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Winning with Payroll

Column: My Perspective

From the September 2009 Issue

Over the past 25 years of running my practice, I’ve witnessed the popularity
of payroll services come and go… and come again … in mainstream
accounting. Currently, we are experiencing a “come again” phase.
Payroll is creating a buzz in the profession, and many firms are talking about
it. I believe that payroll offers a significant revenue opportunity. In my own
practice, “winning with payroll” means providing a value-added service
for clients that creates another revenue stream for the firm. And rest assured,
the software and technologies exist to enable any small firm to provide payroll
like the big guys.

I prefer to offer services in my firm that are ongoing and self-directed.
I’m talking about services that can be offered over and over again to
multiple clients using the same workflow process, managed by para-professionals
(not me), and generating regular income. This is accomplished by applying the
right technologies to maximize workflow efficiency. For all these reasons, payroll
represents the type of profitable service offering I like, and it also provides
a much needed client service.

Let’s explore how a paperless payroll process can work today:

  • Your client visits your website to enter hours.
  • Data seamlessly flows into your payroll software, eliminating rekeying
    of data (and transcription errors).
  • Payroll is processed and deposited to each employee bank account electronically
    (you can also use pay cards for employees who do not have a bank account).
  • With the click of the mouse, all employee paycheck stubs are posted within
    their private portal, where they can conveniently access payroll information
    (including W-2s).
  • Tax deposits are electronically submitted to taxing agencies, and payroll
    reports are loaded on a portal for your clients to access.

And there you have it — a completely paperless and hassle-free payroll
process. Best of all, your clients and their employees are consistently drawn
back to your website, which will only enhance the client-accountant relationship
and open the door to obtaining new clients. That’s a winning strategy.

I think it is also important to briefly address the technology behind the
process. As I travel around the country and talk to hundreds of accounting firms,
I’m occasionally asked if providing information through portals (or within
“the cloud”) means that we are losing touch with clients.

My response is typically to offer the following example: If you had to choose
between two banks and one did not offer ATMs, online banking or electronic bank
statements because they preferred to do business the old fashion way (face time
only), would you choose this bank? I think we all know the answer. The point
is that convenience is key. We can still provide our clients with personalized
service — encouraging face-to-face meetings — but in the end, all
clients will want the option and convenience of web-based services.

There are several solutions on the market that can help firms accomplish an
automated, paperless payroll process. And taking operations to “the cloud”
is easier than you might think. I’ve been a big fan of cloud computing
for some time, mainly because there are so many powerful solutions available
to support it, especially for payroll services. The power behind these solutions
are high-quality, mega-secure data centers that enable round-the-clock uptime
and with anytime/anywhere access.

As you read various payroll-related articles within this issue (see the payroll
review that begins on page 6 in this issue.), whether you are already providing
payroll services or you’re just contemplating it, make sure you think
about all the capabilities that these solutions provide. Firms should evaluate
their service offerings each year to ensure they are employing the best technologies
and implementing tested and proven workflow strategies to maximize efficiency
and profits. I’m confident that if you do your homework, you will find
that your firm can also be “winning with payroll!”


See inside September 2009 issue

Handling Disasters in Stride

Column: From the Trenches


Putting a Technology Focus on Disaster Planning

Special Feature on Disaster Recover & Business Continuity