Shelby Hiter is a technology writer and editor who previously managed editorial strategy for TechRepublic, Webopedia, LinuxToday, and SoftwarePundit. Her work has appeared in online…
Shannon is a writer and editor focusing on the tech space. She has previously worked as an editor for Healthline and MedicalNewsToday. She also covers…
For growing businesses, it’s worthwhile to invest in top-tier payroll software that helps you manage all its intricacies and compliance with local laws. In this guide, we’ll walk through the best payroll software solutions for 2024, assessing key features, pros and cons, and how each solution compares against competitors.
Need a quick idea of which solution is the best of the best? Our research points to Gusto, a tool that combines small-business-software usability and customer support with a distinct global presence and advanced, native payroll features.
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To create this guide, we assessed more than a dozen top-ranked payroll software solutions on criteria such as pricing, core features, integrations, ease of use and automation, customer support, and global presence.
Gusto is a top solution for small and midsize businesses alike because of its flexible features and global presence.
Unlike many competitors, there are no limits on how many payroll runs admins can do per month, which helps manage multiple pay schedules and worker types, as well as any emergencies or errors that may arise.
While multiple payroll runs can be difficult to manage, Gusto supports these users with accessible automations and award-winning customer support advisors and resources.
Learn more in our full Gusto review.
Gusto is available in four pricing tiers, with one package dedicated to contractor payments. All plans come with access to third-party partners and integrations.
Compared to other global payroll solutions providers, including ADP and Gusto, Deel takes it a step further by covering global payroll needs in more than 150 countries.
It also supports more than your basic payroll, local currencies, and local tax needs, offering support for government declarations, immigration and workers’ visas, and contractor-specific requirements in each country.
However, bear in mind that most other competitors on this list are a better option if your admins or employees want a mobile-friendly user experience.
Learn more in our full Deel review.
While Deel advertises that its solution is free for up to 200 people, it appears this price only applies to Deel HR, which natively includes very few payroll features. Pricing information for Global Payroll is only available to prospective buyers who opt into a free demo with the vendor.
Rippling offers one of the most user-friendly integration libraries on the market, offering a range of third-party apps for 401k and pension management, expense and compensation management, benefits, time and attendance, and accounting, and legal.
And while Rippling is not the most comprehensive global payroll provider, it surpasses the capabilities of several other global competitors with automated general ledger integration and syncing.
Learn more in our full Rippling review.
Rippling is not transparent with its pricing model, at least not without contacting the vendor for a quote. Pricing starts at $8 per user per month, but the website does not clearly indicate which Rippling tool(s) can be purchased for that price. No free plan or trial is available to users, which can be detrimental to smaller teams or companies investing in payroll software for the first time.
Paychex Flex is a great solution for employees in particular because of the self-service access and payment options it provides.
While other vendors, such as Gusto and ADP, offer capable mobile apps, Paychex goes above and beyond with accessible mobile documents and a chat feature where employees can directly speak with admins about any questions they have.
Paychex also offers multiple pay options, including direct deposit, paycards, paper checks, e-checks, same-day ACH, pay-on-demand, and real-time payments.
Direct deposit, pay cards, onsite check printing, employee onboarding, analytics and reporting, and tax administration features are all available with the baseline plan. More advanced features can be purchased as an add-on or with higher-tier plans. Currently, new users can complete a six-month free trial.
While competitors like Deel, Rippling, and Gusto boast global customers and enterprise-level capabilities, ADP is the primary vendor on this list that can demonstrate success and customer loyalty from enterprise customers.
Its platform is well integrated with ADP’s other HR and tax services, making it a great all-in-one solution for larger businesses.
Additionally, this solution is a pioneer on many technological fronts, including generative AI — it is one of the only tools on the market that has generative AI built in for user assistance.
Learn more in our full ADP review.
Though ADP offers almost no pricing information transparently, it provides a user-friendly experience by creating solutions that cater to businesses of all sizes.
Roll by ADP is best for extremely small businesses, RUN Powered by ADP is best for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, ADP Workforce Now supports companies with 50 to approximately 1,000 employees, and ADP HCM caters to organizations with more than 1,000 employees.
QuickBooks Payroll offers an easy-to-use solution that is particularly capable when it comes to tax and legal compliance for payroll runs.
It is also one of the best solutions on the market for contractor payroll, offering both contractor-only and integrated product tiers that support unlimited 1099 e-files, next-day direct deposit, and income and mileage tracking.
It’s important to note that while QuickBooks’ features are well-suited to small businesses, pricing plans can quickly get expensive, regardless of your business size or goals.
Learn more in our full QuickBooks Payroll review.
With each of these plans, users are eligible for a 50% discount for the first three months if they opt out of the 30-day free trial.
OnPay is a small-business-centric payroll solution that offers flexibility and advanced features through an intuitive user interface.
While its features are limited in terms of global and enterprise-level operations, it is an effective solution for a small business’s payroll requirements.
Learn more in our full OnPay review.
OnPay offers only one pricing option in an effort to be transparent and avoid hidden fees. This approach is friendly to small-business needs, though it could hurt larger businesses that could find volume discounts elsewhere.
The best overall payroll software is Gusto, a solution that balances the needs of small businesses and mid-market companies with global operations and employee experience expectations.
In particular, this solution sets itself apart with favorably reviewed customer support and employee tools, more than 120 countries covered for global payroll, and advanced features for automation and unlimited payroll runs.
The cloud-based architecture enables payroll software providers to access key payroll data, run tax calculations, and file taxes for you. They can also securely process online payments and safely store your payroll data on encrypted online servers.
Additional benefits of cloud-based solutions include being able to run payroll from anywhere, on any device, as well as enabling your team to access their payroll information in real-time.
That said, cloud-based payroll solutions require a stable network connection, but that shouldn’t be an issue in this day and age. Also, there’s no need for software download or complex setup since everything is accessed through a web browser or a mobile app.
The only potential advantage of desktop payroll apps is that they work in offline mode since the data is stored locally. Consequently, this means that you’ll have to have a ton of free space on your device’s hard drive to store the data, as well as print paper checks and manually file taxes.
We tested payroll software with the following key features and performance metrics in mind:
To choose the best software for your business, reflect on the following decision-making criteria:
The best global payroll provider is ADP, Gusto, or Deel, depending on your specific requirements. Smaller global businesses should select either Gusto or Deel, while global enterprises should opt for ADP.
Global payroll software is a unified software platform that allows payroll and HR professionals to manage payroll runs, benefits, local taxes, compliance, and more for multiple locations around the world.
Yes, ADP can do international payroll and other HR-related tasks in more than 140 countries.
Paychex indirectly offers international payroll support through third-party international partners in more than 140 countries. However, the company and its tools do not directly offer international payroll features.
Shelby Hiter is a technology writer and editor who previously managed editorial strategy for TechRepublic, Webopedia, LinuxToday, and SoftwarePundit. Her work has appeared in online publications such as TechRepublic, eWeek, Datamation, eSecurity Planet, Enterprise Networking Planet, CIO Insight, Project-Management.com, Insurance Thought Leadership, and AllBusiness.com. Over more than five years of working in this space, she has developed particular expertise in artificial intelligence, big data, project management, open-source software, HR, healthcare tech, and fintech. She also specializes in marketing and communication strategies as well as academic writing. Shelby holds a master's degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago. Follow or…
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