11 Best Payroll Software Solutions for Small Businesses

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Rea Regan September 29, 2021 10 min read

Do you dread doing payroll? Thankfully it’s the 21st century and there are some great payroll softwares for small businesses available today. Here’s a list of the top 11 small business payroll softwares you can implement today!

10 Best Payroll Software Solutions for Small Businesses

Quick Guide

    Don’t you just LOVE managing payroll?

    Show of hands, please! 

    Who here just can’t wait for that time of the month (or week) to calculate employee wages, PTO, taxes, benefits, and all those other super-fun payroll things? 

    What? No one? What a shock!

    Seriously though, the shocking part of payroll is the ridiculous length of time small business owners and bookkeepers spend on payroll and federal employment tax compliance management. 

    Just consider:

    With numbers like these, it is no wonder employers and bookkeepers are pulling their hair when it’s time to manage payroll. 

    Payroll Mistakes - Survey
    https://smallbiztrends.com/2020/07/surepayroll-compliance-survey.html

    After all, payroll is the last thing you want to deal with, but it is the first thing you should get right. It’s a double-edged sword!

    And every small or medium business owner also knows that payroll is indispensable, just like human resources and time tracking

    You just can’t keep your business moving forward without payroll. 

    On top of that, even the most dedicated and loyal employees want a steady paycheck so you really can’t afford mistakes. Plus, the amount of time you need to dedicate to payroll is insane and that’s putting it lightly. 

    You need to invest time to calculate checks, properly manage withholdings, enter all the payment amounts picture-perfect, and process direct deposit and checks – yeah, that can take you the WHOLE pay period to complete. And complete properly, without mistakes. Yikes.

    With all that time spent on payroll, you would think that payroll would be bulletproof and immune to mistakes but, unfortunately, payroll is very prone to mistakes

    • In fact, 33% of employers report making habitual payroll mistakes. 
    • The American Payroll Association shows an error rate of between 1-8% of total payroll in companies that use traditional timecards.
    • Roughly 40% of small businesses incur an average of $845 a year in IRS penalties as a result of mismanaged payroll processes.
    Cycle-Time-in-Business-Days-to-Resolve-a-Payroll-Error-1024x548
    https://www.cfo.com/accounting/2017/04/metric-month-payroll-errors/

    In fact, depending on company size, the best-performing organizations take, at most, two to four days to resolve a payroll error. The worst performers need five to 10 days, or more.

    So what do we do? 

    We turn to automation and increasingly sophisticated payroll and time and attendance software solutions

    The issue isn’t a lack of available, and often effective, payroll management applications but rather the challenge of picking the right one. In our research, we found over 200 different payroll software vendors, ranging from fresh new startups on the scene to familiar old faces like Kronos and Quickbooks.

    Track Employee Hours & Streamline Payroll Processes

    The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments. That is what payroll software excels in, but if you’re paying your employees on an hourly basis, it does require you to use software that excels in tracking employee work time.

    With Connecteam’s leading time tracking solution, you can expedite the timesheet review and approval process and can also export it in your preferred format to simplify payroll. Connecteam is designed to help you save time with quick actions and visual flags that point out what matters: auto-calculated breaks, overtime, double-time, daily limit, auto clock-out, add shifts in bulk, accommodate multiple shifts a day, add absences, and much more.

    Connecteam timesheets and payroll

    #1 Time Tracking Software

    Accurately track employee hours for payroll with Connecteam!

    11 Best Payroll Software Solutions

    QuickBooks Online Payroll

    Intuit quickbooks is a great payroll software solution. With QuickBooks you can easily manage expenses, send invoices, and even track inventory. Managers can even set payroll to run automatically so they can focus on the bigger picture. 

    Key Features:

    Activity dashboard

    Automatic billing

    Billing and invoicing

    Budgeting/forecasting

    Expense tracking

    Payroll management

    Inventory tracking

    Pros & Cons

    Easy to use

    Nice user interface

    Poor customer service

    Pricing:

    Their most popular plan costs $80/month and includes 5 users.

    Free trial: 30-day free trial

    Free plan: Yes

    Connecteam’s time and attendance software can integrate with QBOP.

    Gusto Payroll

    Nothing affects the length of time spent on payroll management like the application user experience. The word on the bookkeeping street is that Gusto is the most user-friendly solution available on the market right now, which makes Gusto one of the front-runners in the category. This is one of the reasons we expect to see Gusto grow its share on the market.

    Key Features:

    Benefits management

    Check printing

    Direct Deposit

    Electronic forms

    Employee database

    Document management

    Pros & Cons

    Great user experience

    Users complain the customer support is unresponsive

    Pricing:

    The Core plan has a $39/month base fee with an additional $6/user per month.

