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Micah Fairchild SurePayroll: A Small Business Solution Analysis

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 By Micah Fairchild

SurePayroll’s Small Business Payroll Solution: An Independent Review

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Paychex (since 2011), SurePayroll has been in business since 2000, and has racked up a fairly hefty set of service awards in that time; including: 2012 Contact Center of the Year, 2011 National Sales Team of the Year, Customer Service Department of the Year, Best eCommerce Customer Service Team of the Year, Finalist for Best Customer Service Organization/Department (and Best New Product), along with countless others for their products, innovation, and overall business.

SurePayroll’s Payroll Options

Falling into the category of an outsourced, web-based service, SurePayroll is one of the single-most lauded options that small business owners can leverage; in large part thanks to the system’s intuitive navigation, logical menu structure, and ancillary integrated HR processes. And although businesses still have to enter (or import) and preview employee hours for this exception-based application, once completed SurePayroll handles the rest of the processes as the main part of their service; including providing support for federal, state, and local mandatory governmental requirements. Presuming five employees paid bi-weekly, TechMediaNetwork puts the SurePayroll price at $80.40 per month. As CPA Practice Advisor found though, SurePayroll’s base fee is actually $30.95 plus and additional $1.85 per employee. And assuming that SurePayroll’s W-2 processing capabilities are leveraged, an ancillary fee of $40 per company plus $4.25 per employee will be levied.

  • Security: SurePayroll service utilizes basic security features such as 256-bit SSL encryption; standard username/password; secret log-in ID number; and role-based access restrictions. However, no information was discovered about disaster recovery, data center redundancy measures, or information security certifications.

  • Mobile Capabilities: SurePayroll's free Mobile Payroll apps are available for both Android and iOS (through iTunes and Google Play) and allows users to pay salaried, hourly, and 1099 employees; enter earnings, deductions, hours worked, and benefits (e.g. vacation, sick, personal time, etc.); view/change check dates; preview payroll and payment methods; view previous payroll summary reports; access employees' contact information; process payroll runs with One-Click Payroll; and stop direct deposit. And, as is the case for SurePayroll’s other payroll options, taxes will be paid and filed automatically. It should be noted however that these applications are only available to customers running at least one payroll through SurePayroll. Mobile options also exist for the employees of SurePayroll customers but only include the capability to view current and past online paychecks via Sure Payroll’s Mobile Paycheck.

  • Compliance Capabilities: SurePayroll’s labor law poster compliance service is free for use (although shipping charges do apply) and guarantees businesses that they’ll be protected against government fines in this area (even going so far as to cover up to $25K in damages, should any fines occur). SurePayroll takes compliance one step further with their relatively new addition SureAdvisor (offered with a free 3-month trial subscription); which supplies downloadable versions of those same labor notices but also adds in pre-populated government forms (e.g. W-4s), and best-practices guides for hiring, firing, and classification procedures. And while no other payroll services provider offers these benefits, it should be noted that the actual yearly cost of SureAdvisor is $69.99—a costly addition to an already expensive solution.


As part of its offering, SurePayroll pays taxes automatically—alerting users through their Account Center function when completed. Users then have the option of viewing and/or downloading a report on these figures; and although additional reports can be run (and exported into other software packages, CSV, picture, or rich text files), custom report writing is not a part of the current feature set.

Additional Functionalities

Though limited, SurePayroll also offers some basic HR functions; including demographics, best practice guides (for processes such as recruitment, performance reviews, and termination), and employee handbooks. Further, most forms in the company’s free Business Library can be pre-populated, saving much needed time and effort. Additionally, SurePayroll offers limited customizable alerts (that can be leveraged from a mobile device if needed) and email reminders (for deadlines, employee birthdays, and other staff milestones). However, as compared with similarly-situated solutions, these alerts can only be sent two days prior to the event, which for most businesses will prove fairly useless.

