Related reading: How to choose a payroll service for your business in Canada
Do your research first
When conducting your research of payroll providers on the market, approach the process as you would with talent recruitment. Start with reviewing the CRA’s compilation of third-party service providers they have an active working relationship with to find companies with legitimacy and trust behind them.
Once you have gathered a shortlist of candidates, check out each provider’s credentials by looking into their client testimonials and customer reviews. If possible, get in touch with your contacts at the companies on their client roster to gather some intel on what their customer experience was like.
Consider your payroll needs
An overhaul of your current payroll system is a tall order. Before you switch payroll providers, identify your current pain points, specific service requirements, and nice-to-haves. Find a vendor that addresses your issues and delivers what you need according to your preferences.
Request a consultation or live demo with your prospective new providers to ask questions and gather insight on their services.
Consider how the provider can meet your various needs, such as support for your company’s growth and scale, administration of payroll reports and submission of important forms to the CRA, management of updates and changes to regulatory compliance, secure protection of confidential and sensitive data within their information technology system, and perhaps an HRIS in addition to payroll services.
Measure your wish list of service offerings with what the providers can give in order to verify they have the qualifications to be a suitable match for your company.
Utilize their customer support service
To gauge what you can expect from the client experience, the provider’s customer service offers a good indication. First off, make sure the provider’s customer support is easily available and accessible when you need assistance.
If you're moving your entire payroll system to a new provider, stellar customer support will be a lifesaver. Certified payroll pros should be available to guide you through the process (hopefully) painlessly.
Will you have a customer service representative assigned to oversee your account or will you be talking to their pool of support agents? Ensure that whoever you are talking to has the expertise to be an advisor of value.
Demo the product experience
Make sure you test out the product and see first-hand what you’ll be working with. You should find the user experience to be simple to understand and the tools to be simple to use for both the employer and for the employees.
There should be easy access to payment history and employee information on the product dashboard, and as an added bonus, the option to integrate and sync business tools and applications with their platform.
If you’re happy with what you see, think about what level of support you need in order for you to get spun up on the new service what work will be required out of you — in terms of inputting your existing payroll information and records into their system — during the onboarding process.
Get an understanding of what the product and system training process will be like, such as product demos, tutorials, and one-on-one assistance, and see if that works for you.
Notify your current provider
When you’ve made the official decision to switch payroll providers, review your contract with your current provider and take a look at any restrictions and clauses, such as cancellation terms, you may need to negotiate first in order to cut your contract smoothly and avoid complications later.
Make sure you inform your existing payroll provider of the termination of service as soon as possible. As a general rule of thumb, most company contracts require customers to give at least 30-day notice.
However, some companies might allow for immediate account cancellation, but it’s most considerate to provide adequate time for the transition.
Ideally, the right time to change payroll vendors is between fiscal years or a new quarter, or immediately following a pay period. The earlier in the year, the better, as this means fewer data to migrate over.
Transfer important information and documents
You’ve exited your existing contract, reviewed and signed the agreement terms with your new payroll provider, and are about to start service with your plan. Before officially parting ways with your soon-to-be past provider, you need to request access to and gather copies of important documents and send all relevant payroll records to your new payroll provider.
The vendor should be able to tell you exactly what information and forms you need to migrate over to initiate your new payroll, such as your CRA-issued business number, employee information, past pay stubs for all staff, a void cheque for payroll processing, payroll register reports, and ROEs.
A good payroll system is an important investment to make in your company. By taking the time to ensure that your new provider will be a strong fit, you will have more time to focus on your people and your business, gain trust from your employees, and in turn, reap positive benefits for your business.
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