Workforce Technology

A Comparative Analysis of ADP Competitors in Payroll Processing

Delve into the analysis of ADP’s payroll processing services and compare them against the biggest ADP competitors.
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Payroll processing is an inseparable part of running any business since it involves the correct and timely management and distribution of employees’ paychecks. It also covers tracking vacation days and sick leave and managing benefits, taxes, and retirement contributions. But this mistake-prone administrative task can be formidable for even the most skilled HR professionals and accountants. 

Since a paycheck is the primary source of income for most of the workforce, even a slight mishap could cost them and the organization considerably. Errors or delays in payment can cause frustration and financial stress, affecting job performance and overall job satisfaction.  

To minimize mistakes and ensure that all regulations and taxations are in order, companies can outsource payroll processing. In fact, 73% of organizations outsource some aspect of payroll, according to Deloitte. However, since it is a sensitive matter, the third-party provider must be reliable and meet employers’ unique requirements and budget. 

One of the biggest players in the payroll processing industry is ADP, which has dominated the market for over seven decades. The company has a comprehensive set of tools for those looking to optimize their payroll operations. 

But is this provider compatible with any business? 

To help employers search for payroll software, in this Shortlister article, we will do an in-depth analysis of ADP’s payroll processing services and compare them against the biggest ADP competitors.

ADP Overview & ADP Alternatives

ADP, short for Automatic Data Processing, has been a major player in the payroll industry for decades. Founded in 1949, when paper ledgers were still widely used, the company was among the first to embrace emerging technology, from mainframe computers to cloud computing, leading to its major success today. 

Another reason behind the company’s affluence is its industry-leading human capital management (HCM) solutions. ADP covers everything from basic payroll to HR management, tax and compliance, outsourcing, and HRIS. In other words, the entire employee lifecycle, from hiring to retirement. 

Main Features 

The provider offers two types of payroll services, for small companies with up to 50 employees and a full payroll service for medium to large companies.

Small Business Payroll

(1-49 employees)

Medium to Large Business Payroll

(50-1000+ employees)

·       Automated online payroll, including tax filing and payment 

·       Federal, state, and local compliance, with easy access to mandatory forms like W-2 and W-9 

·       Simple integration with time-tracking and HR features (depending on the plan) 

·       Self-service app for employees 

·       Expert support  

·       Fully automated payroll 

·       Automated employee data syncing 

·       Integration with HR, benefits, talent, etc. 

·       Scalable levels of service and outsourcing 

·       Flexible payment 

·       Native mobile app for employees and managers 

·       Expert support 

 

Price Plans 

ADP has multiple plans that fit into two categories, depending on the number of employees. This provider uses the pricing model per employee per month (PEPM) with a monthly base fee.  

Although the company’s not too upfront about its pricing, according to some sources, the cheapest plan (Essential) starts at $79 per month plus $4 per employee. Additionally, with small business payroll, employers get three months for free, and there’s also a possibility for a one-person payroll.







Small Business Payroll 

(1-49 employees) 

 





Medium to Large Business Payroll 

(50-1000+ employees) 





  • Essential – basic payroll and HR features for startups, like tax filing, payroll delivery, background checks, and onboarding. 

 

  • Enhanced – Essential features plus garnishment payment service, labor law posting compliance, SUI management, and job posting. 

 

  • Complete – Enhanced features plus phone and email access to HR support, HR training, forms, and documents, an employee handbook wizard, a job description wizard, and proactive compliance alerts. 

 

  • HR Pro - Complete features plus designated HR support team, employer and employee training, business advice, and legal assistance. 

 



Midsized to enterprise payroll is available through ADP Workforce Now, a comprehensive HCM solution for large employees with three price plans, EssentialEnhanced & Premium. 


Payroll features are included in all three plans: 

  • Real-time processing 
  • Payroll dashboard with error detection alerts 
  • Prorated and retroactive pay adjustments 
  • Expert tax filing and payment services 
  • Library of built-in reports 
  • Custom report builder 
  • General ledger interface 
  • DIY hours, earnings, and deductions 
  • Batch import capability 
  • Payroll preview before submitting 

 





Three months free  

 



No free plan/free trial 

Overall, its comprehensive set of tools makes this vendor a good fit for employers looking for complete automation on payroll, HR, and other HCM solutions. However, ADP’s implementation and use can be challenging for smaller teams looking for simpler solutions.  

