Cougar Mountain Software — CMS Professional 2012 Payroll


Cougar Mountain Software - CMS Professional 2012 Payroll

Best Fit: Users who want an on-premises application for processing large payrolls and those who use other Cougar Mountain Software offerings. It’s also a good fit for those who want to prepare and transmit their own payroll tax filings or outsource to a third party (Aatrix).

From the Sept. 2011 Review of Professional Payroll Programs

CMS Professional Payroll is the in-house payroll solution provided by Cougar Mountain Software. Although designed to integrate directly with other products within the Cougar Mountain Software family, CMS Professional Payroll can be used as a standalone payroll solution for businesses of all types and sizes. CMS Professional Payroll offers an easy-to-navigate interface and a number of customization options to provide everything businesses need to efficiently pay employees and manage taxes.


Navigation is typical of a Windows-based software package. Users navigate through a series of drop-down menus and icon shortcuts. Three user-license tiers are available for purchase: single, four-user and


  • Supports unlimited number of businesses with multiple department codes, pay frequencies & job costing data, as well as custom fields.
  • Tight integration into the other Cougar Mountain Software modules; however, integration with other packages is not natively supported.
  • Custom reporting & branding of reports with add-on module.
  • Supporting documents can be attached to the master records, i.e. PR employees, from within the application.

Potential Limitations

  • Internet-based employee & company portals not supported.

unlimited. With a multi-user license, many users can be in the same file concurrently, but may not edit any employee or item associated with a currently running payroll batch. The multiple user-licenses allow users full access to separate files at any time.

Data entry is presented intuitively and, for the most part cannot be modified. However, certain custom fields do exist. Many data-entry screens are navigated through use of tabs on the bottom portion of the screen. These tabs are logically categorized and guide users to the appropriate data-entry points. Attachments, such as pictures, PDF files or word processing files, can be attached to the master record. This is especially useful for employees, with the ability to attach current Forms W-4 or I-9, as well as any employment agreements.

An unlimited number of separate businesses may be set up within the system. Multiple department codes, pay frequencies and job cost records may also be attached. No limit is placed on the number of employees contained within each client file, but to avoid a significant loss in performance, it is recommended that users prepare payroll in batches of less than 1,000 employees.

CMS Professional Payroll provides a wizard to guide users, step-by-step, through the payroll process, and checks off items as they are completed. This process also allows payroll to be run in multiple batches with multiple pay frequencies, as well as offering the ability to only run payroll for certain departments or even specific individuals.

CMS Professional Payroll offers full support for all federal, state and local taxes. Each employee, however, may only be attached to a maximum of three separate states and one locality. Additionally, employees may have multiple income and deduction items attached to their paychecks. Support for up to 99 items is available for pay rates, deduction, benefit and garnishment. Direct deposit capabilities are included with support for up to four bank and investment accounts.


Many popular payroll reports are included with CMS Professional Payroll, and can be filtered through a number of date and field options. For true custom reporting, R&R ReportWorks∞ Infinity, an add-on product, allows users to create specialized reports and modify paycheck design layouts to meet their needs. R&R ReportWorks∞ Infinity also allows branding through the addition of business or firm logos. Many reports can be exported to text formats, and PDF export capabilities are available through an add-on product.

Cougar Mountain Software also has full integration available with Aatrix, an outsourced electronic filing agent. Aatrix provides all forms and software needed to generate reports and, for an additional fee, can file quarterly and annual reports electronically.


CMS Professional Payroll is primarily designed to work directly with other products in the Cougar Mountain Software lineup. All items set up in the payroll module can be linked directly to specific accounts in the general ledger (GL) module. This integration helps reduce duplicate data entry. Other than basic time data import, no integration support is currently provided for third-party vendors. Custom modifications and solution services are available directly through Cougar Mountain Software.


Help is built into CMS Professional Payroll and includes a company setup walk-through and full user manual. U.S.-based phone support is available, and users may also find support through Cougar Mountain Software’s Customer Service website. Technical training and product installation services are available on an as-needed or requested basis. Support options are provided through the vendor’s Software Assurance program. In addition to product Help, this program provides all maintenance releases, service packs and version upgrades.


Cougar Mountain offers hosted client self-service features where users pay an up-front fee with a monthly charge after. However, this part of the service was not evaluated and therefore no rating was assigned to this section. N/A


Although Cougar Mountain Software licenses its software to a number of wholesale and nonprofit businesses, CMS Professional Payroll provides functionality for any business type. Cougar Mountain Software prides itself on the service and support offered to its customers as well as the tight vertical integration of its products. Payroll can be purchased with CMS Professional or as a stand-alone product. Single-user licenses start at $699 with four-user and unlimited user licensing starting at $899 and $1,149, respectively. All licenses also come with the ability to upgrade to Cougar Mountain Software’s Software Assurance program. Service fees for any Aatrix subscription services are not included with the above pricing and are billed separately.

2011 Overall Rating: