Big Ticket Software – Not always as advertized

If you're considering taking the plunge into investing a considerable amount of capital into a new payroll or accounting software, the term, "Caveat Emptor" comes to mind. Many who have committed to this endeavor, have found the product is not entirely as advertised. Sadly, some software companies will "outright lie" about their product to get you on-board with them. Reality begins to raise its ugly head only after you have signed agreements, and spent weeks in migration planning. Consequently, you will begin to use the terms, "Our Account Manager didn't tell us about that." and, "Our Account Manager said that was included in the package."

ULTIMATE SOFTWARE, ULTIPRO, UTA

When considering UltiPro, get all of your questions and answers in writing.

Ultipro is a very rigged system and has no real room for modification. For Instance, it is not possible to add extra fields to your employee list.  If you have data in your existing employee list that doesn't exist in UltiPro, then you will be forced to build an extra database to store that information locally.

If you have proprietary database applications utilizing your employee or payroll data, those databases will need to be retooled. You can get the employee data, benefit information, compensation information etc. from the UltiPro API provided, but you will need to have a redevelopment strategy to integrate it. You also want to be sure to include this effort into the overall migration plan.

Ultimate software employs third party vendors to upload your data to UltiPro, so you might expect the vendor will be doing all the work -- wrong. First you have to extract all of your employees data to their spreadsheet templates yourself, then you have to convert it.  Most companies are shocked to find out they have to not only extract it, but they have to do all of the tax withholding conversion themselves. It seems easy enough when they are explaining the mandatory fields vs. Optional, etc. but when you get into actually doing it, it becomes one unexpected headache after another.

Ultimate Software won't help you with local, state, or federal tax withholdings at all. Your integration vendor will just tell you that the values are missing and you need to find out what the value is supposed to be on your own. Depending on how many employees and locations you have, you may find yourself working on this task back-and-forth for days. It has to be perfect before they will upload it to the new UltiPro system. They will also demand these extracts are completed with little or no notice -- claiming that if it's not done immediately, the integration team will not be available for you, and will have to be rescheduled.

If you don't have experience in ETL, and if you have little experience in tax withholdings for every state that your offices or stores are located, then prepare to spend many days going back and forth with their vendor. They will only tell you that the uploads are being rejected without any answers except that they are the wrong values, or missing in a column.

Also read: "Migrating to UltiPro"

PAYCHEX

Paychex is another company that will tell you how easily everything works, until it's all setup. Paychex will tell you frequently, "We don't have that data available to download from our site" or another surprise,  "You have to onboard with a separate program that doesn't communicate with the Paychex system. You will need to use this and upload it to get a number and downloading again to process a new hire, then upload it a second time to complete the onboarding process.

I even had a case where the only way we could get daily reports for our automation system was to have them emailed as an attachment. We ended up automating that where it loaded it every day. One thing paychex does do is provide and update all of the local, state, and federal withholdings for you, whereas in UltiPro, you will need to keep them updated yourself as they change from year to year.

DYNAMICS, GREAT PLAINS

Dynamics is a great software from Microsoft, and has been around for many years. The only complaint I would have, is that the table names are very cryptic, and they don't come with a user friendly data dictionary, or instructions for developers. Also another very important point is: "Watch out who you get to install it." Many companies could have experience installing Dynamics Great Plains, but it can be installed wrong as one of my clients unfortunately found out. Get references! This client had a consulting company migrate QuickBooks to Dynamics and inserted records under one account, rather than separated into different accounts.

This mistake ended up costing more time in report and procedure redevelopment. The only way they could use the system without redoing the entire thing, was by having each record coded with correct accounts manually. Accounts had to be inserted to an extra field rather than having it separate accounts where it belonged. They had also set up automated jobs which didn't work properly. You just have to be very careful who you hire.

Another great thing about Dynamics is that it's not a monster to maintain. Even though there are thousands of objects, most tables aren't even used in Small to Medium sized companies. Even some large companies only use 30 tables or less. That makes it much less problematic and is only a part-time job to maintain.

The bottom line? get informed about the software before you buy it. Go through your own high level migration plan to come up with the right questions to ask. Also be sure to get all of your promises and questions and answered in writing before you agree to it.

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