Skip to main content


2017 Review of Professional Payroll Systems

While payroll has traditionally been a service that many firms have shied away from offering in years past, many now find that offering payroll processing services to their clients is a win-win.

payroll 1  58d3d6be8498d

If you’ve ever processed payroll, you’ll understand the importance of accuracy. No one ever wants to be confronted by an angry employee whose check has been shorted. On the flip side, if you’ve ever been one of those employees who were paid inaccurately, you’ll understand the importance of not just processing payroll on a timely basis, but processing it error free.

In its simplified version, payroll is just paying employees the monies they are owed for the job they perform. In reality, it is so much more, as any business owner or accountant that has processed payroll can testify. Along with getting the salary correct, hours worked entered, deductions properly entered, and taxes calculated, business owners are also responsible for ensuring that the taxes are paid to the appropriate agency on time. It also means ensuring that insurance and other deductions are entered properly, and that insurance premiums are paid on a timely basis. And there’s one more thing, payroll tax laws frequently change, and it’s up to the payroll processor to ensure that those laws are being followed when they process payroll.

In many ways, the sheer responsibility of processing payroll is one of the reasons why many business owners choose to outsource the entire process, leaving them time to focus on other vital aspects of their business. Other businesses simply do not have the staff, or the time to dedicate to the task of preparing payroll accurately. And with major tax law changes looming in regards to the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s likely that even more owners will want to outsource payroll processing to the professionals.

Enter the accounting firm. While payroll has traditionally been a service that many firms have shied away from offering in years past, many now find that offering payroll processing services to their clients is a win-win.

For the large international accounting firm that outsources its own payroll, adding these services may not be feasible, but for other firms looking to add to their menu of services offered, adding payroll to your services makes a lot of sense. The truth is that many business owners struggle to process payroll and keep abreast of new payroll and tax laws. They would likely welcome the opportunity outsource the payroll, particularly to a firm that they already know and trust.

Once you make the decision to add these services to your firm, you’ll need to take a look at the products available, and what level of service you wish to provide. This can include everything from determining whether you want your clients to have access to any payroll information, or whether you’ll be handling the entire process. You’ll also want to look at how much you want to enter in-house – or whether you’d be more comfortable with a more automated payroll service.

That’s where the reviews in this issue come in handy. We have looked at more than a dozen payroll products that offer a dizzying variety of features and functionality. They range from a completely automated system, to a do-it-yourself program designed for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Most offer cloud access or are available as a SaaS product, though there are some that are designed to be installed on a desktop or network system and offer limited remote access.

The products included in this review include:


To make the process easier, we’ve added a handy chart of features that indicate some of the most vital features of a payroll system, allowing readers to quickly determine whether a product is suitable for their needs. For instance, if you only want a cloud based application, you can take a look at the chart and see which of the products reviewed offer cloud access; thus eliminating the need to research others.

The majority of the products reviewed in this issue are suitable for both businesses and accounting firms, though there are some that are designed solely for the professional accounting office. Whatever the situation, the products reviewed here provide a good starting point for determining which product and process will work best for you, your clients, and your firm.