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How to select the right payroll company for your organization

April 19, 2018

By Natalie B. Hoffmann, CPA.CITP HKP President

There are several areas to consider when choosing the right payroll provider for your organization. From product features, to pricing, to customer service, choosing the right company means making the right investment for the future of your organization.

Selecting the right payroll company to be your partner in business is a significant decision that should not be made lightly. Your payroll partner will make one of the largest impacts on your organization and can affect the satisfaction of your most important asset: your employees.

The benefits of outsourcing payroll are substantial as it can alleviate a significant burden from your human resource or administrative staff. However, a payroll company that does not provide real solutions to your human capital management issues or that fails to deliver on customer service, can quickly feel like a bad investment. Choosing the right payroll company for your organization comes down to several factors, and all should be weighed to your company’s specific needs and goals. Here are the top eight characteristics to consider when selecting the right payroll company for your organization:

  1. Ease of use — If you are currently processing payroll manually, or you are working with an antiquated system or several systems, a payroll processor who provides greater efficiency with automation and can tailor to your needs will be essential to improving your payroll experience. Be sure to demo the product and see if its functionalities and capabilities are what you are comfortable and capable of working with.
  2. Single sign-on — If a payroll company isn’t offering single sign-on for payroll, HR and benefits management, or time and attendance, the value of the product should be questioned. Dealing with multiple vendors and multiple systems can severely impact the efficiency of your human capital management. Additionally, the risk for errors is magnified when data needs to be entered across multiple systems. Single sign-on is a game-changer when it comes to payroll processing and your payroll company should offer a comprehensive system.
  3. Component availability — Do you have specific reports you need or components you require in order to manage your human capital or compliance? Most payroll service providers offer add-ons to their systems that can increase functionality, for a price. Make sure you understand what comes with the base package and what is an add-on. Additionally, look for essential compliance reporting components that help you with issues like the Affordable Care Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. Payroll companies now have built-in calculators to help you determine your necessary level of compliance in these areas.
  4. Transparent pricing — Are the true costs of the payroll company clear? Do they lay out each fee from the initial product purchase, to monthly service and customization in clear numbers they can justify? Hidden fees can catch you by surprise and can mount up quickly when the initial product or service doesn’t meet your specific needs. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting for the prices you are paying.
  5. Return on investment — The top question on your mind is likely what kind of return are you going to get for making not only the monetary investment to outsource your payroll, but also the time and resource investment it will take with implementation and training. Compare the pricing, time it will take to implement and process each pay period, and the resources you will need to dedicate to your payroll to determine if the ROI is a good fit for your organization. Will you save time, money or hours? Think long term and understand the benefits you could receive, as well as any trade-offs you may have to make.
  6. Value-added services — Value-added services are a hot commodity in service industries today. Payroll companies that can offer human resource consulting and employee benefit consulting services bring more to the table when it comes to value for the price. Finding a payroll processor who can help navigate the changing workplace and political climate, and can set you up for success in compliance and human capital management, should be a top priority for your organization.
  7. Implementation experience — How long it will take and the amount of support you will receive during implementation can be a make or break experience for many companies considering an outsourced payroll processor. Bad implementation experiences that end without full functionality happen all too often and it can leave a sour taste for those who have made a large investment. Call references and ask specific questions to gauge the implementation experience you will receive from a payroll company. A product is only effective if it works properly and you and your team know how to use it to its full potential.
  8. Customer service — If you have ever spent time on hold with a payroll processor, you understand the frustration that poor customer service can cause. When searching for a new payroll company, ask for the customer service lines and hours up front and understand what your customer service representative will actually be able to accomplish for you. Ideally, a company will provide a dedicated team to your account that will know and understand your business, making requests easier and quicker to process.

When you choose your partner in payroll, make sure they check the boxes on your specific goals and needs and can prove a positive return on your investment. Payroll partnerships are usually for the long haul, and finding the right one from the start can provide substantial peace of mind for you and your company.


Originally published on medium.com, July 12, 2017.

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