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When considering a payroll app, compare the features offered by different companies so you can make the best decision.

When considering a payroll app, compare the features offered by different companies so you can make the best decision.

Range of features and customization options 

Your payroll app should align with existing processes and needs. Suppose you have several pay schedules and employees with multiple pay rates. Your software should support these use cases. Likewise, it should let you pay bonuses and contractors or reimburse employee expenses.

Taylor acknowledged the benefits of customization, saying, “We have certain employees like contractors or interns who need to be paid more frequently than our full-time staff…This kind of flexibility and customization helps streamline payroll processing across our diverse workforce.”

Full-service payroll apps offer similar tools like automatic calculations, withholdings, and tax filings. But, not all vendors remit tax payments to state and local agencies, and some charge fees for end-of-year tax forms.

Additionally, HR tools vary greatly among platforms. Review your options to see how systems handle document storage, new hire onboarding, and benefits administration.

Accuracy and reliability of calculations 

Top-rated payroll platforms automate calculations, decreasing manual data mistakes. Indeed, Hunt said, “At my company, the error rate for payroll dropped to nearly zero after implementing an automated solution, avoiding potential fines and strengthening our relationship with employees.” Still, accuracy rates can vary among payroll services, depending on the number of manual processes.

Some systems pull data from time card systems automatically. Others require employees to manually submit time and attendance data, or payroll administrators input the information for each team member. Vendors like Paychex allow HR professionals and employees to preview check stubs before payday to improve accuracy. Gauri Manglik, CEO and co-founder of Instrumentl, doesn’t take accuracy for granted. His company “track[s] the number of errors and discrepancies in payroll calculations before and after implementing the app. By comparing these numbers, we can determine the improvement in accuracy and identify any potential cost savings from reducing errors and associated penalties.”

Some payroll service providers offer tax accuracy guarantees. For instance, OnPay guarantees it will make accurate and timely tax filings. QuickBooks also has a guarantee, but it’s only available on its most expensive subscription.

Employee accessibility and ease of use 

Understandably, many employers choose payroll apps to streamline administrative processes. Yet, they often require staff to use the payroll system to report hours, clock in and out, or access benefits information. This aspect is great if the payroll service works seamlessly on employee devices.

Self-service tools give workers control over their payroll data and can reduce HR support requests. Manglik said, “The ability for each employee to access their own personalized payroll information on-demand has been invaluable. For example, when an employee recently had a question about a bonus payout, she was able to log in, see exactly how the bonus was calculated based on her individual performance metrics, and get the answers she needed immediately without having to contact our payroll staff.”

Integrated time and attendance tools also save time and improve staff experiences. Taylor said, “We used to spend several days each pay period ensuring employee time sheets were accurately entered. Now, with the app, employees submit their hours online, which seamlessly flows into payroll.”

Integration with business systems and services

Sharing data between systems can improve processes and enhance employee experiences. On the backend, a payroll system that lets you configure settings to match your general ledger allows for seamless data transfers. When you run payroll, each value shows up in the correct category in your accounting software. The most common accounting integration is with QuickBooks Online. However, some vendors support Xero, Freshbooks, and others.

Alternatively, you can export your payroll data via a comma-separated values (CSV) file. Time and attendance integrations auto-populate employee hours in your payroll app. You can establish approval processes or enable auto-pay depending on the payroll service and integration. Some systems connect to HR tools or have native applications for managing paid time off (PTO) requests.

These integrations are valuable for onboarding new employees and ensuring compliance. With integrated benefits administration, you can manage workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and retirement plans from a central dashboard. Although most payroll solutions calculate and withhold deductions for benefits, not all services remit payments to third-party benefits providers.

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