If you’ve been searching for the perfect payroll app that can integrate smoothly with your Dynamics 365 Business Central system but are not sure where to start, we have good news for you. In this article we review and link to three of the best payroll modules for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to help you decide which would enhance your system and fit your operation best.
But first, a little background
At Open Door Technology, we have a long history with the payroll module first developed by Navision US for Microsoft Navision (later rebranded by Microsoft to Dynamics NAV and then Dynamics 365 Business Central). When we signed up as a Navision partner in early 2000, we promptly sold two payroll modules, which lead to Navision Canada informing us the payroll module we’d sold was only a beta version, despite it being available on their price list.
A couple days later Navision Canada asked if we were interested in supporting Navision Payroll for all resellers in Canada. We were initially hesitant but wanted to ensure we could offer an integrated Canadian payroll and agreed to do it. To keep the story short, we eventually introduced Navision Canada and Navision US to a payroll organization who was willing to support both the Canadian and US payroll. That organization was Vision Pay, which eventually merged with Serenic Payroll.
During that time, Microsoft spun off the payroll module to Vision Pay and took it off Microsoft’s price list. Later, Serenic was sold to another organization which introduced some major price increases, even for legacy customers, which unfortunately broke the long-standing tradition of protecting customer purchased license value leading to major increases in annual enhancement. This led to many customers looking to move on from the Serenic payroll app. As resellers, we were backed into a corner as there was only one choice for an integrated payroll module at the time. Fortunately, other payroll partners stepped up to the plate to give us some alternatives.
Today there are more viable payroll app options
We are happy to say that today there are at least three viable integrated payroll app options in the United States and Canada for Dynamics 365 Business Central. We’ll review the highlights of each option below and include links for your convenience. Note that all three are built using the Business Central toolkit, unlike a number of the other payroll options listed on Microsoft’s AppSource that are merely integrations to third party payroll services or modules.
- The first and most commonly installed (because of its history from the Navision days) is NaviPayroll from Serenic Software. Read more about it here and find it on AppSource here.
- The second is Primo Payday from a publisher of the same name. Read more about it here and find it on AppSource here.
- Lastly, we will look at Payroll Now from Integrity Data. Read about it here and find it on AppSource here.
The NaviPayroll app is an integrated payroll management and human resources solution. This in-house solution is designed to work with businesses in any industry from manufacturing and services, to distribution, retail, and public sector.
The following details are from the NaviPayroll Overview on Appsource. We have added notes about our experience at the end of this section.
Complete Payroll Processing
- Define an unlimited number of pay controls
- Define pay cycles to suit the business
- Support multiple business locations and job types
- Customizable earnings distributions
- Enter, track, and report pay by hour, pay cycle, and source
- Calculate commissions and track and post expenses, automatically calculate taxes, print checks
- Create direct deposits and automatically export direct deposit files
- Automatic postings to General Ledger, Accounts Payable
- Mass updates and automatic accruals
Tax & Regulatory Updates for U.S. and Canada
- Easily manage Federal and State/Provincial tax and regulatory updates
- Print your own W-2’s or T4’s
- Affordable Care Act compliance
- Simplified interface for e-filing and other third-party tax services
Human Resources Capabilities
- Define all positions within the company
- Employee setup wizards
- Streamline salary administration and automatically print checks
- Ease the applicant tracking and hiring process
- Manage employee-related information and communications
- Deploy employee self-service through native Dynamics 365 Business Central capability
You will like:
- The flexibility and stability of the system – if you can define it, you can almost always figure out a way to do it
- The ability to split net payroll to more than one employee bank account, if this is needed
You may struggle with:
- The complexity of the payroll controls
- Performance has been a challenge for a high number of employees, so make sure you check this out carefully
- Dynamics NAV customers have to re-implement to use the Business Central app, unless this has been updated recently
- Multi-state employees could be a challenge with Dynamics NAV
In our many years of experience with the Dynamics NAV version we were always able to configure or customize the software to meet almost any unique requirement, no matter how unique. This flexibility came with a high cost as the software could be complex to implement and customize.
We were also able to optimize the payroll module (which was originally written to handle only 100 employees) in Dynamics NAV to process over 4,000 employees simultaneously. The payroll controls combined with the supporting method steps were the key to this flexibility – and complexity. If you could define the formula for something, you could configure the system to do the calculation or you could create a custom method step or payroll control.
As an example, we were able to create education/experience grids for the system long before they became a standard feature. NaviPayroll by Serenic is a solid solution. If you like the unique feature set and the pricing works for you, it is a good choice.
The Primo Payday payroll app, similar to NaviPayroll, was designed to work with businesses in any industry, including manufacturing and services. The designers were familiar with the complexity of the Serenic payroll module for Dynamics NAV and made a deliberate effort to design Primo Payday for simplicity, which apparently leads to easier implementations, higher performance, and expedited support.
Notes on Primo Payday are not very detailed on AppSource so we have compiled the following details from their website. It states, “Primo Payday is the integrated payroll solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central users. It was built from the ground up with one goal in mind: simplicity. A pay period can be run and posted with just a few clicks of the mouse, and the payroll code setups are automated. This integrated payroll app delivers exceptional visibility into payroll expenses and how they impact your company’s profitability.”
