As your business grows, you may soon or later get to a point where you need to procure a payroll software system. Actually, depending on the type of business you are venturing into, you may have a situation where you have to procure a payroll software system right from the outset. This is, for instance, if you are venturing into a business where you have to start with a sizeable number of employees. But even if you start with a small number of employees, and your enterprise grows over time, you will eventually get to a point where you need to make use of a specialized payroll software system. At that point, you are likely to find yourself being keen on understanding what the features of a good payroll software system are. And that is the question we will be answering in this article: as we explore the key features of a good payroll software system.
1. Ease of use
An ideal payroll software system is one that is easy to use. Entry of data into the payroll software system should be easy. The objective here is to ensure that people who are newly deployed to the payroll accounting office will be able to start working on the software without having too much time expended on their training. So, for instance, the user-interface for the payroll accounting system should be one that is truly inviting: not one that looks too complex. Ideally, you should go for a payroll software system whose user interface is intuitive.
The output reports from the payroll software system should also be easily readable and understandable: that is, reports that can be easily made sense of.
The software should be easy to install, launch, navigate within, log in and out of… and so on. You have to take into serious consideration the interests of the people who will be making use of the software on a day in day out basis.
The payroll software system you opt to use should be one that doesn’t cost too much. If it is an application that is meant to be installed locally, then you need to look at the user license costs. If it is an application that is to be accessed from the cloud, under the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, then you have to be sure that the fees you will be paying for it are reasonable. You may also be looking at a system that, after procurement, has to be tailored to your business’ specific needs – by having certain tweaks made, by having data entry forms developed… and so on. If you are looking at such a system, then you have to pose the question as to whether the vendor will be charging you extra fees for ‘tailoring’ it to your business’ needs. And you have to take that cost into consideration too, when trying to figure out just how cost-effective the payroll software system is.
With respect to cost-effectiveness, you also have to deal with the question of upgrades, and whether you will be required to pay for any such future upgrades.
If it is a web-based or cloud-based payroll system you are looking at, you have to consider the ‘long-term’ costs. This is because there are some vendors who charge very attractive ‘introductory’ user fees initially. Then, once a user is hooked onto the system, they start charging the ‘normal’ user fees: which sometimes turn out to be rather exorbitant.
Thus, the question of cost-effectiveness becomes critical on so many levels. The bottom-line is to ask yourself the question as to how much you are willing to spend on a payroll software system, and then go for one that won’t over-shoot your budget.
As you dig for information about the various payroll software systems that are available in the market, you will discover that there some that are known to be inaccurate in their workings! This is sometimes caused by the manner in which the payroll software systems are programmed, how the underlying formulas are set up, how the data structures beneath the systems are organized… and so on. Needless to say, you can’t afford to take the risk of going for a payroll software system that is known to have accuracy issues. Thus, for every payroll software system you are seriously considering to procure, you may need to request for a demo, and to carry out a trial using a small data set, to see just how accurate the respective systems are.
4. Compatibility with other business systems
The payroll software system you ultimately procure should be one that is compatible with your other business systems. Here, you may have, for instance, to consider the question as to how easy it is to export data from the payroll software system to the other applications you are using in your business. Related to that, of course, is the question as to how easy it is to import data from other applications you happen to be using in your business, to the payroll software system. The ultimate objective is to avoid the situation where data that was entered once (into one business software application) has to be re-entered manually into another system due to incompatibilities.
5. Technical support availability
While procuring a payroll software system, you need to keep it in mind that you are likely to find yourself in need of technical support from the vendor at some point, due to one or another issue. Now there are some vendors of business software systems – including the payroll software systems we are focusing on here – who have poor track records, when it comes to provision of technical support to users of their systems. Others have excellent track records in that regard. Your part is to carry out proper due diligence, and ensure that the payroll software system you procure is from a vendor with a good track record in the area of technical support provision.
The payroll software system you procure should be one that is capable of ‘growing with your business’, as your business (hopefully) expands. You will come to realize that there are some payroll software systems that are designed to cater for finite numbers of users. If you opt for such a system, and your business outgrows it, you are bound to have problems.
An ideal payroll software system is one that is truly versatile. This is to say that an ideal payroll software system is one that can adapt (or rather one that can be adapted) to new business realities easily. Suppose, for instance, you are initially in one line of business. Then you branch into another business line, with different payroll accounting needs. The ideal payroll software system should be capable of being easily tweaked to accommodate the new business reality.
Even if your line of business doesn’t change, the business needs may change: like where, at some point, you decide to give all the members of staff access to the system for them to access their pay stubs, work schedules, tax info… and so on. The payroll software system that you procure should be one that is versatile enough to accommodate such changes, when need for them arises.
It really goes without saying that an ideal payroll software system is one that is secure. This means that the payroll software system you procure should be one that can’t allow unauthorized people to access it. And even for authorized users, it should be one that has several user-privilege levels: like where you have distinct and different user-privileges for the data entry clerks, system administrators, payroll accountants… and so on. Thus, before procuring any payroll software system, you need to carry out some research, and look at its reviews with regard to security.