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Human Resources & Payroll

2014 Review of Cougar Mountain Denali Payroll


Navigation has been substantially improved with the shift from the older CMS package. Instead of stepping through different screens for each employee, there is a summary screen with an Excel like grid, from which the user can click to drill down and update specific information such as hours worked or vacation accumulated on quick pop up screens. Three user-license tiers are available for purchase: single, four-user and unlimited. With a multi-user license, many users can be in the same file concurrently, but may not edit any employee or item associated with a currently running payroll batch. The multiple user-licenses allow users full access to separate files at any time.

Excel files, PDF files or word processing files, can be attached to the master record. This is especially useful for employees, with the ability to attach current Forms W-4 or I-9, as well as any employment agreements.

An unlimited number of separate businesses may be set up within the system. Multiple department codes, pay frequencies and job cost records may also be attached. No limit is placed on the number of employees contained within each client file, but to avoid a significant loss in performance, it is recommended that users prepare payroll in batches of less than 1,000 employees.

Denali Payroll provides YouTube videos, webinars and extensive help documentation to step users through the setup process. Many options have been grouped, so that a whole set of tax codes or general ledger accounts can be accessed through one code.

Denali Payroll offers full support for all federal, state and local taxes. Each employee, however, may only be attached to a maximum of three separate states and one locality.


Denali Payroll is based on Crystal Reports, so the reports can be customized and / or exported to Excel. Release 4.1 warns that not all advanced features of Crystal are available to users currently and they must use the “Plain Check” option when printing checks. These features will be added to future releases of the software.

Cougar Mountain Software also has full integration available with Aatrix, an outsourced electronic filing agent. Aatrix provides all forms and software needed to generate reports and, for an additional fee, can file quarterly and annual reports electronically.


Denali Payroll is primarily designed to work directly with other products in the Cougar Mountain Software lineup. All items set up in the payroll module can be linked directly to specific accounts in the general ledger (GL) module. This integration helps reduce duplicate data entry.

Other than basic time data import, no integration support is currently provided for third-party vendors. Transaction import was announced for version 4, but has not yet been released to users. Custom modifications and solution services are available directly through Cougar Mountain Software.

HELP & SUPPORT: 4.25 Stars

Help is built into Denali Payroll and includes a company setup walk-through and full user manual. U.S.-based phone support is available, and users may also find support through Cougar Mountain Software’s Customer Service website. Technical training and product installation services are available on an as-needed or requested basis. Support options are provided through the vendor’s Software Assurance program. In addition to product Help, this program provides all maintenance releases, service packs and version upgrades.


Cougar Mountain is currently only offered as a desktop and server based solution. No web-based interfaces are in progress for clients or employees. Due to this, ratings were not considered for this section.

Best Fit

Users who want an on-premises application for processing large payrolls, particularly in a multi-user environment and those who use other Cougar Mountain Software offerings. Cougar Mountain’s Software Assurance program for support and software upgrades, includes access to the Aatrix application to prepare, print, and eFile payroll forms in all 50 states, including W-2s.

Denali Payroll is Cougar Mountain Software’s payroll system. Although designed to integrate directly with other products within the Cougar Mountain Software family, Denali Payroll can be used as a standalone payroll package. Denali Payroll offers an easy-to-navigate interface and a number of customization options to provide everything businesses need to pay employees and manage taxes effectively.


  • Supports an unlimited number of businesses with multiple department codes, pay frequencies & job costing data, as well as custom fields.
  • Tight integration into the other Cougar Mountain Software modules; however, integration with other packages is not natively supported.
  • Custom reporting and branding of reports with an add-on module.
  • Supporting documents can be attached to the master records, i.e. PR employees, from within the application.

Potential Limitations

  • Internet-based employee & company portals not supported.

New in 2014

  • Periodic leave processing
  • Additional check printing options
  • Daily transaction import (announced, but not yet in production)
  • User defined codes


Denali Payroll provides functionality for any business type, particularly wholesale and non-profit businesses. Cougar Mountain Software prides itself on the service and support offered to its customers as well as the tight vertical integration of its products. Payroll can be purchased stand-alone or as part of the Denali Accounting system. Pricing starts at $995. Service fees for any Aatrix subscription services are billed separately.

2014 Overall Rating: 4 Stars