Gusto VS ADP: Which Payroll Software Is Better?
|Pricing Start Point||Good||Fair|
|Ease of Use||Excellent||Excellent|
|Reviews & Complaints||Excellent||Good|
|Hardware & Software Requirements||Fair||Excellent|
|Best For||Small to midsize businesses||Large and growing businesses|
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Payroll software can cut down on errors and reduce time spent calculating paychecks, handling tax withholdings, and getting employees paid on time. But with so many options, it can be challenging and time-consuming to find software that best fits the needs and budget of your small business.
To help take out the guesswork and narrow down your search, we will compare two leading payroll software apps available to small businesses: Gusto and Run by ADP. For each, we will evaluate several criteria, including features, pricing, user-friendliness, customer support, and candid feedback from small businesses.
Read on for our side-by-side comparison and decide which software is best suited to your business.
Table of Contents
Gusto VS ADP Overview
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to payroll. In assessing Gusto vs. ADP, we aim to highlight how and when businesses might benefit from each software. Notably, there are some key differences in features and pricing to be aware of when comparing Gusto vs. ADP.
Before diving into the details of how Gusto vs. ADP stack up head-to-head, let’s begin with an overview of each, including pros and cons.
Formerly known as ZenPayroll, Gusto has been in the payroll software industry since 2012. The cloud-based payroll platform has a reputation for its straightforward interface and the ease with which it automatically calculates payroll and tax filings. Gusto supports flexible payment schedules too, which comes in handy whether following a standard bi-weekly plan or periodically doling out bonuses and commissions.
Gusto is effective at integrating other aspects of business too, such as HR, employee onboarding, and benefits administration. Through the employee portal, workers can log hours and keep track of PTO with any of Gusto’s three plans. Additionally, Gusto can sync up with third-party applications, such as the popular accounting program QuickBooks.
Gusto has the essential nuts and bolts of payroll covered, but its provision of extra features isn’t extensive across any of its three plans: Core, Complete, and Concierge. Conversely, this actually makes Gusto a budget-friendly option, even with some extra add-ons like health insurance and 401(k) plan support. Between pricing and features, Gusto is a fit for many small and midsize businesses looking for a practical platform to take care of payroll.
- Transparent pricing for tiered plans
- Integrated time tracking and HR
- Intuitive user interface
- Prepares year-end tax forms
- Unlimited payroll runs (for businesses with <100 employees)
- Limited time tracking
- Less reporting than ADP
- Health insurance offered in only 38 states and D.C.
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 (beginning with an ice cream parlor before acquiring 12% of the payroll market today). 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: the Essential Plan, the Enhanced Plan, the Complete Plan, and the 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 on 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.
- A total of four plans helps with customization
- Strong payroll and employee management features
- Payroll and HR reports can be exported to Microsoft Excel
- 24/7 customer service compared to Gusto’s Monday-Friday coverage
- Pricing is not disclosed online
- Additional features come with added fees
- Charges per payroll run, whereas Gusto offers unlimited
Both Gusto and ADP possess an array of features to take care of payroll, as well as employee and HR management. They also pack many of the same features, including full-service payroll, tax filing, direct deposit, time tracking, new hire reporting, generating reports, and employee management. There are two distinctions in features that stand out. First, ADP offers health insurance in every state, whereas Gusto’s coverage is limited to 38 states and D.C.. Second, Gusto supports free unlimited pay runs, while ADP charges extra for frequency of payment.
|Unlimited Pay Runs||✓|
|New Hire Reporting||✓||✓|
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Although both software programs tout many of the same features, some tools and components differ considerably in scope and practice. To help make sense of it all, we’ll compare Gusto vs. ADP on a number of important payroll features for small businesses.
Getting payroll taken care of in less time and without errors are major reasons why small businesses utilize payroll software. Therefore, it’s worth examining how Gusto and ADP help achieve these ends.
