Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Are Payroll and a Great UX Mutually Exclusive?

Nope—not if you're a user of PayCycle.

Let me explain. When I incorporated UXCentric, Inc. last year, it meant I'd become an employee again (albeit of my own company). And that meant payroll checks. I wrote hundreds of them back in my youthful retail days, so the idea itself wasn't intimidating. But I'd always had a corporate office that handled all of the payroll tax chores. I just wrote the checks (by hand) and they took care of the rest.

So I figured it was time to search for a payroll service. I asked my CPA for some recommendations and, of course, surfed the Web for ideas. I even filled out a form at BuyerZone.com to connect directly with several services. I got lots of e-mails in reply, but none of the services really caught my fancy. They were generally the same, offering the same services at the same prices. And all required me to jump through various hoops.

Then I stumbled across PayCycle through an offer in Microsoft Money. I was quicky intrigued when I saw that Paycycle had received the rare five points in a PC Magazine review. A little more exploration and I was a customer.

PayCycle is designed expressly for very small businesses—those with just a few employees. It begins with a friendly wizard that painlessly collects all of the data needed to set up payroll. It's not flashy—you could even call it stodgy—but it works. You can set up direct deposit, make electronic payments to federal and state (as applicable) agencies and even give employees access to online paystubs. Quick answers are usually just a click away—and for more extensive help, PayCycle's free tech support is superb. (They even called me back to be sure my minor issue had been resolved.) The service sends out routine reminders of key tasks (paydays, tax deposits, etc.) and integrates nicely with popular bookkeeping software. All for the same price as other, less-user-friendly traditional services.

Yep, this sounds like a paid endorsement, but I'm just a very satisfied customer. Even if you don't need a payroll service, check out PayCycle for an excellent example of making a monotonous task UXCentric.

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