A suitable Payroll Software application for your SME business is a must-have for optimizing your Human Resources Management strategy. Besides saving time, less hassle and making fewer errors the benefits of using the most suitable Payroll Tool can be extensive. Obviously, any SME business is looking for an easy to use, flexible, and affordable Payroll Software system.

The only problem is that there are a lot of HR Tools out there, and they are all screaming for your attention. There are more than 81 million sites that have something to say about Human Resource Information Systems. Luckily, not all of them are actual Payroll Software application vendors, but you get the idea, right?

The features of a particular Payroll Software tool can be highly diverse, and therefore you first need to clearly define what your goals and needs are. Once you have determined the minimum functionalities of your Payroll System, you can start investigating what tools are available in the market. So which Payroll  Software systems are successful in providing the applications and features you need, and how can you find them? You can do a Google search and search for the Best Payroll Software, but then you get hundreds of “Best of Lists” in front of you, so that doesn’t help a lot either unless you want to spend a full day going through all those lists. Well, that is precisely what we did! We searched for 50 “Best of Lists,” highlighting the most recommended Payroll Software systems. We selected and combined the 20 most valuable “Best of Lists” and earmarked and ranked what Payroll applications keep up appearing on most of those recently published lists. From a total of 85 Payroll Software Tools compared, reviewed, and ranked, here are the Top 20 of Most Recommended Payroll Software applications around that appear on most of the “Best of Lists”.

As we are a small business ourselves, we use this list as well for educating and inspiring our minds and for optimizing our Consultants 500 platform, on which you can also find and search for Recruiting  & HRM Experts. If you are a Recruiting or HRM Expert yourself, you can always create a free profile on our Platform if you want to. It only takes a few minutes, and no credit card is needed for opening doors to new opportunities. It’s all up to you. See here how it works.

Top 20 of  Payroll Software for SME
Most Recommended

#1. Gusto / Twitter
Listed 16 out of 20 times. Gusto makes payroll and benefits easy for modern employers. It is a modern, online people platform that helps small businesses take care of their teams. On top of full-service payroll, Gusto offers health insurance, 401(k)s, expert HR, and team management tools. Today, Gusto offices in Denver, San Francisco, and New York serve more than 100,000 businesses.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Gusto
Guide: Gusto
Their Blog
Pricing: Monthly Membership (From USD 6 Per Person)
User Reviews

#2. QuickBooks Payroll / Twitter
Listed 14 out of 20 times. QuickBooks enables users to automate payroll taxes, get real-time insights into their payroll with seamless time tracking, access a full suite of HR and employee services, including health benefits and workers’ compliance. They can easily manage their business accounting and payroll, all in one place.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: QuickBooks Payroll
Guide: QuickBooks Payroll
Their Blog
Pricing: Free Trial & Monthly Membership (From USD 22.50)
User Reviews

#3. OnPay / Twitter
Listed 10 out of 20 times. OnPay combines 30+ years of experience with the latest SaaS technology to save small business owners both time and money. Unlike traditional payroll services, this system allows them to calculate, review and finalize their payroll in minutes. OnPay services include payroll tax payments and filings, direct deposit and optional pay-as-you- owe workers’ compensation.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: OnPay
Guide: OnPay
Pricing: Free Trial & Monthly Membership (USD 36 Base Fee + USD 4 Per Person)
User Reviews

#4RUN Powered by ADP / Twitter
Listed 7 out of 20 times. RUN Powered by ADP is web- and mobile-based software that handles the nitty-gritty details of running a small business, so users can focus on what they do best. Run Powered by ADP is designed to make small business payroll quick and easy. With a streamlined process and powerful technology, users will complete payroll in no time.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: RUN Powered by ADP
Guide: RUN Powered by ADP
Their Blog
User Reviews

#5. Paychex Flex / Twitter
Listed 12 out of 20 times. Paychex Flex is an online payroll software for small and large businesses. It offers solutions including Payroll, Tax Services, 401(k) and Employee Benefits, HR Administration and Compliance, Time and Labor Solutions, Group Health Insurance

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Paychex Flex
Their Blog
User Reviews

#6. Square Payroll / Twitter
Listed 8 out of 20 times. Square Payroll is an all-in-one solution that works with every type of business. Users can pay employees and contractors, offer health and other benefits, track employee hours, give employees online accounts, and more.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Square Payroll
Guide: Square Payroll
Their Blog
Pricing: Monthly Membership (From USD 34)
User Reviews

#7. Patriot Payroll / Twitter
Listed 14 out of 20 times. Patriot Software provides easy-to-use, yet powerful, online accounting and payroll software with free support for American businesses. Once set up, users simply enter their employees’ work hours and let the payroll software instantly calculate payroll for them.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Patriot Payroll
Their Blog
Pricing: Free Trial & Monthly Membership (From USD 10)
User Reviews

#8. Zenefits / Twitter
Listed 9 out of 20 times. The Zenefits People Platform brings everything HR into one radically simple, single app. Their platform is designed to be comprehensive without being overly complex. It puts benefits, payroll and HR access in the pockets and at the fingertips of employees.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Zenefits
Guide: Zenefits
Their Blog
Pricing: Monthly Membership (From USD 6 Per Employee)
User Reviews

#9. Paycor / Twitter
Listed 9 out of 20 times. Paycor is known for delivering modern, intuitive recruiting, HR and payroll solutions. Paycor’s personalized support and user-friendly, scalable technology streamlines every aspect of people management, giving their clients the peace of mind to focus on what they know best, their business and their mission.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Paycor
Guide: Paycor
Their Blog
User Reviews

#10. Justworks / Twitter
Listed 8 out of 20 times. Justworks easy-to-use platform helps users manage payroll, benefits, HR, and compliance – simplifying their business’s back office complexities.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Justworks
Guide: Justworks
Their Blog
Pricing: Monthly Membership (From USD 44)
User Reviews

#11. SurePayroll / Twitter
Listed 10 out of 20 times. SurePayroll, a Paychex Company, is dedicated to providing a convenient and easy-to-use small business payroll service that keeps business owners in control. They specialize in online payroll that their customers can access anytime using a mobile device.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: SurePayroll
Guide: SurePayroll
Their Blog
User Reviews

#12. ADP Payroll Services / Twitter
Listed 5 out of 20 times. ADP offers Payroll services and tax support to help businesses save time. Main features include: Automated and error-free online payroll processing; Easy-to-use self-service app for employees; Simple integration with time-tracking and HR, and more.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: ADP Payroll Services
Their Blog
User Reviews

#13. Intuit Online Payroll (IOP) / Twitter
Listed 6 out of 20 times. Intuit Online Payroll is popular and comprehensive service which includes payment and filing assistance for both federal and state taxes. If you are managing payroll on your own, this is the right service for you.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Intuit Online Payroll
Guide: Intuit Online Payroll
Their Blog
Pricing: Monthly Membership (From USD 22.50)
User Reviews

#14. Wave / Twitter
Listed 5 out of 20 times. Wave offers financial software for small businesses, freelancers and consultants. 100% free accounting & invoicing, plus payment processing, payroll and more.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Wave
Guide: Wave
Their Blog
User Review

#15. Xero / Twitter
Listed 6 out of 20 times. Born in the cloud, Xero is a beautiful, easy-to-use platform for small businesses and their advisors around the world. Xero provides its 2+ million subscribers with connections to a thriving ecosystem of 800+ third-party apps.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Xero
Guide: Xero
Their Blog
User Reviews 

#16. ADP Workforce Now / Twitter
Listed 4 out of 20 times. ADP Workforce Now is a cloud-based platform for HR management software, where users can easily manage all of their HR functions — payroll, HR management, workforce management, talent, and benefits — and gain insights across them all. ADP Workforce Now Payroll makes payroll and tax filing easy. It’s engineered to help support compliance obligations and is ready to scale as businesses grow.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: ADP Workforce Now
Guide: ADP Workforce Now
Their Blog
User Reviews 

#17. Sage Payroll / Twitter
Listed 6 out of 20 times. Sage provides small and medium-sized organizations with a range of easy-to-use, secure, and efficient business management software and services—from accounting and payroll to enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and payments.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Sage Payroll
Guide: Sage Payroll
Their Blog
User Reviews

#18. Workday / Twitter
Listed 4 out of 20 times. Workday is provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. Their payroll, time tracking, and HCM in one payroll management system makes it easier to flexibly manage processes and pay the workforce with confidence.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Workday
Guide: Workday
Their Blog
User Reviews

#19. Rippling / Twitter
Listed 4 out of 20 times. Rippling is all in one, modern platform built to scale with their users, from 1 to 1,000 employees. Everything they need to manage — and delight — their people: Payroll, Benefits, HR Software and HR Integrations.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: Rippling
Guide: Rippling
Their Blog
Pricing: Monthly Membership (From USD 7)
User Reviews

#20. TriNet / Twitter
Listed 4 out of 20 times. TriNet provides HR solutions to small to mid-sized businesses. Tailored by industry, their bundled HR products cover the core services of payroll, benefits, risk & compliance, an HR team and a cloud platform.

Handy Resources:
Features Overview: TriNet
Their Blog
Pricing: Quote-Based
User Reviews

Types of HR Systems
for SME Businesses

As a SME business owner or manager, do you know the difference between HRIS, HCM, and HRMS? There are lots of other terms used in the HR industry to describe all sorts of HR software solutions, and there is no clear definition of what is what, but the most commonly used terms are:

  • Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Human Capital Management (HCM)
  • Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS)

The below table shows the significant differences between the three categories and what HR features belong to each category.

As you can see, HRIS is the most basic option according to the general consensus, and at its core, it manages people, procedures, and policies. Next, comes HCM offering more components and HRMS having the broadest scope which generally also includes payroll processing features.

However, keep in mind that there is no agreement across the industry of what belongs where and various vendors use different definitions of what features belong to what category as further explained by SelectHub.

The Key Components of
Payroll Software Applications

As can be seen from the above overview, Payroll Software is part of HRMS which is the broadest overarching category, and it includes al features of HRIS and HCM Software tools plus the Time Management and Payroll Processing tools.

So if you are looking for a Payroll Software Application for your SME business you can either go for a full-blown HRMS Software package or choose a standalone Payroll Software tool. What to choose basically depends on your needs and budget.

Key features of a useful Payroll Software application for your SME business include:

  • Payroll Processing & Management – This is obviously the core function, processing and managing payroll items.
  • Direct Deposit – Instead of distributing paychecks direct deposits ensures your employees get paid on their preferred bank accounts.
  • Integrated Accounting – A good payroll system ensures that all relevant payroll data is automatically integrated into your accounting systems and keeps all employee data synced.
  • Tax Filings – The best payroll systems provide all sorts of tax filing features, like federal, state, local, Social Security and other types of payroll taxes.
  • Compensation Administration – Dealing with compensation exceeds basic payroll and wage management and takes into account the non-traditional method of pay. Worker’s compensation, bonuses, changes in minimum wages, cost of living, travel expenses, etc. are all handled by compensation features.
  •  Employee Self Service – With self-service features, employees can quickly access their payroll data and forms whenever they need without having to make a special request with your HR department.
  • Reporting – Payroll reports give a high-level overview of your budget, taxes, compensation items and many other payroll data.
  • Compliance Management – This feature deals with all sorts of relevant compliance regulations to ensure your small business is up-to-date and lawful.

What the Software Review Sites Say About
the Top 5 Payroll Software Tools

The massive number of different Software Applications in the market for SME businesses has created a whole new industry, which is the industry of the Software Review Sites. These sites are dedicated to grouping software into categories that you can search to identify the application for your business needs and see then see what customers have to say about these applications.

We have identified the most trustful sites that provide unbiased information and reviews from other SME business users, and which are also the market leaders in the software comparison industry, not surprisingly. Some of these sites have also been used as a source for our research (in addition to other resources) for this article. This is what the top review sites have to say about the Top 5 of our Best Payroll Software applications.

As can be seen, Gusto Payroll is a clear favorite among the leading Software Review Sites as it is listed as the number one twice and as number four once. Therefore, it is no surprise that Gusto Payroll has been listed as number one on our list as well.

Choosing the Best
Payroll Software Application for Your SME

The number of software applications for SME businesses related to HR is enormous. G2 Crowd, one of the leading Software Review Sites, has grouped the software applications associated with HR in more than 67 separate software categories. Each category exists of more than 100+ different software systems, whereby each of them offers various features.

The HRMS Software category is basically at the top of the HR hierarchy, with 67 subcategories underneath it, more or less. And as said, each subcategory can exist of 100+ different software systems whereby each of them has different functionalities.

Therefore, making a choice between the different HR Software applications can be an overwhelming project, but the one you choose can have a significant impact on your overall Human Resources process. What makes things extra complex is that all the HR Software Systems come with their own set of features. Therefore, the following elements can help you further in making the right choice for selecting a appropriate Payroll Software aaplication:

  • What are your Payroll Management main objectives;
  • Involve all stakeholders from start to end;
  • What are the minimum functionalities you want a Payroll Software application to have;
  • Should the Payroll Software System be able to connect with other systems use by your SME business;
  • How user-friendly is the application and can it be customized;
  • How difficult is it to implement, and what are the costs involved.

Once you have answered these questions, you have eliminated many of the available software applications in the market, and you can start a more focused research. Keep in mind that ranking lists and reviews can be misleading, and they only should be used to give some guidance, especially when the results are scattered.

People Management &
the Future of Human Resources Management

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report reveals how businesses are turning to new organizational models that highlight the networked nature of today’s working environment; the rise of innovation-based HR platforms; the importance of learning and career programs in this rapidly changing world; and employee experience strategies that put the workforce at the center. The report closes with insights into the future of work, whereby changes are driven by advances in automation and an expanded definition of the workforce.

As can be seen from the identified 10 human capital trends in the report, various sorts of Human Resources aspects are a critical factor within HRM, and most of them are at the center of the rapidly changing workforce ecosystem.

Best HR Books
for Further Learning

Books about Human Resources and Management offer a great way of learning more in-depth aspects of HR and Management and at a much lower price than taking, for example, a specialist HR or Management Course. By reading a book, you consume a huge amount of research in a relatively short amount of time, and it is one of the best ways to improve your Human Resources / Management knowledge and skills. These Human Resources Management Books keep up appearing on all the “Best of Lists” resulting in “The 20 Best HR Books Recommended most Times,” and here are the top 5:

  1. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently | by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t | by Jim Collins
  3. Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed To Do And What You Can Do About It  | by Ferdinand Fournies
  4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead | by Sheryl Sandberg
  5. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead | by Laszlo Bock

Best HR Blogs
to Follow

Blogs about Human Resources are another ideal source for staying up to date on the latest developments and learn new insights into all sorts of HR topics that can be relevant for your SME businessThereforethese HR Blogs might also interest you as we did another research for Blogs about Human Resources Management in the same way as we did for Best Payroll Software Systems. These Top 20 of Best HR Blogs keep appearing on all lists of Best HR Blogs to follow, and here are the top 5:

  1. HR Bartender / Twitter
  2. TLNT / Twitter
  3. Evil HR Lady / Twitter
  4. HR Examiner / Twitter
  5. HRZone / Twitter

Best HCM Software
Most Recommended

A suitable HCM Software application is a must-have for optimizing your overall Human Resources Management strategy for your SME business. The benefits of using the most suitable HCM System are extensive. Therefore, these HCM Software applications might also interest you as we did another research for HCM Software Systems in the same way as we did for Best Payroll Software applications.  These Top 15 of Best HCM Software Systems keep appearing on all lists of Best HCM Software Systems, and here are the top 5:

  1. SAP SuccessFactors / Twitter
  2. Workday / Twitter
  3. BambooHR / Twitter
  4. UltiPro / Twitter
  5. Oracle HCM Cloud / Twitter

Our Job Board
for HR Jobs

Very soon we will start operating a Job Board with a 100% Professional Services focus, which includes HR-related Jobs:

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A job opening can be created in minutes against a flat monthly fee, which can be canceled at any time. For Job Searchers, it is always free.

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How we Established the Final
Top 20 of Best Payroll Software

  • We made a list of 50 posts that were recently published about “Best Payroll Software” to use.
  • From this list of 50 posts, we selected the top 20 that seem most valuable to our readers and users.
  • We combined the 20 lists of “Best Payroll Software” and earmarked all individual tools that were on those lists.
  • When a tool was ranked as number 1, it got 1 point, and when it was ranked 2nd, it got 2 points, etc.
  • When no particular ranking was applied to a specific list, then each listed tool got the same points.
  • To be included in the final list, a tool should be listed for a minimal number of times.
  • More weight was assigned to tools that were explicitly listed more times than other tools.
  • All lists were summed up, and the Payroll Software System with the lowest number was ranked 1, 2, 3, etc.
  • This resulted in the final “Top 20 of Best Payroll Software” that has been recommended most times by all types of HR Experts. 

Sources Used for
Best Payroll Software

The 20 “Best of Lists” used for researching what the Best Payroll Software Systems are:

  1. 7 Best Payroll Software for 2019
  2. Payroll Software
  3. 2020’s Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses
  4. 10 Best Payroll Software Solutions for Small Businesses
  5. What is the Best Payroll Software for Small Business?
  6. The Best Online Payroll Software for 2020
  7. Best Payroll Software
  8. The 10 Best Payroll Software
  9. Payroll Software Overview
  10. Best payroll software 2019: Track your employee’s payroll
  11. Best Payroll Services for Small Business – 2020
  12. Top Payroll Software Comparison
  13. Best Payroll Software for Your Business: 2020 Edition
  14. Payroll Software
  15. 2020’s Best Payroll Software
  16. Top Payroll Services
  17. Payroll Software
  18. Best Payroll Services
  19. Best Payroll Software In 2020
  20. Best Payroll Software Based on In-Depth Reviews