Best Payroll Software 2021 - Overview

  • Overview
  • Buyer's Guide
  • Resources

Payroll software is a suite of tools designed to help companies more efficiently and accurately handle payroll activities such as payroll processing, employee paycheck disbursement, and tax calculation and filing. 

Payroll software is extremely efficient and replaces manual, error-prone processes with streamlined systems you can automate to ensure that employees are paid on time and taxes are appropriately calculated and filed.  Fines and penalties for incorrect or late payroll taxes can be quickly become hefty costs for a company, and using Payroll software can help minimize this risk by automatically calculating the appropriate taxes and withholdings for each employee to ensure that all taxes are accurate and filed on time. 

The top Payroll software features and tools include:

  • Payroll Processing, Paycheck Disbursement, and Tracking
  • Direct Deposit and ACH Payment Options
  • Tax Calculation, Compliance, and Filing
  • Compensation Tracking
  • Self-Service Tools
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Tax and Labor Law Compliance Management

The benefits of Payroll Software include:

  • Eliminates payroll errors and costly mistakes
  • Ensures payroll processing is accurate and on-time
  • Offers more payment options for employees (check, direct deposit, payment card, etc)
  • Automates payments for employees 
  • Saves time, reduces costs, and improves efficiency
  • Easy to use without technical expertise
  • Improves compliance with tax calculations and filing options
  • Provides reporting and analytics for increased insights and process improvements

Cloud-based software solutions are a continuing trend in business as they offer mobility and flexibility demanded by an ever more mobile business landscape. Payroll software is no exception. More businesses are choosing to embrace SaaS payroll solutions that provide convenient and mobile-accessible tools to support a business on the move. This also means that small companies can afford payroll systems much earlier than in the past, simply due to the lower cost and barrier to entry on a cloud software versus a more expensive on-premise system.

Employee self-service dashboards and mobile access to payroll software solutions are also trending. As a result, payroll software vendors are focusing on providing more employee-focused tools that people can use to manage their time and benefits with their company more seamlessly.

Payroll is an essential part of every business with employees. As you’re growing your business, you will need to put the right processes in systems in place to ensure that you have a reliable and efficient way to keep your employees paychecks flowing out on time, while also accounting for variable such as taxes and benefits.

Selecting or switching to the perfect payroll software solution for your company involves deep business examination and thoughtful research and analysis of the features and system capabilities that will best suit your business now and scale with you as you grow.

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Cost (All)
 
Platforms (All)
 
Company Size (All)
Solution Name
Wheelhouse Score
Rating
Features
Pricing
Wheelhouse Score
4.31/5
Excellent
Rating
4.50/5
Excellent
Features
4.44/5
Excellent
Pricing
Economy

RUN, powered by ADP, is a web-based payroll solution tailored to the payroll needs of small businesses. RUN can integrate with multiple third-party accounting software and human resource management services from ADP to give you a full spectrum of features and tools you need to manage everything from...

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Patriot Software Payroll

By Patriot Software

Wheelhouse Score
4.11/5
Excellent
Rating
5.00/5
Excellent
Features
3.33/5
Above Average
Pricing
Economy

Patriot Payroll from Patriot Software is a cloud-based payroll software tailored to small businesses up to 100 employees who need powerful, but affordable, tools for managing payroll processing and tax filing. With this solution, you can easily maintain payroll records, print checks, establish direc...

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APS

By APS

Wheelhouse Score
3.83/5
Above Average
Rating
4.50/5
Excellent
Features
5.00/5
Excellent
Pricing
Mid-Range

APS (Automatic Payroll Systems, Inc.) provides payroll and tax compliance services to small to medium-sized companies, and has been for almost 20 years.

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Paycor

By Paycor, Inc.

Wheelhouse Score
3.56/5
Above Average
Rating
5.00/5
Excellent
Features
1.67/5
Average
Pricing
Economy

More than 30,000 medium and small businesses nationwide trust Paycor to help them engage, manage and develop their people. Paycor is known for delivering the best unified HCM platform for the SMB market, featuring user-friendly Payroll & Tax compliance software, HR & Benefits, Learning Manag...

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Paychex

By Paychex Inc.

Wheelhouse Score
3.49/5
Above Average
Rating
4.00/5
Above Average
Features
3.47/5
Above Average
Pricing
Lower-Cost

Save time and improve payroll accuracy. Paychex makes it easier to enter employee hours, calculate payroll taxes, and keep up with wage and hour laws – without taking time away from your business.

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TriNet

By TriNet

Wheelhouse Score
3.44/5
Above Average
Rating
4.00/5
Above Average
Features
4.31/5
Excellent
Pricing
Mid-Range

Trinet offers full-service human resources (HR) and payroll solutions tailored to the needs of small and midsize businesses including: payroll processing, payroll administration and electronic W-2 preparation and delivery. TriNet enables users to view estimated invoices, and it updates in real time....

