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Spring clean your payroll offering: a Sage guide for optimising your payroll services

22nd Mar 2024
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Sage is the market leader for integrated accounting.

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As the end of tax year approaches, now is the perfect time to revisit and refine your payroll services. 

For years, payroll services have been sidelined or avoided by some accountants. Often, the reasons range from the specialist expertise required to high client expectations and increasingly complex regulatory requirements. 

However, payroll is a service that is essential to your clients from a compliance standpoint, as well as a personal level. Taking the ropes for clients and offering a complete and integrated compliance service is one way that you can take your practice to the next level this year.

Whether you currently offer payroll and want to build on your foundations, or are starting for the first time, in this article, we’ll explore how you can:

  • Make the most of the payroll opportunity
  • Prepare for upcoming legislative updates like National Insurance (NI) cuts
  • Optimise your use of technology to simplify processes
  • Enhance efficiency
  • Better serve clients

The payroll opportunity

Historically, payroll has often been overlooked as a low-margin and low-revenue add-on. It’s often one of the first services to be outsourced or simply tacked onto other compliance services. Yet, when correctly optimised, payroll can not only be lucrative; it also solves a real pain point for your client, deepening your client relationship, opening the door to more advisory services and delivering consistent recurring revenue. 

So, how can you deliver an experience that will help your client process statutory leave, pensions, expenses, benefits, and various forms of pay – basic and overtime, as well as bonuses, dividends, commission, tips, and more? That’s where the right processes, technology, and pricing strategy comes in.

Effortlessly improve your payroll system

  1. Review your payroll strategy 

Setting the right price for your payroll services is crucial. It’s not just about covering costs; it’s about reflecting the value you provide to your clients. 

With the payroll landscape continually evolving, your pricing model needs to accommodate the latest NI adjustments, factor in new payroll entries, and offer flexibility to adapt to your clients’ changing needs. A thorough review of your pricing strategy ensures your services remain competitive and profitable.

  1. Prepare for legislative changes and new joiners

Staying ahead of legislative changes, such as NI cuts, is paramount. These changes not only affect payroll processing but also influence how you advise clients on compliance and optimisation of their payroll operations. 

Similarly, updating billing to account for new additions to the payroll ensures your service remains comprehensive and tailored to each client’s current needs.

  1. Optimise your payroll workflow

Investing in modern payroll technology is a game-changer. Features like automated payroll runs, integration with pension providers, and real-time information (RTI) submissions to HMRC transform payroll from a tedious task to a streamlined process. Moreover, solutions like Sage’s cloud payroll offer the flexibility and accessibility required in today’s dynamic work environments.

Together, these help you build a holistic payroll solution that does the heavy lifting in terms of the calculation of the payroll process, with integrated cloud HR processes. But it’s also the fact to make sure people get paid accurately. 


Six questions to ask of your payroll software provider

If you’re considering new payroll technology for your practice, below are some key questions to consider.

  1. How many clients will you have to manage? It’s important to ensure your software includes a license for the required number of clients, and that it’s easily scalable if that number increases.
  2. What type of payslips will you use? Online payslips for employees are really the benchmark for security, ease of access and cost. Printing should be a last resort; the flexibility of 24/7 access on mobile devices ensures a more efficient and sustainable option.
  3. What level of analysis do you require? Do you need to analyse payroll costs across multiple departments? Do you need to assign payroll cost centres within the business? If so, you’ll need software that can handle that.
  4. What other solutions do you need to integrate with your new payroll software? For instance, if you have important information from another piece of software, you’ll need to find a way to import that data or make sure the software tools can speak to each other.
  5. Do you need desktop or cloud payroll solutions? Desktop software is installed on your computer. Cloud software, on the other hand, can be accessed with a web browser from any device – including your phone, with a WiFi connection. You may be able to run a hybrid solution of the two.
  6. Can you try before you buy? Your solution needs to be clear and easy for your team to use. We always recommend taking a trial if possible to ensure the software fits with your service.


Support beyond software

Compliance can be complex. At Sage, we have over forty years of experience in the market and a speciality in payroll software. In fact, it’s estimated that over 40% of UK employees receive a Sage payslip.

As a payroll bureau provider, you have the reassurance that you can contact Sage whenever you want to. Plus, if you want advice and guidance, you can gain access to online resources, free software for practice use, dedicated support, and training programmes. These resources are invaluable for keeping your team at the forefront of payroll expertise and technology.


The ripple effect of optimal payroll services

Optimising your payroll services does more than just streamline operations; it enhances your value proposition to clients. By offering a comprehensive, efficient, and compliant payroll service, you solidify your role as a trusted advisor to your clients. This trust opens doors to additional service offerings, deepens client relationships, and fosters business growth.



The end of the tax year is the perfect time for accounting practitioners to evaluate and enhance their payroll services. 

By ensuring competitive pricing, staying updated on legislative changes, and using the latest in payroll technology, accountants can offer unparalleled value to their clients. This not only strengthens your service portfolio but also sets the stage for broader practice growth and success. 


Find out more about Sage payroll

We want to help accountants simplify their processing, save them time, and reduce the chance of errors. With Automated Payroll for Bureau Manager, you can complete multiple tasks across several payrolls all at once, enabling you to:

  • Save, on average, up to 15 minutes of processing per client
  • Use ‘recipes’ and pre-set workflows to complete specific tasks
  • Avoid late submissions
  • Automate repetitive tasks

Visit the Sage website to find out more about Sage Payroll – a cloud payroll solution designed for up to 100 employees – or Sage50 Cloud Payroll Bureau, ideal for firms with a larger, dedicated payroll service that requires extra power and analysis to run.