2009 Product Review: Intuit Online Payroll for Accounting Professionals (formerly PayCycle Accounting Professional Program)

PayCycle" is user-friendly, flexible, and affordable. The directions are broken down in a way that makes it possible for a new user to get up to speed quickly, even for individuals who aren’t well-versed in payroll. The makers of PayCycle seem to have carefully considered all of the functions that a payroll manager and a payroll clerk have to deal with and answered all the right questions. The data entry screen includes some drill-down menus that help guide the user by providing additional information where needed.

 The intended PayCycle user is accountants who wish to offer payroll services to clients (or just to do their own payroll).  Recently PayCycle conducted a survey which showed that 37 percent of their accountant-clients had never offered payroll services before.  It was considered a low-profit endeavor, “painful and challenging.” The consensus seems to be that by using PayCycle those objections are no longer pertinent.   PayCycle makes it possible for accountants to add a payroll service for clients with up to 150 employees, and tailor their services and therefore the pricing to the client.   For clients who want to do part of the work themselves, such as entering hours for each payroll, the ease-of-use makes it a simple matter for accountants to train their clients to handle these tasks.
Here are some of the most impressive features:
·         Branding. Accountants who buy the program are able to brand the program with their firm’s name, allowing them to showcase their own payroll expertise to the client. This reaffirms the accountant’s role as the trusted advisor and serves as a marketing tool for the other services provided by the accountant as well as to prospects who might need payroll services.
·         Dashboard for easy monitoring. The program includes a dashboard that the accountant can use to monitor and manage payroll information easily for all clients.
·         Unlimited runs. PayCycle offers unlimited runs without added cost.  For example, a client that has a regular payroll run as well as a bonus check run and a separate run for independent contractors will not pay more than the client that has one simple payroll run.
·         Flexibility in the data entry window. PayCycle allows the user to construct the data entry window to suit the needs of the company, in a regular set up or one-time use.   As an example, an entry field could be made to enter a bonus amount when appropriate along with regular wages. Or, if a garnishment is required, the user can alter the data entry fields to allow for a one-time or recurring garnishment for a particular employee.
·         Flexibility of services offered. The program allows for the flexibility to sell the client varying levels of service.  The accountant may give a cost break if the client does the input of payroll hours.  Or, for a higher price the accountant can provide a hands-off, start-to -finish service. It is up to the accountants to select the pricing model that is appropriate for their clients.
·         Easy set-up. Set-up is quick and easy so that clients can have their first payroll the same day they sign up. This is true even if the client does not know the SUI rate or other details, such as their deposit schedule or whether they file a 941 or a 944. 
·         Export. PayCycle allows easy export of payroll information into QuickBooks and/or to an Excel spreadsheet.
·         State e-filing.  PayCycle offers electronic state payments and filings in most states. It also offers multistate support where client may have a tax obligation in more than one state.
·         Reports. PayCycle automatically prepares state and federal payroll reports. It also prepares an in-house report showing the total payroll cost, including tax liability. A variety of other reports are also available at a touch.
·         Year-end.  Customers can easily print and electronically file W-2s and all year-end reports required for compliance.  
·         Workers Comp. For a small additional fee ($5 per month per client), PayCycle can handle a workers comp calculation and also make the payments.  They have contracted with The Hartford to integrate payroll and workers compensation so that payments can be made as payroll progresses through the year.  This saves the clients the necessity of having to wait for the workers comp provider to “true up” the amount owed based on the actual payroll. This service is called XactPAY. XactPAY deducts workers comp payments electronically as they become due. Regardless of the number of employees a client has, the fee for this service remains the same.
·         E-Newsletter. Accountant’s Corner is an informative e-newsletter that users can access from within the program.   Clients get best practices information in the form of articles written by accountants. In addition, PayCycle uses this space to bring users up to speed about any new features that have been introduced. That's a cost-effective way to keep clients informed about important changes.
·         To-Do List. PayCycle creates a To Do list so that users do not miss important deadlines. As the tasks are completed, the To Do list is updated automatically. The To Do list also sends friendly e-mail reminders about important deadlines.
·         Pricing. There is no “nickel and dime” pricing.  Accountants who buy PayCycle know the maximum they will pay so they can calculate the markup and predict their profit. The price of using the software goes down as the accountant adds more clients. For clients that have more than 5 employees, each additional employee adds .50 per month to the cost.  For accountants who only wish to do their own internal payroll using PayCycle or offer payroll for just one client, the monthly price is $42.99. There is a significant discount as the accountant adds more clients.  Here is the price matrix for accountants who intend to use PayCycle to provide payroll to clients. The decreasing base price serves as a motivation for accountants to grow their businesses.
Number of Clients
Base Price per Client per Month
2-5
$19.99
6-20
$15.99
21-50
$12.99
51+
$10.99
 
·         Marketing. To help the accountant grow the business, PayCycle includes several marketing tools, both online and in print. These include: flash demos, the ability to test drive, marketing e-mails, client letters, startup checklists, sales comparison charts.
·         Customer support. PayCycle has payroll experts available 7 days a week who are ready to assist accountants with any questions they have. Live call-in support is available on weekdays and online support (chat and e-mail) is available all 7 days. There is no additional cost for support.
 Reviewer's comment:  It's been several years since I ran payroll software for a large enterprise, so I thought it might take me awhile to get up to speed when I tried PayCycle. That wasn't the case. The directions are well integrated into the program where you need them so there's no need to hunt for the next step. The programs I have used before were much more expensive and involved a lengthy learning curve. More than once I found myself lost in the middle of a procedure that should've been simple. By comparison, PayCycle seemed streamlined and intuitive. The makers seem to have anticipated the right questions and answered them.
 
*In July 2009, Intuit acquired PayCycle, and following the acquisition, "PayCycle Accounting Professional Program" has been renamed as "Intuit Online Payroll for Accounting Professionals." Accountants receive the same service, only the name has changed.

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