Systems management: Making payroll time pay off

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

For most people in America, payday is a happy affair. But for millions of the nation’s small-business owners, it’s a complex administrative chore that eats valuable time.

According to a new study by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), America’s largest small-business group, nearly two-thirds of small employers still prepare payroll in-house. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees are most likely to do payroll themselves, but half of small firms with 20 or more employees also do payroll in-house.

Usually the task falls to the owner, while some assign it to an employee and a few pass it to an unpaid spouse or family member. Of business owners who do their own payroll, only 62% use spreadsheet software, and about one-third run payroll through their regular accounting software (such as QuickBooks).

Some say they do it themselves because that’s the cheapest method. Others say they want to control the process.

But how much is your time worth? And what could you or others be doing with that time to help grow the business? Doing payroll yourself to stay in control is like typing letters on a typewriter so you don’t give up control to a computer with word processing software.

A payroll service acts only on your orders and information. You still control everything about it. If hands-on is a must, there are online payroll services that let you manage the process yourself.

Processing payroll correctly requires that you meet a long list of tax, insurance and legal requirements. And if your business offers any benefits that involve payroll deductions or accounting issues — like health insurance or a retirement plan of some type — that’s another reason to switch.

Bottom line: Payroll is a task fraught with dangerous red tape and hidden costs and a single misstep can cost you dearly.

Outside payroll processing services are a good option. First off, no business is too small to use one; most will handle as little as a single employee. With services easily accessible online, you’d be a bit daft not to at least consider the option. Here are some things you should know:

  1. Payroll services are highly competitive. Basic processing typically costs between $2 and $3 per check, plus a base fee.

  2. Expect small additional fees for account setup, adding or dropping employees and changing information.

  3. For a complete solution, expect to pay $3 to $5 per paycheck issued.

  4. Without proper knowledge of payroll tax rules and procedures, it is easy to make mistakes. For that reason alone, many small businesses use an outside service.

  5. Each pay period, you may still need to submit payroll data to the service, via phone, fax or online. Even if salaries are fixed, your approval is needed to make payments.

— Daniel Kehrer, editor, www.work.com
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

More Articles

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


Read more...

Three problems with Obama's immigration order

News
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR112614-immigration-thumb

By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.


Read more...

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS