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How to Choose the Right Payroll Processing Service

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If you’ve ever had a job, you might wonder (when especially bored) how the right amount of money finds its way into your bank account each pay day. The secret – despite all the myths and mutterings you may have heard – isn’t magical elves. In fact, it’s probably some hard working numbers guru, huddled among piles of papers and diaries. Keeping on top of employee payments isn’t easy, particularly when people start to take days off or work overtime. And let’s not even get started about the difficulties thrown up when there are changes in legislation, minimum pay, contract hours and more. It’s a mine field.


Why Use Payroll Processing Services?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone’s payment processes could be automated? If there were some system which allowed you to easily track and monitor each employee’s work hours, making changes where they’re needed, that paid them on time and without error? Well, breath deeply, because it exists! Welcome to the magical world of Payroll Processing Services!

Okay, this probably isn’t a massive revelation to you if you’re a small business owner or you happen to run the HR department of a company. However, how fully have you explored the online possibilities available to you? Software and services are always improving, attempting to make payroll a little bit less time consuming and a little easier with each update.

We’ve dug up a whole bunch of online payroll services, weeding out the dandelions and sniffing out the proverbial roses. In short (and without gardening metaphors) we’ve reviewed a great range of payroll services and software packages in an attempt to help you find one which will better suit your company’s needs. So, whether you’re an entrepreneur with irregular contracts to pay, a small business owner or a larger corporation which needs better control over its payments to staff, there’s plenty on offer.


What should you look out for when choosing a Payroll Processing Service?

Before you get into the reviews, though, we’ve a few recommendations for things to look out for. These tips will also help you to understand our reviews and the position we’ve come from in analyzing the features on offers, so keep reading...

  • Payroll features
    How easy is it to pay your employees? Ideally, you’ll probably want a system where you can easily add staff, input what they earn, allow for adjustments, and just watch as the correct amount is transferred to their account. The sites we’ve reviewed will all provide this service, but you’ll also discover a few extra features worth considering. For example, some services will offer a specialist to help you out, or allow you to manage visibility on the system. If you want to print paychecks, that’s a possibility, or you might simply prefer your employees to use a self service system. It’s all there, so check our list of features to find out which payroll features are available.
  • Payment options
    Most employers pay their employees by direct debit, transferring money from the company accounts to the employee’s bank account. However, there are a few other options available, such as pre-pay cards or offering checks which can be cashed. We also consider how easy it might be to adjust payments when you need to, including working hours tracking, and scheduling tools.
  • Tax services
    As well as making wage payments, online payroll services will often help you with your payroll taxes. Most of the services we’ve reviewed will offer automatic calculations of your payroll taxes, and some will even file reports for you or pay your taxes automatically. If you’re looking for extra security with these features, look for a website which offers a tax guarantee whereby they will cover any fees incurred because of their error.
  • Accounting software integration
    This is probably going to be more important to you if you’re a larger company with substantial accounts histories. If you’ve used another software system to keep your accounts, you may wish to transfer that information to your new payroll service. Not all payroll websites offer this as a standard, so look out for websites which offer accounting software integration for the systems you’ve been using. The most common of these will be Quickbooks, but there are also a few others to watch out for. If you’re unsure, we advise contacting the customer services team to double check.
  • Ease of use
    If you’re new to paying employees using payroll software or payroll services, it may be important that a site is easy to use. After all, going head-first into the unknown can be difficult, and making a mistake with wage payments can be devastating. Thankfully, the majority of the sites we’ve reviewed are simple to use, and the more complex ones are likely going to be suitable to people with plenty of payroll experience under their belt. If you feel like you might benefit from a very simple system with plenty of support, look out for sites which offer those features. We often mention ease of use in our Editor’s Verdict, too, so take a quick read through those to see how we feel about the software or services and how they function.
  • Customer support
    Linked with ease of use, this is particularly important if you’re new to online payroll payments. A dedicated team of professionals can make all the difference, especially if you’re hoping for a hands-off approach. Some sites will provide a full service, pretty much taking over your payroll for you, so if you want no part in the ins and outs of payment, look out for sites which offer a human (rather than automated) payroll service. Otherwise, websites which offer plenty of online support from professionals, communities or online information (guides, books, blogs and so on) are a good option.
  • Value for money
    You’ll probably find that payroll processing services are surprisingly affordable. They’ve often been designed with small businesses in mind, charging a basic monthly fee with a top up for additional employees. However, the range of features and quality of service affect our view of the value for money offered by a site. Sometimes paying a little more for a better service is the best option, rather than saving a couple of dollars and then losing out in the long run.


The Bottom Line

We understand that payroll is hardly the most exciting endeavour. However, it’s a necessary part of business, and an incredibly important one. Online payroll processing makes your life a bit easier, eradicating a lot of human errors and streamlining the whole process so everyone is a bit happier. We’ve plenty of sites to read about, so take your time and hopefully our reviews will help you to find a payroll website which best suits your needs!