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Updated May 21, 2024

ADP vs. Paychex: Which Payroll Software Is Best for Your Business?

ADP and Paychex are two of our top choices for payroll software that can handle the needs of any size business. We’ve put their services side by side so you can decide which one will serve you best.

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Tom Anziano, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Paychex company logo
Editor's Rating9.3/10
ADP company logo
Editor's Rating9.2/10

As a small business owner, you no doubt want to save time and money by paying employees efficiently and accurately. But beyond getting paychecks out, the best payroll services help you stay compliant with federal and state laws, filing taxes correctly, offering benefits packages and even hiring and managing employees with human resources (HR) tools. 

We’ve compared ADP and Paychex, two of our top choices for payroll solutions ― geared toward businesses of any size ― to help you decide which service will best let you run your payroll, benefits and HR operations smoothly. 

ADP vs Paychex Payroll

ADP vs. Paychex Compared

CRITERIA

ADP

Paychex

Starting Price

Custom quotes only

$39 per month plus $5 per employee for 1-19 employees

Scalability 

Multiple solutions that can grow with your business, handle increasingly complex needs and facilitate international payroll

Custom solutions for small, medium and large businesses, as well as sole proprietors, with add-ons to expand service without changing plans 

Payroll Features

Automated payroll, employee portal, tax filing, artificial intelligence (AI) tools, time and attendance and benefits administration

Full-service payroll, on-site check printing, tax filing, time and attendance, employee Pre-Check and benefits management

HR Features

Onboarding, new hire reporting, background checks, ZipRecruiter access, employee handbook wizard, HR forms and offboarding

Onboarding, new hire reporting, employee handbook builder, HR document library, job posting, applicant tracking, employee training and performance reviews

Integrations

Integrations with top business software; accounting integrations and ledger sharing available with all plans

Integrations with useful business solutions; accounting integrations must be added on, except with the top-tier plan

Ease of Use

Intuitive, customizable platform capable of handling complex tasks;

implementation can take over four weeks.

Straightforward platform that’s simple to navigate; up and running in as little as two days

Customer Support

24/7 phone and online customer service, online resources, employee troubleshooting and dedicated premium support

24/7 phone and online support, resource center for businesses and employees plus dedicated premium support

Who Do We Recommend ADP For?

We found ADP to be the best choice for businesses seeking an intuitive and reliable payroll solution that can scale as your company grows and your needs become more complex. ADP is especially useful beyond traditional payroll thanks to its robust HR features, standard new-hire onboarding assistance and international presence. 

The ADP RUN platform is available in four plans for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Whether you only need basic help automating payroll and tax filing or you require additional support as you recruit, screen, track and train new employees, ADP has a package for you. As your organization expands, you can add on services, move to a higher tier plan or switch to ADP’s solutions for large businesses.

ADP colorful interface

ADP’s colorful, visual interface helps businesses and employees alike keep track of pay. Source: ADP

ADP users can enjoy: 

  • Straightforward payroll processing for every type of business.
  • Powerful HR tools, including access to ZipRecruiter. 
  • A scalable platform capable of servicing both startups and complex corporations.

Learn more in our in-depth ADP review.

Who Do We Recommend Paychex For?

We recommend Paychex for businesses of any size looking for competent payroll processing from an experienced and dependable provider. No matter the number of employees or level of service needed, businesses can rely on Paychex’s customizable solutions across three plans and a host of individual add-ons. 

With the add-on Pre-Check service, employees can review their anticipated payroll and flag errors before payday. The vendor’s compliance experts also stay on top of any regulatory changes in the places where you do business so you can avoid costly mistakes. We love that Paychex goes beyond in guaranteeing your payroll and taxes are accurate. 

Paychex dashboard

The straightforward Paychex dashboard lets you know when to run payroll and what steps to take. Source: Paychex

Paychex subscribers can take advantage of:

  • Customizable solutions for businesses of any size.
  • An easy-to-use platform with great employee-facing features.
  • Multiple pay options and guaranteed tax compliance. 

