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Sage Payroll and HR Software Review


An Independent Sage HRMS Product Review

The Sage HRMS product is a modular offering and ranges in functionality between 3 different packages: “Stand-Alone”, “Select”, and “Workforce”. As is to be expected, the “Stand-alone package is the most basic solution that organizations can purchase from Sage—consisting of the functional areas of Benefits Administration, Compliance, Absence Management, Standard/Custom Reporting, Data Export/Import, and Records/Personnel Actions. Moving up the functionality chain though “Select” provides the additional feature sets of customization (for fields, screens, and dashboards) and Training Administration. Likewise, “Workforce” adds in analytics, ESS/MSS, and a web portal for communication. In addition to these packages, multiple add-on options are also availability; including Sage Payroll, Sage TimeSheet, Sage OrgPlus, and Sage Alerts. For the purposes of this review however, we’ll be focusing on those elements that most closely tie-in to a core Payroll/HR solution—regardless of where those modules fall within the Sage HRMS solution.


An exceedingly flexible payroll processing solution, Sage HRMS Payroll features key functionalities to: set up single schedules covering vacation or sick time accrual for all employees (irrespective of tenure); handle single overtime payment schedule for employees in every pay frequency (or easily create as many schedules as needed); produce comprehensive processing reports (including pre- and post-check registers); and analyze earnings, benefits, deductions, accruals, and taxes for the pay period. In addition, with Sage Payroll Tax Forms and eFiling by Aatrix, state and federal (including Canadian) reporting and payment requirements can be managed directly from this module. Further, this module houses functionality to preview/print customized checks (and direct deposit advices) with the ability to print checks and advices as a single batch. In addition to the above feature sets, the system can also automatically calculate variable pay (including sales commissions, draws, and piece-rate production); and sales dollars and production units per employee can be entered directly into payroll using the timecard function.

The Sage HRMS Payroll solution also provides an easy and rather straightforward approach to setting up unlimited earnings and deductions codes with support for a wide range of calculation methods and earning types (including base pay and tax only earnings). Organizations can also define unlimited deductions for each employee or a range of employees; and easily manage them with rules such as withholding frequencies and employer matching. Plus, with full integration into the system’s Benefits Administration module, cafeteria plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 408(k)(6)s, 457s, 501(c)(18)(D)s, RRSP, pensions, Canada Savings Bonds, stock options, wage garnishments, IRAs, and more are supported.

One of the often overlooked elements of the Sage HRMS Payroll solution (as well as offerings from vendors such as Oracle, SAP, Lawson, etc.) is the integration functionality that is afforded with the larger suites of Sage ERP and Accounting—an operational capability that provides import/export tools to easily transfer data between Sage HRMS Payroll and other business solutions. Further, by leveraging the optional module of Employee Self-Service (ESS), employees can have instant access to view payroll information (including paycheck details and pay history), as well as the ability to view and print pay stubs. Another option though within this module is that of the payroll card. Specifically, the Sage Payroll PayCard (a prepaid Visa debit card) is an increasingly popular option that Sage offers as a way of eliminating the costs of printing and delivering paper paychecks, or reissuing lost checks. Essentially this functionality allows employees to be paid electronically and grants access to their pay at any ATM (or to make purchases anywhere Visa is accepted). However, while popular (especially for contingent-labor heavy workforces), minimum requirements do exist; and consist of Direct Deposit capabilities with a financial institution as well as U.S. addresses for employees.


Critical information access is the modus operandi for this module and capabilities include the ability to quickly view key employee information; including demographics, insurance and savings benefits, skills, education, compensation, and employee attachments. Further Sage HRMS allows for unlimited benefit plan tracking; report generation; defining of eligibility criteria; and automatically calculating precise employee, dependent, and employer premium and benefits costs. This module also provides capabilities for time-off management and houses a full set of features for tracking; including incident-based time off (e.g. jury duty, medical leave, bereavement, etc.) and FMLA (including functionality for assigning, managing, and reporting on leaves of absence covered by FMLA). Compliance reporting is also housed in this module and covers the full range of U.S. and Canadian statutory requirements (e.g. EEO-1, Vets-100, Form 7, COBRA, etc.)

Benefits Administration

Available as an optional add-on to Sage Employee Self-Service (therefore requiring Sage HRMS), Sage Benefits Enrollment features functionality such as: flexible project creation/set-up (driven by wizards and customer-defined criteria); automated workflows (which allow for changes to be made in current-state rather than batch updates); life events management; benefit plan integration; election comparisons; HRMS/Payroll integration; 24/7 browser-agnostic access; administrator customization; and guided enrollment processes. Setup wizards in Sage Benefits Enrollment support multiple open enrollment projects and guide administrators through the process of setting up benefit plan information, including open enrollment start and end dates, applicable companies, applicable organizational levels, dependent eligibility, and more.

During the open enrollment process, employees will only be able to choose from those plans applicable to them, based on the criteria the organization sets up. Besides entering annual benefit elections, employees can use Sage Benefits Enrollment as a self-service tool to quickly provide the HR department with life event updates. Employees can add dependents, change marital status, change dependent status, and designate dependents as students. These features are available at all times, including during the open enrollment period.

The system also includes more sophisticated tools such as step-by-step wizards that can help pilot employees through benefits enrollment. These wizards can be easily customized to meet the needs of your company’s specific open enrollment process; and employees can be prompted to choose plans based on automatic eligibility criteria and can even save their progress and return at a later date. Customized reminder messages for employees can also be leveraged for those who haven’t finished enrolling in benefits. This process is managed through the HRMS Benefits Messenger, which simplifies benefits administration processes by securely automating the delivery of employee benefits enrollment data to health insurance carriers. It helps you provide accurate, timely election information to each benefit carrier and improves communication by automatically reformatting the data already in your Sage HRMS system and sending it to your carriers on your behalf.

Employee Self-Service (ESS)

Sage HRMS offers employee portal functionality through an optional add-on module, Sage Employee Self-Service (ESS). ESS may be fully customized and branded to create a consistent appearance for accounting firms or businesses. Employees access the portal through traditional sign-in methods. Once signed in, employees have access to individual demographic information, complete payroll history, time accrual information, and time off requests. Company-specific information such as internal employee phone lists, training videos and materials, or employee policy manuals may be provided, as well. Employee access controls may be granted or removed on an employee-by-employee basis by the payroll administrator. Users with defined roles as managers or system administrators have additional functionality to approve and override various employee options and have access to more detailed employer benefit offerings. With the above functionality, the available ESS system has the potential to reduce additional and time consuming tasks performed by payroll administrators. A key to any effective HRMS solution, Sage's Employee Self-Service module features the functionalities of: Personal Information Access (including skills, events, current job, employment history, and performance reviews); Time-Off Management (where employees can view time-off balances, available attendance plans, absence transactions, and query/edit/delete time-off requests); and Benefits/Payroll Information Access. This module also includes manager features such as time-off management, job information access, system workflow approval rights and notification settings. With Sage ESS, employees are empowered to view important personal data with a few clicks of a mouse.

Next - Additional Sage Payroll Capabilities >>

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