Patriot Software is a fantastic payroll system with a few flaws. If you can live with those flaws, you’ll be more than happy with their system! Learn more.
November 26, 2020•
While I was doing research for our online payroll review series, I consulted a few friends, family and of course, internet forums, on which payroll brands I should be paying attention to.
As expected, a lot of names popped up but quite a few of them mentioned Patriot Software. So with that information in hand, we rolled up our sleeves and got down to work, doing as much research as possible on the payroll behemoth.
Turns out, Patriot’s story is quite an uplifting one!
Pros of Patriot Software
Cons of Patriot Software
Patriot Software’s Plan & Pricing
Patriot Software didn’t start out as Patriot Software at all.
As a matter of fact, Mike Kappel, the CEO, founder and visionary of the company started off writing custom software with his partner.
The money they brought it wasn’t doing much justice to the time spent writing the software, so Mike started to look into niches, and that’s when he had his light bulb moment – the market was in need of an online digital recruitment network.
They named the company Top Echelon, and with a little bit of perseverance and luck, they grew the brand to become the most prominent network of recruiters in the country.
However, Kappel wasn’t happy with his success in Top Echelon and went on to continue brainstorming for ideas. He wanted to help the little guys, ensure that their small businesses had the right means to become successful.
Drawing from his experience in building Top Echelon, Mike started working on an online payroll system in the basement of his factory in 2002 which turned out to be the glitchy Patriot Software 1.0.
Obviously, as glitchy as it is, the software wasn’t well received in the market, but like all good entrepreneurs, Mike wasn’t one to give up after a little stumble.
He went back to the drawing board and came up with an online accounting AND payroll program, which we know today as Patriot Software. The software quickly found dizzying heights of success, and the company was valued at $128 million in 2017.
Today, Patriot Software serves 21,500 small businesses in all 50 states of the US, and is valued at $205.4 million as of 2018.
Looking at the data, it’s easy to think that Patriot Software is the best payroll out there, with all that fancy valuation numbers and the amount of clientele they have.
If people trust them that much, they must be good right?
Well, it’s hard to say. Sometimes, a software is successful and popular because of the marketing behind it, not the actual usability of the program.
Sometimes, the software can be downright disappointing and still get popular just because people aren’t aware of anything better.
So how would you know if Patriot Software’s payroll system is good for your small business?
Well, that’s what we’re here for. We’ll test out their software and give you an in-depth review of how it’s like to use their system. We’ll share everything with you – the good, bad, and the ugly.
Basically, we’ll take all the risks and make all the mistakes just so you can learn from us and avoid the same kind of problems we encountered.
So without further ado, let’s delve into the review.
Running payroll with Patriot Software is as straightforward as it can be. Actually, it seems that everything that comes with Patriot Software is designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible.
I actually do wonder why other companies don’t take this approach more often because really, it gets things done without the need for training, which is a massive time-saver in my opinion.
You run payroll in 3 easy steps:
As long as you have your employee details set up correctly, everything will show up here in the enter payroll screen. All you need to do is just key in the relevant numbers, or make corrections if you need to.
If you don’t need to make any corrections, you can just go ahead and click next.
This step is basically made to ensure no mistakes are made in running payroll. You don’t actually have to do anything but glance through the numbers and make sure that everything is correct before approving.
Once Step 2 is done, Patriot Software will automatically deposit salaries into your employee’s accounts, saving you the trouble of doing it yourself (only with the Full Service plan).
You’re done with payroll!
Once payroll is done, you can easily print out paystubs for your employees.
You’ll need to click on “Print Payrolls” on the bar on the left, then click on “Print” on the run you want. You’ll then be led to the “Print Employee Payroll” screen, where you’ll see the “Download Paystubs Now” button.
Hit that and you’ll get a PDF document of all the paystubs for your employees, neatly separated into individual pages so you can just hit print without having to worry about practicing arts and crafts by cutting up papers.
Alternatively, you can have your employees log onto the Employee Portal so they can save a digital copy of their paystub (why print on paper when you can have a digital copy, amirite?) or print it themselves.
It’s never fun when you have to fight with the software to get something done. Some payroll programs we’ve tried required us to jump through hoops before allowing you to do something as simple as adding employees to the system, which we found to be awfully annoying and unnecessary .
