ADP VS Paychex: Which Is Better For Running Business Payroll?
|Pricing Start Point||Fair||Poor|
|Ease of Use||Excellent||Good|
|Reviews & Complaints||Good||Fair|
|Hardware & Software Requirements||Excellent||Good|
|Best For||Large and growing businesses||Small and medium-sized businesses|
|Get A Quote
Small businesses have plenty on their to-do lists. Fortunately, payroll software can significantly reduce time spent calculating and filing payroll for employees, letting you focus more on running your business. But with so many options and features, it can be challenging to find software that best fits the needs and budget of your small business.
To help narrow down your search, we will compare two leading payroll software apps available to small businesses: ADP and Paychex. We’ll dive into what features they offer small businesses, as well as how they stack up in terms of pricing, customer support, feedback from small business users, and more.
Ready to get started? Continue reading for our side-by-side comparison and figure out which payroll solution checks the most boxes for your small business.
Table of Contents
ADP VS Paychex Overview
When comparing ADP vs. Paychex, it helps to highlight scenarios and situations when businesses might benefit from each software. There are some significant differences to consider in app features, integrations, and pricing when choosing between ADP and Paychex.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of how ADP and Paychex measure up head-to-head, let’s start with an overview of each, including pros and cons.
Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP for short), is a leader in workplace management for companies around the world. ADP has been helping businesses run payroll since the 1940s. The global firm helps deliver payroll and HR solutions to small businesses and major corporations alike.
For that reason, ADP offers multiple plans catering to diverse business needs. ADP Run, which is structured for companies with 1-49 employees, is the most suitable ADP package for small businesses. ADP Run has four tiers to choose from. From most basic to elaborate, they are as follows:
- Essential Plan
- Enhanced Plan
- Complete Plan
- HR Pro Plan
Across all four plans, ADP Run handles core payroll functions, including payroll processing, direct deposit, tax filing, and new hire reporting. Each plan also comes with useful HR applications, namely PTO tracking and approvals, time tracking, and assistance with workers’ compensation, retirement, and health care. An employee portal (My ADP) connects workers with these HR functions, while also giving access to their pay stub and tax information.
As a major global firm, ADP has made a name for itself in customer support on top of its cutting-edge technology. Though reviews tout how intuitive the platform is, ADP staff are on hand 24/7 for phone and live chat support. Customer service also includes user tutorials and getting started with the software.
- Four plan options helps with customization
- Strong payroll and employee management features
- Time tracking is included across all ADP plans, unlike Paychex.
- 24/7 customer service compared to Gusto’s Monday-Friday coverage
- Pricing is not disclosed online
- Some additional features come with added fees
Since its founding in 1971, Paychex has grown with the times, and currently provides payroll and HR solutions for over 680,000 customers. Beyond running payroll, Paychex is known for its variety of additional services, including retirement plans, health care, benefits administration, and much more. Businesses looking to have their payroll and HR integrated on one platform may find that Paychex checks all the boxes.
Like ADP, Paychex understands that businesses have varying needs, especially their small business customers. A total of four plans, plus a lengthy list of add-on features, makes it easy to customize Paychex and select a plan that better fits the scope of your business. From the most stripped-down to the most complex, Paychex’s four plans are:
- Express Payroll
- Paychex Flex Select
- Paychex Flex Flow
- Paychex Flex Enterprise
Even Paychex’s simplest plan, Express Payroll, features handy payroll functions like direct deposit, automatic tax filing, and new-hire reporting. It also comes with some lesson common functions, like employee financial wellness programs and marketing services that may not be an option with competitors. Upgrading plans brings more HR perks like an employee handbook builder, employee onboarding, and handling employee garnishments. Paychex customers will have access to a mobile app with any plan, which comes in handy when working on the go.
If you encounter any issues or need some tech-savvy support, Paychex offers 24/7 customer support across all of its plans. They’ll also take care of the set-up and implementation process for you.
- Built-in onboarding and HR
- Includes extensive employee benefits on all plans, whereas ADP only has benefits administration for its top two plans.
- Scalable for growing businesses
- Easy-to-use employee portal
- Pricing generally runs higher than ADP
- Non-transparent pricing
- Time tracking is an extra add-on feature
|Time Tracking||✔︎||Benefits Administration|
|New Hire Reporting||✔︎||✔︎|
|Get A Quote
Besides time tracking, ADP and Paychex carry many of the same features and tools. Still, there are some key differences in scope and the availability of certain features may depend on which plan you go with. Let’s break down some of the more notable contrasts that appear when evaluating ADP vs. Paychex.
Both Paychex and ADP allow small businesses to use direct deposit and cash cards to pay their employees across all plans. With Paychex, you’ll need to upgrade to the Flex Select plan (at minimum) to utilize paper checks and check-signing capabilities. Meanwhile, ADP can only mail checks through the Enhanced, Complete, and HR Pro plans. Another notable difference is that Paychex supports two-day payroll processing.
If analytics and reporting are important for your small business, both payroll software apps are great options. ADP users can generate dozens of electronic reports on any of its four plans. For instance, business owners can compare employee time cards, earnings by department, and PTO per employee, as well as a myriad of payroll information. On the other hand, Paychex offers new-hire reports for all its plans, but ponying up for Flex Enterprise is necessary for custom reports and analytics.
If you provide benefits packages to your employees, such as healthcare and 401k retirement accounts, it may be worth exploring payroll software that comes with benefits administration.
Paychex is known for its ability to cover benefits from “hire to retire”, though this requires paying for an extra add-on feature. ADP’s highest tiered plans — Complete and HR Plus — automatically come with benefits administration. Customers with the Essential or Enhanced plan must pay additional fees for this service.
Keeping track of employee hours, including overtime and PTO, is essential to running payroll successfully. ADP includes time tracking and attendance with all four of its plans. If you’re already using time tracking software like ClockShark and TSheets, you can opt to integrate them with ADP too. Conversely, none of Paychex’s payroll plans allow employees to clock in or out unless you opt for an additional service — Paychex Time. Though it costs extra, the ability for remote workers or employees who go out into the field to clock-in via mobile app may be worthwhile.
As previously mentioned, ADP does not have set pricing for each of its plans. Instead, interested customers receive a quote based on their business, desired features, and number of employees. On ADP’s website, getting pricing for any of the ADP Run plans requires entering your business’s name, zip code, number of employees, and a contact email.
Research by the team at Merchant Maverick reports that there is generally a $20-$50 per month increase in pricing between each tier of ADP Run. It’s also worth noting that ADP charges per payroll, so companies with weekly or biweekly payroll would incur more fees than those with a monthly payroll cycle. Although pricing does not give ADP a competitive edge, an offer for three free months of ADP Run upon sign-up could lower the cost barrier to give it a test run.
Here’s what you can expect to gain with each of ADP Run’s payroll programs.
Essential Plan: Includes thorough payroll processing functions plus reporting and HR features, such as:
- Tax filing
- New-hire reporting and onboarding
- Direct deposit
- Mobile app access
Enhanced Plan: Upgrading to this second-tier plan adds these payroll and HR tools:
- ZipRecruiter subscription
- Background checks
- State Unemployment Insurance management
- Retirement and health insurance
Complete Plan: ADP’s third plan packs more HR features, including:
- Employee handbook wizard
- HR tracking and forms
- HR training and toolkit
HR Pro Plan: ADP’s most comprehensive plan adds the following benefits:
- Enhanced HR HelpDesk support
- Employer and employee training
- Legal assistance
Paychex does not publicly advertise set prices for any of its plans. Instead, interested small business customers must submit information directly to Paychex, including geographic location and number of employees, to get a quote for any of their four plans. The frequency your small business does payroll factors into the overall cost too, as Paychex charges per payroll run.
Based on our analysis and getting a company quote, we estimate Paychex to cost between 10-20% more than ADP. Cost may be impacted by current promotions too. For example, Paychex was offering three free months of service when this guide was written. Paychex does not use contracts, so small businesses can cancel at any time if the software isn’t cutting it.
Here is a breakdown of Paychex’s four plans, starting from cheapest to most expensive.
Express Payroll: Lowest tier plan that covers payroll essentials and HR perks, including:
- Direct deposit
- Automatic tax filing
- New-hire reporting
- Employee financial wellness
- Free mobile app
Paychex Flex Select: Lower mid-tier plan offering more integrations and customer support, including:
- Accounting software integrations
- Paper checks and check-signing services
- Dedicated payroll specialist
Paychex Flex Pro: Upper mid-tier plan offering more HR features and sophisticated tools, such as:
- Analytics and reporting
- Garnishment service
- Employee screening
Paychex Flex Enterprise: This premier plan incorporates everything within the lower three plans plus the following:
- Custom analytics and reporting
- HR administration
Ease Of Use
Naturally, cost is a big consideration for any small business decision. When evaluating ADP vs. Paychex though, it is also worth looking into the functionality of each software’s interface and platform. After all, payroll software is designed to make running your business easier.
ADP is easy to use and well-organized. For such advanced software in terms of features, ADP is surprisingly intuitive, and the setup process comes with guided support. When it’s time to enter employees and set up your payroll schedule, ADP wants to make sure you feel supported. Luddites, rejoice: ADP has you covered. An ADP representative will walk all users through a tutorial and provide links for access to your payroll.
On the user end, Paychex’s web and mobile-based dashboards are straightforward and organized. You’ll find all of the major features neatly arranged in a sidebar for quick access. Customers can take a backseat during the setup process, as Paycheck will import all of your employee and business data needed to complete payroll and other HR tasks. For small businesses, this can take between a few days and a couple of weeks.
Both payroll software options incorporate an employee portal, though there are some notable disparities in what can be accessed. ADP’s portal and its mobile app – MyADP – help employees get to their pay stub, tax information, and HR features, such as making PTO requests or updating personal information. Similarly, Paychex provides an employee dashboard to view check stubs, request PTO, and view tax documents. However, Paychex’s employee portal does not go as far as ADP in letting workers clock in or out without purchasing the add-on service.
Customer Service & Support
Over the past six decades, ADP has built its reputation on attentive and quality customer service and support. ADP customers can reach a company representative 24/7 by phone and live chat. Community forums, email, and social media are other options for advice and help too. Visual learners will appreciate the fact that ADP has its own YouTube channel with tutorials and resources to help customers make the most of their payroll processing and HR management features.
Paychex also touts reputable customer service and support. Customers with the Paychex Flex Select plan or higher can speak to an assigned payroll specialist as well. Outside the specialist’s office hours, users can get assistance 24/7 via phone and live chat in the software or website. If you prefer troubleshooting on your own, an internal help feature and help center house training videos and guides to deal with issues and become more familiarized with the software. Finally, if you’re located near one of Paychex’s 100+ offices, customers can request in-person support.
Reviews & Complaints
As a veteran provider, ADP Run has worked out many bugs and internalized customer feedback over the years. This experience has been praised in some customer reviews. Users also appreciate the round-the-clock support, multitude of features, and easy-to-use interface. Conversely, customer complaints have touched on hidden fees and undisclosed pricing for its various plans. Some customers have voiced frustration with having to request a demo from a sales representative to get a sense of the software’s interface.
When comparing ADP vs. Paychex, the number of integrations supported by each is one of the most significant differences. This may not matter as much if you’re looking for a payroll and HR overhaul. But if you want to keep your accounting or time tracking software, this could be a deal-breaker.
ADP can mesh with many major accounting programs, such as QuickBooks and Wave, as well as many attendance and enterprise resource applications. Since small businesses negotiate custom deals with ADP, they have been known to be accommodating with integration requests from their customers.
Paychex already offers a multitude of add-on features, so they are generally less generous with integrations. However, Paychex users can transfer data to external accounting systems, including Kashoo, Sage Intacct, and QuickBooks
The Key Differences Between ADP & Paychex
After that in-depth ADP vs. Paychex comparison of features, pricing, ease of use, customer support, reviews and complaints, and integrations, let’s rehash the main gaps and disparities between these payroll giants.
- Benefits Administration: ADP can cover insurance and retirement benefits for employees, which may be enough for some small businesses. Paychex, however, includes extensive employee benefits, including financial wellness tools, business insurance, and emergency loans.
- Integrations: If you are simply looking to get a new payroll software app and keep the rest of your HR intact, ADP’s plentiful integrations have the edge on Paychex’s inclusion of a few accounting applications.
- Customer Support: Both ADP and Paychex are known for their customer service and support, but they diverge in how they go about offering it. Although ADP has 24/7 support, an assigned payroll specialist with Paychex can be an advantage to maintain long-term assistance and help with tackling payroll and HR.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Paychex Or ADP?
Having been in business for several decades each, ADP and Paychex are tried-and-true payroll applications. But are they well-suited for small businesses? Everyone’s situation is unique, so we’ve laid out some scenarios when each software might be a better solution through the lens of small businesses.
Choose ADP If…
- You own a mid-size and expanding businesses.
- Your business needs to integrate payroll with other apps and software.
- You need more extensive HR features to recruit applicants and perform background checks.
Choose Paychex If…
- You run a small- to medium-sized business
- You require add-on features like benefits administration and employee screening.
- You want top-notch, dedicated customer support that is tailored to your needs.
ADP VS Paychex Comparison: The Final Verdict
Across all four plans, ADP Run is easily integrated with other software. Beyond its full-service payroll processing, ADP’s most prominent features are its extensive reporting and analytics, HR support, and time tracking. Additionally, 24/7 customer service can give small businesses peace of mind, especially if working outside standard 9-5 business hours. Since ADP doesn’t disclose pricing, the time demand and uncertainty of negotiating a price — plus hidden fees — may make this payroll solution a bad fit for smaller businesses.
Paychex is another solid choice for strong payroll features, such as automatic payroll tax filing, direct deposit, and new hire reporting. Paychex’s wealth of tools and features can be a big plus to securing a full-service payroll and HR system. While the lack of time tracking and attendance capabilities, plus limited integrations, could increase costs through extra add-ons, a committed payroll specialist could reduce your payroll processing workload enough to justify the heftier price tag.