Payroll should be a breeze. Unfortunately, for many companies, it’s anything but. Staying on top of payroll can be a time-consuming and stressful process, especially when relying on outdated payroll methods to get the job done. With IRS penalties and great employees awaiting payday, it’s best to adopt the latest payroll tools and resources at an organization.

To avoid unnecessary payroll-induced headaches, for employers and employees alike, here are four ways to take outdated, inefficient payroll processes from worst to first:

1. Managing payroll.

From worst: Undertaking various job duties and titles is often a necessity skill for business owners. Unfortunately, the more tasks there are to juggle, from marketing to human resources to accounting, the greater likelihood of dropping the ball.

To first: Rather than managing payroll, among a heap of other things, consider freeing up more time and resources by using a payroll service provider. Administrative and back-office activities, such as payroll, are perfect to leave to experts because they’re typically considered non-core activities essential to business, but not to the customer. With efficient payroll software you take the stress out of paydays and can focus more on core business, cutting costs and minimizing risks.

2. Tracking time.

From worst: Sifting through a seemingly endless amount of records and documents to determine payroll is anything but efficient. While filling in timesheets can be helpful when it comes to determining profitability, billing clients and tracking big projects, it is a universally dreaded process (when it doesn’t have to be).

To first: The easiest way to take this payroll process from worst to first is to simply get rid of it by opting for a value-based approach rather than an hourly one. If recording time is an essential part of business, however, automating timesheets is the key to a streamlined payroll process. Implementing time-tracking applications can help employees better manage their schedules, as well as ensure that timesheets are accurate and up-to-date.

3. Calculating accrual.

From worst: Keeping up with each employee’s vacation and sick days can make payroll a nightmare. Calculating vacation accrual and tracking absences is a necessary part of determining payroll, but it doesn’t have to eat up so much time or administrative costs.

To first: A growing number of companies, including HubSpot, Netflix, Groupon and Namely, are choosing to say “goodbye” to their traditional vacation accrual policies and adopting an unlimited PTO policy. Not only does having open-ended access to vacation time reward and motivate employees, it also makes payroll operations that much easier. If it’s good enough for Richard Branson, right?

4. Filing taxes.

From worst: No one enjoys filing taxes. It’s a tedious process that eats up valuable time and resources and, when done incorrectly or late, can result in some hefty penalties that no one wants.

To first: Automating tax filing just makes sense. It saves employers the headache associated with collecting the necessary forms from employees and ensuring everything is filled out properly and fully. Not to mention, automating tax filings makes it easier to stay compliant with state and federal regulations.

In the end, the key to taking payroll from worst to first is to stay up-to-date with ever-changing payroll regulations. The IRS typically releases new information regarding payroll for the coming year in early December, from tax withholding changes to new deduction amounts to updated tax forms. Knowing these changes and deadlines is the first step to creating a better payroll process.