Top Online Payroll Software Vendors For Your Business

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In the past, processing payroll was a time-intensive process. Calculating hours worked, rates of pay, accounting for taxes and writing checks are just the basic tasks in order to accurately pay employees for their work. Fortunately, payroll software streamlines the process from start to finish, enabling HR managers of any skill level to complete payroll with just a few simple clicks. However, with so many products on the market, it can be difficult to determine which solution is the best fit for you. For many companies, online payroll software is an excellent option that provides the extra benefits of scalability and mobile capabilities.

If you’re not sure if a cloud-based solution is the best fit for your business, feel free to take your time reading through all of the information in this article to help gain a better understanding of what a cloud-based payroll system is and what it can do. If you’ve already determined that an online product is what you’re looking for, then go ahead and skip ahead to see some of our top picks!

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Online Payroll Software

What This Article Covers

On-Premise vs. Online Payroll Software

There are a lot of reasons why you might choose to implement an online payroll solution. However, cloud-based products aren’t always the best option for every business. It’s important to understand the difference between on-premise and online systems so that you can ensure that a web-based product is right for your specific business needs.

On-Premise Solutions

On-Premise solutions are, as you’d expect, systems that are housed on internal servers. Businesses who implement these types of products purchase a license or a copy of the software to use the system. This cost is typically a bit more expensive upfront than a cloud-based solution; however, it is typically a one-time fee with licenses that can be renewed annually. It’s important to note that the cost of these solutions can include additional expenses external from the system itself. Because the product is housed internally, it is not uncommon for businesses to find themselves facing additional costs for servers, integrations and IT staff to maintain the products operating capabilities.

Online Solutions

Unlike on-premise products, cloud payroll software is accessed directly through the internet. Cloud-based systems, as the name suggests, are housed on your vendor’s servers and accessed online. Rather than a one time fee, choosing a web-based system often requires businesses to opt-into a monthly subscription plan. Choosing to use a cloud-based solution relieves some of the burden of system management, requiring the vendor to maintain the application and all of its functionality.

Considerations for Buyers

While some businesses may find they need to comply with special regulations for their industry that require them to implement an on-premise system, online payroll software is an excellent option for the majority of businesses. It offers greater flexibility and eliminates the need to hire additional IT support to maintain in-house servers. However, no solution is perfect, so be aware of both the strengths and weaknesses of an cloud payroll solution to determine if it is truly the best software for your business.

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Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of cloud-based solutions is flexibility and increased opportunity for collaboration. Online solutions are accessed directly through the internet, giving you the ability to process payroll from anywhere at any time — just so long as you have an internet connection. The ability to access the system from anywhere also increases your ability to be collaborative with other members of your team. Team members can complete individual tasks and provide input directly through the system, even when they aren’t sitting at their desk, ensuring that all payroll tasks are easily completed on time. This way, your employees always receive their paychecks without any issues.

And while on-premise solutions may require manual updates as your software needs change, many cloud-based solutions scale with your business as it grows. Additionally, because the solution is housed externally, your business doesn’t need to rely on advanced computers to utilize the system. Cloud-based solutions can function on both a high-end laptop and a mobile device, meaning you won’t need to spend additional funds to ensure your solution works at the highest level.

Pitfalls

Though cloud-solutions are an increasingly popular solution, they are not a perfect product. As with any product, future cloud payroll software users should consider potential downsides to the solution before implementing it. Specifically, users should consider what their security needs are and be aware of whether or not an online vendor is able to meet those needs. By implementing a web-based solution, you’re placing the burden of security on the vendor. Fortunately, many online vendors take security very seriously. However, some industries require special security and privacy considerations, so be aware of what level of security you need, and be sure that the vendor you select can provide that.

While the ability to utilize the solution from any location is an undeniable benefit, it also presents the possibility that the solution will not be accessible. Implementing a web-based product means that you need reliable access to the internet to use the platform. The potential loss of internet connection would leave you without access to the system, potentially delaying payroll processing. Choosing an online payroll software requires that you have excellent internet connectivity in order to use the product.

Questions to Ask Yourself

When you begin searching for a payroll vendor, it’s important that you’re aware of what type of buyer you are. This requires you to consider a variety of factors that may influence your software selection process. You need to be aware of everything — from your price range to available implementation resources. Below, we’ve listed a few questions you might want to ask yourself to ensure nothing is forgotten when you begin shopping for cloud payroll software.

  • What is your price range?
  • How many people do you need to process payroll for?
  • Do you need basic payroll software or a full HR suite?
  • How much support do you need to implement a new solution?
  • What are the core tasks you need the system to complete?
  • How many people need to access the system?
  • Do you have special requirements that require customization to the system?

What to Look for in a Payroll Solution

When you begin the search for a payroll product, it’s important that you’re aware of what your specific needs are. Though every business typically want the same core features, such as payroll management, your business might prioritize certain features and functionalities over others. Knowing which features are most important for your business guides your search and streamline the process of comparing software vendors.

Begin by looking at what challenges you currently face when it comes time to process payroll. Then you can assess what type of features will help to alleviate some of these pain points and determine which functionalities you don’t want to compromise on. You might even discover that you need more than what a payroll solution can offer and choose to implement a full HRIS instead. Regardless, you’ll want to be prepared with a shopping list of what features you need. We’ve listed a few of our top features below, but if you’d like more guidance on what features to prioritize for your business, then consider utilizing our requirements template.

