There are three key stages involved in choosing the right payroll service for your small business. We outline these below.
1. Determine Your Business’s Needs
When choosing an online payroll service for your small business, there are several factors to consider. For most companies, budget will play a big role in figuring out which provider to go with. What can your organization afford to spend on payroll processing and assorted services? What features can you live without, and which are absolute necessities? Many payroll platforms are bundled into larger suites of HR and human capital management (HCM) software, indivisible from these wider offerings and therefore unsuitable for businesses that want a payroll package only.
You will also need to determine how often you process payroll. Is it every week, biweekly or just once a month? Some payroll providers offer unlimited payroll runs, while others charge per run, so this is an important factor to consider.
Evaluate your firm’s competing priorities. Is same-day or next-day deposit important to you? Is it more vital than other functions? Does your business need a platform that includes additional HR services? Make a list of everything you want your payroll software to help you accomplish so you can look for providers that meet your company’s needs.
2. Research Potential Vendors
Once you know the specific features you’re looking for in a payroll software provider, you can compile a list of potential vendors. From there, you can review the features each vendor offers and get a sense of where each one stands out or falls short. Compare each system against your list of desired functions, and remove from consideration the platforms that don’t align.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to just a couple of options, it can help to schedule demos with these providers. During a demo, you can see how the software works and ask the sales team pertinent questions. For instance, can you run payroll as often as you want each month? Does the package come with a mobile app and an employee self-service portal? You should also evaluate how intuitive and easy it is to use the program. The platform’s interface should be simple to understand and allow you to run payroll in a matter of minutes. Remember that sales reps will talk up positives and gloss over negatives, so be probing in your questions and don’t let them distract you from getting the answers you need.
Make sure you fully comprehend how the provider’s pricing works and what you can expect to spend each month. For instance, many payroll providers charge a base fee along with an additional per-employee fee. What structure do they use, and are any setup charges or fees levied for additional payroll runs? Do you pay for the software when it’s installed, a month after subscribing or when you perform your first payroll run?
Finally, you should look into what kind of customer service the company provides. How is the payroll provider rated by the Better Business Bureau, and how many customer complaints are there? Is there phone, email and chat support, or are you limited to just one of those options? The answers to these questions should further narrow down your prospects, as will the hours in which support is available. We found many companies offering fixed hours based on either Pacific or Eastern time, which obviously isn’t ideal if those hours of business don’t align with yours.
3. Make Your Selection
After you’ve weighed the pros and cons of each provider, you can identify your top options and begin the sign-up process with your preferred vendor. See if you can negotiate the advertised price, and always ask if any discounts are available; recently withdrawn offers or incentives may still be available on request. Once you’ve chosen the software that’s best for your business, you can move forward with the setup phase.