Considering that, we’ll look into ADP competitors like Paychex, Gusto, or Paycor for feature and price comparisons.

ADP Biggest Competitors

ADP is a dominant player in the industry, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all payroll solution.  

Many providers on the market have proven to be strong competitors of ADP in one or more ways. For example, some offer more affordable plans, while others may have more niche solutions or simpler features. 

To ease up the potentially time-consuming process of choosing a vendor, we’ve compiled a list of ADP’s biggest competitors.

With over 50 years of experience, Paychex is another “old timer” and leading provider of payroll outsourcing solutions. The company offers various services to help businesses manage payroll processingtax filing, employee benefits, and HR administration. As a direct competitor of ADPPaychex has a robust set of tools best suited for small to medium-sized businesses. 

Main Features 

One of the advantages of Paychex is that it allows companies to compensate any kind of worker, whether full-time, hourly, or contract employee, with multiple payment options. Apart from being an excellent option for small and medium organizations, it’s also a remote-friendly provider.







Small Business Payroll 

(1-19 employees) 





Medium to Large Business Payroll 

(20+ employees) 





  • Automated payroll processing with multiple payment options 
  • Ability to pay workers on different bases — exempt and non-exempt employees, contractors 
  • Automated tax filing and payment, including federal, state, and local taxes 
  • Self-service with mobile app for employers and workers 
  • HR support through HR analytics and events calendar 
  • Payroll and HR reports 
  • 24/7 customer support and technical support 

 



  • Online payroll processing with multiple payment options 
  • Ability to pay workers on different bases — exempt and non-exempt employees, contractors 
  • Automated tax filing and payment, including federal, state, and local taxes 
  • Self-service with free mobile app for employers and employees 
  • HR support & events calendar 
  • Payroll and HR reports, retirement plan summary report, & general ledger report 
  • Benefits administration 
  • New-hire reporting to government agencies 
  • Financial wellness program 
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit, and more

Price Plans

Paychex’s pricing plans are tailored to the specific needs of each client and their company size, much like ADP. However, it’s a more affordable option, with prices starting at $39 per month plus $5 per employee (Paychex Flex Essentials), and there are three subscription types: Essentials, Select, and Pro. 







Paychex Flex Essentials 

 





Paychex Flex Select 





Paychex Flex Pro 





  • Automatic payroll processing and tax administration 
  • General ledger service 
  • Employee self-service 
  • Financial wellness 
  • Basic HR features like recruiting and onboarding and new hire reporting 
  • HR library 


All Paychex Flex Essentials, plus:  

  • Learning management system 
  • Job posting website integration 
  • General ledger integrations 


All Paychex Flex Select features, plus: 

  • Garnishment payment 
  • Paycheck preview and approval 
  • Employee handbook builder  
  • Pre-employment screening 
  • Standard and custom analytics and reports 
  • Job costing and labor distribution  
  • Assistance with unemployment insurance claims 

Apart from the subscriptions, Paychex offers other features as add-ons or standalone products, like Ben Admin, retirement services, or group health insurance.

Unlike ADP, Paychex, or QuickBooks, Gusto is a relatively new player in the industry, having been founded in 2011. The company was initially known as ZenPayroll and was created to simplify the payroll process for small businesses. Since then, Gusto has expanded its services to include benefits administration and HR management, making it a one-stop shop for small businesses.

Main Features 

Gusto claims to be 88% easier to use than other payroll companies, saving up to five hours per month on running payroll and HR. 

While ADP may have a long history and an extensive client base, Gusto does offer more accessible-to-use solutions. In addition, its pricing solutions make it better suited for small employers not looking for complex payroll system like ADP. 

Some of the main features include:







Automated payroll processing 





Unlimited payroll runs 





Automated tax filing, including federal, state, and local taxes 





State compliance support 





Employee I-9s and W-2s, and contractor 1099 forms 





Built-in benefits and time tracking 





Self-setup & built-in financial tools 





Contractor payments in 120+ countries 

Price Plans

The extent of Gusto’s features primarily differentiates based on which subscription an employer will get. Also, unlike ADP, Gusto is somewhat more transparent regarding pricing but follows the same PEPM model and a monthly fee base.  

