Online payroll a small business solution

Removing administrative headaches valuable benefit

Mark Christie runs a small business and doesn’t have time for payroll. It’s an area that simply doesn’t interest him and he doesn’t want to know about the intricacies behind it.

His Toronto-based company, Sales Force Training, provides training and consulting for business-to-business salespeople, covering techniques such as cold calling, closing deals and handling objections, along with consulting on areas such as compensation design, and field visits.

It has four full-time employees, with offers for two others in the works, and about six people who work on a contract basis in the United States and Canada.

Christie had some experience with payroll, having previously run a small consulting company.

“It was exactly the type of stuff I don’t like to do,” he says. “I’d had enough experience trying to manually process payroll that I knew it was a nuisance.”

One of Sales Force’s clients is payroll provider Ceridian, and when it inquired about Sales Force’s payroll system, Christie admitted that it was simply handwritten cheques.

“I said, ‘I’m not partial to anything, I don’t really even know too much about it, other than I’d paid people before. For me, I don’t operate very well at that administrative level. I don’t have patience for it,’” he says. “The less I need to think about and figure out how it works, the better, so that was my motivator.”

By November 2006, Ceridian had implemented a new payroll system at Sales Force called Powerpay Web, an Internet-based solution that allows for payroll changes, customized records and time sheets and previews of payroll online before processing. Recommended for companies with up to 300 employees, it includes seven-year online archiving.

“Sign-up was easy, implementation was a snap,” says Christie. “The employees, with the exception of one, have standard pay so it’s very simple.”

Payroll now takes only one or two minutes of Christie’s time, every other week, and the cost is about $26 per run. It’s not insignificant but worth it for the peace of mind, he says.

Another bonus is paying the lump sum of payroll, fees and remittances to Ceridian through an online bill payment.

“They get their funds on a Wednesday and allot payroll for Friday. In my world, it’s one amount but they have to take those funds and distribute them. That’s really nice.”

The challenge of remittances is not necessarily the amounts, because the salaries stay the same, but sending them in and meeting the deadlines, he says. Also difficult is distributing T4s in a timely fashion when there are a million other things to do.

“Now I don’t make any ¬errors but, if I did, I wouldn’t worry about it because (Ceridian is) there to back you out of it,” he says. “The support is included.”

Despite the small size of Sales Force, Christie says it’s “ridiculously necessary” to have automated payroll.

“There is so much to do as a small business owner. Any time you can eliminate any type of administrative function, you can’t say no to that.”

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