow for Data Self-management?

In the past, payroll and HR teams were responsible for managing a great deal of the workforce’s data. If an employee needed to change their tax withholding or update a mailing address, they had to ask for help. This creates a lot of busy work for people that could be doing more than simple data entry. Payroll software should be set up to allow your employees to self-manage at least some of their data. This reduces the workload of your admin team, freeing them up to handle more important tasks.

The following types of information that may be self-managed include:

  • Contact information
  • Tax information
  • Managing direct deposits
  • Submitting PTO requests
  • Submitting mileage and expense requests

Are HR Functions Included in the Software?

Payroll software can and should do a lot more than process your payroll. By including HR functions, your company can more easily handle a range of time-consuming, but essential processes. This will make your operation more efficient and free up admin time for tasks that help you grow.

There are many HR-related tasks that payroll software can automate or simplify, including employee onboarding, benefit enrollment, background checks, and asset and certification tracking. You may talk with your team to find out what areas are most time-consuming, problematic, or error-prone and focus on solutions that help solve those specific issues.


How User-friendly is the Payroll Software?

All software comes with a learning curve, but some systems are inherently easier to learn and use. The goal is to find software that your team can quickly get up to speed on and enjoy using.  Having a demo is a good way to get an idea of the software’s capabilities and limitations. You will, however, want to come to the demo prepared with questions so you walk away with an understanding of how the software fills your needs.

A few things to look at include how easy the system is to navigate if it automates areas you need to streamline, and what kind of support is readily available. If you need to import and export information for use in another system, you’ll want to get into those details as well.  Have members of your payroll and/or HR team join the demo so they can dig into the functions that matter most to them.

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Does the Payroll Software Company Provide Customer Service?

There’s no way around it, mistakes and problems are something every business has to deal with from time to time.  When you’re processing payroll, however, problems are almost always urgent. After all, we’re talking about somebody’s paycheck. For this reason, you must have easy access to amazing customer service. You should be able to call or email for help and trust that someone will be there for you. Pay attention to the way you’re handled as a prospect and look for reviews or referrals to help you evaluate the company’s dedication to customer service.

Last but not least, you’ll want to ask about the implementation process. How will your company be onboarded?  Some things you’ll want to ask are how long will it take, what type of information will be needed and will you be offered training to help make the transition easier. This will ensure that you not only know what to expect but that you’re able to fully compare your options before you make any commitment.

Getting everyone on board with new software can be difficult, even if the software is user-friendly. This guide to implementing new software talks about how you can roll out new software and processes once you’ve decided to make a change.

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The material presented here is educational in nature and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon, as legal or financial advice. Please consult with an attorney or financial professional for advice.