Currently, the provider offers three plans, starting at $40 plus $6 per person per month. There’s also a 30-day free payroll trial.







Simple 





Plus 





Premium 





  • Full-service single-state payroll with unlimited runs, payroll reports, garnishment deductions, and more. 
  • Self-service app and employee profiles 
  • Basic hiring and onboarding tools 
  • Gusto-brokered health insurance administration 
  • Ben Admin 
  • Payroll and time-off reports 
  • Integrations for time tracking, accounting, and more 
  • Basic customer support 

 



All Simple features, including: 

  • Full-service multi-state payroll 
  • Next-day direct deposit 
  • Advanced HR tools for hiring and onboarding 
  • PTO management 
  • Built-in time tracking and project tracking  
  • Tools for team management 
  • Full customer support 

 

 



All Plus features, including: 

  • Access to HR Resource Center and certified experts 
  • State and federal compliance alerts 
  • Payroll migration 
  • Health insurance broker integration 
  • R&D tax credit discount  
  • Performance reviews, employee insights, and data reports 
  • Dedicated customer support 

Intuit QuickBooks is a strong contender in the payroll industry, especially regarding small businesses. Founded in 1983, the company’s flagship product, QuickBooks, is a leading accounting software millions of small business owners use worldwide. However, besides accounting, the provider also offers payroll and HR services. 

Main Features 

Some of QuickBooks’s main features are its streamlined and user-friendly platform, the affordable plans starting at $22, and its self-service payroll feature.  

Another feature distinguishing it as an ADP competitor is its integration with the larger QuickBooks ecosystem, making it easier for employers to manage all their financial and operational data in one place. 

The general features an employer receives, no matter the subscription, are:







Unlimited payroll runs 





Automated tax and forms calculation, filing, and payment 





Federal and state tax updates 





Workforce portal 





Availability in 50 states 





Garnishment and deduction calculation and setup 





Payroll reports 

Price Plans

An excellent feature of QuickBooks is its cost transparency. The provider is upfront about the prices, which start at $37.50 per month plus $5 per employee for the bundled payroll and bookkeeping offers, and $22.50 for the payroll-only subscription.  

The latter comes with three subscription models: Core, Premium, and Elite.







Core 





Premium 





Elite 





  • Next-day direct deposit 
  • Full-service payroll 
  • Automated taxes and forms 
  • Online filing and payment of 1099 forms 
  • Expert product support 
  • 401k plans and health benefits.  


Most Core features, plus: 

  • Same-day direct deposits 
  • 24/7 support 
  • Expert reviews 
  • Time tracking 
  • HR support center and workers’ comp administration  


All Premium features, plus: 

  • Expert setup 
  • Time and project tracking 
  • Tax penalty protection 
  • Personal HR advisor 

Founded in 2018, Deel is one of the newest providers on this list. To deal with the ever-evolving workplace, the company was created for employers to simplify hiring and paying remote workers. 

Another advantage of this provider is its focus on compliance, which is especially important when dealing with remote workers in different countries. The payroll software ensures that all contracts and payments comply with local laws and regulations, saving businesses time and money on legal fees and fines. 

Main Features 

While ADP is a well-established and comprehensive payroll provider, Deel tends to a specific group of businesses that prioritize remote work. In fact, employers looking to streamline their international workforce management will find Deel to be an excellent solution for payroll processing.  

Since its unique selling point is global operations, the main features reflect that. Deel offers a fully managed, global payroll with an in-house team that covers onboarding, time off, local benefits, deductions, tax filing, offboarding, and more.







Fully managed payroll 





Global coverage with owned infrastructure 





International compliance 





Automated invoicing 





Localized contract and document template 





Payroll reports 





Onboarding 





24/7 support 

Price Plans 

Like its features, Deel’s pricing is also a bit specific and doesn’t follow the same model as most providers. Instead, it charges for:

Contractor Management 

International Employee Management 

Hiring and payroll services for contractors in 150+ countries. Features include: 

·       Localized agreements 

·       Compliance document collection 

·       Automated invoicing 

·       Managing perks, benefits, time off, and expenses 

Hiring on the employer’s behalf and paying full-time employees in 90+ countries. Features include: 

·       Localized agreement 

·       Compliance document collection 

·       Tax and tax deductions 

·       Payslips 

·       Managing time off, expenses, and bonuses  

 

The pricing starts at $49 for hiring a contractor per month or $599 for hiring a full-time employee. Deel also includes a global HR platform, free for managing up to 200 employees.

