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Compare Payroll Software Systems

This page is managed by
Brian Westfall, Market Research Associate
Last updated: September 9, 2014

Top 10 Most Reviewed Payroll Software Systems

UltiPro UltiPRo offers unified sets for various HR functions, including payroll, benefits admin, and time & attendance. A cloud-based solution, the system is accessible 24/7 on devices with Internet connectivity, giving it global reach.
        81 Reviews


in the last 30 days
Bullhorn ATS and CRM Bullhorn will reduce the time and cost of payroll processing with its quick, accurate and easy-to-use payroll software. Designed to grow with your business, this solution will keep your organization agile and efficient.
         53 Reviews
BambooHR BambooHR is a cost-effective SaaS-based system, recommended for small to mid-size organizations. Whether you want help with compliance issues or deeper payroll integration, this software can be tailored to your business needs.
        23 Reviews


in the last 30 days
Namely Suited for companies making up to $1 billion in revenue, Namely is an HRIS solution that offers both competency and people management features, as well as time off requests and team planning. Namely is accessible via mobile app.
        15 Reviews


in the last 30 days
Zenefits Zenefits HRIS offers Web-based compatibility with both Macs and iPads. The interface allows new employees to sign all agreements online, and it only takes one click to remove former employees from the payroll and benefits system.
        13 Reviews


in the last 30 days

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Kronos Workforce Central Kronos Workforce Central simplifies payroll and employee time & attendance tracking. This solution is excellent for organizations of all sizes--even Fortune 1000 organizations--seeking a complete payroll management suite.
        10 Reviews


in the last 30 days
APS OnLine APS provides payroll and tax compliance services for businesses. Its time clock feature uses GPS technology to control where employees clock in and out. Its app, APS Mobile, enables users to access this information from anywhere.
        8 Reviews


in the last 30 days
Ascentis Ascentis Payroll is an online system that can reduce payroll processing time up to 30%. With a customer base of more than 1,500 organizations and superior customer support, Ascentis is a great option for almost any business.
        7 Reviews


in the last 30 days
HRsmart HRsmart offers its compensation management system as a standalone solution or as part of a full talent management suite. Either way, it will streamline your payroll process and scale to your organization's needs.
        6 Reviews


in the last 30 days
Criterion HCM With fully integrated payroll and a full suite of HR applications, Criterion HCM is a great fit for mid-sized companies in a number of industries, including education and nonprofits, seeking an all-in-one solution.
       4 Reviews


in the last 30 days

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Buyer's Guide

Every company must process payroll for its employees. As a company grows, a reliable system that processes payments quickly and easily becomes critical. In order to do this, companies have two options: outsourcing to a provider, or keeping payroll in-house.

Cost and time savings are the main draw when outsourcing. A company avoids the fixed costs of a full-time salaried employee and staff can focus on their core competencies. However, by outsourcing, companies lose control over the process, and have less flexibility.

Organizations should perform a cost-benefit analysis, as when evaluating any other type of business decision. However, if once you have performed this analysis and decided that in-house is best for your company, there are many payroll solutions available to streamline the task.

But determining which solution is best for you can be overwhelming. We’ve created this guide to help you navigate the vendor landscape. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Payroll Software Functionality
Benefits of Payroll Software Buyer Types
Market Trends to Understand

Payroll Software Functionality

This type of solution tracks a variety of information related to employee compensation and benefits. This includes everything related to wages (pay type and frequency, bonuses, withholdings, etc.); paid vacation and time-off benefits; and one-time or recurring benefits like health insurance, educational assistance, moving expenses and retirement plans.

In preparing a run, the system will calculate federal, state and local taxes (including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and disability insurance); print checks or execute direct deposits; and export data directly to accounting software or in a format that’s compatible for import to an accounting system. It should also support reimbursements for mileage and other travel expenses, as well as any other expenditures fronted by employees.

Finally, the software should prepare tax forms and reports for the employer, employees and contractors, such as the 940, 941, 944, 1099, W2, W3 and 1099-MISC.

Benefits of Payroll Software

If your company is tracking employee information and processing payments manually, payroll solutions could save you time, money and a lot of headaches by mitigating compliance risks.

Save Time
The biggest and most obvious benefit of a payroll management system is that it saves time, which, in turn, saves money. These solutions are designed to be highly intuitive, so the learning curve to set up and operate basic paycheck software is very low.

These time savings add up. For instance, when the manufacturing firm Renaissance Veneer Specialty Products, Inc. implemented ADP's solution after having run payroll manually for years, the company’s HR manager said, “What used to take two days now takes...about half a morning.”

Time Saved with Payroll Software

(Source: IRIS Software and Services)

Increase Accuracy and Decrease Risk
Additionally, these systems help companies ensure they remit the correct amount of paycheck-related taxes and file applicable reports on time. When running payroll manually, even an honest mistake, such as a multiplication or rounding error, can have significant effects. In fact, a 2012 study, ADP found that one third of mid-sized companies incur penalties for noncompliance. These solutions will complete tax filings and reports for you, and remind you when they’re due.

And simply keeping up with the changes to the tax code is a daunting task. These systems track these changes so you don’t have to.

Generate Reports
Finally, paycheck processing solutions allow you to track information over time and quickly produce useful reports for internal decision makers, accountants and auditors. Examples include summaries of quarterly costs, annual tax remittances, and historical employee participation in 401k programs.

NuView Payroll Reporting
Vendors such as NuView HR include comprehensive payroll reporting functionality.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

For many companies, payroll is just one component of their software needs, but not always. There are several different levels of buyers, and these categories will help you determine the software that will best fit your needs:

These types of buyers... Should evaluate these sytems...
Small Businesses Smaller companies simply looking to streamline their process will want a solution dedicated 100% to payroll, but at a very affordable price point. Example vendors: Triton HR, ADP.
Mid-sized Businesses Human resources professionals at medium-sized companies or larger (50+ employees) will benefit from more than just basic payroll functions. At this level, recruitment, workforce management, and other features like scheduling and attendance tracking become more valuable, and for that the buyer will want a more comprehensive human resources management system. Example vendors: Ascentis, ADP, Kronos, NuViewHR, Vista HRMS.
Large Businesses These buyers are looking to expand beyond the human resources department into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package that incorporates payroll processing. This will ensure tight integration between payroll and other HR functions, as well as accounting and other department-specific systems. Example vendors: Epicor HR, Sage, Omniprise HRM, Lawson HR.

Market Trends

More Payroll Software is Now Web-based
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)--a deployment model where the vendor hosts the software on its own servers and clients access the solution through their web browser--is becoming more prevalent for payroll applications. Because tax laws change frequently, any software you buy will need to be updated at least annually. Online systems provide an excellent answer to that concern, as vendors automatically update the software with changes to tax laws for you.

Employee Portals are Becoming More Popular
Across the board, HR software is becoming more employee-centric. The availability of employee portals, on both SaaS and on-premise solutions, is growing. Look for more functionality that’s targeted toward employees; for example, access to personal pay history, personal benefits, bank account details, attendance and timesheet data, and absence planning and reporting.

Ascentis Employee Portal
Vendors such as Ascentis enable employees to view personal profiles through Employee Portals.

Increasing Number of Mobile Software Applications
To support remote workers on the go, ADP released a free version of the its mobile payroll app in 2011 for use on Apple iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. Other companies were soon to follow, with vendors such as Intuit and SurePayroll releasing mobile apps as well. These mobile solutions let payroll managers remotely manage important aspects of their paycheck processing, such as employee information, direct deposits and reporting. Meanwhile, by going mobile, vendors offer more employee self-service functionality including access to paycheck information and retirement account balances.

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