Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped thousands of small businesses choose the right payroll software so they can calculate wages and make sure workers are paid on time.

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Paycor

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

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Recent recommendations: 99 recommendations

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RUN Powered by ADP

RUN Powered by ADP (RUN"), is a web-based payroll solution designed for small businesses. The solution can be deployed on either iPhones, iPads or on any touchscreen device. RUN can integrate with multiple third-party accounting s... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 61 recommendations

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Deluxe Payroll and HR

Deluxe's online payroll solution provides your business with comprehensive, full-service payroll and HR solutions with dedicated customer service. ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 60 recommendations

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Rippling

Rippling makes it easy to manage your company's Payroll, Benefits, HR, and IT—all in one, modern platform. It brings all of your employee systems and data together, and helps automate your busy work. Take onboarding, for exa... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 55 recommendations

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UZIO

UZIO is a SaaS-based online marketplace that provides cloud-based HR, payroll, and benefits management software and services. It is built for businesses of all sizes. This integrated solution offers local/regional brokers, employe... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 53 recommendations

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Zenefits

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

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Recent recommendations: 49 recommendations

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Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll from Patriot Software is an integrated human resource (HR) and payroll management solution that helps to streamline the different processes associated with managing payroll payments and tax submissions. The solutio... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 32 recommendations

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APS

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 management. APS delivers a s... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 32 recommendations

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Powerpay

Powerpay by Ceridian is a cloud-based payroll and HR software for small businesses in Canada. This solution is designed to help eliminate the need for manual processes and paperwork when managing employee information. Powerpay can... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

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Workful

Workful is a cloud-based payroll and employee management solution designed to help small businesses automate processes for internal communication, time tracking, onboarding and more. Key features include direct deposit, geo-fenced... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

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Justworks

Justworks makes it easier to start, run, and grow a business. With Justworks, entrepreneurs and their teams get access to big-company benefits, automated payroll, compliance support, and HR tools - all in one place. Justworks... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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Viventium Software

Viventium Software is a cloud-based payroll and human resources (HR) solution for small to mid-size businesses. Key features include payroll, HR, talent acquisition, ACA tracking, business intelligence, time and attendance, benefi... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Payroll Connected

Payroll Connected is a fully automatic online payroll processing software. Just enter the hours worked, and it’s done! Stat, Vac, OT and deductions are calculated automatically. Plus ROEs, T4s, reports and more. Payroll Connected ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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TeamPay

TeamPay by ADP is a payroll solution designed for Canadian small business owners. The solution is cloud-based, protected by double-layer authentication, and allows users to access systems from multiple devices through a secure sys... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Evolve HCM

Evolve HCM is a SaaS human resource and payroll solution for small to medium-sized cannabis employers. Our product is a fully integrated, fully mobile enabled, full suite human resources application which includes: Recruitment, On... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Gusto

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

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Hubstaff

Whether businesses are starting up a new team or looking for a better way to manage employees, Hubstaff has everything required to run teams confidently. With the innovative and robust time tracking and task management solution, e... Read more

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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

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Paylocity

Paylocity is a cloud-based human capital management (HCM) platform that provides human resources and payroll management tools to help businesses of any size manage core HR functions. Key features include payroll processing, benefi... Read more

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Square Payroll

Square Payroll is a full-service payroll solution that helps small businesses pay employees through online payroll management and handle payroll tax. It can be integrated with a variety of payment processing tools, accounting soft... Read more

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: June 24, 2021

For a small business owner like you, there are two ways to manage the payroll process: use an in-house payroll software solution or outsource to a payroll service provider. But if you don't want to share your sensitive payroll data with a third-party payroll provider, then buying software is your best bet.

There are a number of vendors that provide payroll software tailored specifically to the needs of small businesses. This guide will give you a head start on choosing the right system.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is small business payroll software?

Small business payroll software helps small business owners streamline and automate payroll processing and employee benefits management. The software helps save time and effort as well as reduces the chances of manual payroll errors.

An online payroll solution is designed to help small firms process payroll in-house. It often includes modules for time tracking, payroll tax filing, and benefits administration. It automates data entry and tedious processes that users would otherwise have to do manually, saving both time and labor costs.

There are many different payroll solutions available on the market. Larger companies might need deeper functionality for managing Human Resources (HR) in multiple locations or tools for complex reporting as part of their payroll system. But small businesses typically need an online payroll solution with basic capabilities such as compensation, time tracking, and tax filing.

Common features of small business payroll software

These systems often come with some or all of the following core capabilities:

Compensation Found in every system, this application automates payroll processing. Users assign pay rates to employees, and employee hours are entered directly or imported. The system then automatically calculates wages and generates paychecks. Direct deposit options are usually offered, and bonuses, commissions, overtime, and tips can be added.
Time and attendance Time clock functionality allows employees to clock in and out. Administrators can also track employee attendance.
Tax filing Automatically prepares, files, and pays state and federal taxes. Alternatively, provides payroll tax calculations and/or documents for users to prepare and file taxes manually.
Insurance and benefits Some systems have functionality for insurance and benefits administration. This allows users to enroll employees in insurance benefits and manage benefit elections. Paid time off can also typically be accrued and tracked.

What type of buyer are you?

Many different solutions cater to the needs of small companies, but not all small businesses are created equal. Consider what your requirements are as you begin researching for an online payroll software solution:

Basic payroll needs: If you are looking only for a basic solution to streamline payroll processing, consider entry-level, affordable products with functionality that cater specifically to your payroll management needs.

More robust workforce management needs: Perhaps you need a payroll system that also offers more robust tools such as tax compliance and filing, insurance and benefits administration, and employee management.

Growing business with payroll and HR needs: If your business is growing and you know you may need to scale up to a full HR software suite, consider a vendor that offers tiered packages that let you easily upgrade without having to learn a whole new system.

Benefits of small business payroll software

There are many benefits to choosing a payroll software solution over running payroll manually. These include:

  • Automation of tedious processes: First and foremost, you’ll save time once spent cutting checks and filing taxes. The software automates manual payroll tasks, so you have more time to spend building your business.
  • Reduced labor costs: You’ll also save money by cutting down on the labor costs associated with payroll processing. For some companies, small business payroll software can even eliminate the need for a full-time payroll employee.
  • Greater accuracy and lower risks: In addition to saving time and cutting costs, a good payroll system will increase accuracy and decrease risk. Automated payroll processing eliminates the possibility of human errors. The software will also remind you of important deadlines, so the risk of incurring penalties decreases significantly.
  • Integration with existing software: Many small business payroll systems can integrate with the other HR tools and accounting software your business may already be using. This can streamline operations and reduce errors even further.

Market trends to understand

Here are a few trends to be aware of as you search for new software in this market:

Cloud-based software:

Most of today’s small business payroll solutions are deployed in the cloud. Since users log into the software from their internet-connected device, cloud-based systems can be accessed from anywhere.

With traditional on-premise systems, businesses had to buy updated software each year to keep up with changing payroll tax laws. Now, cloud vendors simply update their products as laws change, and the changes are reflected in users’ systems automatically—with no need to buy anything new.

Mobile accessibility: As cloud-based software has become more popular, so too has mobile access to payroll systems. Many vendors now offer native mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, which provide a seamless on-the-go experience.

Some vendors offer employee self-service mobile apps, as well. These allow workers to access their own salary and benefits information remotely. Look for this trend to continue in the future.