AllianceHCM is a customer-centric business. The company was founded on the belief that HR technology solutions are built from the ground up, with the customer’s voice at the core.  

“We listen, learn, get to know our customers, and develop solutions that help them streamline employee management tasks,” said President of AllianceHCM, Matt Umholtz, for CIOReview, when the company was voted “Most Promising HR solutions provider” for 2022. 

Main Features

The customer-centric approach of AllianceHCM translates into easy-to-use features, a self-service portal, and customizable solutions. Another key advantage is its emphasis on seamless platform integration, as the provider offers a multitude of integrations and an API. 

AllianceHCM features a single employee database, where clients can manage the entire employee lifecycle. The solution is highly customizable, with integrations tailored for a different experience for every business.

Payroll processing integration 

Flexible payment options 

On-demand payment 

Tax management 

Expense management 

Garnishment services 

Work opportunity tax credit 

Employee retention credit  

 

Price Plans

Like ADP, AllianceHCM is not exactly transparent about the pricing on their website. However, this provider doesn’t offer distinctive subscriptions as well. Since it’s a highly customizable solution, the price depends on what an employer need. Therefore, those who are interested can reach out to the vendor to receive a custom quote.

Founded in 1990, Paycor entered its fourth decade of successfully serving businesses of all sizes across the United States, from self-employed to corporations with over 1,000 employees. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Paycor is more on the expensive side of payroll software. Thus, it’s best suited for those looking for a complete HRIS or HCM solution rather than basic payroll processing.  

Main Features 

Paycor is an intuitive, user-friendly, and feature-rich provider suitable for growing companies. It comes with payroll, HR, and business management tools in all plans, which clients can upgrade as they develop their needs.

Automated payroll 

Tax filing (W-2 and 1099 processing) & compliance 

AutoRun functionality (used to pre-schedule payroll cycles and receive real-time updates via Paycor’s Mobile app) 

Multiple payment options 

General ledger integration 

On-demand pay 

Employee self-service 

Reporting tools 

 

Price Plans 

Paycor is likely the most feature-rich provider of all ADP’s payroll competitors. However, it’s also one of the more expensive ADP alternatives, starting at $99 plus $5 per person, with many additional fees. Yet, depending on the employer’s needs, Paycor’s solution finder helps companies determine the most suitable plan based on their goals, potentially saving them money on unnecessary features. 

The price plans are similar to ADP, with four different subscriptions for small businesses under 50 employees. For 50+ workers, Paycor doesn’t disclose the price tag, and interested buyers should contact the sales team for a custom quote.

Basic

Essential

Core

Complete

·       Payroll and tax services, including new hire filing or direct deposits 

·       Wage garnishments  

·       Off-cycle pay runs 

·       Online reporting 

·       On-demand pay 

·       Worker Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) 

·       Additional tax local authorities 

·       Additional tax state authorities and more 

·       All Basic features, plus: 

·       Reporting options and a report builder 

·       General ledger report 

·       Labor distribution 

·       Month-end accounting Pkg. 

·       Onboarding 

·       PTO tracking 

·       Paycor Recruit & Hire 

·       Paycor Analytics 

·       HR support center and more 

·       All Essential features, plus: 

·       One-on-one guidance from a certified HR professional 

·       Expense management 

·       Employee import 

·       Paycor HR 

·       All Core features, plus: 

·       Paycor career management tools 

·       Compensation planning 

·       Talent development 

·       Paycor paths upgrade 

 

One of the most affordable providers on this list is Eddy, an all-in-one HR suite founded in 2017. While most companies like ADP tend to a larger audience, Eddy was created to help local businesses with their payroll, employee data, time tracking, hiring, and onboarding.  

Another thing that distinguishes it from other ADP payroll competitors is its pricing model, which starts at $8 per employee.  

