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Is it time to break up with your payroll provider?

Using a payroll service provider enables your firm to keep payroll as an essential service offering—and keep billing clients for that value—without the headache of managing payroll in-house. Whether you rely on software to help lift the load or outsource payroll entirely, the tools and resources are out there to take the time-consuming aspects of payroll off your plate. Another gain? The empowerment to use integrated payroll data insights and time-saving automation to add value to your client advisory relationships.

Is this your payroll experience? If not, it may be time to assess your payroll provider’s performance—and find a better solution. Here are four key areas to help you decide.

1. Integration

The time spent toggling between different programs is time wasted. If you access one program to gather payroll expenses and another to make journal entries to your accounting system, or you’re using journal entries to allocate payroll to multiple customers, jobs, or locations, then your provider is not fully integrated into your workflow.

If you or your client are required to manually post payroll hours, or you are spending time manually entering 1099 payments at the end of the year, then your provider is not providing. By having your clients use a cloud-based contractor payment tool throughout the entire tax year, 1099 processing becomes a streamlined process at year-end.

Employee time tracking isn’t just for paying wages. Billable time for invoicing is time spent gathering data that could be used on higher-value tasks. A mobile-based time tracking system to accurately track time by customer can increase revenue and profitability.

An integrated human resources and payroll system is convenient, efficient, and necessary for you and your clients to gain an accurate view of employee data—a major business health indicator. Do you have an end-to-end integrated solution that provides detailed, real-time data for better insights and a true financial picture? If not, it may be time to break up with your payroll provider.

2. Automation and services

Automation is key to an ideal payroll process—fast, accurate, secure. Being able to offer your clients the right services on the back of automation gives you an edge in the market.

In the age of automation, data collection should be packed up and stored as an old process. Collecting W9s or W4s manually is a tedious and time-consuming task. A payroll service provider that can automate that task eases stress especially in a remote or hybrid work environment.

Amendments should be handled by your payroll provider or you can avoid amendments by outsourcing. Corrections will also happen—submitting a form to alter the data may sound easy, but can have a residual effect. Avoid a falling domino in a line of unbalanced financials packed with penalties and fees by using a full-service solution provider.

Offering your clients 943 filings is a service value that can’t be overlooked for those in the growing agriculture, or agriculture-adjacent industries. Ensure your provider handles all your year-end processing—including 943 filings—and isn’t leaving this time-consuming task on your plate.

Payroll mistakes are bound to happen. Is your provider ready and willing to step in front of a payroll penalty and offer tax penalty protection on your behalf or your client's behalf? If not, it’s time to look for something new.

3. Insights

The level of insight you gain from your payroll provider through reports and tracking informs the level of advisory you can offer. Without in-depth human capital insights or the automated processes that create time for advisory, your client relationships can suffer.

Payroll reports can help identify overtime costs, gender or bias pay gaps, industry and geographic pay benchmarking, and more. Integrated, easily accessible payroll data reporting can lead you to offer more valuable advisory services, increasing client satisfaction and retention.

If your payroll provider makes data insights difficult—it’s time to move on.

4. Fee structure

Sending your W-2 forms to the appropriate agencies on time is an important payroll task at the end of the year. Don’t make your client pay for their W2s on top of regular SaaS costs each year or force your firm to manually complete W2 entries and bill for it.

Some time clock providers that require physical equipment to be issued may charge a fee for the use of that equipment. A cloud-based, mobile-supported time clock saves your client from paying extra to rent a physical time clock, and a fee for each payroll run.

Cost should reflect value with any service, and your payroll provider is no exception. Hidden fees and use charges can nickel and dime your firm dry. You need a payroll provider with a fixed subscription rate, so you know what you’re paying—and what to charge your clients—with no middleman, and no surprises.

Not there yet? It’s time to break up with your payroll provider and find a better way.

If you need help assessing your payroll needs, email us at accounting_partners@intuit.com. Our team is happy to assist as you determine the best path for your firm.

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