Across all their plans, Gusto and ADP offer full-service payroll for W2 and 1099 employees in all 50 states. For small businesses with tipped workers, Gusto can automatically adjust wages to claim the tip credit and abide by FLSA minimum wage requirements. Gusto can also handle garnishments and multiple pay rates and schedules, which can come in handy if employees earn commission or bounce between multiple roles (host and server at a restaurant, for example). ADP Run only offers garnishment for its three heftier plans (Enhanced, Complete, HR Pro).
Small businesses can choose to automate payroll with either software. ADP’s payroll services are accessible from its mobile app too.
Both Gusto and ADP Run allow small businesses to use direct deposit and cash cards to pay their employees across all plans. With Gusto, the Core, Complete, and Concierge plans allow users to run payroll just two days before employees need to be paid. The most notable difference in payment methods between the two is that Gusto supports in-house printing of paychecks, whereas ADP Run can only mail checks through the Enhanced, Complete, and HR Pro plans.
On paper, both Gusto and ADP deliver payroll reports with any plan. However, ADP reporting features go incredibly in-depth. ADP Run users can access dozens of reports related to payroll, taxes, benefits, and HR. Some examples include employee time card comparisons, earnings by department, tax withholdings, and PTO per employee. On the flipside, Gusto supports just 11 reports. Although it is considerably less extensive, users can still view and export reports related to payroll summary, taxes, benefits, and employees too.
In addition to paying employees and calculating tax withholdings, payroll software can bring HR support to small businesses too. Only Gusto’s priciest Concierge plan comes with HR compliance help, policy guides, and templates. Meanwhile, ADP Run has HR features available with all four plans. The essential plan gives access to an HR newsletter and checkups. Upgrading to more advanced plans can bring additional HR perks, including poster compliance assistance, background checks, ZipRecruiter subscription, legal assistance, and employee training.
Gusto’s straightforward pricing lets small businesses make easy cost comparisons and determine how a prospective plan would fit within their budget. The monthly cost per plan is characterized by a base rate plus a flat fee added for every person in a customer’s payroll.
- Basic: $19/month + $6/month per person (employee or subcontractor)
- Core: $39/month + $6/month per person
- Complete: $39/month + $12/month per person
- Concierge: $149/month + $12/month per person
There are extra costs for adding on benefits administration services and other features to complement Gusto’s payroll software. For instance, customers can tack on health benefits, 401k retirement plans, workers’ compensation insurance, 529 college savings plan, and tax-advantaged spending accounts
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. 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.
Ease Of Use
Finding payroll software that fits your budget and needs is an important first step to narrowing down your options. Being able to quickly learn how to navigate the platform’s interface is another critical factor in selecting payroll software.
Gusto and ADP are both well-organized and intuitive on the user end. For Gusto, the employer and employee portals have dashboards containing the main payroll information, while sidebars provide quick access to its features. On the other hand, business owners can easily find ADP’s payroll and HR features from the home page or employer portal dashboard.
In the case of ADP, customers may work with a company representative to work through the payroll set-up process. This support also comes with tutorials to guide customers through utilizing ADP Run’s various features. Meanwhile, Gusto users will need to take a more DIY approach to setting up payroll. Step-by-step instructions and customer support can take most of the guesswork out of it. Once the payroll information has been inputted, Gusto’s AutoPilot can take care of payroll moving forward or employers can manually run payroll as they see fit.
Employees can access payroll and HR resources and information with either software. After logging into Gusto’s employee portal, workers can look into pay stubs, time off, benefits, and upcoming payday with just a few clicks. ADP’s portal and mobile app – MyADP – help employees get to their pay stub, tax information, and HR features, such as making PTO requests or updating personal information.
Customer Service & Support
Gusto’s quality customer support is one of its main selling points. Once you’re a Gusto customer, you can reach support staff by phone, email, live chat, and social media during business hours from Monday through Friday. If you’re in need of assistance outside these hours, you’re still in luck. Gusto’s Help Center, Resource Center, and Ask Gusto how-to articles are loaded with useful tips and information. Although all four Gusto plans have access to customer support, the Concierge plan delivers the extra perk of a dedicated customer service team to help with HR and compliance.