  • Payroll Management and Processing: This is the core feature of any payroll solution. This feature assists in calculating pay rates, process payroll each period and even facilitate payments through methods such as direct deposit.
  • Compensation Administration: Managing compensation involves far more than just a regular paycheck. This function supports users in managing all aspects of how you pay your employees, including things like bonuses and pay raises.
  • Tax Services: One of the most complicated aspects of processing payroll is accounting for taxes, which is why a robust tax services feature helps ease the pains of calculating taxes and ensure compliance with the most current regulations.
  • Workforce Management: This feature centralizes a variety of tools that can streamline payroll processing. This feature provides employees with self-service functions and providing additional tools to managers such as time and attendance management.
Compare Payroll Software Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

The Best Online Payroll Software

Now that you have a clear picture of what cloud payroll software is and what to look for, it’s time to begin narrowing down which vendors are at the top of the industry. However, with so many vendors in the market, it can be hard to know where to start, much less sift through the marketing terms to determine which vendors actually offer valuable solutions. That’s why we’ve combed through the various online payroll vendors to determine what some of the leading solutions are, based on research from our team of analysts. You’ll find a rundown of our top five cloud payroll systems below.

Paycor

Paycor is a human capital management system that offers a variety of HR tools, suited for small to medium-sized businesses. The most noteworthy function of the system is its customizable payroll module. In addition to core HR features and payroll tools, Paycor also provides employee self-service functionality to help give employees a full view of their compensation.

Paycor

Users can setup direct deposit electronically

Some of Paycor’s noteworthy features include tax compliance assistance and unified reporting. The tax compliance feature calculates compensation premiums, depositing money after it’s been debited from the company’s accounts and filing reports in order to ensure compliance with labor and tax laws. The system’s full reporting suite can create a variety of reports to track and analyze relevant payroll data.

In addition to payroll, Paycor also assists with applicant tracking and time and attendance. The solutions ATS allows recruiters to post new positions to job boards and store resumes all in one central location. The product also offers a biometric time clock feature to facilitate time tracking and prevent issues such as buddy punching.

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Quickbooks Payroll

Quickbooks Payroll is a product from Intuit, designed to meet the payroll needs of small to medium-sized businesses. The solution supplies tools that support calculating and filing payroll taxes, facilitating direct deposit and general payroll processing. The solution also offers tools to assist with tasks not directly related to payroll, including time tracking and workforce management.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks purposes data into graphics to give users a visual overview of payroll processes.

Quickbooks’ robust tax function is able to track tax rates, calculate what taxes should be deducted from an employee’s paycheck and ensure business taxes are paid on time. The system can automatically calculate taxes for each pay period and allows employees to view their tax documents through the solution’s self-service function.

Through the mobile app, employees are able to access the time tracking feature to track and submit timesheets, which a manager can then approve. This feature can also generate schedules, send notifications by text and send alerts to managers when employees are in danger of hitting overtime limits.

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ADP Workforce Now

ADP Workforce Now is a full human capital management suite, designed to meet the needs of medium-sized companies. In addition to payroll tools, ADP provides users with time and attendance, talent management, benefits management and general HR tools. The product can also automate a variety of tasks, including report creation.

ADP Workforce Now

Dashboards allow users to view all employee information in one location.

The solution provides real-time data related to payroll, such as gross-to-net calculations. Both employees and managers can access data and other types of information, such as direct deposit and historical payroll information, directly through the self-service portal. This feature is also available directly through the mobile app, allowing team members to access the portal from any internet-connected device.

The solutions reporting templates allow managers to analyze payroll totals, employee deductions, personnel changes and extract tax reports to create unique reports, which can then be exported to Microsoft Excel. The system also offers general ledger integration, which allows managers to import files into the general ledger, including expense reports.

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Gusto

Gusto is a payroll system designed for small and medium-sized businesses. The system provides tools to address core payroll needs as well as a variety of integrations. Gusto offers robust tax assistance, helping to ensure compliance across all 50 states.

Gusto

Employees can request time off directly through the system

After automatically calculating deductions and considering multiple pay rates, the system deposits employee paychecks directly into their bank account. Each pay period, the solution automatically calculates local, state and federal taxes before processing pay. Gusto can also automate taxes by issuing and filing tax forms like W-2s and 1099s for both employees and contractors by leveraging e-file and e-sign capabilities.

For a more robust solution, Gusto integrates with accounting, time tracking, point of sale, expense management and banking partners. By integrating time tracking, the system is able to import employee hours to help automate payroll processing. The solution can also import information from benefits management solutions to synchronize benefits and payroll calculations, ensuring each pay period reflects accurate deductions for things like medical insurance and retirement plans.

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Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll is a customizable solution that can scale to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. The system guides users through a three-step process to run payroll. With Patriot’s approach, managers can enter the number of hours an employee works, approve final totals and process paychecks.

Patriot Payroll

Managers can input data for each pay period to process payroll

The system’s employee portal allows employees to view their information at any time via their own secure login. This feature also allows employees to clock-in and clock-out for shifts, view specific information about individual pay periods, edit their personal information, reference employee policies and manage their tax withholdings.

Managers can also add tips to the weekly payroll, which will then be itemized on pay stubs, enabling the solution to withhold taxes and include this information in year-end tax documents. Patriot Payroll also manages all payroll deductions and employer contributions during any given pay period. This includes deductions such as FICA Tax, wage garnishments, 401k contributions and more.

Price: $$$$$
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Compare Payroll Software Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

The Wrap Up

The right payroll solution can serve as an incredible tool for your HR department. From automatically calculating rates of pay to facilitating direct deposit, the right system can streamline the entire process from start to finish. Some systems can automate nearly every task, making payroll processing as simple as reviewing the pay period and approving the paychecks. Once you’ve narrowed down your own list of top vendors, ask vendors for a demo so you can ensure the solution will meet your needs — many vendors even offer free trials so that you can test drive the product before making a commitment. From there, all that’s left is to compare prices and make a final decision.

Which online payroll software is at the top of your list and why? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Mariah HansenTop Online Payroll Software Vendors For Your Business

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