About one in three may be looking to change systems. How do CFOs choose a new payroll vendor? Join the study. Get the answers.
by Rick Telberg
For the Finance Executive
For a long conversation, ask a corporate finance manager or CFO how he or she feels about his or her companyâ€™s payroll system. We got an earful when we did that in our online survey.
â€œOne thing â€” thatâ€™s too tough,â€ Angela Robinson, a CPA financial manager with Flaherty & Collins Properties in Indianapolis, Ind., responded when asked in our ongoing survey to identify what needs to be improved with her officeâ€™s payroll system. She finally boiled her down wish list to better response time and accuracy from vendorsâ€™ customer support operations. Several other respondents echoed the same two concerns.
The vendor community would be wise to pay attention to the business and industry complaints. While more than half of the business and industry CPAs surveyed said they were satisfied with their payroll systems, 32 percent say they will (or may) look to change solutions in the next 18 months, including 10 percent who will â€œvery likelyâ€ be looking.
While â€œease of useâ€ will likely be the biggest factor in choosing a payroll software or service, customer support concerns are growing. â€œWhen we have something out of the ordinary in our payroll, we have to jump through hoops to get it handled correctly,â€ laments Debra Shoaf, a senior executive with Renfroe Enterprises in McDonough, Ga.
A senior executive at a 100-plus employee company said heâ€™s changed payroll companies three times in the last two years because of â€œpoor customer service and late payroll tax filings and payments.â€
Moreover, some business and industry CPAs would like to see their payroll services take a proactive approach to customer service by helping to manage the complexities of payroll. Don Nichols, a middle manager and comptroller at M&C Specialties Co. in Southampton, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, would like to see better education and explanation made available to employers and employees regarding payroll-related benefits such as health savings accounts.
A senior executive with a small business suggested that vendors produce newsletters that advise users of regulation and tax law changes.
On the technological side, business and industry CPAs are mainly interested in having systems that can readily integrate with other applications and processes and systems that provide greater flexibility in reporting. Expounding on her previously mentioned wish list, Robinson noted that in addition to better customer service, sheâ€™s also interested in the payroll systemâ€™s ability to consolidate all payroll-related information.
Dory Gordon, a senior executive with Emergency Medicine Associates in Rockville, Md., says payroll systems should come with more flexible and user-friendly custom reporting capability, noting that â€œCrystal reports is powerful, but painful.â€
Bruce Grier, a senior executive at Interstate Mechanical Corp, a mid-sized company in Phoenix, Ariz., would like to see his payroll system better integrated with HR information such as workdays missed, safety records and attendance at work-related training.
Brian Larcom, a senior executive at Metallized Carbon Corp. in Ossining, N.Y., adds that payroll integration with HR information should also include Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports.
Debra Smith of Nichols Consulting Engineers in Reno, Nev., is part of a chorus of business and industry CPAs that say their payroll systems should reinforce their integration with businesses' accounting software.
A middle manager wants assurances that his companyâ€™s payroll system can keep pace with an ever-increasing number of nontraditional payroll deductions that include charitable contributions and college tuition 529 plans, as well as different types of insurance that are being sold in the workplace.
CPAs in business and industry are also rumbling for new Internet-based payroll system enhancements. For example, one senior executive suggests that his payroll service include an â€œonline timekeeping solution to avoid all the data entry,â€ while a middle manager at another company wants to be able to e-mail pay stubs to employees.
[First Publiched by the AICPA]