With Patriot Software, this isn’t a problem at all.
All you have to do is head on over to the dashboard, and click on “Add Employee”
You’ll then be brought to a page where you’re required to fill in your employee’s details. Remember when I said that Patriot Software is as straightforward as possible?
It applies here as well!
All you need to do is fill in the blanks. Don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do this!
While you’re filling up the details, make sure to just do this one extra step – tick the button to send an Employee Portal Registration Email to your new employee. This will make life a lot easier for you later on, which we’ll get to in point number 4.
Once you’re done filling up everything, hit the big orange “Add Employee” button at the bottom – and you’re done!
Why can’t everything in life be as easy as this?
If you’ve followed our instructions in point number 3, you’d have sent your employees an email to register for Patriot’s Employee Portal.
Doing this could be one of the best things to happen in your life, ever.
When you invite them to sign up for the portal, they’ll receive a friendly little email from Patriot Software to sign up. Don’t worry, it’s all very non-threatening and looks safe, so your employees won’t be scared off.
Once they register, your employees will be able to customise their own name and password. They’ll also be able to update the system to use an email address of their preference, for convenience’s sake.
The Employee Portal basically gives the user access to all of their data. They can check out their own pay information, tax withholding data, and even their own time card.
They’ll also be able to print out their own pay stubs or store them digitally, which saves you the trouble of printing it out for them. Honestly, I’d personally want my employees to just store their pay stubs digitally. Why cut down precious trees for paper when you can access your pay stub anytime you want online?
Essentially, the Employee Portal makes life easier for both you and your employee, by saving time and making data retrieval more convenient for both parties. The employee can access all of their own data without having to intrude on the time of the business owner.
We’re all human, and humans make mistakes.
When it comes to payroll software, those mistakes can sometimes be hard to rectify. Some programs don’t even allow you to fix those mistakes – you’ll have to write in to support to see if it can be done.
Fortunately, we found it very convenient to fix payroll mistakes with Patriot Software.
All you need to do is head over to “Void Checks” under the “Payroll” tab. There, you’ll see a list of checks that can be voided.
You’ll have to select the mistaken check, then hit the big orange “Void Selected Checks” button (props to the UI team, making the important buttons orange in contrast to the regular blue is a genius move).
Just make sure you run payroll again for that voided check, or your poor employee won’t be getting paid!
If the salaries have already been submitted into employee accounts, you won’t be able to void those checks anymore!
Your employees are entitled to a number of paid time offs in a year (the amount of vacation days they’re entitled to differs from state to state) but if they need to take vacations after they’ve used up all of their allocated paid time off days, your payroll system needs to know that so adjustments can be made to their payroll.
Some payroll softwares out there don’t take this into consideration, which can cause errors in the payroll run.
Head towards the “Payroll” tab, click on “Manage Time Off”, and you’ll be brought to the page where you can see all of your employee’s available vacation hours at a glance.
All you need to do now is to tick the box next to the employee’s name, and hit on “Edit Vacation Hours for selected Employees”.
What’s left to do is to literally just fill in the blanks. It doesn’t get simpler than this.
Once you’re done, hit “Save” (once again, important buttons are highlighted in bright orange), and Patriot Software will do all the necessary calculations for you when you run payroll.
Simple, quick and convenient!
Attendance management is usually a HR thing, but we’re happy that Patriot Software decided to include this feature into their system as an add-on service.
It’s awesome because we can get everything we need within one app without the need to switch to another time management software, which doesn’t actually take much effort but can be annoying to do.
Head on over to the “Payroll” tab as usual, and then click on “Manage Time Cards”.
As usual with everything you do on Patriot Software, you’ll be able to see everyone’s hours in a glance in one screen. Allocate the hours for your employees as you wish, then hit “Save Time Card”.
You won’t even have to inform your employees yourself, because the programme will automatically update all your employees, and they will then be able to check their own time cards via the Employee Portal.
There are plenty of payroll software providers out there, but Patriot Software seems to have found a way to stand out from the crowd with their accounting capabilities.
Out of all the payroll providers we tried, they’re the only ones that provides accounting services, and they do it pretty damn well!
