When Henry Taub founded Automatic Payrolls more than 55 years ago, he revolutionized the way corporate America did payroll processing and built his company into one of the largest single computer processing services companies in the world.Today, Automatic Data Processing Inc. continues his legacy of service and innovation, but the current emphasis is on evolution, not revolution.

"Accounting professionals align themselves with organizations that have the same service values they have," explained Rich Watson, vice president of product management and accounting services at ADP Small Business Services. "They want to see improvements and enhancements to the services rendered, but also want to retain the level of comfort and best practices that reflect well on their practice. Our goal is to evolve our services in ways that meet the demands of a global business environment, while always exceeding the needs of our partner accounting professionals."

Watson said that ADP Small Business Services, a part of ADP Employer Services - the company's largest division - strives to achieve that goal via a combination of product innovation, flexibility in program design and a broad range of offerings for the accountant marketplace.

Accounting professionals can select a program that allows them to profit from payroll services regardless of how their firm is structured or their individual desire to play a role in the details of payroll administration.

Most recently, ADP introduced a do-it-yourself hosted payroll offering for companies with 50 or fewer employees. Integrated into Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006, this accounting and payroll solution combines ADP's service and payroll tradition with Microsoft software. ADP Payroll was designed as a hosted application within the Microsoft software that can be activated without additional installation. The software is currently available in retail outlets across the country, offering unparalleled flexibility for accounting professionals working with small business clients.

For those opting for a more full-service solution, ADP offers its proprietary EasyPay. EasyPay provides users with calculation, payment and filing of federal, state and local payroll taxes, signed payroll checks and direct deposit vouchers, and a comprehensive set of payroll reports. Accounting professionals have their choice of payroll entry by phone, by fax or online.

A range of options

With payroll solutions ranging from software to service bureau, ADP has positioned itself to meet the various needs of the accounting professional industry. In total, accounting professionals have the option to:

* Refer business to ADP. Payroll administration often is not part of the core service strategy for CPA firms. The simplest option, then, is to refer. This enables the accounting professional to remain integrally involved in their clients' payroll decisions and maintain the trusted advisor role, without incurring the time and expenses associated with expanding their suite of offerings.

* Sell the payroll business. Similar to referring a client to a dedicated payroll professional, accounting professionals can also sell the business directly to ADP. This is an option for those looking to exit the payroll business, and seek an established solution for the clients' payroll. ADP's purchase of the payroll relationship allows the professional to invest his time and resources in other core services for clients, such as tax preparation and business consulting.

* Use ADP Payroll for Microsoft Office SBA. ADP's Web-based payroll software provides the tools, tax tables and federal forms needed to manage payroll through its integration with Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting.

Following a simple set-up, payroll can be calculated in only four clicks. The software automatically calculates net pay for each employee, and all of the federal, state and local taxes. Its integration with Microsoft Office SBA allows users to transfer timesheet data into the payroll application, and the payroll and tax information into the general ledgers. This allows users to complete routine financial tasks quickly and efficiently, helping to ensure compliance and reduce the chance of errors.

ADP offers two versions of the software, allowing professionals to tailor their level of involvement. There is a do-it-yourself version called ADP Payroll, and a full-service version with unlimited customer support, ADP Total Payroll.

* Wholesale solution. Another option is to outsource the back-office payroll tasks through ADP's "wholesale" solution. This enables accountants to maintain their relationship with the client, while the service provider assumes the liability and back-office administrative tasks associated with payroll processing.

Once clients call in their payroll to their accounting professional, they input the data into EasyPayNet. ADP calculates the payroll taxes and handles all related deposits and filings. Users can print checks and reports from their office, or have ADP deliver them directly to their clients. ADP can also manage W-2 creation at the end of the year, allowing the accounting professional to focus her time on core activities and client relationship management.

The outsourcing arrangement can be structured so that the accounting professional maintains the relationship with the client, or the client can work directly with the service provider.

An integral part of the experience of working with ADP is the support, training and assistance offered to accounting professionals as part of its enhanced services. In addition to its products and services, ADP provides resources such as its Professional Education Center at www.accountant.adp.com.

In addition to payroll, ADP Small Business Services supports a broad array of solutions for tax filing and preparation, electronic time and attendance, retirement services that include 401(k) and Simple IRAs, pre-employment verification, state unemployment insurance management, and a human resources help desk. ADP also offers a solution to lessen workers' compensation insurance through a program called Pay-by-Pay for Workers' Compensation.

Dave McClure is the president of Kent Associates, in Alexandria, Va., an independent testing laboratory and evaluation service.

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