From XU Magazine, 
Issue 16

11 Questions to ask when choosing an Online Payroll Provider

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Payroll can be the largest expense item on your clients’ profit and loss statement and mistakes could potentially cost your clients considerable sums of money. It is extremely important your clients are equipped with the payroll service best suited to their needs. Online, cloud-based payroll will be hugely beneficial to your clients. There are many cloud-based connected app payroll partners to choose from in Australia and New Zealand. As your clients’ trusted advisor, do ensure you are advising on the one to best suit their specific needs. Below are some helpful questions to assist evaluating cloud-based payroll solutions and determine the strongest fit for your client(s).

1) What payroll services do you provide?

  • A list of requirements could include:
  • Single Touch Payroll enabled (AU): STP report automatically sent to ATO after each pay event.
  • Employee portal/self-service: can employees see their payslips, payment summaries, apply for leave, update personal details, etc.?
  • Leave management: can employees apply for leave online and calculate their leave balances for a future date?
  • Leave approving: is there access to all information needed to make an informed decision when approving leave, i.e. leave calendar, total leave balances, employee projected leave balances for future dates, ensuring enough leave to cover the request.
  • Top-up Tool (NZ): to ensure employer obligations under the minimum wage requirements are met, especially relevant for the rural sector.
  • HR Document control: is there an ability to upload and securely store employee documents?
  • Reports: can you view reports online, export them to excel, PDF and print? At a minimum, reports available should include statutory information, e.g. payroll variation to compare last pay run with the current, payroll tax report (AU), tax activity statement (AU), leave liability to include total value of outstanding leave balances.
  • Superannuation management: ability to pay superannuation to employee super funds (AU) or KiwiSaver (NZ).

2) Do you offer a demonstration or trial of your services?

Is there a free trial and/or personalised demonstration of the services offered to assist in evaluation?

3) What is your pricing structure?

The majority of cloud-based online payroll providers charge fees based on the number of employees. Check the charges and look for value.  Make sure that there are no hidden costs not disclosed during preliminarily trials or demonstrations. Will your client be charged for all active employees in the payroll system or only those that are being paid in the current pay run?

4) How does onboarding work and how easy is it to migrate from an existing system?

The correct set up of your payroll is paramount. Some payroll providers set up everything for you to ensure payroll is set up correctly and in accordance with legislation, as well as offer personal training and ongoing support. Others provide access and leave set up to you, with options to review online resources if you need help. When migrating from an existing system look for a vendor that provides full set up implemented for you, including a parallel pay run rather than work this out yourself. Check what your client will be charged for an implementation or onboarding fee?

5) How secure is your service and where are the data centres?

Review the security and privacy policy of the provider, check if they offer 2FA-factor authentication and check where the data is being held; onshore or offshore?

6) What ongoing help desk support do you offer?

Enquire what ongoing support will be available to you and your client. Is the support free and offered by phone, email or both? What happens outside of business hours should you need help?

7) Do you have the ability for employees to donate to charities via payroll giving, and receive immediate tax credits (NZ) and make payments to third parties, for example, salary packaging, handling of novated car leasing or employee loans, etc.?

Can third party payments be made directly as part of the bank file or paid back to the business to consolidate and then easily report? Can employee loans, if applicable, be managed easily, i.e. repayments of an agreed amount deducted with the employee knowing the loan balance after each repayment?

8) How long has the payroll provider been providing services?

How long has the payroll service been operating? Was it previously known by a different name and did it start as a desktop product or has it always been cloud-based? Read client testimonials.

9) Can different access rights be set for those involved in running the payroll?

Payroll handles some of the most sensitive and confidential business information. Ranging from personal details and remuneration packages, to deductions being made from an employee’s pay by government departments and agencies. Can those involved in the payroll process, including leave approvers, be given different security access rights?

10) How does the service integrate with Xero?

Does the payroll system seamlessly integrate with Xero or do you need to export out and then import into Xero? How long has the integration been established for?

11) Can the service scale up to meet growing business needs?

Payroll software needs to adapt to your clients’ organisation changes. Is it easily adaptable to allow for growth or reduction in employee numbers over a period of time? Evaluate how this is treated, if employees can still access their portal/self-service, are there charges for this, how many employees can you have active in the payroll solution.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about CloudPayroll

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