    Free trial: No

    Free plan: No

    Paychex Flex

    Paychex is one of the most popular payroll software for small businesses but also one of the more expensive solutions, mostly due to public demand. Rumor around the accounting department’s water cooler is that Paychex is robust but not simple, easy to use, or set up. 

    That can be a huge factor for small businesses when they’re looking for the best payroll software. Paychex requires a lot of personal information to get started and running reports comes with its share of red tape and added costs.

    Key Features:

    Check printing

    Benefits management

    Compensation management

    Direct deposit

    Employee database

    Pros & Cons

    Great import and export capabilities

    Desktop, mobile, kiosk access

    Difficult to implement

    Poor customer service

    Pricing:

    You must speak to a sales representative in order to receive a price quote.

    Free trial: No

    Free plan: No

    RUN by ADP

    The solutions offered by ADP, and specifically their small-business oriented RUN, are very similar to those offered by above mentioned Paychex – expensive but popular. This solution is for you if you prefer to send employees physical paychecks rather than direct deposit as ADP can (for an additional fee) print, sign, and mail paychecks on your behalf.

    Key Features:

    Benefits tracking

    Check printing

    Compensation management

    Direct deposit

    Employee database

    Payroll reporting

    Pros & Cons

    Mobile access

    Easy to use

    Can be expensive for large teams

    Pricing:

    In order to receive a price quote you must speak to a representative.

    Free trial: Yes

    Free plan: No

    Sage Payroll

    One of the cheapest payroll solutions out there for small businesses, Sage Payroll (now isolved). Now it may lack the bells and whistles that other payroll software have to offer, but for many businesses, it is more than enough in terms of functionality. One of its main strengths is security – your payroll information in the cloud is fully encrypted, and user access permissions can be customized to ensure data security and integrity.

    Key Features:

    ACA reporting

    Benefits management

    Billing & invoicing

    Check printing

    Compensation management

    Direct deposit

    Employee database

    Payroll reporting

    Pros & Cons

    HIPAA compliant

    Mobile access

    Difficult to use

    Poor customer service

    Pricing:

    To receive a price quote you must speak to a representative.

    Free trial: No

    Free plan: No

    sure payroll user interface

    The jury is still out on SurePayroll’s ability to faithfully serve the needs of small businesses. While some claim it has a user-friendly and intuitive interface, others complain that the user experience is clunky and it takes a while before processes are properly streamlined.

    In addition, some users are happy with the broad pre-defined set of fields and variables in the application database, and others despise the complex and long employee registration process. We’re not telling you this to provide you a wishy-washy review that’s neither here nor there. Payroll software has to be flexible and SurePayroll demonstrates their ability to be flexible through their user experience, which is a sign of a good payroll solution. 

    Key Features:

    Benefits management

    Check printing

    Compensation management

    Direct deposit

    Employee database

    Payroll reporting

    Wage garnishment

    Tax compliance

    Pros & Cons

    Mobile access

    Easy to use

    Can be expensive for large teams

    Users complain it is difficult for employees to navigate

    Pricing:

    Pricing starts at $19/month with an additional $4/user per month.

    Free trial: 2 months

    Free plan: No

    Wagepoint

    If you’re looking for the best-rated service and support, you should really check out what Wagepoint’s offering. And since they’re Canadian, you can probably trust their claim to have the friendliest support and service staff around. In addition to clear and affordable pricing, Wagepoint offers a free trial period to let you try before you buy.

    Key Features:

    Direct deposit

    Tax compliance

    W-2 preparation

    Wage garnishment

    Pros & Cons

    Superb customer service

    Easy to use

    Users remark that the reporting feature is weak

    Only desktop access

    Pricing:

    Pricing includes a $20 base fee and an additional $2/user.

    Free trial: No

    Free plan: No

    PayCor Perform

    Like many other payroll software solutions, PayCor is about much more than just payroll. It is a modular system that can be used for payroll alone, or use additional modules offered on the platform to manage all employee “lifetimes” within the company, from recruiting to departure. Did we already mention that flexibility is important to payroll software?

    Key Features:

    401(k) tracking

    Benefits management

    Check printing

    Compensation management

    Direct deposit

    COBRA administration

    HIPAA compliant

    Employee database

    Payroll reporting

    Pros & Cons

    Desktop and mobile access

    Feature rich

    Some users complain the interface is confusing

    Pricing:

    Basic plans start at $99/month for payroll services.

