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Review: Is Payroll Processing for You?

Is now the right time to add payroll as a service for your firm? One of the complaints Accountants have had about providing payroll services is that they are tied to their desks. As technology has changed, depending on which software you choose that may not be an issue anymore.

Now is a good time to change the perspective of providing payroll as a necessary evil for a few special clients. Add another service you can provide to your clients and increase your monthly revenue. It is always nice to have a consistent cash flow outside of tax season. As you will see in this review, you can really look at your clients’ needs and your needs and find a solution that works for both of you. You can provide a full payroll service including impounding taxes to referring your clients to a service provider that works on your behalf.

As this review is a little different, as there are several payroll options depending on the product you choose, I am going to break the list down into two categories.

Products that are designed only for Accountants:

Payroll Relief, Accountants World
Accounting CS Payroll, Thomson Reuters

Products that are designed for businesses and offer solutions for Accountants:
CompuPay, Xpress Payroll
Intuit, Online Payroll

The first step you need to take is to decide whether you want to provide the payroll service yourself, assist your client in payroll, refer your client to a processing company or a combination of the above.

The second step is how comfortable are you with working with a company that may compete with your services. The reality is that as an accountant you have a different relationship with your clients than a payroll processor. Nevertheless, it is something you might want to consider in making selection.

Each of the programs in this review are excellent choices. Each provides software that is easy to use and with the latest technology that allows you to access them in an online environment. We will point out the highlights that are strong reasons to use them. We will also point out some weaknesses. It will give you a good starting point to determine what programs you want to review in making your decision. Without any further ado. Payroll Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366    
Price: $997 per year per firm, unlimited processing.

Payroll Relief
I was very impressed with the Payroll Relief product. I had viewed it last summer and while it was good, I found it lacking in some areas. I was very surprised and pleased with the amount of changes that were made in this product in such a short period of time. It really shows the commitment that Accountants World has to the accounting professionals. AccountantsWorld logo

When you open the program, you see a dashboard that shows you all your clients. In an instant you can look at which payrolls are due and what tasks you have associated with those clients. It is designed to allow Accountants to run a full fledged payroll service bureau. If you see the value in offering payroll services, you really need to take a good look at this product.

As a person that enjoys having control, I wasn’t real thrilled with the ability to have clients use the same system as me. I can’t really say it is a downfall, but just a preference I didn’t like but the good news is you don’t have allow your clients with that option. The other item that personally I didn’t like was that the system is designed to handle all the tax processing for you. But again, you can still do it on your own.

Also, that is a big bonus for many of people that have been averse to processing payroll. Furthermore, Accountants world is committed to helping Accountants with providing this service. They have many marketing tools and ways to help you grow your practice. Overall, when you look at price of software to value, this is one of the best choices on the market. It deserves a very strong test drive to see if it meets your needs.

Accounting CS Payroll
Thomson Reuters
Dexter , Mich.
(800) 968-8900
http://cs.thomsonreuters.com, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Accounting CS Payroll standalone, $1,800. Also requires purchase of ACS Payroll Compliance, $600. Includes with Accounting CS.

Accounting CS Payroll

The product reviewed here, the new Accounting CS Payroll, is going to be a huge hit for those who had been using Payroll CS. It makes an already great product even better.

In addition, one of the keys to having a successful payroll pThomson logoractice is to have solid processes in place so that you do not have to spend a lot of time on the processing. That will allow you to take on more clients in less time and increase your profitability.

Thomson has had many tools to help streamline the processing of payroll; the new program takes it to another level. It is designed allow you to handle multiple clients payroll at one time. You don't actually have to go into a client to handle many of the payroll tasks. It comes with standard reports but you can fully customize all the reports to meet the exact needs of your clients.

So, if you earn a client that is used to another program with specific reports, you can either deliver the same report or take what they were used to and personalize it to make it even better than they were receiving. In addition, there are many levels of payroll functionality that allow you to handle payroll for any client that comes your way. You will able to allocate different deductions to different departments.

Another key item I didn't see in many of the other programs was the ability for you to give your clients employees a secure place to see their paychecks, W-4s and W-2s. The employee can update their own address changes, name changes and W-4 changes that can be pulled into the program if you accept it. It is an excellent program. The only downside I saw was with all the flexibility comes more thought and more time to get it set up.

However, once it is set up, you can handle any client that you would like to earn. If you really want to have a successful payroll service to provide your clients with an add value, you should take a look at this product. And if you decide you don't want to service one or some of your clients, you can send them to Thomson's myPay Solutions product.

Xpress Payroll

Miramar, Fla.
(877) 729-6299  
Price: For one to five employees, $79 per month (weekly); $50 per month (bi-weekly, semi-monthly); $32 per month (monthly).

