Payroll applications have come a long way since the books of tax charts and pocket calculators many of you may have used a few decades ago. While the idea is essentially the same, the actual work involved is now much simpler.
There are a number of types of payroll applications out there, from quick-and-simple software like Quicken, to more complex cloud-based systems, so the first step is to find the right type of system for your business.
Payroll Equipment and Hardware
Once the system of choice for most businesses (and still quite popular with very large companies), payroll equipment, such as a time clock, is a nearly foolproof way to manage payroll data. Systems range from simple punch clocks that mark a paper timecard to fancy computerized clocks that keep track of data by keying in a PIN or swiping a magnetic badge. These have evolved to the point that employee data can be sent through the internet to the payroll accountant’s computer, making payday a relatively simple affair.
A quick Google search will show you that several companies still offer time clocks of varying complexities. While this may not be the most cost-effective measure for small businesses, larger companies are likely to find a clock with the right amount of technology to meet their needs.
In recent history, software has been the system of choice for most businesses, large and small. It usually offers a simple interface, a tutorial (or a live expert to show you the ropes), and plenty of customizable options to get things set up just the way you like them. The main drawback of software, however, is a lack of easy updates.
Even so, software remains a popular system, and there are dozens of good-quality programs to choose from. If you go this route, make sure you do your homework and find one that meets all your needs, without unnecessary features you won’t need.
Online and Cloud-Based Payroll Applications
Software-as-a-Service, otherwise known as cloud-based applications, let you handle your payroll accounting online, from anywhere, via a secure remote server. The best part about it is that you don’t need to install any software – ever. What’s more, updates are automatic.
Another obvious benefit is the cloud storage of all your sensitive employee-related documents. Regardless of fire, flood, or any other type of disaster (natural or otherwise), your employee’s W-2 forms, and any other important documents related to payroll, are safe and immediately accessible.
Because “the cloud” is popular right now, the number of companies offering payroll applications is getting larger every day. While this is great news for those looking for competitive pricing, you will definitely want to do some research before you make your final decision.
So, Which Solution is Right for You?
Choosing a payroll solution is, of course, a big decision, but any of these types of applications will probably work for your business. Your best bet is to take into account the size of your business, the skill (and technical knowledge) of your payroll accountant, and which features are most important to your business. Then, find the solution that pulls it all together.