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What is the best choice in payroll software for accountants? (USA edition)
Want to learn about some of the best payroll software for accountants in the USA? Check out our comparison guide here to learn about the best payroll software out there.
What are the benefits of using payroll software for accountants?
Regardless of the size of your accounting firm, or the number of clients that you serve, the use of payroll software can offer enormous benefits to your business. The right payroll software for accountants can completely streamline the payroll process, and inject some much needed automation into what can be a very manual task.
Payroll management is an extremely important task for accountants to complete for their clients, and understandably so - your clients’ employees want to be paid the correct amount, and at the correct time. Issues with timely or accurate pay can cause client disputes, and even worse, damage your reputation as a company. As a result, investing in some effective payroll software is really a no-brainer for accounting firms like yours, as it ensures that the employee payment process ticks along smoothly.
Putting it simply, the major benefit of payroll software for accountants is automation.
Manual payroll management can be a pretty tedious process, as it requires calculating the exact amount of pay due to each individual client employee in each month or period. It’s not hard to imagine how that process can quickly become time-consuming. Payroll software removes the need for manual inputs, and can automatically handle:
- Pay calculations for individual client employees
- Client tax returns and totals
- Any pay deductions (e.g. pension schemes)
- The production of detailed payroll reports
- Client employee bonuses or holiday pay
All that you need to do is set the software up initially, inputting employee details and other basic information about your clients. After that, the software can start working it’s payroll magic - and all of that valuable time saved can be invested into other tasks.
What should accountants consider when selecting online payroll software?
Although payroll software can offer huge benefits to your accounting firm, selecting the right piece of software isn’t always so easy - after all, there’s a huge amount of choice out there. So what are the key considerations when picking payroll software for accountants?
1. Ensure that you choose software that is appropriate for your client base and their business needs
Your clients’ businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and fortunately, so does payroll software. It’s worth taking a close look at the features and functions, so that you end up with the right software for your firm and your services. For example - do you need a simple and intuitive interface that will cover the basics? Or a more complex system built to handle larger clients and corporations? How much detail does the reporting function offer? It’s always worth asking these questions as you browse, to make sure that you end up with the perfect system for your business and your clients.
2. Ensure that the software complies with financial legislation
Financial legislation isn’t always the most exciting subject, but it’s a very important one to consider. Some of your clients may have very specific financial compliance processes, particularly around tax, so make sure that your software is capable of keeping up with their legislation.
3. Keep an eye out for any unique features that your clients may require
If any of your clients offer employees additional benefits or perks (like insurance, discounted memberships, or bonuses) then this is something else to consider when choosing your payroll software. Many providers offer features that automatically handle the management of these additional benefits, which is another opportunity to save time and effort.
4. Check out the customer service offered by the provider
if you feel like you may need some support in getting to grips with the software, make sure you scope out the customer service options offered by the provider. See what kind of support they provide clients with (live chat, email, phone, etc) and make sure you feel comfortable with the level of service that you’ll receive. If you think you may need to access regular support, then it’s worth finding a provider with 24/7 customer service or availability on weekends.
5. And last, but certainly not least - check the price!
Make sure the price you’re paying for your payroll software, whether monthly or annually, stacks up against the benefits you’re getting from it. If you’re not going to take advantage of every feature available, then you may be wasting your money.
If you consider the above when shopping around, you’re more likely to end up with payroll software that’s perfectly suited to your clients and their accounting needs.
It’s also worth considering the usage of a payroll workflow template, to help structure your entire process and really maximize the value you’re getting from payroll software. Check out our own workflow templates here, for an idea of how they can help to streamline your processes even further!
Which is the best payroll software for accountants in the USA?
So now we’ve run through some of the benefits of utilizing payroll software, and the key considerations when choosing a provider - it’s time we looked at some of the best payroll software for accountants in the USA!
Gusto payroll is an extremely popular payroll service, largely due to the well-rounded set of features that it offers accountancy firms. Gusto has the ability to manage employee timesheets, taxes, and additional employer benefits like medical and dental insurance.
The software is also able to integrate with a variety of existing systems, which is great news if your firm is already utilizing other forms of accountancy software, as you won’t need to start from scratch. It’s worth noting, however, that this integration doesn’t come available with the most basic plan, meaning you’ll need to pay slightly more for the convenience.
Gusto also offers accounting firms different levels of partner packages, where additional incentives or benefits become accessible as your business grows. For instance, the starter package (available to firms with 1-2 clients) offers some free payroll and HR tools for your firm, covering the basics. However, as your client base grows, you have the ability to unlock some additional perks - including Gusto certifications for your site, price discounts, and VIP customer support.
When it comes to servicing larger client businesses, however, Gusto may not be able to accommodate more advanced requirements - for instance, more extensive HR support. Gusto customer service is also more limited when compared with some of their competitors, unless you’ve unlocked VIP benefits. The support is only available during working hours on weekdays, and although this may be fine for some firms, it could cause some headaches if you’re envisaging the need for 24-hour assistance.
QuickBooks payroll is an extremely intuitive payroll solution, that is designed to be as user-friendly as possible. It’s optimized to work smoothly across mobile devices (both smartphones and tablets) and desktop alike, making it a very accessible platform for smaller accounting firms. If you’re interested in payroll software that doesn’t come with a steep learning curve, this could be the choice for you.
