Small Business Guides
Payroll software that makes things simple
6 min read
Payroll can take up a lot of time – and it could be better spent on building your business. New technology can help simplify the process, saving you time and money. But which payroll software is right for you?
Payroll technology is changing
New technology isn't just for consumers – it's for businesses too. Changes in accounting technology are transforming the way businesses manage their employee payment processes. These new systems can revolutionize the way you pay your staff.
For example, they can simplify tax code updates, track staff hours and expenses, and make paper form-filling a thing of the past. They can also give your employees more control over their personal information. And that will reduce your costs.
There's a lot to learn about online payroll technology. In this guide we'll explain what you need to know. Then you can use that knowledge to simplify your payroll – saving you time and money.
How payroll technology works
Not so long ago it was common for staff payments to be done by hand. Records were noted manually, checks were written and handed out in person, and accounts ledgers were updated using a pen and paper.
Most businesses have moved on from that stage and use technology that lets them automate some of their payroll processes.
But technology moves fast. If your business is using software that's more than a few years old, you could be missing out on some great new features. And those features could save you just as much time and money as the move away from pen and paper did. They include:
- Better automation.
- More integration with accounting software.
- Personal information updated by your employees.
- Simpler leave approvals.
- Faster expenses claims using smartphones.
- Improved tax calculations.
- Real-time reporting for financial auditing.
If your current system lacks many of these features, it's time to look again at the latest payroll technology.
Choosing the right payroll software
Whether you buy an off-the-shelf package or use online accounting software, it's the features that matter. Good software will stay with you as your business grows, so it pays to make the right buying decision. Here are some points to consider:
To keep things simple, you need a package that will connect to your existing accounting software. If the two systems can integrate easily, you won't have to enter information twice, or worry about file formats. Even better, some accounting software has payroll features built in, or available as an add-on extra.
- Ease of use
There's no point in buying online software that's complex and confusing – it will never be used properly. So check online reviews and customer feedback before buying. Good software will simplify your payroll workflow, not complicate it.
Perhaps you have just a few employees today, but next year you may have dozens. Will your software scale up as your business grows? The best packages will. And if the software is hosted online, you may get free upgrades without having to buy new versions of the software on a regular basis.
Payroll is covered by legislation, so you need software that complies with local laws. Make sure the software you buy is designed to work in your region.
- Time-saving features
This is what really separates good software from the rest. Payroll can be a complex, time-consuming business. Good software will save time by automating a lot of the work involved. So check the features carefully before buying, and read customer reviews and discussion forums for more detailed information.
Advantages for your employees
Online payroll technology can make life easier for your employees. It can give them control over the way some of their personal information is stored. For example:
- Change of address
Employees can update their addresses within the system, without having to fill out paper forms and return them to your HR people.
- Changes in life status
Whether it's a marriage, divorce or the birth of a child, employees can change their status directly. This can have an immediate effect on benefits and other payments.
- Simpler leave notification
Your employees can do their own vacation or sickness leave notifications and applications. This is particularly useful for vacation time, because it makes it easier to manage all your team's plans in one place.
- Easier expenses claims
New technology lets your employees scan their purchases using their smartphone or tablet. This means expenses can be recorded and approved straight away – so they get their money back faster.
All of this can be done without affecting the security of the system. New technology can give employees limited access, providing notifications to your accounts team so they can check and approve any changes.
From holiday approvals to personal address updates, new technology can simplify your payroll workflow – and reduce your admin.
Five key advantages for your business
Some of the features that benefit your employees are also good for you, because they'll reduce your costs. Quality payroll software also has other advantages for business owners:
- Less paper
Paper on its own isn't expensive. But printers, toner, electricity, maintenance, storage and archiving are all paper-related costs. New technology reduces the use of paper forms and tax submissions. It won't give you a paperless office on its own, but it will help you use less paper.
- Automated bank transactions
Depending on where you're based, you can set up the system to handle direct deposits into your employee's bank accounts – once payments are approved. At the same time, payment notification can be sent to employees, and tax records updated.
- Stay up to date with tax laws
Tax laws seem to become more complex every year. With online payroll you can add new tax codes and make changes quickly and easily. Then you can roll out these changes to all your staff with very little disruption.
- Less admin
From vacation approvals to personal address updates, new technology can simplify your payroll workflow – and reduce your admin. The big advantage here is that you can pass on much of the work to your employees. This gives them control over their personal information, so they have a vested interest in making sure it's correct and up to date.
- Access information from anywhere
With online accounting systems, you can get to your payroll information at any time, wherever you happen to be. This is a big advantage, since many business owners now spend a lot of their time out of the office. All you need is a smartphone, laptop or tablet and you can keep up to date – securely and easily.
Online technology gives everyone more control
The main goal of online payroll technology is to give everyone more control. That means giving your employees control over their personal data and leave applications, and giving you more control over the way the process is run.
But don't just buy the first payroll accounting package you see. This is a fundamental part of your business, so it pays to get it right first time. Choose the right product for you – one that will simplify your payroll and grow as your business grows. With the right software, you can free up time and resources to concentrate on what's really important – building your business.