Thomson Reuters: Payroll Integration

Payroll Software for Small Businesses
My Role: Lead Researcher
Duration: 3 weeks

I ran this study in 2018 to validate payroll offerings by U.S. accounting firms. The product team wanted to understand to what extent accounting firms were moving away from offering payroll services for small business clients. For those firms that still offered payroll for their small business clients, we wanted to understand ongoing challenges.

Research Questions

  1. Do accounting firms still create and run payroll for their small business clients in the age of QuickBooks?
  2. If yes, what are their current workflows and pain points?


  1. Survey: 250 responses collected using Qualtrics
  2. In-depth interviews with 15 selected survey respondents

Recruiting Criteria

  • Accounting firms offering payroll services
  • Firms processing up to 500 live payrolls

Project Challenges

  1. Time Constraints
  2. Lack of funding
  3. Lack of diversity of recruitment

Solutions to Challenges

  1. I narrowed the scope of research to fit the product team’s timeline. I recommended in-depth interviews, but limited research to survey because of time constraints.
  2. I identified and reached out to multiple stakeholder departments to obtain funding for research.
  3. I used Centiment, a survey recruiting panel to achieve diversity in recruiting.

Selected Major Findings

  • 30% of the firms surveyed have no plans regarding payroll, while 24% plan on growing their payroll
  •  15% of the firms surveyed want to limit payroll offerings for their clients
  • Most frequent reasons stated for limiting payroll offerings are time commitment, high costs, and lack of knowledgeable staff 
  •  In addition, when offering payroll services, firms face payroll compliance and accuracy.
Segmented by software used
Segmented by firm size
Segmented by software used
Reasons to limit services
Reasons to limit services

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