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A photo of a QuickBooks specialist demoing a product | AccountingWEB | QuickBooks rolls out Bureau Payroll tool|
AccountingWEB

QuickBooks rolls out Bureau Payroll tool

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Cloud accounting powerhouse Intuit QuickBooks has launched a standalone Bureau Payroll product at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping. Intuit QuickBooks’ Nick Williams talks to AccountingWEB about the new product and the vendor’s upcoming roadmap. 

13th Mar 2024
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QuickBooks has today unveiled the arrival of an agnostic Bureau Payroll product, allowing users to run their clients’ payroll from a single dashboard, regardless of what bookkeeping software they use. 

“Not everyone uses one software system,” said Nick Williams, the UK product director at Intuit QuickBooks, speaking on day one of the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping. “We acknowledge that firms have multiple systems, so we decided to say, you can post journals whether they are from QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, FreeAgent or whoever and take an agnostic approach. 

“We have a level of realism that accountants are up against it, and we want to help power that prosperity with an agnostic end-to-end capability with payroll.”

Automation is key

First announced at QuickBooks Connect in March last year, Bureau Payroll provides automation features such as streamlining workflows with automated pay runs, pension and Real Time Information (RTI) submissions, tax code updates, and includes multi-user access with flexible permissions and automatic software updates to include up-to-date government regulations. Bureau Payroll also allows employees to manage, upload and access their data. 

Williams said that automation is key to the product. “Automation covers everything from doing the payroll on the RTI submissions, tax codes, pension submissions, and there’s very sophisticated dashboards to help track what’s on track and what’s not. Once it’s set up, the automation features streamline these workflows and make it very easy for firms to operate.” 

Williams said the automation of director-only pay runs has been met with a lot of enthusiasm from the software’s accountant customers, who “see the opportunity to reduce time spent on payroll accordingly. By boosting efficiency without sacrificing accuracy, accountants will have more time to focus on work that directly benefits their clients.”

Pricing grows as the practice grows

Due to accountants and bookkeepers often running large volumes of payroll, QuickBooks have opted for a cost-effective fixed-fee structure, explaining that users can expect predictable pricing that scales in line with their business and the number of payroll clients – not the number of employees on the payroll – and no added fees if they want to do a P11D.  

Starting at £42 per month for up to 10 clients/employers, the price scales as users take on the next set of 10 clients/employers. Williams pointed out that the fee is for unlimited employees, regardless of whether each of the 10 clients or employers have over 100 employees or more. 

Explaining the rationale behind the fee structure, Williams said: “Accountants don’t like the variability of having to manage an employer hiring someone and then removing that person. It’s challenging for them to manage their fee structure. So we did a fixed restructure which accountants and bookkeepers are really excited about.” 

The need for the product

The capabilities for the product were based on research from accountants, bookkeepers and small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “To run payroll is resource intensive and very emotive if you get a client’s payroll wrong. It’s a critical capability,” said Williams. “Secondly, the average payroll can take nearly one hour per client per cycle. So it takes a lot of energy and focus for accountants and bookkeepers to run this. And thirdly, one in six small businesses in our research are looking to outsource their payroll to give it to an accountant or a bookkeeper.

“We also found one in six small businesses in our research are looking to outsource their payroll to give it to an accountant or a bookkeeper to do it all. We wanted to build and create a solution that solves all of those issues: from managing multiple software systems to streamlining and speeding up the process, as well as making sure that users can have a very scalable bureau to outsource payroll.” 

Product roadmap

QuickBooks Bureau Payroll was announced last year alongside a wave of other releases such as a new practice management, tax prep and accounts-filing tools, and revenue recognition enhancements. 

The QuickBooks practice management tool went live in September last year. Some of the key functionality available in the practice management tool includes the ability to create engagement letters and automated welcome emails, alongside anti-money laundering checks via third-party software Xama, and the ability to send, receive and store client records and e-signature capabilities. 

Next stop on Intuit QuickBooks’ product roadmap is to evolve some of the practice management tool’s capabilities and go “deep into the health of the books”. Users will soon be able to look at all of their clients and determine who needs to be addressed and when, and the status of their business at a high level. 

QuickBooks will also be looking to embed the mid-market software QuickBooks Advanced in their roadmap for QuickBooks Online Accountant, which would enable accountants to use QuickBooks Advanced for their own practice free of charge and manage their workflows. Elsewhere, they’ll be launching a ledger proposition, where accountants and bookkeepers can do all the work on their clients’ books “behind the scenes” without the client needing access. 

The vendor is also going to move to the second phase of its Workpapers product, after launching FRS 105, and are building towards releasing FRS 102 forms and personal tax forms, as well as variable accounting. Speaking of personal tax, QuickBooks will be working closely with HMRC on the Making Tax Digital for income tax self assessment (MTD ITSA) pilot. 

Then, the vendor is also exploring ways to integrate MailChimp and QuickBooks. Williams explained that the plan is for accountants and bookkeepers to use the integration to manage their clients at a customer relationship management (CRM) level, but also help their clients market to their customers. “It continues on a mission to just be one solution that solves for an end-to-end accountant and also to help their clients manage effectively and run and grow their business.” 

Accountants and bookkeepers will be able to demo Bureau Payroll and other QuickBooks products and talk to specialists from QuickBooks at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping (FAB) in Birmingham.