Xpress Payroll
I was very impressed with the payroll program from CompuPay. It includes a light human resource portion that allows you create employee calendars and track reviews. CompuPay logo

Like SurePayroll, it is really designed for businesses. For a medium sized busienss that has an administrative staff to handle payroll and possibly some human resource responsibility this is an excellent choice. The information can be exported to several accounting programs.

You can import time clocks and if you are using a different software system to handle employee hours, they will provide you with the format they need to pull into CompuPay. It is good solution for many businesses. Furthermore, for Accountants the company offers a referral relationship, hosting or back-office solutions or payroll acquisitions. I thought the payroll acquisitions was unique and interesting.

If you had been processing payroll for your clients but for whatever reason decided you didn't want to do it anymore, CompuPay would explore the option of acquiring your clients from you. The hosting option is also a little different in that they will help you manage the client payroll in house.It is a very good company that has some unique solutions for Accountants depending on your need

Intuit Online Payroll for Accountants
Mountain View, Calif.
(866) 729-2925
Price: Starts at $19.99 per month per client (two to five clients).

Intuit Online Payroll
Intuit's online payroll offering, the old Paycycle, a very strong program that can provide you with excellent processing. It is true real time processing. They also have a separate place for employees to go in and see their checks. Furthermore, they have a way to send emails to the employees that let them know they have been paid and can view their paystubs. That is a nice feature that will help your clients. Like Accountants World they handle the tax processing for you if you Intuit logodesire that service.

Intuit does a very good job in partnering with accountants to help provide them with marketing tools to gain more clients. In the free three month trial period you can check out the marketing tools they have available. If you are not sure whether you want to provide payroll services, this might be a great way to decide. Try the program for three months, send out some marketing materials and see if your clients are interested in this type of service from you. They have live chat support to help hand hold you through the process. It is a very strong program. The main negative in working with Intuit on payroll is that they also provide several payroll options for your clients and they have more marketing dollars than most of us. However, if you are confident in the service you provide it won't be an issue. And they do share their marketing with you when you use their product.

(800) (877) 954-7873
Price: Weekly, $18.95 plus $1.50 per employee; Biweekly/semimonthly, $30.95 plus $1.85 per employee. 

If you still aren't convinced that processing payroll for several clients is right for you, SurePayroll might be the answer for you. SurePayroll is primarily designed for businesses. That is their main niche and their key competitors are CompuPay and ADP. SurePayroll Logo

However, that is very good for Accountants for several reasons. First of all, SurePayroll's program is very solid and proven with many customers using their solutions. Second, they add all kinds of tools to provide you with knowledge about all the different payroll laws and compliance issues. The tools and resources right there while you are processing.
They have how-to guides. Like Intuit, they will hold your hand and give you payroll 101 guides to help you through your first payroll.

Also, if you have clients you don't want to process, you know you can pass them on to SurePayroll with the confidence that they will have a good partner to help them. The payroll software is very easy to use. It integrates with several accounting programs. They offer several programs for accountants. If you aren't fully committed to a payroll service offering it is definitely worth a strong look at this program.

Roseland, N.J.
(800) 225-5237 ext 411
Price: From $45 to $60 per month

ADP has name recognition in the payroll industry - almost every business owner has heard of ADP. That provides a powerful solution and credibility for ADP LogoAccountants. Like the other companies that specialize in payroll for businesses, they provide several options for Accountants that want to work with them.
Also like CompuPay, they will look at purchasing your payroll service. ADP is an industry leader, they specialize only in payroll and have many solid options available.

Their RUN Powered by ADP Payroll for Accountants, allows Accountants to tap into a solid payroll program that has a lot of credibility and stability. Not to mention a strong company behind it. Like the other payroll programs in when you go in you see all your clients on one screen. It shows the contact name, status, your next check date, messages and tasks and whether it is tax filing or non tax filing client. It is an excellent option depending on your needs. It definitely deserves a strong look if whether you are considering starting a payroll service or referring your clients to a service bureau.

Now that you have read this review, go out and start your review. We are coming up on the end of another quarter. It is a perfect time to make your decision and start adding services. Start bringing in revenue in the summer, you can always golf after payroll is processed!

Julie Lepper, EA

Julie S. Lepper, EA, MBA is the Principal of Julie S. Lepper, Accounting & Tax Service, LLC, a small local accounting firm in Pinckney, MI. She earned her Master's of Business from Eastern Michigan University and her Bachelor's of Accountancy from Walsh College in Michigan. Julie has over 16 years in consulting with client not only accounting and tax issues , but also on software and sales engagements. She specializes in focusing on start-up businesses and small to medium client needs.

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