    Free trial: No

    Free plan: No

    BambooHR user interface

    Bamboo HR is another great payroll software solution for small businesses. While specifically made for US-based employees, BambooHR provides an easy, 3-step solution to payroll. BambooHR saves employee information like wages, hours, bank account numbers, employee benefits, deductions, or withholdings and automatically transfers to the payroll process. Additionally, they have an employee portal so employees can access their payroll information (paystubs, direct deposit accounts) at any time. Lastly, they provide over 100 exportable payroll reports. 

    Key Features:

    401(k) tracking

    Compensation management

    Benefits management

    Billing & invoicing

    Direct deposit

    Deduction management

    Employee database

    Payroll reporting

    Retirement plan management

    Wage garnishment

    Pros & Cons

    Easy to use

    Desktop and mobile access

    Confusing user interface

    Pricing:

    In order to receive a price quote you must speak to a representative.

    Free trial: Yes

    Free plan: No

    Rippling user interface

    Rippling is another good payroll software solution for small businesses. Rippling boasts that their payroll software can run payroll within 90 seconds, completely automatically. The payroll software provides automatic compliance and automatic tax filing. 

    Additionally, they provide payroll services for employees all over the world. Rippling payroll software for small businesses allows users to create reports from pre-built templates or fully customizable. Lastly, Rippling integrates with over 400 different apps to make your HR manager’s life easier than ever!

    Key Features:

    Check printing

    Compensation management

    Compliance management

    COBRA administration

    Deduction management

    Direct deposit

    HIPAA compliant

    Payroll reporting

    Tax compliance

    Life insurance administration

    Pros & Cons

    Easy to use

    Top notch customer service

    Difficult to implement

    No live support

    Pricing:

    The payroll feature costs $8/user per month.

    Free trial: Yes

    Free plan: No

    Paycom user interface

    Paycom, another payroll software, allows employees to manage their timecard, expenses, PTO, benefits, and payroll as well! “Beti”, the digital payroll checker, checks the payroll to ensure there are no errors and helps employees fix mistakes. Paycom can even write paper paychecks! Paycom also provides garnishment administration and tax management.

    Key Features:

    Benefits management

    Check printing

    Compensation management

    COBRA administration

    HIPAA compliant

    Health insurance administration

    Payroll reporting

    Wage garnishment

    Tax compliance

    Pros & Cons

    Desktop and mobile access

    Good customer service

    Can be difficult to use

    Outdated user interface

    Expensive

    Pricing:

    In order to receive a price quote you must speak to a representative.

    Free trial: No

    Free plan: No

    Frequently Asked Questions About Payroll Software

    1. Do small businesses need payroll software?

    Yes. In order to ensure there are no payroll errors and discrepancies, it’s important— even for small businesses to invest in payroll software. 

    2. Can payroll software help with issues such as tax compliance and workers compensation?

    Yes! A robust payroll software will be able to calculate payroll while simultaneously calculating taxes, workers compensation, wage garnishments, PTO, and more. Not all payroll software services provide this though, so make sure that the payroll software you choose supports these features

    3. Are payroll softwares hard to use?

    That depends on which payroll software you choose is the best fit for your business. Not all payroll softwares is easy to use. Some payroll software tools listed above allow you to request a guided tour with a customer support agent who can help show you more about their software. After a demo, you’ll have a better understanding if it will be easy for you and your HR manager to use. 

    The Bottom Line On The Best Payroll Software For Small Business

    Payroll software is the first to enter the HR cycle in any business. Without payroll software, you cannot pay your workers or comply with tax laws without investing a great deal of time in paperwork. So it’s no wonder there’s such a broad selection of payroll management and automation solutions out there – there’s something for everyone, and everyone needs something.

    Usually, but not always, the person choosing the payroll solution will be a bookkeeper or an accountant because they are the ones charged with producing payroll that is both compliant and accurate. Therefore, many will choose a payroll solution based on the accounting software they use because, well, it’s easy. But, that’s not always a great idea.

    Though it can be more complicated in the short run to choose payroll software that is different from your accounting software it could actually end up saving you time and money. That’s why shopping around is always a good idea, especially if you have your best interest at heart, and hey, why wouldn’t you?

    Now, on the odd chance that you want to run payroll but are not a bookkeeper or accountant then, once again, you need to consider a different set of criteria for your search. Simply remember to start by outlining what it is you hope to accomplish using this software. What are its must-haves, and then use this article to make your choice? 

    Connecteam – Leading Time Tracking App

    Easily track and manage work hours on jobs and projects, improve your payroll process, the way you manage timesheets, and collaborate with your out-of-office employees like never before.

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