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January 6, 2011 | Payroll Software | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

What to Look for in a Payroll System-Part 1

Perhaps this is your first time purchasing a system. Do you know exactly what to look for? Do you even know where to begin? Or what about those organizations that have had a system for a while, but are looking for a change because their current system just doesn't work they way they want it to.

We've heard this tale all too frequently from our new customers.

But we're here to let you know that it doesn't have to be the scary undertaking you think it might be. As a matter of fact, we've put a list together of what  you should look for in a payroll software. Now, though the original list contains 10 hot button items, some take some explaining, so we're going to break the list up into two posts.

5 (of 10) Things to Look for:

Payroll as part of a complete Workforce Management Solution

For most businesses, payroll is just one piece of what you need to fully manage and support your work force.  Keep in mind the other needs that your business has or will have as you grow.  Will you need a solution to manage the recruiting process? Will you need an HR management solution?  If you’ve got a large number of hourly employees, surely you’ll need some kind of time and attendance solution.

Ideally, the payroll system that you choose should be part of a complete workforce management software or alternatively should have the capability to integrate with other systems.  Make sure that there is tight integration amongst the different pieces so that employee information and data can flow automatically and seamlessly between each component.

Empower your employees with Employee Self-Service

If the payroll system you are looking at does not offer a web-based employee self-service portal, keep looking.  This feature will allow you to provide better service to your employees, and it will reduce the burden of responding to employee inquiries.

A good employee self-service portal will empower your employees to access all of their past paystubs, setup direct deposit, make changes to their W-4 information, and access W-2 forms at the end of the year.  Remember the importance of a complete Workforce Management Solution?  This comes into play again here.  With a complete solution, your employee self-service portal should also allow your employees to make and review benefit selections, request time off, enter time sheet data, and update basic employee information like address and emergency contacts.

Integration with Accounting Systems

Make sure that there is a way to export/import general ledger entries from your payroll system to your accounting system.  Otherwise, you’ll be stuck typing in journal entries which leads to mistakes, lost time, and plenty of headaches.

Scalable as your company grows

Say your company grows like a weed and doubles its workforce, and then doubles again!  Fantastic…unless your payroll system grinds to a halt and becomes unwieldy to use. Many of the lower end payroll systems are fine for small businesses, but once you hit a certain employee limit, you’re in trouble.  Migration from one payroll system to another is a pain that you want to avoid.  Make sure that the payroll system you choose can scale to support hundreds or thousands of employees.

Robust reporting capabilities

A good payroll system will provide a robust set of standard reports that you can run and access at any time.  A great payroll system will also provide a way to easily create custom reports because inevitably you’ll run into a situation where the standard reports just aren’t providing what you need.

Look for the the other half of this post later this week. And we'd love your thoughts and comments about anything we may have missed. Just use the comment section below.

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.