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Switching your payroll and onboarding made easy & pain-free!

‍The perception that it is too painful and time consuming to change payroll providers is all too common.  Even though an organization may feel their current payroll supplier is not providing them with good service or worse yet they are making mistakes and providing inaccurate paystubs or T4s to their employees, the idea of switching payroll providers is just too overwhelming.  An accountant we met at a conference recently in Winnipeg told us that based on her previous experiences, the process of switching payroll providers is far too stressful and painful and she would rather “never do this again.” 

It really does not have to be this way.  Not all payroll onboarding experiences have to be bad ones. 

How much time & effort will it take me to change payroll providers?

We get this question often.  Everyone is busy and everyone’s time is valuable. 

In our experience, the key to a positive onboarding experience is to understand clients’ payroll situations FIRST, and then collaboratively create and apply an onboarding plan.  A ‘one-process-fits-all’ approach just doesn’t work.  A payroll provider’s onboarding process should fit your organization’s timelines and current situation, not their own.  You’re the customer!

The basic plan to switch payroll providers should include:

  • An implementation plan to get all your data from your current provider or system to the new provider based on your needs
  • A training plan for your organization’s staff
  • Cancelling the contract with your current provider
  • Taking copies of historical payroll data from your current provider
  • Producing records of employment for your current provider


Will I have to do all the work during the onboarding experience? 


No – absolutely not.  The payroll provider should make sure to include you in the whole process.  There are a number of things that need to be done and information you will need to transfer to the new payroll provider during the onboarding process, such as year-to-date payment, income tax, and other deduction amounts, setting up payroll rules, and ensuring benefits are taxed correctly.  After a parallel run or two to ensure a smooth transition on the first live payroll run, your payroll system should be ready to go if all of this information was entered by the payroll provider accurately and timely.  Your participation in the implementation ensures you have been trained on the new system and processes to give you comfort that your next run is accurate and timely. 

  • Tip:  Check to see if the payroll provider just simply inputs the data you give them or do they do a payroll review to make sure all the information you have given them is accurate? Continuing to tax benefits inaccurately as the former payroll provider has done doesn’t make sense.


I’m too busy to enter the payroll data myself.  


Some organizations prefer to enter their payroll data themselves while others would rather a payroll company do this for them.  Check with the payroll provider to see if they offer self AND full-service payroll. The payroll provider can enter your employee payroll data / hours themselves and then continue to process the payroll as long as you provide it to them on time to complete the pay run.  

  • Tip:  Make sure to check with the payroll provider that they can in fact take care of these services such as entering payroll data and hours, setting up new employees, issuing ROEs, and paying third-party payees, for you and what the cost will be.  You don’t want to be surprised later on.


Have you been properly trained on the new software? 


We are all aware of the situation where thousands of federal government employees have not been paid over the last several pay periods or months. Media reports have said the problems stem from both complications with the new payroll system adopted earlier this year and lack of adequate training of public service payroll administrators.  Clearly, training is critical for you to be able to process your payroll properly. Wouldn’t you want an easy-to-use system over a complicated one that you know how to use properly?  No matter if you are using a full or self-service system, payroll companies should be making sure you fully understand how to use their platform.  No exceptions. 


Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! 

 Payroll is all about deadlines, there is no doubt.  Employees need to be paid on time and government remittances need to be submitted promptly to avoid late penalties.  When you are considering switching payroll providers, check to see if the payroll provider can provide you with all the deadlines needed to complete your upcoming payrolls and submit your remittances in a timely fashion to avoid penalties.  Typically, 2 – 3 business days in advance of pay day is required to transfer money electronically to ensure all funds have cleared your organization’s bank account.  Payroll specialists should be able to work with you to determine how to efficiently pay your employees taking into account your pay periods and pay dates. You don’t want to be surprised at a later date if there are extra costs or services the payroll provider does not provide, or if the onboarding experience will be more work and time consuming then you anticipated.  These situations may make you feel like the accountant mentioned earlier in this article who experienced nothing but stress and pain during the switching / onboarding process.   You want to make pay day a good day – for both your employees and you as the payroll administrator.  

More to come

Stay tuned for more tips on the payroll process in next week's blog article!

Tracy Bowman
Contact Blue Canvas.  We're here to help!
Phone: (204) 488-5698  |  
Toll Free: 1-855-690-6161

146 Commerce Drive
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
R3P 0Z6