See our comprehensive Paychex review to dive deeper.

ADP vs. Paychex Comparison

Below, we compare ADP and Paychex across key areas business owners should consider when choosing a payroll service.

Price

ADP

  • ADP RUN comes in four plans for companies with fewer than 50 employees.
  • Premium plans boast powerful HR features.
  • You have to call to get a price quote.

RUN, ADP’s payroll platform for small businesses with up to 49 employees, is available in four packages. Here’s what you get with each plan:

  • Essential: The entry-level plan includes basic payroll, reporting, tax filing, employee access, onboarding, background checks and Google Ads. Payment options include direct deposit, pay cards and paycheck delivery.
  • Enhanced: This level expands ADP’s basic payroll service with check signing security, state unemployment insurance and access to ZipRecruiter.
  • Complete: Here, you get additional HR tools like access to a dedicated HR support team, employee handbooks, applicant tracking and HR training.
  • HR Pro: With the top tier, you can enhance your HR capabilities with extra support, online training courses and legal assistance. 

We were disappointed that pricing isn’t available on ADP’s website. Prospective subscribers have to contact a sales representative for a quote. Pricing is based on the level of service you require, how many employees you have, which states you do business in and how often you run payroll. 

When we inquired about a business with 25 employees running payroll every other week, we were quoted $115 per pay cycle, plus $2.11 per employee. We didn’t like that the price would double for running payroll more frequently. ADP also charges a setup fee but it might waive it or offer the first few months of service at no charge when you sign up. 

Notably, ADP offers additional solutions for businesses with more than 50 employees.

Paychex

  • Paychex has three customizable plans depending on your company size and needs.
  • Compliance monitors, on-site check printing and multiple add-ons set Paychex apart.
  • Most businesses will have to call for accurate pricing to account for plan customizations and add-ons.

Paychex offers three flexible plans depending on the size of your business and your payroll needs. Every plan includes basic payroll processing, payroll tax services, new-hire reporting and around-the-clock support. Here’s how the plans break down.

  • Flex Essentials: This plan is for businesses with one to 19 employees. It costs $39 per month, plus $5 per employee. You can pay your staff by direct deposit and pay cards or by printing payroll checks.
  • Flex Select: Paychex’s most popular plan includes an employee pay-on-demand service and automatic tip disbursement. You also get access to one-on-one support, employee training and an HR library. Pricing depends on your business size, needs and how often you run payroll. 
  • Flex Pro: This custom-priced, premium plan is designed for larger businesses looking for more robust HR tools. You get integrations with accounting software, state unemployment insurance, wage garnishment, employee screening and HR handbook features. 

We were dismayed to learn the Essentials plan doesn’t offer as many features as some competitors’ entry-level packages, but we appreciate that you can add most features to any plan. However, this can drive up the cost for larger companies with complex needs. If your business needs a higher-tier plan, you won’t know the final cost until you speak to a customer service representative for a quote. 

That said, we found extra value in the fact that all Paychex plans include monitoring of state regulations by compliance experts, something ADP and most rivals don’t offer.

Winner: Paychex

We’re bothered that neither company offers transparent, upfront pricing for all plans. That makes it harder to evaluate and compare. Still, while costs can vary depending on your company’s requirements, based on our investigation we found that most small businesses with straightforward payroll needs will find more value in Paychex. If you have specific needs or want HR services, we recommend calling both companies for a quote so that you can directly compare packages and see which vendor will provide the most bang for your buck.

TipTip
Neither ADP nor Paychex allow unlimited payroll runs. If you need to run more frequent or irregular payroll cycles, we recommend taking a look at our OnPay review and review of Rippling as both of these rivals offer unlimited payroll runs.

Scalability

ADP

  • ADP offers size-based payroll and HR solutions that can scale with your business.
  • You can pay employees in over 140 countries.

