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Paycom

Paycom offers user-friendly HR and employee-driven payroll technology to enhance the employee life cycle, in a single software. Paycom drives efficiencies, increases data integrity and gives employees power over their HR informat...Read more about Paycom

4.34 (705 reviews)

164 recommendations

Paychex Flex

Paychex Flex is a human capital management solution that's designed using web-based modular technology and a dedicated service center to help meet the HR needs of employers of any size and industry. With a single login, users can ...Read more about Paychex Flex

4.11 (1254 reviews)

98 recommendations

Eddy

FrontRunners 2022

Eddy is the all-in-one HR Suite built for local businesses. With Eddy, businesses can streamline tedious HR processes and improve their employee experience by moving away from paper and spreadsheets and into our intuitive, web-bas...Read more about Eddy

4.62 (39 reviews)

89 recommendations

UKG Pro

UKG Pro is a powerful, global HCM solution. Transform your business with a truly connected global workforce experience delivered through resilient and mindful HR technology. From payroll to talent, to service delivery, to surveys,...Read more about UKG Pro

4.23 (462 reviews)

71 recommendations

isolved

isolved is an employee experience leader, providing intuitive, people-first HCM technology. Our solutions are delivered directly or through our HRO partner network to more than five million employees and 145,000 employers across a...Read more about isolved

3.89 (393 reviews)

67 recommendations

Paycor

Paycor creates Human Capital Management (HCM) software for leaders who want to make a difference. Our HCM platform modernizes every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop people, to the way you ...Read more about Paycor

4.37 (2348 reviews)

66 recommendations

BambooHR

BambooHR offers small and growing companies a human resource information system (HRIS) that includes an applicant tracking system (ATS), time tracking, payroll processing, employee engagement and employee satisfaction tools, autom...Read more about BambooHR

4.58 (1906 reviews)

66 recommendations

RUN Powered by ADP

The RUN Powered by ADP® (RUN) solution is designed to make your small business payroll quick and easy. With a streamlined process and powerful technology, you'll complete payroll in no time. Choose from basic payroll to a full sui...Read more about RUN Powered by ADP

4.47 (727 reviews)

63 recommendations

Cloud9HR

Our Cloud9HR Software is designed for easy navigation and daily use ranging from employee onboarding and management to payroll processing and supporting reports. Payroll tax compliance is the root of our product. With over 25 ye...Read more about Cloud9HR

No reviews yet

61 recommendations

Centrally HR

HCM solution that helps manage and automate onboarding, benefits management, employee database, timekeeping and more....Read more about Centrally HR

No reviews yet

57 recommendations

Asure Payroll & Tax Management

Asure’s end-to-end Payroll, HR, and Time and Attendance solutions were developed specifically for small to mid-sized businesses. Take your business to the next level with an integrated Human Capital Management platform that helps ...Read more about Asure Payroll & Tax Management

3.43 (7 reviews)

53 recommendations

PayPro Workforce Management

Over the past 30 years, Paypro has grown into a full service Human Capital Management provider, helping its clients in all aspects of payroll, time and labor management, human resources and employee benefits. Paypro has built its ...Read more about PayPro Workforce Management

4.63 (8 reviews)

47 recommendations

Zenefits

FrontRunners 2022

Zenefits is an all-encompassing HR SaaS platform designed specifically for small to midsize businesses. The Zenefits People Platform includes a robust offering spanning HR, Benefits, Payroll, Well-being and Performance apps that c...Read more about Zenefits

4.20 (798 reviews)

46 recommendations

Workzoom

Workzoom is the all-in-one Workforce, Payroll and Talent solution that consolidates and automates your people management. Bring your whole team together with a centralized hub for accessing personal information, company updates an...Read more about Workzoom

4.40 (5 reviews)

36 recommendations

Namely

FrontRunners 2022

People are complex, but your HR solution shouldn’t be. Namely gives you the resources to make your life easier and your employees happier. With modern, intuitive technology and a world-class team of HR experts, Namely empowers peo...Read more about Namely

4.15 (417 reviews)

