The storied past of payroll processing is long, and unless you’re a payroll history buff, it’s mostly very boring. Perhaps the only fun fact hidden in the history of payroll is that ancient Egyptians were paid in beer — among other things like bread. We’ve come a long way from paying employees in bread in beer, mostly due to the invention of paper money. A more recent development is the introduction of payroll software. If you’ve decided it’s time for you to introduce a new system into your business, then you’ll want to choose from the best payroll vendors.
You’ve decided it’s time to move out of the outdated model of manual payroll processing, which can take up to 5 hours just to calculate payroll at the end of each period. Or perhaps your old system isn’t working quite as well as it used to. Whatever the case, you’ve decided it’s time for an upgrade and you’re looking for the best of the bunch.
So what do you need to know before you begin searching and comparing? A good starting point will be understanding what a payroll product is capable of doing. You’ll then want to develop a list of must-have requirements to help you conduct your software comparison. Then, take a look at our “Best Dressed” list of payroll vendors for this year and begin comparing.
Compare Payroll Software Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide
What Can Payroll Software Do?
Payroll software is a handsome addition to your HR department. At a minimum, it can save you a lot of time when it comes to processing payroll. If you’re processing your payroll manually, it can take up to 20 minutes per employee just to calculate how many hours they worked in any given pay period. If you only have a handful of employees that task may be simple, but it becomes increasingly more complicated when you have to account for overtime, sick time or vacation hours. Payroll systems can do all of that work for you, and that’s just a basic function.
Each system offers a multitude of payroll tools to assist you in your payroll processing. Every system will do basic payroll tasks such as calculating pay rates and assist in direct deposit. However, some of the more noteworthy tools can assist with tracking time and attendance, accounting for benefits and even help you prepare for tax season.
There are a lot of system options out there, and clearly, each system can do a lot. It seems as though you’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before you determine which system is your prince. But there has to be a better system, right? Fortunately, there is. Developing a list of requirements and using that list to guide your search and compare vendors allows you to focus on what your unique organizational needs.
What to Look For When Comparing Payroll Software Vendors
When it comes to payroll software (in-depth look: what is payroll software anyway?), there are a lot of fish in the sea. So how do you know which fish is the one you want to take home? Start by assessing what your major pain points are when it comes to payroll. Then develop a list of must-have features that you need from your new payroll app. From there you’ll be able to eliminate any system that doesn’t meet your needs and see how the rest compare.
That’s still a tall order. With so many features and functions, it can be hard to know where to begin. We know that finding the right software can be overwhelming, and we want to help. Take a look at some of our key requirements below to get a head start on building your own list of must-have features — or, if you’d like a bit more guidance, get our free comparison guide which can help break down the different features each system offers.
- Core HR: There are a lot of factors involved in payroll. It involves accounting for a variety of benefits, which could vary from employee to employee. This function helps you to track all of this information. Some systems even have employee self-service functions, which allows your employees to adjust their benefits without an HR manager acting as a middleman.
- Payroll Processing: This is likely the core function you want your system to perform. Consequently, you’ll want to evaluate what specific tools are included within this feature, as it may vary from vendor to vendor. Some of the factors you want to consider when evaluating this feature is what types of payment processing the system supports. For example, if all of your employees utilize direct deposit then a system with automated check printing may not be beneficial to you.
- Payroll Management: This feature goes hand in hand with payroll processing. Perhaps the most useful tools within this feature are those that can help you calculate taxes and generate relevant payroll forms.
Workforce Management: The amount written on your employees’ paychecks will vary from week to week depending on how many hours they work each week. This feature contains tools that will help you to track all of this information. Some of those specific tools include time tracking, absence management and scheduling functionalities.
- Compliance Management: There are a lot of laws and regulations to be aware of when it comes to compensating your employees. There are mountains of legislation that dictate the minimum employees can be paid as well as defining when benefits must be offered. There are also regulations specific to various benefits. That’s a lot to keep track of, and it certainly doesn’t help that these laws and regulations can change at any time. A compliance management feature can ensure that you’re always in compliance with these regulations. Some systems will even update automatically when a law changes, ensuring that there’s never a lapse in compliance.
The “Best Dressed” Payroll Software Vendors This Year
Based on the reviews of trusted experts and our top-notch analysts, we’ve compiled our own list of payroll vendors. Each system assists with a variety of payroll tasks with its unique and innovative interface. If you’re just beginning to search for a new payroll system, then this list will be a good starting point to see which vendors check the boxes on your checklist of must-have features.
Implementing payroll software can be an arduous task, especially if you’ve been using a manual system or simply aren’t tech savvy. In addition to its user-friendly platform, UltiPro offers excellent support — eliminating all of the ailments of transitioning to a new payroll product. UltiPro’s exemplary support means that you’ll always have someone familiar with the ins and outs of the system who can give detailed answers to your specific questions.
An additional benefit of UltiPro is its recruitment and employee lifecycle management feature, which beats out competitors on our “best dressed” list. This feature allows you to track and manage candidates applications and evaluate them on a variety of factors, such as skills and career aspirations. This feature also allows candidates to search and apply for jobs through social media in addition to your company’s website.
One of ADP’s best qualities is its employee self-service tools. These tools allow employees to easily access their pay stubs, W-2s and retirement balances. This means that you won’t have employees slowing down your HR team every time they have a question about their retirement information or want to check their timecard.
If you already utilize other ADP software, then integrating this system with your existing systems will be a breeze. If you don’t use other ADP software, integration can still be easy. This system offers integration options that are compatible with a variety of third-party accounting, payroll and HR management systems.
Workday’s system is incredibly user-friendly and easy to navigate. If you’re looking for a system that you will be able to learn to use quickly, then Workday is a great option. Each category is listed on the home screen, making it easy to find what you need.
Workday has excellent payroll processing capabilities that allow users to define criteria for specific earnings, perform multiple payroll calculations and much more. Additionally, the easy-to-use dashboard allows you to run reports and analyze trends at any time.
Namely is another solution that offers excellent support to users. It also has a variety of integration options built in for various third-party applications, which will help you streamline all of your HR processes. If you aren’t using another HR system, Namely can help with that as well.
Namely has excellent core HR functions. The system offers a full-service payroll system, an advanced employee database, time off tracking and reporting tools. There’s a lot that this system has to offer. If you don’t use a lot of software within your business, Namely is a good solution that can help to automate more than just simple payroll tasks.
Much like the other systems on our “Best Dressed” list, Sage Payroll features an easy-to-use interface, perfect for any user who is new to using HR software. Sage’s great reporting tools allow you to easily generate reports to highlight a variety of different data points. The system also allows you to easily export data.
Additionally, the Sage system’s recruiting tools allow you to automate recruiting and onboarding processes. For example, the system can automate and streamline the paperwork process by allowing users to e-sign relevant documents. These tools can also connect to your businesses’ social media accounts to help you maximize your reach when looking for qualified candidates.
BambooHR possesses excellent payroll management tools. These tools can automate basic payroll functions, as well as assist in tax preparation and filing of year-end taxes. This system also allows users to make adjustments to their information. For example, users are able to change their direct deposit preferences and make adjustments to their deductions.
With a user-friendly interface and excellent payroll support, Bamboo is a great solution that covers all of the basics.
The Wrap Up
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes time to shop for payroll software. To find the software that’s right for your business needs, you’ll need to know what your top needs are and conduct a thorough comparison — if that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Fortunately, our expert team of analysts is happy to help by giving you an in-depth comparison report. In the end, only you can make the final decision about which software is right for you.
Which payroll vendors make it onto your “Best Dressed” list? Let us know by leaving a comment below.