True Integration: Fully integrated payroll app for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Time saving: Payroll is always balanced to the general ledger and other operating modules.
Easy to use: Quick to calculate payroll, remit wages via printed checks or direct payments, post payments, and efficient batch payroll processing.
Labor Cost and Dimensions: Employees and their associated labor costs can be linked to any dimension in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, delivering accurate visibility into labor costs by project, department, division, or any other cost dimension in your general ledger.
Configurable: Built to be configured for your unique accounting and payroll requirements including unique deductions and paid time off (PTO) calculations with support from Primo Payday.
“Make all of your payroll tax deposits and file all of your payroll-related tax returns with Primo Payday’s Dynamics 365 Tax Filing Service. This includes Tax filings, including EFTPS, W-2, W-3, 940, 941 and FUTA, State Income Taxes, SUTA, Local Tax Withholdings, and New Hire Reporting.”
You will like:
- The ease of use of the system, both in the original setup and the day-to-day processing
- Performance on larger employee counts
- The emphasis on configuration to meet your requirements instead of the more complex customization that was often needed for the Dynamics NAV Serenic module
- Added emphasis on the use of wizards for setup of the system and employees
- The payroll tax file service, which eliminates a lot of duplicate entry, offers automated posting, and can optionally provide full-service Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance
- Easy updates
- Lower software cost than NaviPayroll, although you need to cost out your specific situation as pricing models are difference
- Easy update from Dynamics NAV Primo Payday to Business Central
- Optional employee web portal, which does not require a separate Business Central license but allows employees to submit PTO and employee change requests and grants access to paystubs
You may struggle with:
- Payroll journal entries are created in detail at the moment, whereas Serenic gave the option to post in summary, which greatly reduced the size of journal entries and your general ledger
- The Primo Payday system has not been around as long as Serenic and it might be missing a few things you are accustomed to, although Primo Payday has promised to be responsive to user input
We have more limited experience with Primo Payday, but it is almost exclusively the preferred payroll option for us today if we have to choose between Serenic’s NaviPayroll and Primo Payday. It has easier to install than the Dynamics NAV version of Serenic. Primo Payday also made the move to Business Central much sooner than Serenic did, which gave them the “first start” advantage in our books. The flexibility of the user licensing, at least compared to Serenic’s Dynamics NAV model, has been more attractive.
Similar to the first two apps reviewed above, Payroll NOW by Integrity Data offers an integrated app embedded in your Business Central system. The app has deep roots in payroll from its Dynamics GP (Great Plains) days and has now made the transition to Business Central. As you might expect, it has a fairly mature feature set. Integrity Data has been providing payroll software and services for more than twenty years.
The following notes are taken from AppSource’s Payroll NOW page with a few tidbits thrown in from Integrity Data’s website. It states, “Payroll NOW by Integrity Data is a fully integrated, embedded payroll system for Dynamics 365 Business Central. It delivers all the capabilities and efficiencies you expect in a payroll system and more. Easy to configure with setup wizards and employee groups, it manages your organization’s entire payroll process and integrates seamlessly with other vital components in Dynamics 365 Business Central.”
This payroll system includes complete payroll processing, employee self-service, HR Onboarding, ACA Compliance Reporting and E-Filing, and Federal and State Tax Filing. Payroll NOW has been working with the ProjectPRO group to improve the integration of payroll with construction management. Pricing can be based on a monthly charge or based on the number of employees.
You will like:
- Integrity Data has been in payroll for many years (the Serenic product may have the same years of experience but it was developed by just one developer working for Navision US, which meant the Serenic product originally closely matched only one vision for the product)
- The job cost reporting and the ability to handle multi-state employees
- More advanced employee self-service including enrollment in benefits, requests for leaves, and pay history
- Auto update of tax tables
- Advanced payroll reporting including integration to Solver BI360
- Advanced benefit management
You may struggle with:
- The software publishers do not have the long history with Navision and Dynamics NAV that the other two systems do. Although the software has moved to Business Central, it is worth digging into their actual Business Central customer installations for reference checks, etc. This is not to suggest the software is not stable, but as those of us with a long history with the Business Central family know, developing in Business Central is not the same as in Dynamics GP.
We have no direct working experience with Payroll NOW as it is fairly new to the Business Central world. Because of its deep roots in payroll, we encourage you to check it out if you are looking for a Business Central payroll option and especially if you need advanced integration to construction accounting. Integrity Data brings many years of experience to the game and should be a serious player in the years to come. Dynamics GP and SL partners have relied on the legacy payroll app for many years and we would expect Integrity Data to bring that same level of competency to the Business Central space.
Conclusion: Three good payroll app options
There you have it – three good options with no clear-cut winner unless one meets your very specific needs. But we hope this summary and the provided links have given you the background you need in deciding which integrated payroll option would be best for your operation. Be sure to check out the pricing and deployment options for each.
**The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 fall update is now available and offers enhanced reliability, performance, and administration. Read our previous blog here to learn about Business Central’s many interesting new functionality improvements inspired by user suggestions.