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CheckMark Software — Payroll For Windows

the September 2006 Review of Boutique Payroll Systems

Known widely for its MultiLedger accounting system, CheckMark Software also
offers CheckMark Payroll, which can be used independently or in conjunction
with MultiLedger. It supports federal and all state entities, with the ability
to print forms W-2, W-3 and 941 on plain paper, as well as support for 940.
The program supports PC and Macintosh, and can be run as a stand-alone program
or installed locally and share data over a network, with support for any number
of companies and employees. CheckMark costs $249, with the MICR printing function
available for an additional $125. Tax rates are updated automatically throughout
the year. After the first year, system renewals (which include tax rate updates
for another year) cost $125. A bundled package that includes Payroll and MultiLedger
is $548.

CheckMark’s master Commands screen provides an array of tax buttons grouped
into categories for Set Up, Payroll Processing and Reports, offering a very
intuitive method of accessing specific program functions. The program can be
used as either an after-the-fact or “live” payroll system. For most
recurring payrolls, the majority of data entry is performed at company and employee
setup, with almost no remaining actions required for salaried employees (except
managing leave accruals and other information), and hourly staff requiring only
time worked (and any rate changes) to be entered. CheckMark offers several methods
of entering timesheets, including manual entry, importing from other systems
and a spreadsheet entry screen. These data-entry screens provide easily understood
forms that simplify the process of setting up federal, state and local taxes,
departments, pay rates, deductions and GL accounts.

Payroll processing functions similarly make it easy to enter and distribute
hours; calculate payroll; review, create and print paychecks; and prepare tax/withholding
remittances. Data-entry screens and other functions are intuitive and offer
traditional assistive pull-down lists that aid in selections. Users should be
proficient with the system in little time and with little training. For David
Hulit, owner of Hulit Accounting Services in Oakdale, Minnesota, the “user
friendliness” has been one of the most beneficial aspects of the program.
“I started using it several years ago for my small in-house needs and
then slowly adopted for my business clients, too.” Hulit has only a few
clients at this stage, but he has done payroll for most of his clients through
the years.

FEATURES — 4 Stars
CheckMark Payroll automatically computes federal, state and local taxes based
on rates that are updated from the company’s website. It automatically
prepares remittances and tax forms for those entities. The system supports direct
deposit and electronic filing of forms W-2, W-3 and 941, and can support numerous
voluntary and involuntary employee deductions, including 401(k), garnishments,
cafeteria plans and others. CheckMark can accrue sick leave and vacation time
on a per-hour, pay-period, monthly or yearly basis and allows multiple pay period
types set at the employee level. This allows some employees to be paid weekly,
while others may be paid biweekly, semimonthly or in several other frequencies.
Additionally, the payroll program can support hourly or salaried workers, with
up to four hourly pay rates and support for commissioned or tipped employees.
The program offers limited security options, allowing only company-level passwords.

The system offers a set of payroll reports that includes employer-specific options,
reporting by job or department, and employee-based information. Reports can
be viewed prior to printing and can even be saved into text format for use by
other systems, but the program does not allow *.PDF output. Check printing functions
are easy to understand and use, and provide support for direct deposit, batch
processing and electronic submission of withheld funds.

CheckMark Payroll offers direct integration with MultiLedger Accounting and
can import data from many accounting and time tracking systems. The program
can also export into a format that can be imported by QuickBooks and other small
business accounting packages. As noted, it integrates well with the company’s
MultiLedger accounting product, providing additional functionality such as job

CheckMark includes a *.PDF user manual with the program but surprisingly does
not offer a built-in Help utility. A free self-help support center is available
on the vendor’s website, which includes a knowledgebase and a few other
options. Technical assistance is free for the first 60 days, after which, however,
it is available only via subscription packages or a charge-per-minute phone
call. Packages cost from $139 to $399 per year and include program updates.

CheckMark Payroll is a very user-friendly program that provides support for
any number of clients and employees, offers direct deposit and e-filing of some
forms, and supports MICR printing through an optional module. The system is
best suited to professionals handling smaller client bases, since it offers
limited integration with external programs. As a result, data input, although
easy, could be trying for large companies. The cost of the program is attractive,
and users of the vendor’s MultiLedger accounting system will find added
value through integration with that system.

2006 OVERALL RATING: 4 Stars