How to choose a payroll partner

There are several important criteria to consider when selecting a payroll adviser.

• Support: It is important that the payroll provider you choose has the ability to work co-operatively and successfully with you in solving any problems that arise during the contract. A helpdesk is essential as is the ability to contact an account manager for possible problems or a general contract review. Remember the provider will become your payroll department, and you must be able to rely on them.

• Flexibility: Flexibility is key when outsourcing payroll; the result needs to be tailored to individual company needs in order to work best for you. Ensure that the payslips are fully customisable and that there is flexibility so that they can contain additional items such as commission and tax-free payments. Check that the payroll can be processed at any time of the month. If the payroll can be processed well ahead of the payday, this will provide additional flexibility.

• Scalable: Clarify that the system can handle any size of company so that as your business grows your payroll provider will still be able to meet your business needs.

• Reduction of risk: Check that the payroll provider is responsible for ensuring that your company complies with the latest payroll and tax legislation. This is particularly crucial for SMEs who may not employ a full time payroll professional and may have limited time to spend on keeping up to date with legislation.

• Service: Check the provider uses software that is capable of delivering the service required – will it produce the appropriate management reports? Can it be tailored to reflect any special circumstances that may affect the company? It is important to choose a provider that is able to provide support every working day – not just the two or three days when the payroll is due to be processed. Some situations arise throughout the month, such as new starters and leavers.

• Seasonal working: Many SMEs employ temporary staff (e.g. students) at busier times of the year. Check the payroll provider is able to handle fluctuating employee numbers easily so that they are paid accurately and on time so that you don’t have to employ additional payroll professionals to handle the increases.

*Chris Williams is from Moorepay

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