- Dottie Abston, CPPCorporate Payroll Manager
1. Customer Service - listens to clients (per our due diligence during evaluation phase and own experience thereafter) 2. System ability to interface with in-house systems. (Other vendors evaluated could not guarantee success.) 3. Report Writing - prewritten + ad hoc. User-friendly. Payroll staff could write. Freeing up IT resource time. (+ Payroll more self-sufficient) 4. Import/Export Capabilities. (Not all systems are equal) 5. Garnishment / Third Party Check module. (Had vision from prior in-house system, this was the only vendor that had what we wanted in this area.) 6. Employee satisfaction with increased payroll department efficiency and Ascentis Employee Self-Service.
- Dream big - ask for all system features you've dreamed about. You might be surprised what Ascentis Payroll can do for you. - The system is user-friendly and has features to make payroll departments more efficient. (i.e. Garnishment/Third Party Check module) - Ascentis interfaces with our in-house systems was seamless (HRIS, Time, GL, etc.). Exports to third party vendors easy as well (401(k), FSA, etc.) - If you will be utilizing Ascentis for multiple modules, then understand via system demonstration how the modules work together (i.e. HRIS, Time, Payroll). Ensure there are no gaps or additional considerations to address during assessment/implementation phases.
Customer Service is #1. The consistent: turn-around time, accuracy, and abilities of the client representatives is impressive. Ascentis listens to their customers' needs. One of our requests during implementation was rolled out to all clients around the time we went live. Another change we wanted to ESS was implemented overnight for a customer-wide roll-out. Their User Conference in 2013 was most worth-while. The Ascentis Payroll System increased the efficiency of our department. We also increased the satisfaction of our employees and IT Department! The Ascentis Third Party Check system streamlined garnishment deduction accuracy, reporting and payments. (This was one of our RFP points that only Ascentis could accommodate in the fashion desired.) System Import/Export capabilities are very strong and user-friendly. Able to quickly turn-around bonus payrolls, incentive payrolls, adjustment checks for grossing up gift cards, Third Party Sick entries, etc.
There were some minor "nice to haves" that Ascentis could incorporate into their system for users. Most of these suggestions are being included in their upcoming release of Ascentis Payroll. (So minor, I can't even remember what we suggested.) We ran into only one unique multiple garnishment scenario that required us manually review the one employee. (Very minor, compared to prior vendor system calculations.)
- Shirley CiminoSr Payroll Manager
From all the other companies mentioned above, I have found that Ascentis is the easiest product to use. I was only introduced to this program a few months ago, and it has been easy to figure out and not too complicated. I really like the fact that I can make changes easily.
For Payroll. It's so easy to process payroll. The reports are great and the ability that you as a processor have to make changes in Ascentis is awesome. I use the calendar quite often. I like that if you need to process payroll and have a check created, it can easily be done without having to process an entire payroll. On the other hand, if you need to do an off-cycle payroll, you set it up yourself and process. You do not need to wait for customer service to do it for you.
This program has a great interface between the HR1, timekeeper and payroll. The payroll system makes it easy to process payroll and what your not familiar with, they have the community to help you. I have used other payroll systems and they have been extremely complicated to get files from external systems. The Ascentis programs makes it so easy that you think you are missing something, you're not. It really is that easy. I really like the reports that we receive from the payroll system when we do a calculation. They automatically offer an Excel file and a PDF for the payroll register. This makes auditing the payroll so easy. I have had really good experience with customer service via email. I know what needs to be done with payroll and when I ask them to do something, they always will check things for me and do the changes needed immediately. This system works with those who are new to payroll and those who have been doing payroll for years.
Recently, we began to have delays in getting the payroll calculated, but it seems to be fixed. I know my HR partners sometimes have issues with employees showing up in the timekeeper. They usually have to have Ascentis Timekeeper customer service assist them. They currently do not process payroll in other countries like Canada.
