Startup Tech Essentials: 5 Features Your Payroll System Should Have

Starting your own business is exciting. However, during the critical planning stages, you need to remember that having a strong work ethic and being ambitious doesn’t guarantee you’ll succeed as a startup founder. You also need to equip yourself with the right tools.

For example, you’ll likely need a payroll software solution. To ensure your payroll software helps you thrive, look for one with the following key features:


Gone are the days when an employee will literally punch in and punch out to keep track of how much time they’ve spent at work and how they’ve devoted their time to various projects and tasks. It’s much more common now for employees to use some type of timekeeping module.

If this is an essential part of your payroll system, you’ll save time by not having to manually move timekeeping information from one module to another. If you’re already using a separate timekeeping software, you should at least choose a payroll system that can integrate with it.

Tax updates

It’s not at all uncommon for the tax laws applying to small businesses to change. While you should make a point of familiarizing yourself with any updates when changes are made, you shouldn’t necessarily have to spend time making updates to your payroll system accordingly. You’ll work much more efficiently if you use payroll software with built-in tax tables that update automatically.

Garnishment management and expense management

Choosing the right payroll software doesn’t merely involve selecting one that serves your current needs. It also may involve predicting future needs you hadn’t planned for.

For example, as your business grows and your workforce expands, you may one day be legally responsible for setting aside a portion of an employee’s wages if they’re being garnished. You could potentially face a range of consequences if you fail to set aside the necessary amount. Protect yourself now by making sure your payroll system boasts wage garnishment features.

On the more positive side, if your business grows, it may reach a point where employees are able to expense certain purchases. You’ll need to be able to easily reimburse them. Thus, you also want to choose a payroll software that offers expense management.


Or, more importantly, the specific type of reporting features you need. You likely already understand that reporting features should be among the most basic capabilities of any payroll system. However, not all payroll softwares offer them, and the types of reporting features payroll systems do offer can vary on a case-by-case basis.

The types of reporting features and capabilities you need will depend on the nature of your business. Take the time to determine what types of payroll reports you’ll likely run in the future, and look for a payroll system that allows you to do so.


To some degree, it may be wise to let employees make their own changes to payroll profiles. For instance, if an employee needs to update their bank account number, it’s much easier to let them do it on their own, rather than making this a task for another department.

Some payroll systems allow employees to make these changes. They may also allow employees to, for instance, check vacation balances, retrieve W-2s, and more. This gives your HR department more opportunities to focus their energies on other tasks.

These are all critical features your startup’s payroll software should include. Again, having a vision for your business isn’t enough to make it succeed. You also need the right tools to execute your vision.