A Graphic of the Top-Performing Payroll Software Products
FrontRunners quadrants highlight the top software products for North American small businesses. All products in the quadrant are top performers. Small businesses can use FrontRunners to make more informed decisions about what software is right for them.
To create this quadrant, we evaluated over 250 Payroll Management software products. Those with the top scores for their capability and value made the quadrant.
Scores are based largely on reviews from real software users, along with other product performance details (e.g., what features they offer, how many customers they have).
Nope, Products in Any Quadrant May Fit Your Needs
Every product in this quadrant offers a balance of capability (how much the products can do) and value (whether they’re worth their price/cost) that makes them stand out in the race for small business software success.
FrontRunners has four sub-quadrants:
Depending on the specific needs of a software buyer, a product in any of these sub-quadrants could be a good fit.
Why? To even be considered for this FrontRunners, a product had to meet a minimum user rating score of 3.75 for both capability and value. This means that all products that qualify as FrontRunners are top-performing products in their market. They appear in the quadrant in relation to how their peers performed.
For some buyers, a specific FrontRunners sub-quadrant might be best. For example, buyers wanting a core system focused on essential payroll functions might consider systems on the left side of the quadrant, while those looking for a more comprehensive platform with features like tax management and wage garnishment might look on the right.
You can download the full FrontRunners for Payroll Management report here. It contains individual scorecards for each product on the Frontrunners quadrant.
Products Are Scored Based on User Reviews and Other Data
You can find the full FrontRunners methodology here, but the gist is that products are scored in two areas, Capability and Value.
To be considered at all, products must have at least 10 reviews and meet minimum user rating scores. They also have to offer a core set of functionality—for example, in order for payroll products to be considered for FrontRunners, they must offer payroll management, time tracking and the ability to calculate total payroll cost.
From there, user reviews and other product performance details, such as the product's customer base and the features it offers, dictate the Capability and Value scores. Capability is plotted on the x-axis, and Value is plotted on the y-axis.
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For more information about FrontRunners, check out the following:
Have questions about how to choose the right product for you? You’re in luck! Every day, our team of advisors provides (free) customized shortlists of products to hundreds of small businesses.
Just Follow Our External Usage Guidelines
Check out the FrontRunners External Usage Guidelines when referencing FrontRunners content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all FrontRunners reference(s) and graphic use:
FrontRunners scores and graphics are derived from individual end-user reviews based on their own experiences, vendor-supplied information and publicly available product information; they do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.
Providers listed as Runners Up were considered for inclusion in the quadrant, but were ultimately not included for one or more reasons: they did not have enough reviews; they did not meet the reviews score minimum; they did not meet the ultimate Value and Capability minimum scores; or they did not meet our functionality requirements for the market.
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:
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 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.
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.”
(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, in 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.
Vendors such as NuView HR include comprehensive payroll reporting functionality
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 percent to payroll, but at a very affordable price point. Example vendors: Triton HR, ADP. (See our small business payroll guide for more.)|
|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.|
Another consideration is the type of operating system 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 operating system-agnostic, meaning they're 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.
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