We appreciate that ADP gives businesses the choice of four different RUN plans so that you can select the package that best meets your current requirements and size. Then, as your company grows, you can add on services or transition seamlessly to a higher-tier plan. We especially like that ADP offers an additional three plans tailored to meet the needs of businesses with more than 50 employees, so when you outgrow RUN, you can still stick with ADP. 

We also love that ADP facilitates payroll services in over 140 countries, so your company can use the same software as you expand internationally

Paychex

  • Paychex has solutions geared toward small, medium and large businesses.
  • Customizable add-ons allow you to expand service selectively but the price can add up.

We think Paychex is an excellent payroll and HR solution for businesses of all sizes. It offers custom packages for midsize businesses with 20 to 49 employees and large companies with over 50 employees as well as appealing options for the self-employed and sole proprietors. 

We appreciate that many of the features that come standard in its premium plans can be added on to lower-tier plans, so Paychex users have the option to expand their service without paying for a higher plan. However, subscribers should be mindful of how bundling impacts their total costs.

Winner: ADP

We found that both ADP and Paychex offer multiple solutions that benefit businesses of all sizes. However, ADP edges out Paychex when it comes to scalability. We like that ADP offers more plans with a specific set of solutions designed for large businesses, including those expanding overseas. Plus, most ADP plans include more features than Paychex does, so your business won’t incur higher costs with a ton of add-ons. 

Payroll Features

ADP

  • You can automate payroll or run it yourself in minutes.
  • ADP files accurate taxes with AI support and takes responsibility for any errors.
  • Add-ons allow you to enhance payroll and offer employee benefits.

We like that most payroll features are included across all of the ADP RUN plans. We found it especially useful that you can automate payroll easily and that most manual cycles take less than 15 minutes. Employees can access their pay history, manage payment methods and benefits or download tax information on the employee app without a hitch.

Like Paychex, ADP will calculate and file your federal, state and local payroll taxes. But ADP stands out for offering additional protection around tax payments. Besides providing excellent tax-related customer support, ADP employs AI to detect errors before filing. If there is a mistake, ADP takes full responsibility by communicating with the tax agency and paying any fines. 

Paychex allows you to add additional tools related to employee pay, like time and attendance features, workers’ compensation, retirement plans and health insurance benefits. 

Paychex

  • On-demand payments and automatic tip disbursement make Paychex unique.
  • Pre-Check allows employees to review their paychecks before payroll is run.
  • Some payroll features aren’t included in the basic plan.

Paychex offers similar payroll capabilities as ADP, but we were disappointed that some unique features, such as on-demand payments, tip disbursement and wage garnishments, aren’t included in the basic plan. However, we do appreciate that Paychex gives you the option to print your own checks, something ADP doesn’t allow. 

We especially love Paychex’s Pre-Check add-on, which allows employees to review paychecks before they’re paid, avoiding costly and time-consuming payroll mistakes. Another standout aspect is that the employee app includes tools to help your team members meet their financial goals. 

While features, such as time and attendance, retirement plans and other employee benefits, are available as paid add-ons, we appreciate that Paychex includes both workers’ compensation and state unemployment insurance in its premium plan. 

Paychex Pre-Check

Pre-Check lets employees review their paychecks before you run payroll, helping you avoid costly errors. Source: Paychex 

Winner: Tie

When it comes to a platform with stellar payroll features, you can’t go wrong with either ADP or Paychex. If you need a solution that offers additional tax filing security, plus state unemployment insurance and a general ledger interface that works seamlessly with accounting software integrations at no additional cost, go with ADP. But we recommend Paychex for businesses that need more flexibility when paying employees and those that would like effective employee-facing tools and the option to add additional services without changing plans. 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
ADP and Paychex each have potent tools to help you run quick and accurate payroll, as well as calculate and file necessary taxes. Both solutions offer add-ons to help you create an employee benefits package that attracts talent and keeps your employees loyal.

HR Features

ADP

  • Onboarding and background checks come standard.
  • Most plans include ZipRecruiter access to find job candidates.
  • Premium plans include ADP’s reputable HR services.