- Mary MeadowsHuman Resources Manager
Xtensia would not allow for customization to meet the needs of the organization. It also did not allow for the administrator to create workflows or update data as needed. We terminated the contract within the first 60 days of deployment due to the negative experience in using the system.
I believe that the system is well suited for an organization that is mid-sized and requires customization for internal processes. The key question that should be asked is: What are the special customization needs of the client at the time of implementation?
Benefit Administration - The system fully automated the benefit elections at on-boarding and open enrollment. The carrier connections made life so much easier as it eliminated the need to access multiple benefit carriers to do simple tasks. On-boarding - The system allowed the organization to utilize and change processes to meet the need of the organization by providing additional documents during the on-boarding process to only the employees who were required to complete them. HRIS - The HRIS system was so easy to use and allowed the organization to almost eliminate the need for hard copy employee files Reporting - the report writer system was fantastic. It allowed me to develop custom reports that were necessary in my day to day functions. It also allowed me the flexibility to run the reports quickly when requested by management.
Recruitment - when setting up the recruiting module some information was not clearly defined which required the organization to pay Ascentis to fix the issues within the module. If it was clearly articulated by Ascentis that they could complete the customization at the time of implementation it would not have cost the organization a fairly significant amount of money to fix the issue 2 years later.
- Jordan AllisonHR Administrator
If a company does not have a need for variable pay calculation, do not use Ascentis. If a company already uses NOVATime, contract with LaborMetrix directly and avoid Ascentis as the middleman. If a company only has basic needs, go with paylocity or ADP or paycom.
If a company requires variable pay calculations, LaborMetrix, not Ascentis, is good. Every other aspect is more difficult and time-consuming from running regular payrolls, to managing the database of employees, to entering new hires or terminations, to new hire enrollment or open enrollment, to viewing employee information.
Contract with LaborMetrix
Payroll - Requires more manual steps including processing separately in the timekeeping portal, calculating in the variable pay calculator application, exporting from the variable pay calculator application to a .txt file, uploading that .txt file into Ascentis payroll to add the hourly pay. Paychecks do not include the time off balances by default, which is out of compliance with CA earnings statement laws. Administrators have to export the balances and manually upload them for every payroll. Paychecks can display the 401K contribution percentage, but not the Roth 401K contribution percentage. We have to use a separate payroll application to do the W-2 and quarter-end processes because the main web portal is not able to do that. We have to use the separate payroll application to get reports of any use because the main web portal only has a few reports available and they are not helpful. In order to view an employee's paycheck, the administrator has to go through his or her personal profile and payroll screen. The administrator is unable to edit an employee's tax withholdings on the web portal. HR - Almost everything related to configuration and management is only fully-functional on the Remote Desktop that no one mentioned being necessary at all during the sales calls. Administrators cannot do everything from the main web portal. This includes editing employee access and changing the information that is displayed to employees on the main web portal. This includes setting up benefit carriers and employee profile management. Most of the reports available on the web are not useful, and administrators have to use the Remote Desktop to create custom reports. Benefits - Unable to view the EDI feed information. Administrator view does not show the sum of all of an employee's benefit costs. Managing the documents and links in the benefits section requires using the Remote Desktop that no one mentioned during sales and requires unnecessarily complex steps involving adding a picture to a specific folder in the remote desktop and then including the file reference to RD/Company/Admin/Folder/file.jpg just to have a picture displayed for employees instead of just uploading the picture like any other website. Timekeeping - Requires separate processing in order to lock timesheets and process payroll, requires a workaround involving exporting the following pay period to show the current time off balances when downloading the figures to be included on the paychecks,. The system has meal premium