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Keys to a Smooth Payroll Conversion Process

by Tim AustinNovember 29, 2018 12:00 PM

Whether you’re trying to find a way to save time and energy by outsourcing payroll administration or your old payroll partner just isn’t cutting it, you’re going to have to deal with the process of switching to a new payroll system, also known as payroll conversion. A rough transition to a new payroll system can lead to serious issues, including IRS penalties for non-compliance. Fortunately, there are some ways to help alleviate some potential issues that can arise when you convert your payroll process to a new system.

A small business owner going going through the payroll conversion process with a PEO. 

Conversion Timing

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to switch to a new payroll provider, it’s important to consider when you want to start the process. Planning a conversion at a certain point in the year can help simplify the conversion process. 

Typically, the end of the calendar year is one of the best times to undergo payroll conversion as it allows you to start the new system off fresh regarding balances. You can also convert payroll at the end of a quarter, but you’ll have to enter historical data like employee earnings, taxes, and deductions based on the time of the year. If you decide to convert in the middle of a quarter, you’ll have to make sure everything matches up on the exact dates, which can leave you open to a greater potential for errors and a longer conversion process. 

Data Transfer and Verification

No matter when you decide to undergo payroll conversion, you’re going to need to transfer a lot of data to your new payroll company. A good payroll partner will have a set list of information you need to provide and how it should be delivered. Some companies may ask you to manually enter data yourself, but others will simply ask you to provide your information physically or electronically and they will transfer it to the new system for you. 

Depending on the company, they may even tailor your setup checklist to your company or the payroll company you worked with previously to simplify the process. In general, the more your new payroll company takes off your hands, the easier the conversion process will be on your end.

Once the information is in the system, it’s important to ensure that everything is set up properly and that all the data provided is correct. A new payroll company can test the accuracy of both the system and the data by running your old system at the same time as your new system to cross-reference key details so that everything runs as it should once you’re completely switched over to your new payroll process.

Payroll Tax Management

There are many different functions of payroll management, and handling payroll taxes is an extremely important one. One third of small businesses spend at least 40 hours per year managing payroll taxes, so you want to make sure that your new payroll partner has a payroll process that doesn’t complicate payroll tax management and reporting

When you’re ready to switch to a new payroll partner, ask about how potential vendors update tax table information and convenient options for sharing information so that you aren’t left in the dark when it’s time to manage payroll through your new payroll system. In fact, you may find that some payroll partners can take on some of the responsibilities and liabilities involved with payroll taxes. This not only can help simplify the payroll conversion process by lowering the number of tasks you need to manage, it can save you time and energy for years to come.

Customer Support

Your new payroll partner is there to make your life easier, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out just what level of support they offer. These questions include:

  • Do you have any relevant clients that I can call for a reference?
  • Will I have a consistent contact during the payroll conversion process?
  • What hours is customer support available and how are they available?
  • Do you provide a checklist or timeline for what happens during the transition and who is responsible for these tasks?
  • How much do you help with payroll compliance issues?
  • Will you keep me up to date with any new payroll laws or changes to current regulations?
  • How will my employees access their payroll information and documents?

If a potential payroll partner appears to dodge your questions, that could be a sign that they aren’t the right fit for your business. Instead, they should provide clarity as to how they’ll simplify the conversion process, which should include assigning you a dedicated point person and a detailed setup checklist. This list should clearly lay out the payroll conversion process, including meetings, system training, and other demos to make sure that you know how to work with the new system and avoid any early hiccups during the transition.

The Advantages of Payroll Management Through GMS

At GMS, we know that the process of switching to a new payroll partner and online payroll software can be stressful. That’s why any new GMS client is assigned a dedicated coordinator who will help guide you through the payroll conversion process, which includes gathering necessary documentation, entering data into the system, and communicating key details to ensure a smooth transition to GMS.  

While some companies solely handle payroll, payroll administration is just one of many vital HR services that GMS offers. We provide comprehensive HR solutions for small business owners, including benefits administration, risk management, and other functions. As your business grows, your time becomes an increasingly valuable commodity. We help you reclaim that time to focus on building your business while strengthening your company through expert HR management.

Ready to make the switch to a new HR partner? Contact GMS today to talk to one of our experts about payroll administration and other key HR functions.

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