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Sage Payroll Services — Full-Service Payroll

From the Sept. 2007 Review of Payroll

Through its Sage Payroll Services business, Sage Software offers outsourced
payroll processing, compliance services and integration with the technology
vendor’s professional accounting systems. Primary processing functions
are managed through the Full-Service Payroll option, which provides web-based
access to employee data entry, reporting and management features. Geared toward
direct use by small and medium-sized businesses, Sage Payroll Services can also
be used by accountants who manage payroll processing for multiple clients. Check
printing can be handled either by Sage or performed in-house as needed. The
system can support any number of companies, departments, employees, deductions,
and standard or user-defined pay types, rates and frequencies. Accruals management
and benefit tracking functions are also included. Sage Payroll Services directly
handles employment reporting and forms filing to all federal, state and local
jurisdictions, along with payment of tax liabilities and third-party funds.
Multi-state employees are easily handled through the system, and multiple direct
deposit accounts per employee are also included.

Pricing for the system is based on the number of employee paychecks processed,
at about $1.65 per transaction. For a business with 15 employees paid twice
monthly, the monthly cost would be approximately $50. Of note, Sage Software
is a Platinum sponsor for the 12th annual National Payroll Week 2007, which
will be September 3-7.

The Sage Payroll Services interface opens within the user’s browser window
with a screen design providing panels for various system functions, including
a client selection pull-down list, calendar, pending payroll tasks, a Message
Center, a Payroll Workflow panel and links to ordering supplies. Traditional
Windows menus are also located across the top of the screen. If the business
is integrating the payroll service with its Sage accounting software, the interface
will appear as part of that program with the same general work areas and information
screens, with most information automatically transferred into the payroll part
of the system.

Sage Software staff members can also guide users through initial setup processes,
from logging into the secure system to company and employee data and time-entry
tasks. For manual entry of basic employee and company demographic data, the
Payroll Services entry screens provide tabbed access to categorized information
areas, with client/employee selection screens offering search, filter and sort
functions, and many data fields offering lookup and selection capabilities.

When entering payroll data, easy-to-follow processes guide the user through
selection of payroll run type, data, groups and manual time entry or import
from time management systems. Newly added integration with Sage TimeSheet also
provides automated time data entry into the payroll system. Manual data is entered
on individual employee timesheets, and salaried staff data is automatically
populated. The system then performs calculations of taxes, withholding and benefits
in real-time. Drilldown access to calculations and data-entry fields simplifies
the reviewing and editing process. Full reporting is available as soon as payrolls
are run. The interface keeps the user support number on-screen, which will be
useful for new users.

FEATURES – 4 Stars
Because Sage Payroll Services is offered as an online system, users can access
payroll data from any location and can make data entry or run payrolls as needed.
Users can also download full payroll data, allowing for enhanced reporting or
secure data storage. Whether using the fully outsourced processing and compliance
version or keeping check printing in-house, the program supports all state and
federal taxes, unlimited customizable voluntary and involuntary deductions,
union dues, child support, deferred savings, flexible spending accounts and
other items, with tracking of vested amounts and employer/employee contributions.
Real-time gross-to-net calculations are easily accessible. Sage Payroll Services
also provides for departmental/job payroll management and can support multiple
subsidiary units within a company. Advanced workers’ compensation tracking
is also available with the ability to define providers, classification codes
and rates, and with allocations to multiple class codes.

Sage Payroll Services offers multi-level security options, including encryption
of data and password-protected access. Sage Payroll Services does not offer
an employee self-service option, but those capabilities are available through
Sage Software’s Sage Abra HRMS solution. Companies that want to handle
payroll in-house can subscribe to Sage Compliance Services, which handles all
filing, reporting, tax and third-party payments as well as direct deposits,
with employees able to have their pay directed to any number of accounts or
split between check and direct deposit.

Even though the processing is outsourced, payroll reporting options are available
immediately after processing a run, with the ability to print or save reports
locally. Standard reports include payroll summaries, employee earnings, deductions,
period reports, quarterlies and year-end options, benefits, third-party sick
pay, and more. The vendor offers electronic archiving, and users can download
complete data from which they can build customized reports. Reports can be output
to PDF and Excel formats.

Sage Payroll Services can directly integrate with Sage Software’s accounting,
human resources and timesheet applications, including Sage BusinessWorks Accounting,
Peachtree by Sage, Sage MAS 90/200 ERP, Sage Accpac ERP, Sage Abra HRMS and
Sage TimeSheet, providing direct posting of payroll and tax/third-party payments
to these systems’ GLs. The system can also import and export data in spreadsheet
formats, allowing import/export functionality with third-party accounting applications.

For businesses or accountants who wish to outsource part of the payroll process
while retaining ownership of data (and the client relationship), Sage Payroll
Services combines excellent ease-of-use and program features with strong reporting
options through variable levels of outsourcing. The Sage Compliance Services
option can be a welcome relief to businesses with more complex and multiple
geographic employees. Sage Payroll Services includes excellent customer support
that is included in the product price, from initial setup assistance through
operation of the program. As a web-based system, all tax table updates are automatically
maintained by Sage Software.

2007 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars