Are you currently using payroll software to process your payroll? Although there are various ways of paying employees such as direct deposit and debit cards, many businesses still use checks to pay some or all of their employees. There are two ways you can print your payroll checks: with blank check stock or on preprinted forms.
If you choose to print on blank check stock, you must use MICR or "Magnetic Ink Character Recognition" ink, a magnetic ink that can be detected by check processing machines. On the other hand, using preprinted forms does not require you to have any special ink for your printer, since the forms are already printed appropriately and shipped to you that way.
The biggest benefit to printing on blank check stock is the flexibility you gain. If you need to make changes to the way your checks look, you can do so at any time and not worry about having to throw out the preprinted checks that are sitting there in boxes. Another advantage is the ability to print checks from multiple bank accounts, as all the bank information is printed on the blank stock by the software. This is particularly handy if you are printing checks for several companies since you won't need to order checks for each company. Printing on blank check stock also allows you to print signatures on your checks, helpful in the case that the check signing party is away or simply unable to sign checks.
Using preprinted checks may be more convenient for some companies, since it is fairly simple to order the correct checks for your software, and then keep ordering the same product from your vendor. This option is best for companies who are fairly certain they will not require any changes to the look of their checks. Using blank check stock is also easy once you get it set up, but keep in mind you will still need to keep enough of the special MICR ink in stock.
Obviously, printing checks takes paper, no matter which method you choose to use. You can save paper and money by planning in advance for changes that might require you to purchase new checks and toss out the outdated preprinted ones. If you know about such changes in advance, a good idea is to begin using blank check stock, so that when the change is made, only your check design will need t be changed.
Choosing the right method of check printing for your business can save you valuable time and money!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are in charge of managing a payroll system and/or are actually doing the payroll processing, then you should be aware of the newest features available that can simplify the entire payroll process. Newer features now available within leading payroll programs can have a drastic impact on a payroll manager′s workload, and can also improve accuracy.
Direct deposit is a tool that allows you to transfer pay electronically to employee bank accounts. More and more employers are offering direct deposit as an option, or even paying employees only via direct deposit because of simplified processing and money saved. Since direct deposit advices can be printed on plain paper, the employer saves money on the cost of the check stock, printer ink, envelopes, and the manual labor of putting them all together. Transferring pay electronically via direct deposit can shave off hours every week of a payroll processor′s workload.
Advanced Earning Matrix
If you have employees working at different pay rates for different shifts, departments, locations, profit centers and more, payroll data entry can become complex and cumbersome quickly, since your list of pay codes becomes so long. With an advanced earning matrix, you set up parameters for each of the variables needed within a grid for each employee. Paying employees becomes a snap with the ability to simply choose employee parameters from that grid to enter pay rates. All earnings and deductions are then calculated accordingly when time is entered, solving the very difficult problem of finding the right pay code within a sea of other available codes.
Electronic Tax Filing
If you manage payroll, you are aware that employers are required to file quarterly and yearly taxes. It wasn′t so long ago when W-2 forms were filled out by typing in triplicate on a manual typewriter! Nowadays some programs offer the ability to print the tax forms on plain paper, saving on the cost of purchasing the tax forms, and also the time associated with printing them. To take the simplification a step further, some payroll companies also allow you the option of filing the tax forms electronically online, which eliminates several steps including the steps of printing, collating, stuffing, and mailing the forms. File tax forms electronically can sound daunting, but an average of 98% of customers who try online tax filing continue doing so year after year because it makes their job so much easier.
Custom Checks, Stubs and Payroll Reports
Your business is unique. Perhaps you want your employees′ vacation to show on the check stub, or you want their employee number to print out on their check. Maybe you want a column of information to show on your payroll register report. If you use a payroll system that allows you to modify and save your version of checks, stubs and payroll reports, you will always be able to see and show others information in the way that is most useful. It will also cut down on copy and pasting into Excel and making manual edits.
Electronic Time Clock
Reading hand-written time sheets can be a difficult chore with the challenge of various handwriting types, and the re-entry of that data into a system can also result in human error. By implementing an electronic time clock, you can save yourself the time and also eliminate re-entry errors by pulling the data that was entered electronically by the employee into the payroll system. Many payroll software programs offer standard import utilities, so that you can set up and pull in the data you choose from the electronic time clock, making the job of entering payroll a much easier and faster task.