Delightful Payroll


Yes, it can happen to you, too.

Sure, payroll seems like a ho hum why-would-you-ever-want-to-innovate-in-that-space kind of a thing. That’s what I thought, exactly one year ago. I had become annoyed with the amount of time and attention payroll required every month. I mean, really, it’s just payroll. I really should just be able to set it and forget it, no? I mean, really, it’s just payroll.

Innovating in a space with 800-pound gorillas.

At about the time we had become fed up with Citibank Payroll Manager, along came ZenPayroll. In the world of payroll, it always feel like you have to go with the big players because payroll is serious business and you just can't afford to get it wrong. From the moment we signed up, set up our account information, employees, and contractors to the first annual filing of mumbo jumbo tax stuff, it was just plain awesome. As someone who designs user experiences for a living, much of what we saw was stuff that made it into designs and presentations, but never quite made it into an actual dev release. There’s an incredible amount of planning, thought, and rigor that goes into crafting a great experience and making sure all the sh*t that should be working exactly right, is in fact working exactly right.

Why we're still happy, one year later.

1. Setup is a breeze.
For some reason, setup was easy and it just worked. :) I think I took some screenshots of that part of the process. I'll add them to this post.

2. New employees can onboard themselves.
Remember all the boring paperwork you had manage for new employees? Well, that all goes away. After you set up a new employee’s email address, use that same email address to invite them to enter all of their name, address, social, tax withholding info, and direct deposit authorization.


3. Monthly reimbursements are easy.
Just fill out the numbers in a super-easy table, once a month. These are recorded as separate line items for tax purposes, but are processed in the next pay run.

4. Contractor payments are easy.
Contractors are also incredibly quick and easy to set up in ZenPayroll. And yes, direct deposit for contractors is awesome. Less paperwork for you, faster payment for them. Filling out the services and reimbursement amounts are made easy in a tabular view.

5. Unsightly paperwork is kept out of sight.
So you know all the mumbo jumbo tax tax stuff you have to file quarterly and annually? It’s pretty confusing. Like, really confusing. Even though most modern payroll services take care of that for you automagically, there’s just something a bit for automagic about the way ZenPayroll does it. Having a recent point of reference, I can say that ZenPayroll makes it feel a whole lot more seamless than most. In fact, I don’t recall having to do more than reading a notification telling me that everything’s been taken care of.


6. A delightful message in your inbox.
Payroll runs twice a month, and that means everyone gets a super-cute, super-delightful email in their inbox, which includes a link to the paystub. Sounds like a small detail, but folks have told me that they really like it.

7. Great customer service.
When I had a question about something on the paperwork front (it was last year, I can’t quite remember what it was about), the customer service was remarkably fast, friendly, and quick on finding a resolution. The human element of it was most striking and is still the most memorable element of it. Positive energy, friendly tone, and the right level of familiarity all make for a great customer experience.

8. Auto-pilot is a wonderful thing.
With most other payroll systems, you have to sign in at a certain point before a pay run and approve that the pay run can be processed. If you miss it, pay run is delayed and all the headache that comes with that. If you're running a small business, the last thing you want to deal with is additional system overhead. With ZenPayroll, you can set it and forget it. Just make sure you have appropriate funds every pay period for wages, reimbursements, and taxes.

Munawar Ahmed is a user experience consultant based in New York City. She works on S, M, L, and XL projects, from indie startups to mega-corps. She's friendly, most days. Get in touch.