CASE STUDY:  Phoenix Suns & Arizona Diamondbacks


  • Reduced time for payroll processing
  • Eliminated manual tax calculations
  • Increased reporting capabilities


  • 2,200


In the heart of downtown Phoenix are locations of America’s finest professional sports clubs. On one corner is the America West Arena, the home of the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns, Women’s National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Mercury, and the Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers. A few blocks away is Bank One Ballpark, the playing field for Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.


Even when working together in its team setting, the payroll team for this organization experienced frequent difficulties for processing payroll. The sports organization’s 2,200 employees actually work for more than five smaller companies under one payroll umbrella. Previously, the parent organization for the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks had been using outdated software, and the system lacked the necessary flexibility to handle the payroll requirements typical of sports teams and multi-entity organizations. Many states have complex and varied taxation rules that require professional athletes to pay taxes to that state when they play there, even if it’s only for a few hours. With outdated software and spreadsheets, the Phoenix sports company spent too much time manually calculating all the applicable tables.


“We were looking for a highly functional, cost-effective software solution to help us meet the complex payroll demands of our teams,” said Sheila Guy, director of payroll services for the Phoenix sports clubs. Having one cohesive solution to automate our payroll processing has allowed us to spend more time on strategic decision-making.”

After intensive one-on-one meetings with key industry players, the organization went live on Ultimate Software’s UltiPro solution in early 1999, and the HR and payroll departments saw immediate advantages:

  • The time to process payroll has been reduced from six hours on average to only 20 minutes.

  • State tax formulas are stored in UltiPro, eliminating the need for manual calculations. This streamlined efficiency saves the payroll department substantial time and results in increased productivity.

  • UltiPro offers hundreds of standard and customizable reports, giving each team the ability to perform trend analysis on demand.

  • Historical records and background information are immediately accessible on all active and inactive players and managers.

  • UltiPro allows the entry and calculation of a flat percentage tax. Users can enter a specific percentage amount to withhold instead of using the standard method of specifying a filing status (single, married, etc.) and a number of allowances. This is particularly useful for players with large salaries who want a specific percentage withheld based on their accountant’s computations.