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Why Free Payroll Software Probably Isn’t Right For Your Business
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Why Free Payroll Software Probably Isn’t Right For Your Business

It costs nothing, but you get what you paid for


For businesses on a limited budget, the idea of using free payroll software might seem appealing. It is, after all one less thing to pay for. But there are some good reasons why you might not want to, and why Opera 3 Payroll would be a better fit.

Only useful for very small businesses

On the UK government’s official website, there is a list of free payroll software that has been tested and recognised by HRMC. But it’s only “tested and recognised” for organisations with fewer than ten employees. If your business is larger than that, these tools can be ruled out immediately, because they will lack the features and the capacity you need.

Free payroll software is limited

One of the reasons that HMRC’s list of free payroll software is only suitable for companies with up to ten employees is that they’re mostly free versions of paid-for software. Click through to most of the websites on the list, and you’ll soon see the word ‘pricing’ or something similar at the top of them. This is important, because the free versions aren’t only limited in terms of user numbers. In most cases, you’ll also find they’re missing features that are only available to paid customers – features that your business may well require.

May not be up to date with legislation

Where payroll software is totally free and not just a cut-down version of a paid application, it’s likely to be open-source as well. This means anyone is free to make changes to it and to release their own versions. As well as being a security risk, there’s no guarantee this software will be up to date in terms of legislation. Open-source developers often work on these projects in their spare time, and they are under no obligation to maintain them.

Lack of support

As you might imagine, free payroll software will come with limited or non-existent support. That makes perfect business sense, because if you’re not paying the software company for its product, then you’re not contributing to the cost of support staff and facilities. If something goes wrong or you can’t understand how to use a certain feature, you’re on your own. Furthermore, the provider of the free payroll software will have no obligation and no interest in the safety and security of your financial data. Don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place? Why should they care?

screaming lady behind laptop, surrounded by screwed up paper - free payroll software

^ The limited or non-existent support that comes with free payroll software could have you tearing your hair out

Inability to customise the software

There are a lot of different payroll solutions around, but only some of them are open to add-ons. In many cases, you get what you’re given. The problem is that not all businesses are the same, so the ability to augment your payroll software and to integrate it with other solutions may be a huge boost to your business.

Why Opera 3 is better than free payroll software

To begin with, none of the limitations we’ve looked at here apply to Opera 3 Payroll. It is fully scalable from small businesses to huge corporations, you never have features cut out of it, it’s always kept fully up to date with legislation, you get first-class support from TMB’s Group in-house Pegasus helpdesk, and it can be customised with third-party add-ons.

But those aren’t the only reasons to consider Opera 3 Payroll instead of free payroll software. It also offers flexible payment options. If you want to own the licence, you can buy it outright or pay for it in instalments. Alternatively, you can use it in the cloud on a subscription basis, which could be ideal if your budget is limited.  

If you’re already using free payroll software and you’re reaching the limitations of what it can do, then Opera 3 is a great next step. As well as the payroll module, it has several other modules, such as Document Management, Supply Chain and CRM. These all integrate perfectly to make a well-rounded and complete operational software system, but they’re entirely optional; if you just need payroll software, then Pegasus Opera 3 Payroll can be bought as a stand-alone package.

When is free payroll software a good idea?

Honestly, in some limited circumstances, free payroll software will do the job (HRMC even has its own free tools for doing payroll). If you’re just starting out or only have one or two employees, for example, it might make sense to use a free solution. However, if your business has any special requirements related to payroll or if you’re expecting your organisation to grow, the limitations of free software could make it a bad choice. What’s more, if you have seven or eight employees today and you start using a free app just because it’s free, you might find yourself stuck using something you don’t like when you have to upgrade to a paid application. Signing up for Opera 3 Payroll in the cloud could save you a lot of pain later.


If you would like to discuss your payroll needs, leave us a message on our Contact page, and we'll be in touch. 

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