ADP started out as an HR company, so businesses can rest assured that they are getting reliable HR tools included in their ADP payroll package. All plans included employee self-onboarding and background checks. We found the ZipRecruiter access, which starts with the Enhanced plan, to be particularly useful for job postings and recruitment.

ADP shines for offering stellar HR functions with its two premium payroll plans, Complete and HR Pro. Businesses that need extra HR help will love the dedicated HR support team, employee handbook wizard, training tools, applicant tracking and advanced reports. 

ADP RUN

You can access powerful HR tools right from the ADP RUN dashboard. Source: ADP

Paychex

  • Onboarding and new-hire reporting come with the entry-level plan.
  • Premium plans expand HR service, but many tools require a paid add-on.

Paychex also offers a reliable host of HR features, but apart from seamless digital onboarding and new-hire reporting, most don’t come standard with the entry-level plan, Flex Essentials. The higher-tier plans include online training courses and an HR document library. For preemployment screening and an employee handbook builder, you’ll have to opt for the most expensive plan, Flex Pro.

We were disappointed that for expanded HR services, such as jobsite integrations, applicant tracking and employee performance management, you have to pay for add-ons.

Did You Know?Did you know
Paychex offers HR-related solutions beyond its Flex payroll plans. If you need more robust HR support and tools, read our Paychex HR outsourcing review and our Paychex PEO review to see if it might be right for you.

Winner: ADP

ADP is our choice for businesses looking for payroll software with HR features that go above and beyond the competition. While Paychex also offers excellent HR services, most are restricted to the top-tier plan or only exist as paid add-ons. With ADP, you’re guaranteed to get strong HR support included in your payroll package. 

Integrations

ADP

  • Multiple integrations are available to connect ADP RUN with top business software.
  • All plans can seamlessly integrate with common accounting software.

ADP’s Marketplace offers integrations with multiple external applications to help you get the most out of the RUN platform. You can share your data from ADP with the best time and attendance software, POS systems, recruiting tools and employee benefits solutions. 

We love that ADP makes staying on top of your financial data painless by integrating with the best accounting software. Plus, accounting and other integrations are enabled across all plans. So is integration with Google Ads, which can help many small businesses looking to launch online advertising campaigns. 

Paychex

  • You can integrate the Flex platform with top business solutions, such as POS systems.
  • You might have to pay to add on accounting software and other integrations.

Paychex integrates with a variety of business solutions to help you run payroll more efficiently. We especially like that restaurant and retail stores can benefit from POS system integrations with leading third parties like Clover — learn more in our Clover POS review

Unfortunately, many integrations, such as access to job posting and hiring tools, are only available as paid add-ons, which can make Paychex an expensive choice. We were also disappointed that accounting software integrations, such as with Intuit QuickBooks (see our QuickBooks accounting review), only come standard with the top-tier plan. 

Winner: ADP

ADP handily beats Paychex when it comes to integrations. While Paychex can be connected to many other business solutions, accounting integrations don’t come standard, which is frustrating given how closely intertwined payroll and accounting are. With ADP, integrations are available with every plan at no additional cost.

Ease of Use 

ADP

  • The ADP RUN platform is easy to use no matter the complexity of your payroll. 
  • A colorful, customizable dashboard and spreadsheet-style forms make running payroll a breeze.
  • It can take weeks to implement ADP.

We were impressed by how simple it is to process payroll and take care of HR tasks on ADP’s intuitive, customizable RUN dashboard. Painless spreadsheet-style forms mean you’ll have no trouble mastering the platform. We particularly like that the interface is colorful and highly visual, allowing you to grasp payroll data at a glance.

ADP excels at creating a seamless, straightforward experience across its platform for all types of businesses. Even large companies with complex needs will find that ADP saves them a headache when it comes time to process payroll. However, a major downside to ADP is the time it takes to get up and running. It can take some businesses more than a month to get the platform fully set up. That said, we do like that ADP offers a dedicated support team to help you through the implementation process.

Paychex

  • The Flex platform is easy to organize and customize.
  • Visual alerts help you stay on top of payroll.
  • Paychex can be up and running in a few days.

We love Paychex’s well-organized, customizable platform that provides alerts so that you don’t miss a pay cycle or a potential error. Running payroll is as quick as a few mouse clicks, so you can dedicate more time to running your business. 

Similar to ADP, Paychex provides guided assistance to help you implement the platform. We appreciate that you can start processing payroll in as little as 48 hours. One reason why Paychex is fast at implementation is that the vendor strives to import your existing payroll data from whatever provider you’re switching from.

Winner: Paychex

Paychex edges out ADP here because of its much shorter implementation window. Businesses that need to start paying employees quickly can do so in a few days with Paychex. When it comes to navigating the actual platforms, we found both software solutions to be equally easy to use.

Customer Support

ADP

  • You can get 24/7 online or phone support, plus access to a ton of online resources.
  • Premium plans include access to dedicated support.

ADP provides excellent, around-the-clock online and phone support. Representatives are reliably helpful, but you can also find a wealth of valuable information in the vendor’s online Resource Center. There are specific sections for small businesses, larger corporations and employees. Beyond that, businesses have access to webinars and blogs. We especially love that premium plans come with access to an enhanced help desk.

Paychex

  • Paychex provides 24/7 online and phone support, in addition to digital resources for business owners and employees.
  • Premium plan subscribers get dedicated support.

Paychex provides 24/7 online and phone support. It also has multiple online resources geared toward businesses and employees, so most problems can be solved without having to pick up the phone. Paychex hosts a series of podcasts and webinars that are helpful for payroll- and HR-related training. Businesses using one of the higher-tier plans have access to a dedicated support team.

Winner: Tie

If you need a payroll solution with first-rate customer service, you can’t go wrong with either ADP or Paychex. They both offer similar customer service options, with extensive support, a host of online tools and dedicated assistance for those purchasing premium packages. 

ADP vs. Paychex Recap

Choose ADP if:

  • You want a trustworthy payroll solution with HR support from an industry leader.
  • You need a platform that remains simple to use as your needs become more complex.
  • You’re looking for a comprehensive payroll and HR package that can grow with your company.

Choose Paychex if:

  • You want a quick, reliable payroll service that meets the needs of a business your size.
  • You need a flexible solution with the option to add on specific features.
  • You’re looking for a platform that ensures your payroll and taxes are accurate.

FAQs

Yes, Paychex is similar to ADP. Both vendors are payroll service providers with a proven track record. Paychex offers many of the same payroll features, HR tools and the ability to expand its service with integrations and add-ons.
It is possible to do your own payroll, but switching to paperless payroll and using payroll software like ADP and Paychex can help you save time and be more accurate. Plus, payroll service providers keep up to date with applicable tax laws, helping ensure you stay compliant. Most will even file payroll taxes automatically for you.
ADP can be expensive because the vendor charges per payroll. While ADP isn’t the cheapest option on the market, its plans offer great value thanks to extensive HR features and stellar support.
Small business payroll costs can vary significantly based on the software and tier of service you choose, along with the size of your business. Most solutions charge a flat rate per month, plus an additional per-employee fee. You might have to pay extra for irregular payroll runs or add-on services. As a result, there is quite a range when it comes to payroll costs — they're often between $30 and $150 per month for the base package and $5 to $15 per employee — and some vendors only provide custom quotes.
The disadvantages of ADP include its cost, which can be higher than competitors because it doesn't allow unlimited payroll runs at no expense. Also, setting up ADP can take much longer than other payroll software, which may be a temporary downside.
Tom Anziano headshot
Tom Anziano, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Writer
Thomas Anziano is an advertising and marketing professional who has worked in the U.S. and Germany. He has also taught Business Writing in English to university students in Madrid, Spain. He holds a degree in Marketing and Spanish.
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