When you go into accounting, you’ll first need to key in all your company details, customers, vendors, products, services, etc. This will tell the program what sort of business you’re doing so they can auto generate the fields you need to fill up. It is all really straightforward. Follow the instructions on screen, and there’s no way you can go wrong.
Once you’ve keyed in everything, life gets real easy.
You’ll be able to create quotes, estimates and invoices for your customers with a preset template which already has all your details. Your products or services are there in a drop down menu, and when you select an item, the price is automatically added to the quote or invoice.
You even have the option to create discounts!
Now, if you scoot on over to vendor tasks, you’ll find that you can easily create pay your vendors, pay bills and print out checks. You’ll also be able to key in withdrawals and deposits made from and to the account, completely eliminating the need to rely on a third party program for bookkeeping purposes.
In this aspect, Patriot Software is indeed the bees knees.
Patriot Software’s accounting feature is a paid service separated from its payroll system.
If you’re the type that lives on reports, you’ll be happy to know that Patriot Software is capable of producing reports of all sorts for your perusal!
They’ve got one of the longest list of report options I’ve seen in a payroll software provider. Just head on over to the dashboard, hit on reports and BAM!
You’ll be able to download as many reports to your heart’s content!
Patriot Software has got a lot of good things going for them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any flaws. Here are a few things we felt they could do better.
For small businesses with under 10 people, this shouldn’t be a problem at all. But what if your small business has 20, 30 people? Adding employees one by one could end up consuming a lot of time, and can be really tedious too.
Maybe there’s a way to do it in bulk but I sure wasn’t able to figure it out.
I could ask support about it… but we’ll touch on that in the next point.
You can reach out to Patriot Software’s support via live chat, phone call or email. However, since I work out of their support hours (live support is only available from 8am – 8pm, Monday – Friday, Eastern Time) I had no choice but to email them for support, which isn’t a big deal at all.
The problem was, it took them 4 days to get back to me. Yes they were helpful, but the wait time was just horrendous.
Now I’m just being nitpicky.
Patriot Software totally works, and it works beautifully. It’s just that it looks and feels boring, like something that came straight out of the boomer designer’s mindset.
Everything feels safe, secure and blue… like a bank from the 90s.
I’m sure it suits some people, I just think they could afford to take a bit more risk with their design.
This is arguably my biggest problem with Patriot Software.
When it comes to online software services, you’ve GOT to be fast.
You want to be so fast that the customer feels like they’re using an offline service, because if they DO notice the speed, it means you’re going too slow for it to feel natural.
Using Patriot Software, I definitely felt the speed. As a matter of fact, I felt it several times. However, I feel that it’s only fair to say that the slowdown could be due to my connection, so your results may vary.
Patriot Software broke their pricing down into 2 tiers – Basic Payroll and Full Service Payroll.
On top of that, you’ll need to pay extra if you opt for their add-on services:
Time & Attendance
Patriot Software is no doubt one of the best online payroll providers out there. It does what it promises to do, and it does it well.
It’s just that there are a few things I personally wish they could improve on.
Take for example, their inability to bulk add employees. This is something quite basic that should be easily done for the business owner’s sanity. Maybe it can be done, but I can’t figure it out and I can’t really be bothered to check with support because live chat is currently offline, and email support takes too long to revert.
Patriot Software can feel a little unresponsive at times, but that could be due to my connection. It also looks a little boring and bland – but it does what it’s supposed to do very well.
Pricing can be rather expensive. Basic Payroll is affordable, but it just doesn’t cut it. The program just doesn’t feel like it’s worth it if you have to manually make deposits and file taxes yourself, so Full Service is the way to go, costing at least $30 a month.
Throw in their Time & Attendance and HR Software add-ons, and the cost suddenly escalates to $39 a month, without even considering the price per employee yet!
But having said all that, Patriot Software is really one of the most dependable online payroll software providers available.
They’ve got an onboarding video which is really helpful in getting you around. If you get stuck, there are help buttons at every step. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to use this, you just need to know how to follow on-screen instructions.
As a matter of fact, I think we found Patriot Software so easy to use because all you have to do is literally follow on screen instructions. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. It’s so easy I’m confident my grandmother could learn how to use it…
Patriot Software is one of the best online payroll SaaS available, but they’ve got their flaws. If their flaws and pricing doesn’t bother you, then you’ll be more than happy with their fantastic payroll system.