features and shifts features, but they conflict and display incorrect times for approaching hours (example shows meal premium after 6.01 hours instead of after 5 hours). Notifications that were sent to the EE and supervisor were sent at midnight the night after the employee already reached the point of getting a meal premium, which does not help anyone avoid it at all. Holidays paid out the number of work hours on the shift plus the 30 minutes of unpaid lunch, which meant they were overpaid. Holidays paid out for days when the employee was not scheduled to work, which meant they were overpaid. Sick balance policies consider transferring to be like a new hire, which incorrectly adds 3 days of sick time to the employee's balance. It's been a year since implementation and problems that caused Ascentis to postpone our implementation still have not been fully resolved. Features highlighted during the sales meetings do not work and we have had to deactivate them to avoid confusion with our staff and supervisors. Mobile App - Paycheck information in the app does not match paycheck information shown on the web portal. It displays hourly-only timesheet features like exception counters and things for salaried employees who do not get meal premiums or OT or clock in and out. It allows employees to add or remove employees from their benefits, which should not be allowed unless the employee had a qualifying life event. It does not allow employees to submit address updates, scheduled for future bug fix but currently displays unpaid hours like unpaid vacation as a dollar amount instead of hours. It's scheduled for a future bug fix but currently shows a total rate that is the sum of an employee's sick rate + vacation rate + regular rate + OT rate + etc... that does not mean anything, but is shown for some reason. It does not allow administrator configuration of what should or shouldn't be visible to employees, does not display all of the pay statements in the employee record when they are all visible on the main web portal, and it has two separate sections in which employees can view their balances and request time off - one from the last paycheck's information and one from NOVATime, which is confusing because they do not always display the same information. Recruiting - The system user experience is extremely convoluted. Also, unlike others that just allow clients to add the forms and things required from applicants, Ascentis charges at least $100 for every form that needs a signature, which is most forms in the new-hire process. Ascentis also charges for each signature. Ascentis also charges for each administrator/manager who would use the recruiting module. None of this was stated during the sales meetings or even in the order form/contract. Reporting - Reports cannot contain timekeeping data, HR/Benefits data, and payroll data in the same report. They all have to be separate reports. Also, unlike ADP or others that do it for free, Ascentis charges the client at least $500-$1000 for creating custom reports.
- Kelly C. Neill, SPHRHuman Resources Manager
The user adaptability of Ascentis is far superior to other HRIS I have used. The ability for the user to taylor the system to the specific needs of the company is by far the biggest selling point of the system. Additionally, the reporting feature which allows the user to pull data from any field in the system, even customized fields, is extremely attractive and not common with other HRIS.
There are no deal breakers with Ascentis in my opinion. The system is very flexible and allows for work arounds where limitations exist.Update: In the last year and a half Ascentis has been unable to provide electronic transmittal of benefit information through their system in a timely, accurate and/or consistent manner. This is a key component of any HRIS in my opinion and the failure to provide this feature (which we are paying for) has been a very large disadvantage for our company. If a timely, accurate and consistent automatic transmittal of benefit information to benefit plan providers is important to your organization, I would not recommend Ascentis at this time.
Recruiting/Onboarding - We typically hire candidates site unseen and send them overseas to work. Ascentis allows us to capture information on the candidates from the recruiting phase all the way through the onboarding phase of the hiring process. Extremely Customizable HRIS - The ability to customize and add tabs to the HR side of Ascentis provides endless opportunities to capture any and all data that needs to be tracked and/or reported on for employees. The Benefits enrollment, open enrollment and carrier connect features of the system have streamlined the Benefits Administration process in my organization to a point where it requires very little time and attention. Once the benefits are set up through Setup Manager and tied to the benefit provider through Carrier Connect, there is very little maintenance or attention required.