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.
Reviews & Complaints
Small business owners undoubtedly know their needs better than anyone else, but tapping into the knowledge and experiences of other small businesses can be informative when it comes to payroll software.
When it comes to Gusto, most small business customers are pleased with the software’s features (especially tax support, reminders when it’s time to submit payroll, and customer service. Generally speaking, reviews have also praised the software’s intuitive nature, transparent pricing, and its ability to save business owners time and energy. On the flip side, some customers have complained about limited reporting and analytics. In some cases, customers have expressed the wish that Gusto covered international employees and contractors too.
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.
There are many aspects to running a small business beyond payroll and HR, including accounting, project management, recruiting employees, and sales. Some small businesses may even utilize other software or applications for these needs. Gusto and ADP both recognize this reality and have chosen to offer a host of integrations.
Both Gusto and ADP offer plentiful integrations, including accounting programs, QuickBooks, and Xero. ADP also supports dozens of time and attendance software, including ClockShark, Deputy, Homebase, and TSheets. Although the company doesn’t disclose every available integration on their website, ADP is known for working to customize integrations when needed.
If small businesses don’t find Gusto’s time tracking features up to par, they can also integrate with a more robust app time tracking app like TSheets. If you have in-house developers, Gusto offers API to support any further integration needs.
The Key Differences Between Gusto & ADP
Between features, pricing, ease of use, customer support, reviews and complaints, and integrations, there is a lot to consider when choosing between Gusto and ADP. If you’re still undecided, let’s examine how these payroll software applications differ through the lens of a small business:
- Pricing Structure: Gusto’s pricing is upfront and transparent. The cost will incrementally go up with the number of employees, and some optional add-on features can be included for a fee. On the contrary, ADP does not advertise pricing for any of its plans. Interested customers must obtain a quote and negotiate a deal, which could put smaller employers at a disadvantage.
- Payroll Scheduling: Gusto grants the flexibility to pay employees on multiple pay schedules without charging extra. ADP charges per payroll, so paying employees on a weekly basis or processing contractor invoices would rack up extra expenses.
- Reporting: Gusto’s 11 reports can inform users on some payroll basics, but ADP offers a wider and more in-depth selection of reports for small businesses. ADP lets users analyze employee data, including overtime and performance, as well as create custom reports.
- HR Support: Only Gusto’s Concierge plan includes HR features. ADP Run has significant HR capabilities, such as an HR toolkit and dedicated HR advisers, in its more robust Complete and HR Pro plans. These resources could be advantageous for small businesses without a dedicated HR person.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: ADP Or Gusto?
There isn’t a single model for success when it comes to processing payroll. Many small businesses are satisfied with how ADP and Gusto have enhanced their operations. Let’s consider some scenarios when each software could be a better solution for small business needs.
Choose Gusto If…
- You run a small or startup businesses
- You value streamlined payroll, HR, and benefits management over sophisticated analytics and reporting.
- You need flexible payroll runs for contractors, tipped workers, or employees earning bonuses or commission.
Choose ADP If…
- You have a mid-size or rapidly expanding businesses.
- You want to integrate payroll with other apps and software.
- You require more extensive HR features to recruit applicants and perform background checks.
Gusto VS ADP Comparison: The Final Verdict
Gusto’s success in the payroll realm can be attributed to its transparent, budget-friendly pricing structure and easy-to-manage interface. The software’s leading features – automated payroll processing, direct deposits, tax filing, and PTO management – are available across all four plans. Benefit options, such as medical, vision, dental, 401(k), and tax-advantaged savings accounts are affordable add-on features if desired. For these reasons, small and startup businesses stand to benefit from the straightforward features, pricing, and integration with other software and applications.
Across all four plans, ADP Run is more comprehensive in its features and customization. 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 not be right for smaller businesses. Instead, mid-size businesses with greater HR needs and plans to grow may better afford and appreciate ADP Run’s added features