Magazine article The National Public Accountant

Payroll Software Reviews

Magazine article The National Public Accountant

Payroll Software Reviews

Article excerpt

Although a client's trust is not easily earned, once it is earned, this trust solidifies a long-term relationship. Completing and delivering timely payroll also serves as a bond-a bond between employer and employees. Perhaps more importantly, it is a legally enforced obligation.

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Payroll is something most workers take for granted--until their check fails to arrive and/or automatically deposited, or is just plain wrong. After all, how hard can it be to generate a check? Anyone with responsibility for processing payroll can certainly tell you at least one or two war stories; payroll can be time-consuming and complicated, fraught with opportunities for error. However, these are also the reasons why our clients trust us to process their payrolls, to get them done correctly and on time. Mistakes break bonds and potentially impact all work associated with the affected clients.

In this new set of payroll reviews, we will share our experiences with various packages and offer factors to consider to select a package that works with your own business needs. Some packages are part of a full accounting suite, while others stand alone. While all of them process payroll and provide reporting functions, they accomplish these tasks differently.

A number of factors must be considered when selecting a package. First and foremost, determine the extent of your efforts. Will payroll be a strategic line of business to pursue, or conversely, is it an accommodation to just a few clients? When thinking about your clients' environments, how many employees do they have and how often are they paid? Clients with many employees, multiple pay frequencies or multiple payment methods (salary vs. hourly vs. piece work) require different solutions than the Mom & Pop shop with a just a few hourly employees. Some vendors charge separately for reporting modules, some include all states, while others charge by federal and state module.

Technology has changed the landscape of accounting and reporting. Many government entities require electronic forms rather than paper. Have the software vendors responded to this challenge? How do they package their software? Is electronic reporting supported? Are there additional costs or modules?

In addition to the variables already mentioned, consider other scenarios. Employees working in different or multiple states, different deductions, withholdings and additions, and irregular pay items such as bonuses are factors that can cause the time required to process payroll to multiply. And unlike tax work that is seasonal, payroll occurs regularly--and without extensions. Mistakes are not options. Pricing based on underestimated time will sink profitability, and potentially, the client relationship, if the cost of the service must be revisited. The following reviews give you a preview of various solutions to maximize your investment and minimize the time required to keep your payroll customers' trust.

--By Robert B. Yudkin, CMA

A-T-F Payroll Supports up to 1,999 Payers

Import data from spreadsheet packages, text files, Quicken, and others.

Advanced Micro Solutions (AMS) provides a payroll solution as a module in its family of products. Five optional modules/services accompany its base product: W-2/1099 Forms Filer including A-T-F Payroll, Laser Generation, Magnetic Media Filing, E-Filer and Forms-Etc. While A-T-F stands for "after the fact," the package also supports entry of employee compensation and the calculation of federal and state withholdings, as well as other deductions.

Installation and Getting Started

All accountants' PCs should be capable of running the software based on the installation instructions' technical requirements (although it says up to 30MB could be required depending on installed options). The cost of the software, with a list price for the base program and payroll option of only a few hundred dollars, is hard to beat. …

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