Thomson Reuters — Thomson Service Bureau Payroll CS

From the September 2009 Review of Professional Payroll Programs

Thomson Reuters recently launched its new web-hosted Service Bureau Payroll CS, a professional live payroll application intended for practices with significant payroll service functions that serve more than 100 clients, and who therefore have greater need for high-volume capabilities, streamlined management and batch processing needs. The payroll management system includes the ability to support any number of clients with any number of employees with simple to complex payroll needs, multi-state taxation capabilities, customizable deductions, electronic filing and payment of federal and state returns, advanced bank account reconciliation functions, due date management, remote data entry, impounding of client funds, and other tools. Pricing for the system is based on the total volume of payments processed through the system, starting at $0.10 per check plus $250 per month for users converting from sister product Payroll CS, and $0.15 per check plus $500 per month for other subscribers.

Although web-hosted, Service Bureau Payroll CS shares a similar interface with other programs in the CS family, starting with the standard home screen from which users access CS applications. Within Service Bureau Payroll, customizable dashboards help keep users apprised of key client service information, due dates, account balances and other data, while the screen also offers a firm menu on the left displaying links to firm management and payroll functions. Because the system is intended for high-volume payroll providers, setup of new clients and employees is facilitated through the use of templates, while tabbed information collection screens and smart entry fields and selection lists speed common entry tasks. Additionally, the program offers state-by-state employment tax lookup and verification based on address during setup or editing of client and employee information. TIN and SSN verification is also included.

When manually processing payrolls or entering/editing emp-loyee data, time, accruals and other information is offered on a multi-employee spreadsheet view. Most data for payroll runs is populated automatically (salaried staff, default time for hourly staff, deductions, taxes, etc.), with users primarily making adjustments to data and reviewing for accuracy. The system can support any type of paid employee and any number of pay rates per employee, while also accounting for tips, commissions, bonuses, loans and other factors. Likewise, any number of standard or custom deductions can be applied to an employee’s pay, including third-party payments, benefits plans and insurance.

As a “service bureau” system, most of the processes are geared toward batch use, allowing professionals the unique ability to quickly run multiple payrolls across several companies at the same time, with each of the direct deposits processed from correct banks, each check printed on appropriate company logo stock, and transactions recorded with appropriate GL account information.

The client billing and management functions in Service Bureau Payroll CS also provide comprehensive impounding capabilities that enable liability and third-party fund management. Client invoicing functions allow customization of graduated scale and standard rate fees as well as setting of an unlimited number of fees and fee schedules for processing tasks. The system uses the Thomson Reuters Virtual Office CS platform for remote access, allowing professionals to access the system from anywhere. If firms wish to offer the convenience, clients can be given remote access to specific functions of the program, such as data entry or on-site check printing. Employee self-service portals are also available, providing historical copies of pay stubs and W-2s.

Service Bureau Payroll CS houses an impressive reporting utility that includes traditional payroll management options for summaries, period comparisons and registers, along with analysis and productivity options. Reports can also be run across all clients or groups of clients, allowing users to quickly generate reports of open liabilities, taxes or other issues. Built-in report and layout designers provide generous customization options, including the ability to save to PDF. The system includes e-filing of SSA and IRS reporting.

Service Bureau Payroll CS offers direct integration with other programs in the CS suite if using them via Virtual Office. Most notably, these include applications for write-up, document management and planning. The system provides electronic filing of quarterly federal reports, plus the ability to output into PDF format and email from within the program. Integration with third-party accounting packages is not available.

For professional firms with high-volume payroll clients, Service Bureau Payroll CS is a welcome addition, providing comprehensive payroll capabilities and customization options, along with workflow tools designed especially for a practice that produces thousands of paychecks per month (direct deposit or paper check).

2009 Overall Rating: