Software can make payroll—and your life—much easier. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for payroll software. After all, there are a variety of tools to choose from. And as a savvy business owner, you want to find the best fit for your company. So, what is the best payroll software for small business?
Read on for a payroll software overview, what makes a software system “the best,” and how to find the best fit for you.
What is payroll software?
If you have employees, you need to pay them for their hours worked. To do this, you need to run payroll. Payroll is the process of paying employees after withholding federal, state, and local taxes and other deductions.
The payroll process consists of:
- Tracking hours worked
- Determining an employee’s gross wages
- Calculating employment taxes
- Withholding taxes and other deductions
- Giving employees their take-home pay (e.g., via direct deposit)
- Remitting taxes to the proper tax agencies
- Filing tax returns with the proper tax agencies
In short, there’s a lot that goes into running payroll. To simplify this process, you can use payroll software. Payroll software is a system that streamlines the process of calculating wages and taxes. Full-service payroll takes things a step further and handles tax deposits and filing.
Although doing payroll by hand is an option, it can leave room for errors—and administrative headaches. That’s why businesses trust software to help them automate payroll.
What is the best payroll software for small business?
There are several payroll software providers on the market. So, what is the best software for payroll? Compare top payroll providers to find out.
You can look at customer reviews—and review websites—to help compare payroll software. This gives you insight into other small business owners’ experiences.
Based on user reviews comparing payroll products, Patriot Software’s payroll ranked first overall, according to Capterra:
- Patriot Payroll
- QuickBooks Online
- Paychex Flex
Another Capterra Competitive Comparison (based on user reviews from the United States) had similar findings. According to the reviews, Patriot’s payroll software again ranked first:
- Patriot Payroll
- RUN Powered by ADP
- Square Payroll
The software comparisons both focus on four categories: Functionality, ease of use, value for money, and customer support.
Does the software meet other business owners’ needs? To find out, compare features among payroll systems.
So, what features should you look for in payroll software? Whether switching payroll companies or signing up for payroll for the first time, you should know what features you want.
Popular payroll software features include:
- Guaranteed wage and overtime calculations
- Bonus, commission, and tip management
- The ability to pay 1099 workers in payroll
- Employee portal
- Free payroll setup
- Access to expert support
- Ability to run unlimited payrolls
- Payroll tax filings and deposits
- Year-end tax filings
- Time-off accruals
- Robust payroll reports
The features you need may depend on your business. Consider your company’s needs when deciding what features you can’t live without.
Notable comparisons in “Functionality”
What payroll software comes in first for functionality? Take a look at some notable comparisons below:
- Patriot vs. QuickBooks: Patriot’s “Functionality” score was 94 compared to QuickBooks’ 88, according to Capterra. This positions Patriot as a leading QuickBooks alternative.
- Patriot vs. SurePayroll: Patriot’s “Functionality” score was 95 compared to SurePayroll’s 62, according to Capterra.
2. Ease of use
What is the easiest payroll software to use? To find out, look at how difficult it is for other business owners to use the software.
As a business owner, your time is precious—which is why you need payroll software that’s easy to learn and use.
When it comes to ease of use, business owners want software with:
- Easy onboarding
- Free setup
- A simple interface
- No training necessary
- Common sense navigation
- Tooltips throughout the software
- A robust help center (videos, articles, checklists, etc.)
Notable comparisons in “Ease of Use”
What payroll software comes in first for ease of use? Here are the notable comparisons:
- Patriot vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Patriot’s “Ease of Use” score was 96 compared to RUN Powered by ADP’s 87, according to Capterra.
- Patriot vs. SurePayroll: Patriot’s Ease of Use” score was 96 compared to SurePayroll’s 65, according to Capterra.
3. Value for money
How expensive is the software compared to what it can do? Most business owners want to know what is the cheapest payroll service for small business. But, they also want to balance cost with what the software does.
To determine the value for money, you must:
- Compare software costs AND
- See what’s included in the cost
Consider what features you need. Then, compare the costs between payroll software providers that offer those services.
Notable comparisons in “Value for Money”
What payroll software comes in first for value for money? Here are the notable comparisons:
- Patriot vs. Gusto: Patriot’s “Value for Money” score was 95 compared to Gusto’s 91, according to Capterra.
- Patriot vs. Paychex Flex: Patriot’s “Value for Money” score was 95 compared to Paychex Flex’s 80, according to Capterra.
4. Customer support
When it comes to customer support, what is the best software for payroll? Even if you use the most intuitive system in the world, things happen. And when things happen, you want to know you have access to expert support.
So, how important is customer support, anyway? For the majority of consumers, support is pretty important. And when you’re dealing with something as complicated as payroll, good support is a must.
Have a tax filing issue or calculation mistake that could result in penalties? The last thing you want is to be stranded on your own.
You may want to ask customer support-related questions like:
- Does the software offer free support?
- How can I contact their support team?
- Does the payroll company outsource its customer support or offer it in-house?
You can find out more about a payroll software company’s customer support by speaking with representatives before signing up. And, you can read reviews to learn about other business owners’ experiences.
Notable comparisons in “Customer Support”
What payroll software comes in first for customer support? Here are the notable comparisons:
- Patriot vs. Gusto: Patriot’s “Customer Support” score was 95 compared to Gusto’s 87, according to Capterra.
- Patriot vs. SurePayroll: Patriot’s “Customer Support” score was 96 compared to SurePayroll’s 51, according to Capterra.