A smart guide to running payroll


Unless your company is a one-man band and doesn’t pay you a salary, payroll is something you need to get to grips with one way or another as a business owner. With HMRC now imposing Real Time Information (RTI) requirements though, it’s become a bigger task and one where directors often benefit from a little help from other sources.

Accountants’ advice

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that there are plenty of places to turn to for assistance in running payroll. With managing a business often being complex and time-consuming enough, many in this position use an outsourced accountancy service to maximise the hours they can put into the business itself.

Outsourcing payroll can be done in full or in part, and is an ideal way to ensure that your accounts are at least overseen by professionals. All the business owner needs to do is remember to tell the accountant of any changes, such as new staff being taken on, employees leaving or any changes to salaries.

Software solutions

If you plan to keep some of your payroll in house, it’s vital to understand your software. You will no doubt be familiar with the main accountancy programs, such as Sage and QuickBooks. Not all businesses make a wise choice of software though, while others fail to use it in the most effective way.

Preferences between QuickBooks and Sage vary among different accountants and businesspeople. Some prefer the simplicity of QuickBooks, while others argue that Sage is a more thorough tool, especially if you need to process VAT cash accounting.

With either program, however, payroll should be run once a month and the basics, such as making calculations and producing the necessary forms for employees, can be performed. These might include P45s, P60s and confirmations of extended periods of leave.

Even when outsourcing, business owners can often benefit from taking a basic bookkeeping course.

The Real Time issue

The need to use the new RTI system has caused headaches for many SME owners, with the result being that companies with fewer than 50 employees now have until March to comply following a rethink of deadlines.

One software tool that HMRC has officially recognised as tying in well with RTI is Moneysoft Payroll Manager. Particularly for reporting PAYE information, the tool has been broadly well-received by business professionals and accountants, and facilitates straightforward online submission of RTI information.