The organizational structure of Ascentis and segregated nature of the system and system support can be confusing. For example, if I need assistance with onboarding an employee it is not often clear who I should contact for assistance. The company seems to be divided by Ascentis HR, Ascentis Payroll, Ascentis TimeKeeping, and Ascentis Recruiting, It would be nice to have one point of contact for customer support for the entire Ascentis system rather than having multiple points of contact that are often changing. I attending the Ascentis User Conference in 2013 during which we were told that Ascentis HR would be transitioning to a new platform in early 2014. Since that conference, I have received no communication from Ascentis as to the status of the transition and we are still on the Remote Desktop platform. During the User Conference 2013 there was no one from Ascentis that was familiar with the Onboarding side of Ascentis. I got the impression that we were one of very few customers utilizing the onboarding feature and the Ascentis staff was not aware of the features and were unable to answer any questions. In fact, I felt like I was answering their questions rather than them answering mine. Would love to see the system be more flexible for international use. The system does not allow international contact information to be entered and does not allow for selection of any country locations other than US and Canada. We have had to work around these limitations. The Attendance tracking is somewhat limited in that it does not allow for a policy which awards PTO in lump sums at multiple intervals throughout the year. It allows a policy where a flat amount is awarded once a year or where the PTO is accrued on a regular basis only.
- Verified User
We chose to leave our former provider and go with Ascentis so that we could have an all in one system for HR, payroll, benefits, onboarding, performance management and learning. While initially we were excited to have the "total package" we have ended up unenthusiastic, frustrated and unhappy with the Ascentis product. We would have never switched if we knew then what we know now.
The employee self service portal has gone over well with our employees and Ascentis has done a good job on that aspect of their product. If you only purchase the HR product of Ascentis, then it may be more beneficial that what you currently have, but be prepared to have little to no support when needed.
Creates a streamlined process, although it is more complicated to navigate through some pieces than necessary and isn't a completely smooth transition from one piece to the next. Employee Self Service portal - easily accessible and allows employees to view their check stubs, W4s, W2s, change tax information, direct deposits and basic employee information. It also provides employees with a tool that they use to see how changes can affect their paycheck prior to making a decision.
While many reports are offered, their titles are misleading. It is frustrating to pull a report to find out it isn't what you were needing at all. You can create a custom report; however it may take multiple reports to gather all the infomration you need. All reports are in PDF, although you can export some to Excel. If there is a report you need but can't obtain, they will create it for you, but for a fee. If you have Ascentis payroll the reports are even more frustrating and all are in PDF format ( who needs a report in PDF!). It is presented as a "whole package" program, while in reality it is many databases communicating with each other. This creates multiple logins for the adminstrators and we often experience lag issues where data isn't flowing over. It is also presented that you will have a dedicated support team. You do not! You have a different number to call for different pieces (benefits, ACA, HR, etc). Often times only getting a support voicemail where you leave a message and it may be days before you hear from anyone. We all know when you need assistance that more often than not you don't have days to wait. Lack of communication is a major issue for our company. After the initial implementation of HR and Payroll, we don't feel valued as a client. You are responsible for certain reporting tasks that you were not made aware of during the sales and implementation process and may not have had to do with your old HR provider. Often you only receive an email right before it is due (sometimes after) with little to no guidance on how to complete the task. While webinars can be a great tool to ASSIST in training, they can not replace the human interaction that is often needed. The webinars are often extremely long just for one particular topic. Most HR professionals do not have that kind of time while performing all other duties and the day to day issues that arise. A perfect example is ACA, which was over 4 hours of webinars.
- Lora M.
