Every company has its own unique needs and challenges, which is why there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to payroll software. Since payroll is an important function that has the ability to directly impact your company’s profitability, finding the right software is vital. You will want to look closely into any payroll software, or service, before making a final decision.

Comparing payroll software

Most people don’t spend a lot of time shopping for software solutions, which can make the process seem a bit overwhelming. When it comes to payroll software, which is vital to how a business functions, it becomes even more complicated and stressful. After all, your payroll software needs to be easy to implement, user friendly and seamlessly work with all your current processes.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can use the following questions to help you evaluate any payroll software or payroll service you may be considering.

How is time tracking handled?

Time tracking may not seem like an important business function, but it’s directly tied to your 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 or service, you’ll want to see how time tracking is handled. You should look at how the software or service will integrate into your current time tracking methods or if it includes its own time capturing system. Either way, it’s important to be very clear on the process and workflow related to entering time.

How is overtime handled?

Overtime rules can be complicated and they vary by state. For companies that do prevailing wage work, overtime can be even more difficult to calculate. But since failing to pay required overtime can lead to major problems, it’s important to ask how the payroll software or service handles it. If your company does work in multiple states, you’ll want to make sure that the software or service is capable of adjusting for the laws of each state.

How is PTO handled?

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 it allow for data self-management?

In the past, payroll and HR teams were responsible for all of a company’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 and administrative services that process payroll 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.

Are any HR functions included?

Payroll software and services can do a lot more than simply process your payroll. By including HR functions, your company can more easily handle a range of time-consuming, but essential processes. Employee onboarding, benefit enrollment, background checks and asset and certification tracking are all examples of HR functions that you’ll want to inquire about before committing to any payroll software or service.

How user friendly is it?

There is always a learning curve when you switch software or services, but some systems are inherently more easy to learn and use. Is the interface easy to navigate? Are there how-to’s available to help your team learn? Ask for a demo to see the payroll software or service in action and plan on asking a lot of questions. This can help you not only evaluate the system, but the knowledge and level of customer service as well.

Can you count on receiving good 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, it’s important that you 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.

Not sure how to introduce new software to your company? This article offers tips for implementing software, including how to get buy in and introduce it to your team.

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.