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FINSYNC

By Finsync

Wheelhouse Score
3.17/5
Above Average
Rating
4.00/5
Above Average
Features
2.50/5
Average
Pricing
Lower-Cost

FINSYNC is an all-in-one financial management system that is designed to help small to midsize businesses grow and succeed.

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Gusto

By Gusto

Wheelhouse Score
3.16/5
Above Average
Rating
3.00/5
Above Average
Features
3.47/5
Above Average
Pricing
Lower-Cost

Gusto offers small businesses an online payroll solution that's completely flexible to your needs, including:

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Namely

By Namely

Wheelhouse Score
3.16/5
Above Average
Rating
4.30/5
Excellent
Features
3.19/5
Above Average
Pricing
Mid-Range

Namely offers a cloud-based solution for mid-size companies who want a powerful way system to manage HR, payroll, benefits, and talent all in one place.

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Wheelhouse Score
3.12/5
Above Average
Rating
4.00/5
Above Average
Features
2.36/5
Average
Pricing
Lower-Cost

QuickBooks, powered by Intuit, is an accounting software that is designed to fit the accounting needs of small and mid-sized companies. Quickbooks offers an array of programs and different tools and features that can be customized to fit the exact needs of your business.

More details about Payroll software

What is Payroll Software?

Payroll software is a suite of tools for managing and automating payroll processing, distributing employee paychecks, and calculating taxes. Payroll software is an efficient software for all types of companies that want to ensure accurate payments to employees, stay in compliance with tax laws, and automate payroll processes for reduced costs and efficiency. 

How Does Payroll Software Work?

Payroll software works by automating payroll processing and empowering employees with options to edit their personal information, update details, and choose how they want to receive payments (check, direct deposit, or payment card). Payroll software integrates with core business systems, such as HR and Accounting software, to help ensure that employees receive their paychecks on time.

What is HR and Payroll Software?

HR and Payroll software are often combined into a singular system so that employee payroll, benefits, training, career development, and time & attendance can be managed in a centralized platform. However, there are also stand-alone Payroll software systems that benefit smaller companies or businesses looking to streamline payroll alongside their existing accounting and HR systems. 

What are Main Elements of Payroll?

The main elements of payroll include:

  • Processing paychecks for employees (Salary, Hourly, Contract)
  • Calculating Income Tax, Social Security Withholding, and Payroll Tax
  • Storing employee records and payroll data
  • Providing employees and admins tools to simplify and streamline payroll processes

What are the Common Features of Payroll Software?

The common features of Payroll Software are:

  • Accurate, On-Time Payroll Processing
  • Direct Deposit and ACH
  • Tax Calculation and Filing
  • Admin Tools for Managing Compensation
  • Self-Service Tools for Employees
  • Compliance Management
  • Reporting & Analytics

What are the Benefits of Payroll Software?

The benefits of Payroll Software include:

  • Eliminates Payroll Errors and Costly Mistakes
  • Ensures payroll processing is accurate and on-time
  • Automates payment methods for employees (check, direct deposit, payment card, etc)
  • Saves Time, Reduces Costs, and Improves Efficiency
  • Easy to use without technical expertise
  • Improves compliance with tax calculations and filing options

Is Payroll Software Needed by a Company and Why?

Payroll software is needed by a company because it helps avoid critical, costly mistakes in processing payroll, calculating taxes and withholding, and storing employee payroll data. 

Do You Need Payroll Software?

You likely need payroll software if you have one or more employees. Payroll software can help companies of all sizes with tools for preparing and processing payroll and accurately calculating taxes and withholding. Some payroll software also offers tools and services to help with tax filing.

What are the Challenges with Payroll Software?

The challenges with payroll software include:

  • Accurately paying employees while relying on manual payroll processing and payment disbursement.
  • Staying updated on labor laws, payroll tax changes, and other regulatory changes impacting how employees are paid. 
  • Accurately keeping payroll records for all employees.
  • Maintaining data privacy and security.
  • Managing payroll activities in a streamlined, efficient manner.
  • Overcoming software incompatibilities when introducing payroll tools to a business.

Why is Compliance a Payroll Challenge?

Compliance is a payroll challenge because there are large penalties for incorrectly filing taxes or failing to adhere to tax laws and payroll regulations. 

How Much do Payroll Systems Cost?

Payroll systems cost anywhere from $25 a month to $200 a month for basic payroll tools like payroll processing, paycheck disbursement, self-service portals for employees and admin, tax calculation and filing, and direct deposit payment options. 

How to Buy Payroll Software?

You can use the following checklist to help you determine how to buy the best Payroll software for your business.

  • Focus on business needs, payment issues, and growth goals driving the decision to get a new or upgraded Payroll system.
  • Plan for data migration, implementation costs, IT involvement, and any downtime that may impact ongoing employee payroll.
  • Make a plan to support user adoption through training.
  • Understand the Payroll processes you’re looking to streamline and automate.
  • Don’t skip the product demos offered by Payroll software vendors to show features and functionality.
  • Understand reporting and analytics needs for Payroll and HR.
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