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Selecting an online payroll accounting software platform doesn’t have to be difficult. There are four critical elements to review when looking at this software
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Software is Best for Your
is Best for Your Business?
Payday makes employees happy. All employees,
perhaps, except for the accounting manager. Payroll is
one of the more complicated of accounting functions,
and there is absolutely zero margins for error with
employees – or the taxman, for that matter.
To-the-penny accounting became a lot less stressful
with the latest and greatest versions of cloud-based
payroll accounting software on the market today. SaaS
(software as a service) vendors have worked hard to
improve their products so your tax filings stay
accurate, helping your business avoid those pesky
fines and penalties that stem from any errors.
is Best for Your Business?
Selecting an online payroll accounting software platform doesn’t have to be difficult. There are
four critical elements to review when looking at this software:
• Customer support is mission critical, especially if you’re a small or fledgling business. Setting
up payroll properly the first time will eliminate headaches down the road. Make sure the
customer care team includes professionals that can help you do it right the first time.
• Setup doesn’t have to be a nail biter with some of the newer platforms. Look for an easy to use,
intuitive user interface, with clean, neat dashboards that simply – make sense. Employee
records should have a high level of detail, listing benefits, pay rates and bonuses, additional
withholdings, hours worked, and more.
• Running payroll should be the easiest part of the process. That’s because all the work really
goes into the setup.
• Tax compliance better be a no-brainer with your payroll accounting software. The software
should be able to handle the calculations for withholdings by state and submit them to the
required legal entities.
BIGGEST NAMES IN
Gusto has been a top pick out of the pack of young payroll accounting SaaS providers. They are
the latest in a long line of cloud-driven payroll accounting software providers. Gusto targets
companies with up to 50 employees, and offer automatic tax filing, self-onboarding, and
worker’s comp and health insurance across the country. The log in is easy and it’s a pretty easy-
to-learn system, so small businesses are giving it two thumbs up for the moderate cost and
ease-of-use. It’s remained a top pick in 2016 for payroll accounting software for the (very
small) business. But therein lies the problem.
Gusto runs into trouble if you have a larger company with more complex payroll accounting
needs; Gusto simple cannot scale. Users have noted some integration glitches with other
platforms as creating issues with new hires and payroll enrollment. But Gusto is great for new
businesses – if this is your first time running payroll, this platform is recommended over
QuickBooks, because the user interface is so much more current. Comparing the Sage or
QuickBooks dashboards to Gusto makes their platforms look woefully outdated. Setup is easy
and customer support continues to receive high marks.
Paychex Flex actually integrates with more platforms than Sage, QuickBooks and Gusto (we think
that’s where the “flex” comes from). Notice we didn’t say, “seamless integration;” we hear there
have been some platform interoperability issues that Paychex is working on. This makes sense,
though, because Paychex has been around the block; like QuickBooks, it’s one of the more senior
platforms on this list.
There is some scalability with Paychex Flex, although not as much as with Microsoft Dynamics.
You can add HR and benefits administration. The entry-level version of Flex has a nice UX that
looks modern and clean. Unlike some of the other platforms, Paychex requires live set up as part
of enrollment. That’s probably a plus if you’ve never done payroll before, but for more
experienced users this may be annoying. The other payroll accounting software companies offer
the option to do-it-yourself or have live support.
One benefit of Paychex Flex is that you can add an unlimited number of data fields in a record; for
larger or more complicated companies this could be a necessary requirement.
Sage Software has been around for a number of years. It was designed for small businesses and
has remained firmly entrenched in that market niche. The cost has stayed around $50 a month
for up to 10 users, which makes it perfect for a non-enterprise level company.
Sage Payroll Essentials, their premiere product, can be accessed from any device, and works
with Macs as well as it does PCs. It is interoperable with QuickBooks accounting features,
which is a plus. It also has a decent list of reports that you can run, along with a high level of
detail in employee and customer records. In fact, considering whom it’s designed for, it actually
may require more detail related to employee data entry than it even needs.
