Replacing your existing pay & bill software with a modern, more powerful system can unlock significant cost and efficiency gains. Considering the unavoidable disruption that accompanies implementation of a new software – and the potential issues rising from an unsuccessful implementation – it is imperative that your agency makes the correct choice. However, the quest for finding the right software is complicated and can be overwhelming.
How to vet and choose the right payroll software for your agency? Keeping the below points in mind will help you weigh key information and make a well-considered decision.
1) Document the limitations of your current software
No doubt you are aware of the key features or functionalities you want but are not supported by your current software. If you haven’t already, go one step further and identify clearly the key problems that you want your new pay & bill software to resolve. Following the below steps can lead you to the right information:
- Speak with the key employees from your front, mid and back offices – what issues do they face while using the software?
- Get in touch with people in your network to understand what issues they are facing with their software
- Document these responses to identify the key problems that you need to solve. For example, you may find out that your current software cannot be integrated with other systems, that it is difficult to access via web and that it doesn’t automate common compliance tasks.
2) Build a master list of features and functionalities
Documenting will give you clarity on what’s wrong with your current setup. You will be able to cover the key issues and ask questions like:
- Can some of the tasks be automated?
- How easy would it be for the team to understand and use the software?
- What problems are likely to crop up as your organisation grows in the future? What features could help you boost overall productivity and efficiency in the log run?
- What would be a cost effective investment considering the volume – a feature-rich and future-ready software that costs a lot or a lower priced options that is good enough for the purpose?
Answering the key questions that emerge from your internal discussions will help you determine the actions that you want the new pay & bill software to accomplish. For example, it could be:
- Our teams shouldn’t waste time keying in data manually, or moving them from one system to the other
- We need better information flow between the workers, consultants and back-office team
- It is important to improve our accuracy rates and avoid the issues caused due to manual errors
- We need a stronger system that embeds compliance and minimises risks of non-compliance
- The management should be able to see the status of payments and billing at one glance through intuitive, drill down dashboards
3) Get buy-in from key stakeholders
Lack of stakeholder buy-in and user participation can scuttle even the best executed software migrations. By encouraging everyone to share their views and making them feel a part of the process, you can work toward building a consensus.
Share your findings and list of features & functionalities with the C-Suite, the operations managers, IT team and all other key members of the team. Make any necessary additions to ensure that their needs are reflected in your document.
If you can engage the team right at the outset and make this a collaborative exercise, you can expect support and participation post implementation of the new payroll software.
4) Shortlist companies that fit the bill
A simple online search will yield a large number of software providers catering to the recruitment industry. In addition, it is very likely that some of your team members may have worked with other pay & bill software in their previous jobs. The first step is create a broad shortlist of pay & bill software.
Once you have a detailed list, it is time to shortlist the best options for your company. To achieve this:
- Compare your key requirements against the features and functionalities offered by the software – does it help solve your problems?
- Use the demo version to check if the software is user-friendly and intuitive.
- Analyse their clientele – does their software cater to small, mid-size or large agencies?
- Check their history – do they have a strong pedigree? Do they release regular updates?
- Evaluate accessibility options – do they support web-based access? Do they have an app?
- Does the software generate automatic reports? Is it possible to customise these?
- Does it support paper timesheets? Does it support barcodes or QR codes?
- Are different tax types and payment methods supported?
- Compare the prices and see if the product falls within your budget.
- Ask any other key questions that are relevant to your situation.
This will help you weed out the least acceptable contenders. In addition to this, you can check for references and testimonials. Do they count your competitors or market leaders in their client list? Are they able to produce references from trustworthy figures in the recruitment sector? This step will help you identify the best options in the market.
5) Assess compliance support
When it comes to pay & bill, compliance with HMRC’s ever-changing regulations is non-negotiable. With the right software, you can significantly curtail the time and effort spent on admin tasks that are necessary for ensuring compliance. You can ask the below questions to evaluate the software on the compliance front:
- Does the software provider keep the software up to date with HMRC’s various legislation changes?
- Are there any tools within the software that help alleviate the administrative issues resulting from the need to maintain compliance?
- Does the software make it easy to store, maintain and retrieve data required as a part of compliance?
- Does it generate reports for submission to HMRC in the correct format?
6) Check for customisation, compatibility and analytics
Following the above 5 steps will help you whittle down the list to a select few vendors. The next test is how well the pay & bill software fits your ecosystem and how easy it is to tweak it to fit your process.
Check how well it can integrate with your accounting software. Is it possible to sync customer data, payments and invoices? Can the data flow automatically between the systems without having to manually send it? Can it be integrated with the front-end software to automate other processes?
Also, how customisable is the software? Keep in mind the fact that high customisability is not always the best option. If a software can be customised to a high degree, chances are that it will require more effort to manage and maintain. Needless to say, the price will also rise in this case. On the other hand, if the software is too rigid and it is not possible to customise as per your company’s changing needs over the years, you may lose out on key functionality.
Access to data and the ability to analyze it and automatically generate reports is on the top of the list for many agencies. However, many software providers do not allow you to access the data, or charge a hefty fee for generating reports of your choice. So, it is best to understand the analytics support offered by the software vendor and to ensure that your agency can access and crunch the data without any obstacles.
7) Assess overall reliability of the vendor
Following the above steps will help you identify the final 3-4 potential replacement of your current pay & bill software. Now it is time to delve a little deeper and evaluate the software companies based on how well they perform in critical areas. The below questions will help you find the right answers and conclude your quest.
- What measures does the software take to ensure data security? Does it comply with ISO, GDPR or other relevant security standards that impact your agency?
- Does the software provider offer extended support after implementation and customisation? For example, how easy is it to get someone on a call for support? Do they offer chat support? What kind of support is offered as a part of the service and what is chargeable?
- How often is the software updated? Do you need to shell out extra money for the updated versions, or are they available for free? Which types of updates are free and which ones cost extra?
- What level of assistance do they provide during implementation? How fast are they able to complete the migration process? Do they support big fixes in case of customisation?
- Do they have a strong product roadmap? Will the software grow and evolve over time to support your future requirements?
- Cost – new legislation, new updated, migrating from their system to their system – how much does it cost?
Are your questions still unanswered? Speak with our experts!
As one of the top payroll services providers, QX serves 6 of the top 20 recruitment agencies in the UK, processing over 1.5 million timesheets annually, with an accuracy rate of 99.8%. Our payroll teams have worked with almost all the major pay & bill software and we are software agnostic. If you need unbiased advice on which pay & bill software to buy for your agency, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.