Partnering with the above functionality, SurePayroll also has integration capabilities for Accounting (allowing easy posting of payroll entries to the General Ledger); numerous third-party vendors (for services such as to background checks, behavioral assessments, and skill testing) and time/attendance. In fact, in what SurePayroll refers to as their Time Clock Integration, integration partnerships have been established with a host of potential solutions; including, TimeTrex, Time Xchange, NetTime Solutions, and NOVAtime. However, while undoubtedly beneficial, it should be noted that these extra services come with additional fees; which may not have the right value proposition for a number of small businesses on the lower end of the market.

SurePayroll’s Strengths

  • The financial backing of Paychex (one of the world’s largest payroll service providers) allows for SurePayroll’s customers to experience one of the small business world’s rarest commodities—stability.
  • Unlike many of SurePayroll’s competitors, service and value are the top two things that the company strives for. In fact, SurePayroll’s 6 month guarantee and the fact that the company doesn’t charge additional processing fees for processing interstate payrolls is a key differentiating factor for the company.
  • Payroll data can be directly exported to Excel as well as to other financial applications such as QuickBooks and Acclivity.
  • Aside from the automatic quarterly filings that SurePayroll handles for clients, the vendor’s compliance-based functionalities are second to none within the U.S.; and are particularly helpful to those small businesses that have operations that span across state lines.
  • A comprehensive software solution, SurePayroll has the capability of handling additional aspects other than payroll such as PTO, insurance premiums, and retirement contributions.
  • Though not specific to only SurePayroll, the system’s calendar functionalities (which provide task reminders and impending date announcements) are a particularly helpful email-based tool.
  • SurePayroll has one of the only solutions on the market that can be leveraged via iOS.
  • The payroll tax process is one where SurePayroll particularly shines at outsourcing—providing companies with a welcome respite from practically all necessary tasks; including legal representation should it be needed.
  • For those companies that choose not to utilize SurePayroll’s standard direct deposit option, pre-paid debit cards as well as traditional checks are available.

SurePayroll’s Weaknesses

  • Of the applications covered, SurePayroll has one of the most expensive cost burdens for businesses. To be fair however, SurePayroll includes several payroll/HR functionalities in their base price that would be considered to be add-ons for other vendors.
  • While capable of delivering mobile functionality for the iPhone, broad compatibility for the mobile form factor is lacking—especially for those companies’ workforces that have wide-spread Blackberry and/or Android operating system adoption.
  • Unfortunately for those prospective client companies at the 100+ employee mark, SurePayroll’s offerings will likely provide less functionality than is needed.
  • While the number of client files is touted by the company as being unlimited, the fact is that the number of employees that can be associated with each file is limited to one hundred.
  • While the number of client files is touted by the company as being unlimited, the fact is that the number of employees that can be associated with each file is limited to one hundred.
  • Although the SurePayroll system has a clean, intuitive user interface, system help options are drastically limited and really only exist as a guide—a fact that will likely alienate those customers seeking (or needing) setup wizards and/or online help.
  • Employee Self-Service capabilities, though present, provide limited functionality—especially in terms of accessing and editing personal data such as addresses.

Short List Intuit If:

  • You’re looking for a basic solution that still allows you to tap into the vendor company’s expertise for help.
  • You’re a small business with fewer than the full-time equivalent of 100 employees.
  • You’re a business seeking an internet-based payroll solution that has functionalities for mobile payroll and additional functions such as Employee Self-Service for online access to payroll data, paystubs, benefits balances, 401(k) information, and withholdings.
  • Your resources are limited to the point of being unable to remain abreast of compliance issues such as labor laws or required government posters.
  • Pay tends to be static once set-up has been completed and you’re seeking an exception-based solution.

Consider an Alternative Payroll Solution When:

  • Your business is one that falls into the 100+ category of number of employees.
  • You’re seeking the least expensive small business payroll solution on the market.
  • Your organization is one needing international payroll processing capabilities.
  • Your needs include rudimentary payroll system and or processing skills.
  • Your current and/or future needs require deeper HR system integration or capabilities.
  • Your business requires advanced reporting and/or analytics. End

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 Filed In Categories: Small Business Payroll
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Author  Author: Micah Fairchild
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Falling into the category of an outsourced, web-based service, SurePayroll is one of the single-most lauded options that small business owners can leverage; in large part thanks to the system’s intuitive navigation, logical menu structure, and ancillary integrated HR processes."



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