33 recommendations

Rippling

FrontRunners 2022

Rippling is the first way for businesses to manage all of their HR, IT, and Finance — payroll, benefits, computers, apps, corporate cards, expenses, and more — in one unified workforce platform. By connecting every business system...Read more about Rippling

4.89 (1797 reviews)

32 recommendations

Equip

Equip Payroll by Primepoint offers payroll solutions designed specifically for small business owners and managers. Equip focuses on the unique needs of small businesses, including unlimited payroll processing, tax services, direct...Read more about Equip

No reviews yet

30 recommendations

Gusto

FrontRunners 2022

Gusto is a modern, online human resource platform that helps any small business owner take care of all hr tasks. Gusto offers HR tools and HR services to help with managing employee onboarding, running payroll, administrating heal...Read more about Gusto

4.65 (3596 reviews)

27 recommendations

APS Payroll

FrontRunners 2022

Automatic Payroll Systems (APS) has a mission: to make payroll and HR easier. They have been providing payroll and tax compliance services to companies since 1996. In 2004, APS released its cloud-based solution for workforce manag...Read more about APS Payroll

4.61 (615 reviews)

26 recommendations

Dayforce HCM

Dayforce, provided by Ceridian, is a solution for payroll, benefits, workforce management, human resources, talent management, document management, and analytics. As a single application, Dayforce provides organizations with acces...Read more about Dayforce HCM

4.27 (691 reviews)

24 recommendations

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: October 06, 2022

What is payroll software?

Payroll software is a system that handles payroll services including payroll taxes, compensation, year-end bonuses, pay stubs, paid time off, benefits management, and organizing employee records. Many organizations outsource the payroll process, but you may decide that in-house is best for your company, and there are many payroll software 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

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

In preparing a run, the system will calculate payroll deductions such as federal taxes, local taxes, and state taxes (including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and disability insurance). They will then print payroll 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, relocation for new hires, 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 user-friendly so the learning curve to set up and start processing payroll is very low. These time savings add up. 

(Source: IRIS Software and Services)

Increase accuracy and decrease risk. Additionally, a payroll software solution can help business owners 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. 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 time-consuming task. The payroll software will track these changes so you don’t have to.

Generate reports. Finally, payroll solutions allow you to track payroll information over time and quickly produce useful reports for internal decision makers, accountants, and auditors. Examples of what’s in a payroll report include summaries of quarterly costs, annual tax remittances and historical employee benefits participation.

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:

Small businesses: A small business owner looking to streamline their payroll processing will want a solution dedicated 100% to payroll, but at a very affordable base price. Odds are you own payroll yourself at this time, so you need to find the best payroll software for your small business. (See our small business payroll guide for example vendors.)

Midsize businesses: Human resources professionals at midsize companies or larger (50+ employees) will benefit from more than just basic payroll functions. At this level, onboarding, direct deposit, tax filing, and other features such as attendance tracking and time tracking become more valuable, and for that the buyer will want a more comprehensive human resources management system.

Large businesses: These buyers are looking to expand beyond the human resources department into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package that incorporates full service payroll processing, talent management, and possibly the human capital management system. This will ensure tight integration between payroll and other HR functions, as well as accounting and other department-specific systems.

Another consideration is the type of operating system (OS) you'll be running the software on. For example, if you're a Mac user, you may want to look at products designed specifically for the Mac interface. Alternatively, an increasing number of products are OS agnostic, meaning that they are optimized to run in a web browser and are not dependent on a particular OS. See our list of payroll products well suited to Macs for more.

The availability of a mobile app could also be a factor when considering online payroll software. Not that you'll be able to run payroll or perform tax filings, but employees could submit time-off requests, update their personal info such as phone numbers, and make changes to other payroll options.

Businesses such as professional employer organizations (PEO) and administrative service organizations looking to track payroll services for their employees should consider PEO software.

Popular payroll software comparisons

Market trends to understand

  • 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 normal for payroll applications. Because tax laws change frequently, any online payroll software you buy will need to be updated at least annually. Online payroll systems provide an excellent answer to that concern, as vendors automatically update the software with legal changes so that tax compliance is uncomplicated 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, employee self-service tax filing, access to personal payroll data, personal benefits, bank account details for direct deposit, paystubs, timesheet data, and absence planning and reporting.

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.