Sage pricing is one of the more affordable in the industry, but unfortunately, you’re going to get
what you pay for with this software. It’s lacking a lot of functionality that you see in some of
the newer SaaS platforms. Consumers complain that the dashboard and overall user interface
looks very outdated. Sage recently purchased Peachtree Accounting, and upgrades are to be
expected in the near future. Even more importantly, it lacks in mobile versions of the product;
these days that is a very important drawback.
Intuit QuickBooks is an oldie but a goodie. The software has been around since the horse and
buggy days (joke), but despite that, the brand has managed to continue to remain relevant over
the years. It’s a solid, but entry-level platform that small businesses still swear by. If you’re in a
start-up business and just need accounting, billing, or financial planning, then this is decent
software that will get your feet wet.
Unfortunately, QuickBooks lacks some of the standard functionality that you find in Microsoft
Dynamics or some of the newer accounting software providers. These days focusing on just
GL, receivables, or payables isn’t enough; the latest accounting software packages are now
integrating higher business functions like inventory management or eCommerce.
Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest areas where QuickBooks simply falls short. It lacks the
ability to grow with your business, which makes a mid-stream switch inevitable for the growing
Microsoft Dynamics GP offers cloud-based and hybrid options for med-to large size
organizations. Microsoft Dynamics makes up for the two biggest drawbacks of the other four
payroll accounting software providers on this list:
1. Dynamics scales to any size business, which completely eliminates the need to switch
payroll accounting software providers if your company suddenly engages in a growth spurt.
2. Dynamics offers more features than any of these providers, and you can add sophisticated
business analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), eCommerce, and many more
modules and plugins.
But that’s not all. Dynamics is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool. The practical application
of this title means that even the payroll accounting software module has more functionality
designed into the lowest cost standard package than Gusto, QuickBooks Paychex, and Sage
combined. While that doesn’t mean you have to utilize the full tools, Microsoft Dynamics designed
this payroll accounting software so that you have options to grow your tools with your business.
The basic payroll accounting software beginner’s package comes with financial management,
supply chain, banking, project management, and HR. Note you will pay more for these tools – but
you’re certainly getting a lot more bang for the buck. You’ll be able to manage payroll, budgets,
analytics, inventory management, sales, and human resources. Instead of managing multiple
systems to handle all of these business functions, Dynamics was designed to be a one-stop shop.
The Dynamics payroll accounting software is pretty plug-and-play; it probably helps that you’ve
likely been using Microsoft products for years. So the layout will look fairly familiar at first glance –
this is an architecture that you’ve seen before.
The financial homepage has individual pop ups for transactions, reports or other workflow
tasks with deeper dive drill downs. It can automate a number of your most basic functions and
woks well with other Microsoft products such as their office suite – still one of the most
commonly used platforms in business today.
The only drawback we can think of with Dynamics, is that it might be too complicated for the
first time user. For example, there are more than 700 standard reports that you can run; we
can see a start-up business getting a little overwhelmed. But the simple truth is that this
payroll accounting software was designed for your business growth; if this is your goal the
other SaaS providers simply cannot compete.
For a start up business with a limited budget, a payroll accounting software service like Gusto
is fine. But we’ve never met a start up that isn’t planning on growth, so if you begin with Gusto,
or other non-scalable payroll accounting software, then you’re guaranteed a switchover down
the road. That’s problematic and, possibly, annoying, when you’re busy enough with basic
Why not start with payroll accounting software that’s going to keep pace with your business as
you expand? It will cost more up front, but users say the long-term investment is worth the
functionality. If you’re interested in taking a test drive of the latest version of Microsoft’s
payroll accounting software, contact us today.
IES is a leading Microsoft software reseller, development, implementation, and
business process consulting firm dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Dynamics training,
products, and supported services. Our expertise extends across Microsoft Dynamics
CRM, MS Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and beyond. We are based in the Miami and
Tampa areas of Florida, but serve clients across the nation.