So, you’ve made the decision to consider an outsourced payroll provider. You may even have a few bids out to test the waters and see where products and fees align compared to your goals. However, before you enroll with an outsourced payroll service, prioritizing the organization of your internal payroll and human resource (HR) processes is crucial for easy sharing with a potential payroll provider. This will help streamline the process for you, your provider and your team. Here are some tasks to check off your list during the organization process and items to have on-hand before you sign your next contract:
Identify strengths and weaknesses in current operation
If you have been processing payroll in-house since the inception of your business, you have likely undergone significant changes in the way you process payroll and handle other aspects of your HR over time. When was the last time you updated your process documentation? Documenting your processes thoroughly is necessary to provide a clearer picture of your business to a potential provider. With documented processes, the payroll provider can better understand how you currently operate and any potential areas for improvement. As professionals who serve a variety of clients in size and industry, outsourced payroll providers will use your documentation, along with their experience with similar operations, to provide the best possible solution for your needs. Additionally, identifying your current system’s strengths and weaknesses, and your desired outcomes through outsourcing, will assist the provider in understanding how their product can best serve you.
Identify clear expectations for results and budget
After you’ve documented your processes and identified your strengths and weaknesses, you must set clear expectations, goals and benchmarks for how you envision an outsourced partner working with your business. If you enter into negotiations without a clear understanding of your expectations for the transaction, your chances of poor implementation, product fit, pricing structure are greatly increased. Do your research and learn what types of products are available, how they work, and how their price points compare with others in the market. Furthermore, should you receive a proposal or contract, perform a detailed examination of the pricing structure and any potential add-ons you may not expect or anticipate up-front, which could end up costing you big. Transparency will be key in a lasting relationship with your payroll provider.
Identify an ideal partnership
Not every outsourced payroll provider is right for every company. For example, if you are a small operation of 30 employees, a payroll provider who specializes in large multi-national corporations may not be a good fit, and vice versa. Small companies and start-ups will likely need more hands-on, approachable, and available customer service support during implementation, as well as throughout the relationship, to maintain optimal efficiency down the road. Larger companies will also need dedicated customer service, but may require a more robust platform to integrate with their various benefit programs and handle the complicated matters which can arise with hundreds of employees. Do your research, talk to peers in your industry, and identify which providers are likely to suit your needs and culture.
Prepare your staff
If you are switching from in-house to an outsourced payroll provider, and you have staff who are currently responsible for that function, consult with them on what this means for their position going forward and what expectations you will have for their position. If they are to serve as the liaison to the provider, bring them in on demos and negotiations. If their role is changing completely, provide plenty of time for training and transition. When implementing a new process or platform to improve time and energy output, engage the people impacted by this drastic change.
Get your paperwork in line
Once you’ve chosen your provider, prepare all relevant paperwork, documentation and contracts so they can hit the ground running with implementation of accurate data. The more prepared and organized you are inside your business, the easier implementation and start-up will be. Set aside time to ensure benefit provider contracts, federal and state documentation, and any unique employee circumstances are order. Implementation can be hectic and overwhelming, and the more organized you are, the better you will feel throughout the process.
Follow these tips before enrolling with an outsourced payroll service, and you will be more prepared and organized going into the bidding, buying and implementation processes.