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Payroll Software or Payroll Service - Six Important Considerations to Choose the Best Payroll Option

clock February 21, 2011 2:24 PM by author StephanieE

Processing payroll on time is crucial to the management of your business. As your company grows, you may find that payroll processing becomes more complex with tax requirements, multiple employee types, increasing deduction types, and much more. To efficiently manage your payroll, you will need to choose the best options for your business to process payroll allowing you to continue to pay your employees on time, ensure taxes are filed promptly by due dates and still have access to the information you need.

  1. Cost

    As your number of employees grows, so do your labor expenses. Many people start their business using a payroll service, yet as business increases, they realize the expense grows out of hand. Once the cost of using a payroll service starts to outweigh the convenience, you may be ready to bring your payroll processing in-house and use payroll software.

  2. Staffing

    Whether you use a payroll service or payroll software, you will need somebody to manage the process. Functions such as collecting employee pay data and editing employee information will need to be manually entered into a payroll software system or delivered to a payroll service.

  3. Tax Filing

    Probably the biggest benefit to processing payroll with a service is their guarantee that they will file your taxes in a timely manner. However, payroll software providers currently offer online tax filing or complete tax filing fulfillment options. These options make the Federal and State tax filing processes much easier.

  4. Control

    Some companies need or desire tight control over their payroll. Some reasons for this include having a large number of employees or the need to track data by different departments. Companies needing control of their payroll are better suited, in most cases, to processing payroll in-house using payroll software because often times a payroll service cannot provide the flexibility they need. With in-house payroll software, changes can be made instantly and there is no need to wait for somebody else to make them.

  5. Security

    Obviously pay data is sensitive, and should be protected. With in-house payroll software, be sure the system offers security tools so that only authorized employees can see certain screens or data. A system with menu level security is helpful so that certain users can only see the screens you give them access to within the system. With a payroll service, if you are entering data online, be sure your service offers security measures so your data cannot be captured by somebody else.

  6. Reporting

    Every business has a different set of payroll reporting needs. Perhaps you want to know labor expenses by department or expenses for just one or a combination of your locations. Typically, there is more flexibility in reporting when you are using an in-house program with report editing capabilities. If you are using a service, be certain your service provider can give you the data you need, when you need it.

There are variations of product offerings among payroll software providers as well as payroll service providers. No matter which method you choose, be sure to consider all of the above so that your payroll runs smoothly.



How Ratio Analysis can Help Your Business

clock February 18, 2011 9:43 AM by author StephanieE

One of the great benefits of accounting software is the ability to slice and dice your data so that it means something to you and your business. Well, consider ratio analysis an extension to your standard reports. Why? Because ratio analysis gives you information not found in your standard financial reports. It goes a step further by helping you pinpoint areas of strength and weakness in your business, so you can increase profits and reverse negative trends.

How do you stack up?

Ratio analysis allows you to make comparisons between your business and your competitors’. You can view standard industry trends, so you understand where your business stands in comparison. Once you know where you stand, you get an idea of which areas of your business to improve, giving you a distinct advantage over your competitors.

Just the facts, please.

It’s one thing to have ratio analysis data, and still another to understand where the numbers came from. Use your ratio analysis tool to generate the data, and then drill down further to understand exactly what makes up those numbers. This allows you to understand patterns within your business, so you can make better management decisions moving forward.

See the forest through the trees.

There is power in looking at details up close, but even more in being able to compare your data from two different time frames. Maybe last year wasn’t profitable and you want to turn it around. Or maybe you struggled last month and want to know why. Use ratio analysis as a high-level tool to see trends over longer periods of time, so you can achieve long-term financial growth.

By using ratio analysis, you can access information and trends that you may not have noticed, so you can make changes accordingly, which will benefit your business!



Accounting and Payroll Software - Six Commonly Forgotten Questions When Researching Software

clock February 14, 2011 1:05 PM by author StephanieE

When researching accounting and payroll software for your company, be sure to get these commonly forgotten questions answered, or you may have unwanted surprises down the line.

What are my ongoing yearly costs, and what does that include?

People often remember to ask the upfront costs for a software package but place less importance on the ongoing costs, which can be substantial. Even if your upfront costs are minimal, you may be shocked when you find out as the years go by that there are additional costs for functionality your company requires. For example, you decide you want to start processing payroll via direct deposit, only to find out there is an expensive per-check fee for that service. Another example is support, which can be handled in various ways depending on the software company. Be sure to ask what support is included in the price, what that support includes, and what the ongoing costs for it are.

Can I talk to somebody in my own industry for a reference?

If you own a retail store, then talking to a manufacturer for a reference probably won't help you much because your company processes accounting and payroll in a completely different way. Be sure to talk to a reference that is in a business similar to yours, so you get a true feel of how it could work for your own business.

