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AccountantsWorld ‘ Payroll Relief AC

Payroll Relief AC from AccountantsWorld is a web-based payroll service bureau offering, offered through an ASP (Application Service Provider) model. This gives you the benefits of anytime, anywhere access and the ability to outsource the IT infrastructure and system administration responsibilities as a part of the solution.

The charges for the sample firm defined on page 26 for Payroll Relief AC would be $2,500 to $3,000 per month and would include the following: direct deposit of payroll, printing MICR checks at the firm, tax deposits, quarterly and yearly compliance forms, all reports, and W-2s.

AccountantsWorld is a web portal that was designed to provide an online community for accountants. It has evolved to be a comprehensive resource of information and software applications for accountants, including Payroll Relief AC. One of the characteristics of the AccountantsWorld model is that the applications are designed to be offered exclusively ‘through’ accountants and are not sold directly to end-user business organizations. In fact, the AC initials represent ‘Accountant Centric,’ to imply that the service is designed around the needs of the accountant providing a client payroll service.

You have the option to privately label the system for your firm. This provides a significant advantage to accounting firms that are looking to develop a comprehensive payroll service offering for their clients because you can control the packaging and pricing to accommodate your service delivery model and not have to worry about competing with a direct sales effort from the vendor. The AccountantsWorld model appears to be that of a true partnership relationship with participating accountants.

The user interface is very intuitive and simplifies navigation. The system has a good balance between providing information to help you navigate the screens and not being too crowded with information. The use of multiple screens organized by folder tabs keeps it relatively simple. :::::

Payroll Relief AC is rich with features and functions to help facilitate the entire payroll process. Some of the more notable features are listed below:

Ability to handle up to 17 different pay types.

Multi-state withholding for individual employees.

Payroll Center dashboard screen lets you quickly assess the status of all aspects of the current payroll cycle.

Employer Activity Center gives your client a snapshot of their current tasks, including the ability to post messages to them.

E-mail reminders for payday and tax deposits.

Directly e-mail reports from within the application.

Ability to calculate taxes for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Supports third-party sick pay, dependent care benefits, health insurance for 2 percent shareholders and manually prepared checks.

Payroll Relief AC provides a comprehensive set of reports that are organized into three tabs: Payroll, Compliance and Employment. All reports display a sample of the report format on the selection screen so you can quickly see what the report will look like and the content of the information provided. All reports are printed and displayed in Adobe Acrobat as a *.PDF file with the option to be e-mailed directly. Payroll tax compliance forms are produced in signature-ready format for Federal and 30 states. For all other states, a complete report is produced for completing the state tax forms off-line.

Payroll Relief AC integrates with AccountantsWorld’s innovative web-based client accounting application, but I was unable to determine the extent of that integration. The vendor also offers a comprehensive set of accounting firm centric applications to help you manage your practice and deliver client services by leveraging technology, including CyberCabinet to store and retrieve documents via the Web and Tax Organizer, a generic web-based tax organizer.

In addition to providing routine technical support, the vendor provides practice aids via the Payroll Resource Center. This includes engagement letters, forms, procedures documents, privacy letter, etc. The system also includes a complete database of supporting documents, employment forms, IRS forms and publications and links to pertinent web sites. AccountantsWorld pro- vides training through webinars, online tutorials and individualized tele-training sessions.

The overall focus of AccountantsWorld on helping the accountant be at the center of the clients’ business applications is impressive. The web-based model is also a real plus. The payroll package itself seems pretty complete in terms of features and functions. The primary reason for the overall rating being less than five is that it is competing with some really powerful payroll service providers in this review that are deeper in all aspects of the payroll processing, service and support industry.


Review Attributes

In order to maintain as much consistency
in our reviews as practical, the
payroll software solutions were
rated on the following five areas:
Learning Curve; Breadth & Depth of Features & Services; Reporting Capabilities; Integration/Import & Export; and Customer Service & Support.

We also looked at the vendor’s
history and vision in terms of the
company’s experience, resources
(personnel and financial) and reputation
in the profession and the extent
to which they are focused on payroll
services. We also considered how
the vendor approaches the accountant’s
role in the payroll service delivery

The user interface is the primary
attribute evaluated to rate the
system’s Learning Curve. If
the software has an easy-to-follow
and intuitive interface, it received
the highest rating. On the other
hand, if it is not readily apparent
how and where to find features and
functions in the system, even though
the feature set may be complete,
we assessed a lower rating. This
is a key factor to evaluate because
of the intensive interaction of
the system that is required by your
staff and, in some cases, your clients.

The functionality of a payroll system
is a key characteristic to evaluate
because it will directly influence
the range of clients to which you
will be able to provide payroll
services, as well as the scope of
the services you will be able to
offer. Functionality is measured
in large part by the Depth &
Breadth of Features & Services.
How many options does the package
offer? Does it provide features
that meet the needs of a growing
company such as EFTPS (Electronic
Federal Tax Payment System)? MICR
(Magnetic Character Ink Recording)
and Direct Deposit? An extended
set of these types of features resulted
in a very high ranking in this category.

The following questions all relate
to the rating of the software’s
Reporting capability. What types
of reports does the system produce?
What is the content? How are they
designed? What flexibility is offered
in the sorting, selection and design
of the report contents?

Integration/Import & Export
assesses the packages ability to
integrate with other software applications,
such as client write-up, the client’s
accounting system, HRIS (Human Resource
Information Systems) and other applications
to minimize data entry and optimize
the potential to leverage the information
flow into and out of the payroll

The true measure of a software’s
value is not limited to the program
itself, it is heavily influenced
by the vendor’s ability to
help you use and apply it. All it
takes is one frustrating afternoon
of system problems on a day when
multiple client payrolls need to
get out the door and you can’t
get the help you need from the vendor
to leave you with a long-lasting
distaste for the entire system.
We have done our best to rate the
vendor’s ability to deliver
Customer Service & Support,
but at the end of the day you need
to conduct your own due diligence
on this attribute and talk to a
few client references about their
experience with the vendor in this
area. It is one thing for a vendor
to say what kind of support they
offer, it is quite another to deliver
it. We have included the vendor’s
direct support of the accountant
in terms of marketing and practice
aids to help establish a payroll
service bureau style offering in
this category.