From the Sept. 2010 Review of Professional Payroll Systems.
Sage Software is well-known for its accounting and business management systems, with products ranging from the Peachtree small business bookkeeping system to applications and ERP systems for large enterprises. The Sage Abra Suite is the software vendor’s premier payroll and human resources management system, providing extensive payroll processing and management capabilities for businesses of any size, including comprehensive tax compliance functions, extensive deduction tracking and third-party payment controls, electronic filing and employee self-service functions. It also offers tight integration with ERPs, benefits administration, HR policy development and em-ployee management systems. Although the system can be used to manage multiple companies and divisions, its deep feature set is primarily intended for use directly by employers. Therefore, Sage Abra Suite fits our “Direct Client/Business Use” category.
BASIC SYSTEM FUNCTIONS:
Abra opens into a very well-designed main interface that offers general system guidance in the work area of the home screen, including new features, Help, support access, training options and user guides. Payroll and HR functions are available via drop-down menus for actions, processes, analysis, reports, rules, details, queries and Help. Expandable menus are also available for many key tasks, with text-based links in categories for employee management, time off functions, payroll processing, training, reports, setup and system utilities. When working within a program area, the main work space offers intuitive data-entry screens with the ability to move quickly between information areas, and master selection screens for employees that include extensive sort, filter and search options. Work areas and menus are customizable by users, de-pending upon their specific access rights and role within the organization. Tabbed interfaces and visual guides further add to the program’s ease-of-use, which provides the feel of a Microsoft Office program throughout.
Although the program is not specifically designed for accounting firms (and we’ve categorized it as a system that would most likely be used in-house by an employer), Abra does offer the ability to manage multiple employer entities and can be used to manage and pay any number of employees of any pay types, and any number of payrolls for each organization based upon frequency or departmental groupings. Batch processing functions include the ability to run mul-tiple payrolls and report sets simultaneously. Unlimited standard and custom deductions can be assigned, including garnishments, insurance, retirement and third-party payments. Any number of users can work within Abra concurrently, and the system includes management approvals processes that streamline time-sheet and expense entry review. Pricing for Abra depends upon the number of users and add-on features.
The system includes tax tables and compliance capabilities for all U.S. jurisdictions, including states and local governments, as well as simplified management of employees with multiple state tax obligations. Direct Deposit files are auto-matically created by the program, with the ability to disburse funds to up to four accounts per employee. Abra’s benefits management capabilities are outstanding, with complete support for 401(k) and other deferred savings plans with company contributions, as well as HSAs, debit-based flexible spending accounts, insurance, employee training, attendance and other HR-oriented features. This includes full tracking of information required by FMLA, EEO, OSHA and COBRA.