Accountants and bookkeepers can now book their free tickets to attend the festival on 13–14 March at the NEC, Birmingham.

*14 March 2024: This article was amended to correct a mistake in the pricing of the product

Replies (13)

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By FactChecker
13th Mar 2024 20:28

Unfortunate confusion (for me anyway) within the critical paragraph on pricing:

"Starting at £42 per month for up to 10 employees, the price scales as users take on the next set of 10 clients/employers. Williams pointed out that the fee is for unlimited employees, regardless of whether each of the 10 clients or employers have over 100 employees or more."

Presumably the £42/mth is for up to 10 employERs (not employEEs)?

Also, the problem with pricing in 'bands' is that your costs can dramatically increase when you get just one more small client ... so is there info on how that structure will work and the jump in rates?
Oh, and does number of 'users' have any impact on those costs?

Thanks (3)
Replying to FactChecker:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
14th Mar 2024 10:04

Our apologies, an unfortunate typo that's now been amended. It should of course have stated: "Starting at £42 per month for up to 10 clients/employers".

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By Self-Employed and Happy
14th Mar 2024 10:55

As much as I was looking forward to seeing what this can do the price is prohibitive when compared with Brightpay Desktop, we'll see what Brightpay's 24/25 price increase takes us up to but when I last spoke to our QBs Account Manager he acknowledged the price difference was vast for our business, we have around 50 payrolls so by no means big and I would suspect many other smaller businesses would simply discard it on price at this stage.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Self-Employed and Happy:
By coops456
14th Mar 2024 11:32

Agreed. I can only think that the big accounting software vendors are targeting their payroll offerings at accountancy practices on the basis that accountants can whack up their fees across the board or offer payroll as a loss leader?

We are payroll specialists with around 240 clients. We're happy to stick with Moneysoft who also specialise in payroll, and who charge a mere £246 per annum for unlimited employers with up to 250 employees per employer.

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Replying to coops456:
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By indomitable
14th Mar 2024 13:47

Moneysoft is cheap and good but lacks functionality unless things have changed

Can't get the client to enter the payroll, have to email payslips to employees rather than them have an app.

Or have things changed with Moneysoft?? Used to use it

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Replying to Self-Employed and Happy:
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By DMS
14th Mar 2024 13:56

Brightpay Desktop is excellent value for money, despite the flaws. Their cloud version would lead to a 10 fold increase in annual costs for us, but they are clear in stating that is their future, and the desktop will be degraded. Given the direction of travel, it would not surprise me if they started pushing the desktop prices up significantly to close the gap before they force you into the cloud.

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Replying to Self-Employed and Happy:
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By AdamJones82
14th Mar 2024 20:54

You need to compare to Brightpay cloud, The pricing is a lot higher and where there intentions lie. Their site actively encouraged you to sign up to cloud and openly admits desktop is no longer being developed

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By fmuk
14th Mar 2024 11:48

The price is certainly prohibitive unless it should say £42 a month for 100 clients/employers.

If QuickBooks are looking to take customers away from the likes of BrightPay, they will need to match their prices. (if it's anything like the current payroll in QuickBooks, they will need to be lower)

Moneysoft is also very capable, if not quite on the level of BP.

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Replying to fmuk:
David Ross
By davidross
14th Mar 2024 12:18

As a Mac User since 1984, who has to emulate Windows to use it (Arghh!), I would put Moneysoft Payroll up against anything. They cope with all the legislative changes so the rather old-fashioned interface is balanced by functionality

Just ask BrightPay (or others) what you have to do if you need to amend an earlier period's pay for an employee, or how you see the whole year on screen, and you can see that they take the lazy approach to programming - you would have to delete all the later entries, rewind and then re-enter.

Then there is the price !!! Not that Moneysoft is suffering as a look at their accounts shows. A classic Mittelstand, to be admired and emulated.

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Replying to davidross:
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By Self-Employed and Happy
14th Mar 2024 12:51

That above is one thing that I completely agree with, I actually have a huge ongoing issue with amending an earlier period which Brightpay and HMRC between them have been no help with, I have resorted to posting a paper copy of the payroll summary to HMRC.

Above you are suggesting a deletion of all entries and a starting from scratch and re-submitting each monthly RTI?

I've tried many things and in a roundabout way have also tried this to no avail.

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Replying to Self-Employed and Happy:
David Ross
By davidross
15th Mar 2024 13:02

In have stopped winding them up about this whenever I come across their stand at Accountex but yes, this was what I was told by them you would have to do

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Replying to davidross:
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By AdamJones82
14th Mar 2024 20:56

Look at the BP cloud price if you really want to make your eyes water. For my number of clients it would cost me £1800 more

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By indomitable
14th Mar 2024 13:43

"Not everyone uses one software system,” said Nick Williams, the UK product director at Intuit QuickBooks, speaking on day one of the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping. “We acknowledge that firms have multiple systems, so we decided to say, you can post journals whether they are from QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, FreeAgent or whoever and take an agnostic approach. "

Brightpay already does this??? whats new here?

"First announced at QuickBooks Connect in March last year, Bureau Payroll provides automation features such as streamlining workflows with automated pay runs, pension and Real Time Information (RTI) submissions, tax code updates, and includes multi-user access with flexible permissions and automatic software updates to include up-to-date government regulations. Bureau Payroll also allows employees to manage, upload and access their data. "

Again Brightpay connect does all this. What's new here???

Thanks (0)