It’s also a platform that offers you the ability to generate and send payslips to your clients’ employees, which is a useful feature. The software also helps you to easily track and manage key employee dates like sick leave, maternity, and holiday. It’s built around a simple dashboard that keeps everything organized and stored in a single place, which can be a huge help when managing an array of different clients.
In terms of the packages available, QuickBooks also offer a good level of customization based on your needs as a firm. There is a flat monthly fee for the software, but beyond this, you can tailor the packages around specific features and functions. As a QuickBooks partner, your firm is also automatically enrolled into their ‘ProAdvisor Programme’ - as you grow your client base, you earn points that can unlock different benefits. These range from client analysis tools, to discounted subscriptions, to dedicated account managers, and are a good incentive to maximize the value you’re receiving from the platform.
The only watch-out for QuickBooks is the lack of a no-tax-penalty guarantee with it’s basic packages. That means that any penalties incurred due to tax filing errors won’t be covered by QuickBooks, unless you’re subscribed to their most expensive plan - something that many other providers offer as standard.
Oasis is widely regarded as one of the best pieces of payroll software available on the market - particularly for firms servicing clients with more extensive accounting needs. The platform is very comprehensive in terms of the features that it offers - it’s software can help manage everything from basic payroll, to HR solutions, to employee training and development systems. It also has a big emphasis on compliance and legislation - which is invaluable if you’re working with clients who have more complex financial regulations.
Oasis payroll also ensures a high level of customer service. Although some of the more basic payroll tasks are easily managed in the self-service platform, customer support is on hand for anything more advanced, or if a user is experiencing difficulties. As the software can deliver such a vast range of features, it’s handy to have customer support readily available!
It’s worth considering if you’ll be getting maximum value from Oasis, however - particularly if your client base will only require some of the more basic functions. Many of the features lend themselves to larger organizations with more complex needs, so if you just need to keep things simple and manage the basics, you could be overpaying for services that you won’t need.
Like Oasis, ADP is another payroll software provider that can deliver above and beyond basic accounting functions. An excellent solution for larger clients and organizations, ADP can handle everything from payroll management, to HR outsourcing, to employee onboarding. For more sizable client businesses, ADP can even begin to manage tasks like employee background checks and recruitment processes.
If you’re looking for payroll software to accommodate large client organizations, then ADP payroll is absolutely worth checking out. The software is extremely efficient at managing the basics like payroll and time tracking - and HR features are also included in every package, rather than being an advanced add-on. ADP also offers firms some additional perks - if you successfully recommend certain ADP products to your own clients, then you can unlock revenue-share incentives and exclusive industry research. There are also more functional benefits available to firms working with ADP, like dedicated customer support and bespoke analysis of your client businesses.
However, like Oasis, ADP is really designed for firms servicing larger businesses, with more complex financial and management needs. If you won’t need to take advantage of the more advanced HR features, or if you’re only focusing on basic payroll management for clients, then you may be better off with another provider.
Which payroll software is best for your accounting firm?
- Strengths: Comprehensive range of features, delivered in an intuitive and simple platform. Packages are affordable, and come with partner benefits.
- Weaknesses: May not include more advanced features (i.e. HR, employee management) that larger clients could require.
- Price rating: $
- Summary: A brilliant, affordable, and simple payroll solution for firms with more straightforward requirements
- Strengths: Intuitive and user-friendly platform that is optimized for mobile devices - ideal for those less experienced. Some nice additional features (i.e. payslips) and partner benefits available
- Weaknesses: Slightly more expensive than other ‘simple’ solutions - plus, no guarantee on tax error penalties, which most other providers will cover
- Price rating: $$
- Summary: An extremely intuitive interface that is ideal for those without advanced experience - a good choice for those new to payroll software
- Strengths: An extremely comprehensive piece of payroll software, with a vast array of features - including a strong focus on legislation and financial regulation. High-quality customer service
- Weaknesses: A relatively expensive software solution, and better suited to larger client businesses with more complex payroll and HR needs
- Price rating: $$$
- Summary: An excellent option for firms servicing larger clients - particularly those with stringent financial processes and legislation
- Strengths: Impressive range of features and benefits, particularly when it comes to areas that larger clients may be interested in (i.e. HR and recruitment, alongside basic payroll)
- Weaknesses: Package prices aren’t readily available, meaning they are likely to be quite expensive - and only worthwhile for the more complex financial requirements
- Price rating: $$$$
- Summary: A fully comprehensive payroll software solution, designed for firms with expansive client bases/larger client businesses
As you can see, there is an almost overwhelming amount of choice available to you when searching for payroll software for your accounting firm. This is why it’s so important to really consider your business priorities as a firm, and the specific needs of your client base.
Payroll software can offer a vast range of different features and benefits, but you need to find a solution that fits your client base and their accounting requirements.
As mentioned, it’s also worth investigating additional solutions that will help to streamline your operation and maximize efficiency - we offer a range of workflow templates for accounting firms, that can make the process even less time-consuming.
When it comes to payroll software for accounting firms, it's important to make life as easy as possible for yourself. Errors are easily made when handling the process manually, and for such an important job (with implications for employee finances and client relationships) it’s definitely worth investing in solutions like payroll software to automate the task at hand.