Your Guide to Software Selection

The Best Payroll Software: Features and Leaders

Payroll services have gone out of style. Sorry payroll service providers, but it’s true. These days, a do-it-yourself payroll management approach with the help of software is the way to go. Payroll software tends to be cheaper, you have more internal control and changes are easier to make than with payroll services.

In a short amount of time, payroll software has become one of the most common HR software on the market. It’s used by small business and giant enterprises alike, showing that they’re universally helpful solutions.

If your business hasn’t adopted payroll software yet, it’s time to bow to the peer pressure. But that doesn’t mean that you should settle for any ol’ payroll provider. You deserve the best payroll software.

Critical Payroll Software Features

While evaluating payroll software vendors, keep an eye out for the most critical features. Most payroll providers have plenty of automation capabilities, but the best payroll software vendors offer these four features with their standard products:

Direct Deposit

Probably the most important payroll features is direct deposit. After all, the whole point of payroll software is to make sure that your employees get paid. The days of handing out checks at the end of the week are all but gone, as the internet and online banking have become incredibly easy and popular.

Direct deposit is a win-win for businesses and their employees. Businesses save both money and time by avoiding the printing and distribution of paychecks. At the same time, employees don’t have to worry about losing their checks or experiencing check fraud. And as points out, it helps the environment by saving paper, too.

Tax Filing Services

Properly filing your taxes is kind of a big deal — just ask Wesley Snipes. That’s why the best payroll software provide tax filing features. Like any manual calculation, calculating taxes takes time and has the potential for mistakes. To avoid any miscalculations or issues with federal, state, local, Social Security and other taxes, it’s best to leave it to software.

The same goes for tax documents like W-2s and 1099s. Your payroll software should be able to create them automatically, filling in the deposit information. In addition, it should be able to send those forms to the right agency, handling the tax filing process from beginning to end with minimal oversight.

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Employee Self-Service

Insperity sums up just how beneficial employee self-service capabilities are for payroll software. They explain that employee self-service “puts all of your employees’ personal payroll data at their fingertips so they have easy access to their pay stubs, W2 forms and paid time off balance.”

In other words: they don’t have to take time away from your human resources department by requesting access to that information. With self-service features, your employees can quickly get their necessary payroll data and forms whenever they need, without anybody else’s help.


Most categories of business software are all but required to include some kind of business intelligence or reporting feature. Payroll solutions, as you can imagine, are no exception. This is because reporting is such a useful tool that gives you insights into your payroll processes.

Payroll reports provide a high-level overview of your budget, taxes, workers’ compensation and other payroll data. These reports reveal trends and patterns that HR and accounting departments can use to improve their operations. Whether it’s allocating resources better or managing overtime differently, these insights can lead to cost savings and more efficient payroll processes.

The Best Payroll Software Vendors

To be labeled as one of the best payroll software vendors, a payroll provider has to have more than just the above features. They also have to have a user-friendly interface and provide additional payroll and/or HR features that makes your job easier. And that’s exactly what these three vendors do.

ADP Workforce Now

ADP’s Workforce Now HR software is a complete HR solution for mid-sized businesses. This is cloud-based software, offering mobile accessibility so you can take it wherever you go. As with most HR software vendors, Workforce Now includes benefits administration, talent management, performance management, time and attendance and, of course, payroll and tax features.

The payroll module of ADP Workforce Now includes all of the features we mentioned above (of course) as well as compliance features. These ensure that your payroll processes meet any and all regulatory compliance standards.

Dayforce HCM

Dayforce HCM is also a cloud-based system that manages all of your HR processes. Dayforce handles everything from talent and document management to benefits, analytics, payroll, tax forms and more. The system offers real-time data for real-time reporting and, similar to ADP, offers compliance features (although they aren’t quite as robust).

The full-service payroll module includes embedded analytics so you don’t have to switch between pages to check the status of your payroll processes. You can also view, edit, fix and preview your payroll in real time, which gives you total control of your payroll management.


As with ADP and Dayforce, Namely offers a complete HR solution that includes payroll. Best suited for mid-sized businesses, the system manages benefits, talent management (including onboarding, goals and reviews) and payroll. The self-service side of Namely is easy to use, as it’s built to increase employee engagement and, by extension, employee productivity.

Namely’s payroll module keeps things simple for your HR team. Benefits deductions are kept up to date, while payroll taxes are automatically filed for you. ACA reporting and end-of-year reporting are also automatically generated. And hourly workers are easy to pay, as hours worked and each employee’s hourly wage can be integrated easily into the system.

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Join the conversation
  • Jeanine Cloud Rigby - January 23, 2018 reply

    Great list. Every business struggle when it comes to payroll because it is complex and time-consuming. That is why they must use payroll software to make their work easier. Here in the Philippines, most of the firms that offer accounting and bookkeeping services use Dayforce HCM in terms of payroll and tax.

  • Jeanine Cloud Rigby - May 17, 2018 reply

    Thank you for suggesting a wonderful list of ideas on how to handle payroll better. Business always have a hard time with their payroll as it is very complex, time-consuming and complicated as well as it depends on the number of people you have in the organization. With the list you’ve suggested, we could use this blog as a guide on how we would tackle our payroll services with future clients.

  • Humantelligence Inc - June 1, 2018 reply

    Thanks for suggesting all these points.
    Nice article on Payroll software. It will be really helpful for me.

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