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How Long Does It Take When Switching Payroll Providers?

by David Broyles on Aug 4, 2020 8:31:11 PM

The advantages of an automated payroll platform like ease and convenience are well-known. But despite the benefits, you may find the costs too high to sustain. Or maybe your provider has made one too many mistakes. Or you may simply want more reporting than you currently get. Whatever the reason, if you’re not satisfied with your current provider, it may be time to make a change. 

If the thought of a switch seems overwhelming, don’t worry. There’s a lot less time and effort involved in transitioning systems than you may think. 

At Complete Payroll Solutions, we do thousands of payroll system transfers every year. We’ve got the process down and want to share some insights to ease your mind and help you decide if now’s the time to make the leap to a new platform.

The Time Involved in Changing Payroll Providers

No matter what vendor you choose, getting up and running will happen pretty quickly – less than a week for a simple payroll. Keep in mind, however, that each business is unique so a number of factors will impact the actual time required, including:

  • Whether you’re a new or existing business. If you’re just getting started, there will be a few extra steps involved like requesting a federal identification number or registering with your state’s department of revenue or unemployment assistance.
  • The number of employees. Onboarding a business with a couple of employees will be faster than one with 500 workers.
  • The scale of implementation. If you are purchasing other solutions like time and attendance or HRIS, that can cause the transition to take longer.
  • The time of year. Whether you switch at the start of a new year or at some other point in time can affect the time required to shift providers.

What’s the best time to switch payroll providers?

Now you might be thinking that the time of year shouldn’t matter, but it can be more important than you think. Unless you decide to start with the vendor for the first payroll in January, there will be an extra step involved. Specifically, the provider will need to get all the year-to-date figures. But if you can’t begin at the start of the calendar year, don’t worry. The next best time to start is at the beginning of a quarter.

In addition to how long a transition can take, you may be wondering just what you’ll need to do. The good news? The payroll vendor will handle almost everything, with little responsibility on your end. Next, we’ll talk about how the provider will do the heavy lifting.

Your Responsibilities When Switching Payroll Systems

Payroll companies are in the service business. And that means they want to make things as easy for you as possible. While there’s some upfront work involved in onboarding, the good news is that the vendor manages most of it. 

For example, if you’re a new business, the payroll vendor will make sure you have all the paperwork filed to get started, things like your federal identification number or registration with the state department of revenue and unemployment assistance. 

Generally, all you’ll need to do to get started is:

  • Sign some documents
  • Provide banking information
  • Provide information on how you’re on file with the IRS and state agencies
  • Share information about your employees like W-4 details, direct deposit and so on

In most cases, you won’t need to get too many people involved from your side. For a small business, payroll companies usually deal with the owner and in mid-size companies, a member of the payroll, HR team, or the office manager. 

Usually, you don’t need to involve your IT team either since almost all platforms are cloud-based and plug and play. Even if you’re using a solution like a time and attendance platform from a different provider, your vendor can integrate the systems and import that data. Likewise, on the back end, most payroll systems can export records so they can be pulled into your accounting system. 

The bottom line is that any payroll provider will try to make the process seamless and even help customize workflows to streamline it.

Ongoing Support When Moving To A New Payroll Provider

No matter how good your payroll vendor’s technology is, issues can still arise. That’s why, when evaluating vendors, you’ll want to look for a company that has people behind the software. Ask if you’ll have a dedicated implementation team that will walk you through the first few payrolls to make sure things run smoothly. You also want to have a dedicated specialist once the onboarding period is over so you always have someone to turn to. 

Ready To Get Started With Your Next Payroll Vendor?

If you’re frustrated by your current payroll provider or feel like you’re not getting enough value for the money, it could be time to switch. Don’t let concerns about a lengthy move hold you back from changing systems. While your company is unique, at Complete Payroll Solutions, we implement businesses day in and day out and have mastered the process. If you want to get up and running quickly and are looking for someone to guide you through the process to make it as easy as possible, we may be a good fit. To learn more about our payroll implementation process, read about how we work.


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