From the September 2005 Review of Boutique
Work-Style Payroll Software
Intuit has been offering payroll services for several years, both through a
do-it-yourself small business version and as an outsourced bureau-style provider.
The release of Enhanced Payroll Plus for Accountants at the end of 2004 coincided
with robust functionality additions to QuickBooks: Premier Accountant Edition
2005, which was designed to handle multiple clients, and includes write-up capabilities.
This market is not new to Intuit as it has been in the professional tax preparation
market for nearly a decade with the ProSeries and Lacerte lines. Enhanced Payroll
Plus is an add-on service to its QuickBooks Financial Software products, and
users must have a 2005 version of QuickBooks in order to access the Enhanced
Payroll functionality. The system supports up to 50 client companies on one
subscription, which starts at $299.
EASE-OF-USE/DATA ENTRY — 5 Stars
Enhanced Payroll Plus completely integrates within the QuickBooks program, sharing
the program’s interface and functions, and therefore reducing redundant
data entry since, if the professional is using QuickBooks’ accounting
version for his client work, then almost all of the data needed for the payroll
program is already in place. From the GL setup to banking and general business
data, this results in less time to set up and manage the system than with an
outside program because all of your data is in one place. The singular interface
further eases use if the user is already experienced with QuickBooks or if the
user is new to QuickBooks, since only one interface needs to be learned.
The primary interface for the Accountant’s edition of QuickBooks opens
to the Accountant Navigator, which provides multiple navigation methods including
more than a dozen task icons and pull-down menus across the top of the screen.
It also includes system navigators on the side of the work area that allow users
to easily select company clients and move between the primary functions of the
accounting system. The Navigator also provides Messages that alert the user
to outstanding issues, and provides a list of related tasks and activities in
a Navigator menu that also houses links to help, discussion groups, tips and
other items. Recent reports are accessible directly below this. The payroll
functions are accessed after selecting a client company with which to work.
Data entry for hours worked is performed on a single spreadsheet-like screen
for all employees.
FEATURES — 3.5 Stars
The program supports up to 50 clients with multiple divisions, departments and
unlimited employees for the base subscription cost. Users can also set multiple
pay types per employee and an unlimited number of deduction types. Among the
most notable features provided by Enhanced Payroll Plus are those stemming from
its integration with the accounting program, including the automatic completion
of forms 940, 940-EZ, 941/Schedule B, W-2, W-3, 1099-MISC, 1096 and state forms
for over 40 states. Additionally, the system helps track, calculate and report
Worker’s Comp, including the classification codes and rates associated
with the job functions of clients. The payroll program also offers one-step
net-to-gross calculations for bonus and commission checks.
Danny Allday, CPA, CQA, CPTA, is president of The Allday Consulting Group,
LLC, a Louisiana-based CPA firm with offices located in Metairie, Baton Rouge,
Slidell, Lafayette and Covington, Louisiana. Allday says that he selected QuickBooks
Enhanced Payroll for Accountants because “it is the only program that
I know of which allows the accountant to generate state payroll returns without
having to go to a completely outsourced payroll service.” He also based
his decision on the fact that QuickBooks is the most widely used accounting
software program by his clients. The program supports direct deposit for up
to two banks per employee, but direct deposit costs an additional $0.99 per
deposit plus $3 per payroll batch.
REPORTING CAPABILITIES — 4 Stars
As noted above, Enhanced Payroll automatically generates forms 940, 940-EZ,
941/Schedule B, W-2, W-3, 1099-MISC, 1096 and many state forms, and includes
an array of standard reports that offer some customization depending on user
needs. Through the QuickBooks program, even more reporting options are available,
including AR and client invoices and mailing labels. Allday notes one of the
most beneficial aspects of the program for his firm is being able to print the
state payroll tax reports from within QuickBooks, specifically the State Withholding
Tax and the State Unemployment Tax Returns. “Previously, we had to manually
prepare these returns. And in many cases the clients would not be able to produce
them for us. Either they didn’t get the returns from the state or they
INTEGRATION/IMPORT & EXPORT — 4.5 Stars
Complete integration with QuickBooks cannot be understated, since if the professional
uses QuickBooks very little additional data entry is needed, and, by decreasing
redundant data entry, the chance of entry errors is reduced. The integration
also leads to consistency throughout the program with regards to features, reporting
and the interface. The system can also export data into Excel and other common
formats and can interface with Outlook for e-mail functions as well as Word
for some reporting and correspondence.
TRAINING, SUPPORT & UPDATES — 5 Stars
QuickBooks has excellent support features built into the program, from right-click
context-specific help, to How-Tos and an extensive Help index. Additionally,
the QuickBooks Learning Center provides tutorials, and an online support community
provides further assistance to users. Subscription-based and per-call support
is also available. The price of the software includes rate and program updates
for one year, which can be downloaded from Intuit’s web site or the program
can be set to automatically retrieve them.
Enhanced Payroll Plus for Accountants is very functional for smaller client
companies whose payrolls are not too complex. With support for up to 50 client
companies, the base subscription would likely suffice for most professional
accountants, but since this program is offered only as an add-on to QuickBooks,
it is obviously best suited to professionals already using a QuickBooks product,
ideally Premier Accountant Edition, which provides additional support for professionals
managing multiple clients and includes write-up capabilities. The program’s
cost includes updates for the QuickBooks program as well as the payroll module.
2005 Overall Rating — 4.5 Stars