Will it work with other software products I use?

Most businesses now use software for many different purposes whether it's for word processing or spreadsheet management to time clock entry and electronic data interchange ("EDI"). Be sure to find out whether your accounting and payroll software can fit together with your other software. Having your programs work together saves you significant reentry of data, which saves you time and cuts out a margin for error.

What are the product limitations?

A salesperson by nature does not want to tell you all the details of what a product cannot do; however be sure you understand what its limitations are. For example, you might find out that a software package has the capability for unlimited concurrent users. This may be true in theory, but in reality there is a limitation of how many the system can handle while still running efficiently. This number likely depends on many things like the number of items, customers, transactions, and history saved in the system, not to mention the database technology used. Gain a good understanding of these limitations before purchasing your new software.

How experienced is their technical support staff, and where are they?

Technical support experience varies greatly by company. Be sure to ask about the experience level of the staff that provides support. If you don't get a better answer than, "I'm not sure," you have reason to be skeptical. At times when you need help, you will definitely appreciate having an expert available instead of somebody who knows nothing about accounting or payroll. Do they outsource support services to another company?

Will this work for everybody at my company?

Don't forget that many people in a company are affected by the accounting and payroll software choice. Shipping may need to print special packing lists; accounts payable may need to print 1099 forms, and the warehouse may need a better way to perform a physical inventory count. These are just a few examples of problems that can easily be solved with your accounting software. Include input from people in all departments, so your new system will work well for the entire company.



Fund Accounting – Five Tips for Managing a Better Budget

clock February 11, 2011 8:31 AM by author StephanieE

Most organizations use past history and trends to determine their budget. With a limited number of funds that are predetermined, the goal of the budget is to cover operational costs as well as plan for future capital expenditures. Without comprehensive fund accounting and payroll tools, it can be difficult to organize and manage the budget efficiently. Here are five tips on maintaining a better budget.

  1. Manage budget by department and by fund. Some programs only allow budget management by fund. However, the ability to also manage by department gives quick access to a wealth of information about each department. Being able to see budget data by department and by fund can give department heads or managers the information they need to quickly compare their actual spending to the budget.
  2. Unlimited funds. Be sure whatever system you are using allows for an unlimited number of fund accounts, ensuring that the system can still handle all of your organization’s budgeting needs. Each organization is different and you may want to add additional funds down the line.
  3. Customizable reporting. Your organization clearly wants to see your data in a way that is most useful to you - complete and accurate. With a system that you can customize, you will be able to view reports with information specific to your reporting needs.
  4. Integrated payroll. If your pay data is not integrated with your accounting data, you may not easily be able to get a clear view of your budget and where it stands. By integrating the two, you will streamline your payroll processes and pay information can accurately be viewed within financial reports.
  5. Copy budget from previous year(s). With the ability to copy and edit a budget from a previous year, you can save significant time setting up your budgets each year. You will also be more confident in your budget, knowing it was based on a budget system that had already been in place the prior year.

With the above budgeting tips, you will find the budgeting process much simpler to set up and manage!



Wage Garnishment and Payroll Software

clock February 7, 2011 3:47 PM by author StephanieE

According to Wikipedia, “A garnishment is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party (the garnishee) to pay the money, otherwise owed to the defendant, directly to the plaintiff. Wage garnishment, the most common type of garnishment, is the process of deducting money from an employee’s monetary compensation (including salary), sometimes as a result of a court order.”

Calculating wage garnishment withholdings and making payments can be complex, and processing them incorrectly can result in legal repercussions. Here are some ways your business can use payroll software to help ensure deductions are made accurately and on time.

  • Set up and track garnishment calculations. Set up garnishment calculations to compute automatically when payroll is processed, and you are assured a consistently accurate dollar amount is being withheld, keeping both employee and creditor happy.
  • Specify a minimum net pay. Many garnishment court orders require that an amount be deducted from the pay, yet the employee pay should not go below a specified amount. Set this up in your payroll software, and you can be confident the proper garnishment is taken out, and that the employee gets their minimum amount.
  • Set up a garnishment priority. When an employee has more than one garnishment, you need to know which garnishment takes priority. Setting up a priority system within your software allows you to automatically deduct the garnishment in the correct order, so that the proper amount is deducted for each creditor.
  • Specify the priority of other deductions. A garnishment may be set up to allow the employee to contribute money to other areas before the garnishment is taken, such as a 401(k) contribution. In this case, setting up a rule within your system to handle this will make certain that the garnishment is taken only after the other deductions are taken.

Using these methods of tracking wage garnishment keeps your information accurate, and also makes it much easier to calculate payments. Keeping track of employee payroll wage garnishments can be overwhelming. Use your payroll software to make the job of tracking and paying wage garnishments much easier, and also to stay in compliance.



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