I have now had Ascentis HR for 2 months, and Payroll for a month, and I can sum my experience up in 4 words: Thank goodness for Ascentis. We are a small to medium company with the unique feature of being made up of multiple FEINs. We are also on an aggressive growth plan in terms of expansion. Although the company has been around for more than 30 years, it's only been in the last 5 it's gone from a small family business to a regional (soon to be national) distributor. When I took on the position with this company to build a HR department and functions, one of the task requirements/ requests from the owner was to bring payroll inhouse within the first year. Payroll was being managed by the accountants, and it was neither cost-effective or timely; corrections were always a challenge. The existing HR software, Sage, was full of bugs and not managing tasks effectively. Much of the historical data was inaccurate, as well. Literally, I was printing out time punch reports, manually entering onto a spreadsheet, and at the end of the paycycle emailing it to the accountant with all changes/corrections the very next business day. And then sending someone an hour away to pick up checks. And same for corrections. Not anymore. I did quite a bit of research early on for the right system. The multiple FEINs made some systems much more expensive. And even though I'm in a culture that has been embracing change, I knew doing everything at once would create shock waves. Additionally, the projected growth made it so easy, expandability was a absolute necessity. Finally, the system would need to be easy enough and intuitive enough to teach a Vice President to be an emergency backup. Selection of Ascentis was easy, actually. I asked lots of questions, and the response was usually either "oh, yes, of course, this is how we do that...." or "that does sound a little different, let me check" followed by "ok, this is how we can do that for you...". Things fit nicely. The implementation team has been wonderful. They made it easy, making sure I knew what they needed and when, and kept me updated on their statuses as well. I unexpectedly had to move up one of my timelines as my previous system had a different renewal date than I was originally told. It took two months to implement HR, and 3 to do Payroll, which in terms of transition is lightning speed. This is particularly true as I had other major projects going at the same time. Christy, Jean, Kimberly and the rest have been great about letting me mess around with it before going live, and been there to answer the phone as my safety net as I spend time double and triple checking things when I went live. We have had a few minor tech problems, and Jack solved them quickly and easily. Training was almost too much. There are videos, live demo, handbooks, and the team calls. They have been great about letting me do that part at my own pace. Once piece of advice: if you have more than one location, use the tax service. Payroll does not print coupons and is a little less helpful with the who-when part (although the related reports are awesome.) I have now had two zero-error payrolls; I had to make up mistakes to learn how to do that piece! We are likely adding Tax very soon, and anticipate adding Time later this year. We are eventually going to add self service. Ascentis has wonderful reports, and has cut the time involved significantly. It's less expensive, and just so easy to use. Even the Payroll person at the accountant who did it before is jealous.
- Eunae J.
We had always outsourced our HR and payroll, and as a rapidly growing company with more offices opening around the country, we were outgrowing the functionality of the third party HR firm; not to mention the enormous costs of their service fees, inflated benefit premiums, and customer service issues. During my research of in-house support software, Ascentis stood out for its completeness. There is a lot of software that will do HR, or payroll, or timekeeping, but I wanted something that was already built to work and flow together. I was looking for something that would provide a high level of detail in data storage and maintenance, as well as be customizable for the way we already operate. Ascentis definitely provides all of that, and has a good user interface as well. I appreciate how comprehensive it is - I'm happy that it handles our taxes as well as manages data flow to our benefits carriers through Carrier Connect. We began implementation in July 2012 and currently we use Time, Self-Service v 8.4, HR v 8.5, and Payroll 4.2.1. Since we started, there have already been big upgrades to Self Service and HR that has resolved some of the issues I was having. We have done an open enrollment already using the Self-Service, which creates a walk-through wizard for employees that makes the process of learning about company benefits and signing up for them really easy. The housing of the benefits structures is detailed and I was able to automatically build in nearly all the rules or restrictions that were associated with our plans. Implementation went smoothly overall - it was a daunting task but the support is terrific. Everyone I've talked to in all the software components are very available and patient, and extremely responsive. This was one of the most important considerations for me. This being our first time handling HR and payroll in-house, I knew we needed to work with a company that we could have a personal relationship with, and not be lost. I also appreciate the fact that the software is continually upgrading and improving. I do not expect anything to be perfect; it is more important to me that they are working to improve and are responsive. Any issues I've had, they have received thoughtfully and log the suggestions/needs to submit for potential changes. I'm extremely happy with the product and the company and look forward to continuing working with them.
- Connie H.Director of Marketing Resources Support
We've used HR Office for about 20 years now -- started out with the in-house Access version and have used the .asp version since about 2001/2002.
I like that it's cloud-based, but most importantly for us, it offers employee self-service for PTO requests and information updates. The key reason we've stayed with this system is that it provides automatic calculations of paid time off based on a formula we set up, automatically changing accruals on employee anniversary dates. It also allows us to easily calculate PTO that will be earned through the end of the fiscal year since we allow staff to schedule (and generally use) PTO in advance of accrual. The calculations take into consideration any accrual rate changes and adjusts out any dates already scheduled. There are other HR solutions with a simpler interface, but this feature was a deal-breaker for us. The PTO request workflows can allow for more than one approval level and sends email alerts. Support has generally been very good in all the years I've used it.
