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How to choose payroll business services

Payroll Business Services Buyer's Guide

Because good payroll business services are vital to smooth business operations, you should consider a number of criteria before signing with a particular company.


Although you may employ a payroll service, remember that you’re still responsible for paying your staff and for any returns sent to HMRC. Ask providers, therefore, if they have any figures on their accuracy rates, and if you can levy a penalty if they make significant errors.

Contact point

Establish who your main contact person will be and who will deputise in this person’s absence. If possible, meet or at least have a phone conversation with these people before you make your choice of provider.

Turnaround time

Once you supply the payroll data by the agreed date, your provider must conclude its side of the work to a suitable deadline. Ensure these dates are in your contract together with the dates for the completion of year end HMRC forms.


Ask the business services payroll company how simple and quick it is to monitor and update your staff’s details. Ask providers for the deadlines they impose for changes to pay and deductions.


Ask for any service guarantees. Payroll business services process large amounts of money on behalf of their clients, so an excellent guarantee can help you choose between them.


Ask payroll business services providers for references and contact the clients to make further enquiries.

  • How long have you been with the provider?
  • If you used another payroll service previously, why did you change and how do the two services compare?
  • Does the provider answer your questions promptly and accurately?
  • Have you experienced any difficulties with the provider? If so, did the provider offer a practical and satisfactory solution?

Prepare questions to ask potential providers. They’ll treat you with greater respect if they know you’re determined to get a first-class service.

  • How long have you been in business and how many clients do you have?
  • Are your staff qualified?
  • Are you a member of the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP) or a similar body?
  • What’s included in your business payroll services?
  • What’s the annual cost of your service including the completion of all year end HMRC forms?
  • Will you increase your fee after this?
  • Does your fee include your role in setting up a payroll bank account? If not, how much do you charge?
  • If I send you the wrong payroll data, what do you charge to correct the errors and how long do you need to make the changes?
  • Can you guarantee you’ll complete all HMRC forms before the deadlines and therefore avoid penalties?
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