21. June 2010 05:07
So you've decided to get new payroll software for your company. That can be an important decision for your company. The wrong payroll software can be a waste of your time and limit your options as your company grows. But how do you know whether the software you're thinking about buying won't be just as frustrating or limiting as the software you currently have?
Step 1: List the Features You Need
First off, you probably have some features in mind that the new software must have in order to work for you. This is a good place to start. If your current software can't perform a function that you want to be able to use, check the product descriptions of your prospective software titles to make sure you buy software with the feature you need. For example, perhaps your current software only prints checks with the check-at-top format and you need to change to check-in-the-middle or check-at-bottom format. Or maybe you need software that allows flexibility for different kinds of deductions.
But don't stop your list with just the things you want to be able to do that you can't do now. You also want to list every feature and function that you currently use. Don't assume that they are included in all payroll software. Some are not.
Step 2: Separate Must-have Features from Optional Features and Prioritize
Once you have your list of features, identify which features you absolutely must have. Any product that doesn't have one of these features should not even be considered. The rest of your list are optional features—features that would be nice to have or will make your job much easier if you have them, but ultimately you could live without them if you have to. Rank your optional features according to their priority. Put a "1" next to the features you feel are most important. Put a "2" next to features you'd like to have if all your number 1 features are met. Put a "3" next to features that are convenient, but optional and a "4" next to those that would be nice to have, but won't really affect your decision making.
Step 3: Look for Payroll Software that Lets You Enter Year-to-Date Payroll Information
If you plan to change to a new payroll software in mid-year, make sure you purchase payroll software that lets you enter year-to-date payroll data for your employees. You don't want to get stuck spending hour after hour entering data for each pay period that has already occurred in the year.
Step 4: Look for an Easy-to-use Interface
One of the most common reasons for deciding to change payroll software is that the software currently being used is too complicated and difficult to use. So you'll also want to look for a payroll solution that is easy to use. The key part here is the graphical interface—the window or screen that displays your options and accepts the data that you enter.
Look for screen-shots of the product on the box or web site. Does the screen layout make sense to you? Can you find what you're looking for? If the layout makes sense to you and you can easily see the options you use most often, that's a good sign that the software will be easy to use.
Step 5: Watch Out for Hidden Fees for Updating Tax Tables or Use with Multiple Businesses
Tax rate tables change every year as tax laws change. Don't get stuck paying high fees to update your tax tables. Know ahead of time what you will be paying to get updated tax tables for your software ahead of time. If a company doesn't state clearly what that fee will be, chances are good that you'll be taken for a ride. The same is true for using your software for multiple businesses. Some software companies require you to purchase the software for each company. Don't buy software that limits your growth.
Step 6: Take Your Potential Software for a Test Drive
The absolutely best way to determine if a payroll software will work for you and your company is to try it. Believe it or not, that doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on software you may not like. Reliable software developers who create quality products actually allow you to try their software for free.
Buying new payroll software for your company shouldn't be a shot in the dark. Identify software titles that have all the features you currently use and would like to use. One software title that includes a variety of options for all these situations is ezPaycheck 2010 from Halfpricesoft.com. ezPaycheck is available for a free 30-day trial to ensure that it has the features your company needs before ever paying a dime. It's available for download at http://www.halfpricesoft.com.