Main Features 

The affordability of Eddy comes at the cost of other functionalities. For example, unlike other competitors of ADP, the provider is only web-supported and doesn’t cover payroll for a remote workforce. On the other hand, it does have some great features, including:

Automated payroll and tax filing 

Child support garnishments  

New hire reporting 

Automated tax filing, including federal, state, and local taxes 

W-2, 1099 NEC, 940, 941, and other forms 

End-of-year W-2 and 1099-NEC preparation and filing 

Unlimited bonus and off-cycle payroll 

Next-day direct deposits 

Multi-pay-period support 

General ledger updates 

Advanced federal features like an R&D tax credit, journal report, and time-tracking integration 

 

Price Plans

Overall, Eddy is an excellent payroll processing provider for local and small businesses. However, the vendor doesn’t disclose pricing information other than the $8 per employee starting price, nor has specific pricing plans. Instead, interested employers can get a free price quote.

APS is another ADP competitor that offers payroll processing services for small and mid-sized employers in several industries. The company was founded in 1996 as Automatic Payroll Systems and has since provided U.S. employers with a good range of employee management solutions.  

However, its services are not available for businesses that employ workers internationally. 

Main Features 

In 2000, APS developed its cloud-based technology, which was one of many upgrades that followed. In 2004, this vendor created its first version of the core HR solution, a self-service site for employees and managers in 2013, and launched a mobile app in 2018. 

Although most of its features are available in the price plans, some, like benefits administration and recruiting software, are available as add-ons.

Configurable payroll processing 

Automatic error checking 

Federal, state, and local tax compliance, filing, and payments 

Wage garnishment services 

940 Federal Unemployment and 941 Quarterly filings 

Year-end processing, including W-2s and 1099s 

Earned Wage Access (EWA) services 

Financial wellness tools 

 

Price Plans

APS does not publish its pricing on the website, as it varies depending on each client’s needs. However, they offer a variety of packages that can be customized to fit the requirements of each business 

Pricing is typically based on factors such as the number of employees, the complexity of payroll and HR needs, and the level of support required. Interested buyers can request a quote for APS directly.

Criterion is an HCM software provider for midmarket employers in the construction, nonprofit, government, education, franchise, and financial industries. With over 20 years in the payroll business, the provider boasts a global partner network in more than ten countries and a comprehensive set of payroll features 

Main Features

Combining simplicity with functionality makes this vendor a strong competitor of ADP.  

Its highly configurable HCM platform offers talent engagement, HR, and payroll functionalities that allow small to medium-sized businesses to manage the entire employee lifecycle. From self-service payroll to prebuilt performance review templates, these are some of Criterion’s main features:

Automated payroll calculations 

Automated tax compliance and calculations from geocodes 

Calculation of job rates, shift rates, and salaries 

Auto rate updates for the US, UK, and Canada 

Employee self-service 

Time tracking solutions 

Cross-country operations management 

Unlimited labor distribution levels 

General ledger and export 

 

Price Plans

Like other ADP competitors on this list, Criterion doesn’t disclose its pricing on the public website. According to PCMag, the provider charges anywhere from $3 PEPM for payroll, $2 for applicant tracking, $1 for performance reviews, etc. Overall, all module costs could accumulate to $10 per employee per month.  

However, the best way to get up-to-date information about the actual cost is by scheduling a demo with Criterion’s sales team. 

Finally, there’s Ceridian, another global HCM software company. This vendor has high-profile clients and operates internationally, providing HR, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management capabilities in one solution – Ceridian Dayforce. 

According to an analysis of the company’s payroll customers, most employers using Ceridian (51.9%) have between 1,000 and 10,000 employees. Although it has a US-dominated client base, Dayforce is used by employers in the U.K., Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Africa. 

Main Features

Dayforce  HCM software is an all-in-one cloud app that covers multiple solutions, including payroll and HR. But if we look at payroll separately, these are some of Ceridian’s main features:

Automated payroll processing 

Multi-state tax management, including filings, garnishments, deductions 

Preparation and processing of W-2 forms 

Payroll reporting 

Employee self-service app  

Flexible payment schedules 

Direct deposits 

Dayforce wallet  

 

Price Plans

Ceridian does not disclose pricing on their public website, so we can’t analyze its cost efficiency against ADP or other payroll solutions. Therefore, employers searching for an in-depth feature and price breakdown can contact Ceridian’s sales team and get a quote or access pricing information through the Shortlister Platform.

On a Final Note