New payroll app targets small business

October 15, 2010

Making payroll has always been a bit of a fraught experience for Shelley O’Sullivan and her husband at their five-employee construction firm located just north of San Francisco. But a simple mobile app has reduced that anxiety.

“The hassle we were always having with the computer issue is that we do payroll on Thursday and so we have to be home and input it by 3 o’clock to get the checks (out) by the next day,” said O’Sullivan, whose husband started using the iPhone app offered by their payroll service provider, ADP, a month ago. “Now that we have an app he’s out in the field and hits a button and boom, it’s done.”

O’Sullivan said the app is especially handy for their construction business, as they normally spend a lot of time outside the office on sites.

“We don’t have a secretary we can call it in to,” said O’Sullivan, who has been running O’Sullivan Construction with her husband for the past 15 years. “Construction has been very challenging in this economy, so every minute my husband’s out in the field is very important in keeping the business going.”

ADP, which manages the payroll accounts for more than 550,000 clients, is targeting its new app to business owners like the O’Sullivans who have less than 20 employees and don’t have the means to hire extra staff to make sure the checks get issued every two weeks.

“You wouldn’t want to be putting a 200-man payroll in through your iPhone,” said ADP CEO Gary Butler, whose company launched its new real-time RUN Powered Web-based payroll platform earlier this year and will officially debut its new free mobile app for the iPhone and iPad next week. “We see executives, particularly in small businesses, spending 25 to 30 percent of their time out of their office. So whether you’re at home over the weekend doing your payroll or you’re getting ready to get on a plane to fly to China or you’re out on the golf course and you want to review your payroll and process it, you can do it on your iPhone or iPad.”

Butler said the ADP mobile app will be rolled out for BlackBerry and Android mobile products in February. It’s free to download, but only works if you are a registered ADP client. Butler said he hoped the new app will help ADP stay ahead of competitors such as Paychex and Ceridien.

ADP, the world’s largest payroll processor, has struggled over the course of the recession as U.S. unemployment has hovered around 10 percent. In June ADP reported a 41-percent drop in quarterly profit, but said it had experienced growth in sales to small businesses.

Butler said the mobile app is already being used by about 100 ADP clients in what he referred to as a “controlled pilot.” He added ADP is hoping the app helps it woo more small businesses to using its payroll services.

“We pay 25 million people on payday in the U.S. and we’d love one day to be paying 50 million people,” said Butler.

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