We only have 30 staff members, but years ago, they implemented a rate based on a minimum of 50 users. We recently implemented the self service to manage PTO requests and overall, we're thrilled to have made that move (we have multi-tiered approvals, which they didn't have in the past). I would really like to have more customizable fields in the request form to prompt the user for key information the supervisor needs to make an approval decision. The interface is sometimes very slow to load for the HR admin (it's a remote desktop configuration). Some of it's not intuitive -- when setting up a new employee and their PTO accrual, we get a prompt that the person is not employed 40 hours (part of our PTO calculation criteria), but rather than the person's hours worked being in the main employee tabs, you have to click out and go to a completely separate area to indicate that they are full time.
- Kristy H.
We brought payroll in-house after outsourcing it for over 15 years. We were tired of having vendors add ridculous fees and for stifling our ability to make back-end changes. In addition, they made numerous mistakes in processing taxes and garnishments. The choice to go with Ascentis was made in large part because of the incredible ability to customize it. The setup of the system (employee records, reporting, back-end) is very logical and easy to navigate. The implementation was fantastic, and who ever says that about changing payroll systems? Our Implementation Manager, Elissa, was extremely knowledgeable, not only about Ascentis, but payroll processes in general. She was incredibly fast at responding to questions and to implementing all the data as it came in. She provided us with an action timeline outline who was responsible for each part along the way. We had our implementation complete and parallel payrolls processed AHEAD of time!! So far we have loved the ability to run off-cycle checks, and payroll has processed without a hitch. The off-cycle paychecks alone have saved us thousands in fees we would have normally paid. We also implemented Employee Self Service for the first time and my employees love having access to all their pay information online. The few times we've needed to access the customer support team they have been incredibly responsive. I would highly recommend Ascentis to anyone!!
- Karen C.
One of the things that I was looking for was an HR system that would link to the Payroll system so I wouldn't have to do dual entries. This system provided that for me. The other tabs we have added on the HR side is Education (degrees held) and Salary survey information, so this has come in handy for requests that come up. It also makes it much easier for the EEOC reporting along with the Worker's Compensation reports because data can be entered there too. The Employee Self-Service tool through Ascentis is very clean and uncluttered compared to other systems. I had another vendor do a presentation for me, and the screen itself looked way too overwhelming. I didn't want to make it too difficult to use for both the managers and the employees. Since we have rolled out the Self-Service tool, my employees love it! They are so excited about the features and how much they can access for their own screens. In fact, we used the Open Enrollment feature so that the employees could go into this system to make changes for the upcoming year. The employees can also access their W-2 forms at any time during the year. I like everything: HR, Payroll, Timekeeping, Carrier Connect, and the Employee Self-Service tool.
There is nothing that I would change about Ascentis.
- Angela G.Chief HR Officer
I have never worked with a vendor who was so organized and supportive of us reaching our goals. There was never a gap when we needed help--calls and emails are always returned promptly. They are a great organization that employees top-notch experts who are there to help you. Wish other organization ran this smoothly.
The implementation process is so well-planned. You have a team of experts supporting you for each module and they really work with you to learn and get through building. They also hold you accountable for your "homework assignments" to keep you on-track for your go-live date. This was helpful to us because we are so busy but they held our feet to the fire with deadlines (and we met our go-live date with ease). Our employees like the easy to use system and we have received much positive feedback since rolling out.
Needing to use a Remote Desktop to access the back-end for set up and maintenance is cumbersome. I had to invest in a second monitor to make it easier. The end-user's interface (Employee Self Service) is 100% web-based, so no issues there. This is truly my only complaint. Everything else they said they system could do really is possible. They are honest in what they sell.