Taking the pain out of payroll

Outsourcing your payroll run can help reduce errors, says Chris Harland of Bolton-based accountancy firm Barlow Andrews. At the same time, it can ensure you comply with ever-more complex regulations.

If you run a small business and manage your own payroll, the chances are that you’ve already seen at first hand some of the problems that can inevitably arise. It’s a time-consuming and increasingly complex process as regulations change. After all, we now live in a world of auto-enrolment and realtime reporting. There are significant risks to your business if you’re unable to keep up with the latest rules.

Errors aren’t just inconvenient and potentially costly. They also have a human consequence, as your members of staff are depending on seeing their salary move seamlessly into their bank accounts once a month. There are mortgages and gas bills to pay, which means morale can dip very quickly if there are glitches in the system.

So what are your options? You can battle on with one of your staff members handling payroll in-house – perhaps combining the job with another important accounting role – or you can choose to outsource the function to your accountant.

Of course, there are costs involved in any decision to outsource, but when you factor in both the internal cost savings and the time your own staff save, it can really start to make sense.

What if you’re able to free someone up a day or two a week, for instance? How might that additional productivity within your accounting function help your business? There may also be savings on payroll software, which needs to be constantly upgraded to keep abreast of the latest changes in tax and national insurance.

By using your accountant, you can be sure of a reliable service that won’t come to a halt just because an individual is off sick. You won’t have to worry either about keeping your own staff constantly trained and updated. At the same time, you can reduce any potential risk to the business which can arise from unfortunate errors and remain compliant with HMRC.

Although outsourcing isn’t right for every business – and you have to make a judgement based on your own particular circumstances – it’s certainly worth starting the discussion with your accountant. Too often, inertia and inaction can be an obstacle to real savings in time and cost.