ADP vs. Paychex Review: Which Is Right for Your Business?

Both are big names in the payroll business, offering software backed by human support. Here's how they compare.
Lisa Anthony
Sally Lauckner
By Sally Lauckner and  Lisa Anthony 
Edited by Tina Orem

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ADP and Paychex are two of the biggest and oldest names in payroll outsourcing services. Both options provide business owners with cloud-based, fully automated payroll software, while maintaining strong, human-powered support teams — and both companies’ services also extend well beyond payroll to provide comprehensive human resources and benefits services as well.

Because they offer such similar services, and they’re both so widely trusted by small-business owners, this comprehensive comparison of ADP and Paychex can help you discover what makes each service unique so you can decide which might be best for your business.

Overview: ADP

ADP is one of the oldest and largest employer services companies in the nation: From their beginnings in 1949 as solely a payroll processing business, ADP has expanded into providing comprehensive human capital management solutions to 800,000 small businesses and enterprises worldwide.

If you just need a payroll service, you’ll probably use Run Powered by ADP, the company’s online payroll processing platform for small-business owners. It comes with 24/7 access to ADP’s own payroll and tax experts. You can add ADP’s other HR and benefits solutions, too.

ADP features

ADP serves over half a million small businesses (which they define as businesses with 1-49 employees) with its cloud-based payroll solutions. In addition to running payroll from ADP’s centralized, digital dashboard, ADP will also automatically deduct your workers’ comp insurance every pay period, and automatically deposit your staff’s paychecks via check, direct deposit or a paycard.

ADP has four online payroll processing packages, which increase in available features and are designed for businesses of increasing sizes and needs:

  • Essential: This plan works best for startups or for businesses that only need a payroll solution. Among other features, you’ll get payroll delivery, W-2 and 1099 forms, reporting capabilities and direct deposit. Employees can access their own online portal to view and manage important forms and information.

  • Enhanced: With this plan, you’ll get everything in the Essential package, plus check signing and stuffing, ZipRecruiter, background checks, state unemployment insurance and wage garnishment services.

  • Complete: This plan has all the payroll features in the Enhanced plan, plus basic HR services such as employee handbooks, forms and documents, training and access to ADP’s HR Help Desk.

  • HR Pro: ADP’s most comprehensive package, HR Pro includes everything in the Complete package, plus enhanced HR services, marketing tools and legal assistance from Upnetic Legal Services.

ADP also provides comprehensive employer services as add-ons that integrate with the payroll processing and HCM system:

  • Time and attendance: Digitally track your employees’ hours, time-off requests, scheduling and more.

  • Talent: ADP’s talent services can help you optimize the entire employee lifecycle, from recruiting, to hiring, to managing employees and promoting their growth, to providing them with retirement plans.

  • Employee benefits: ADP provides digital employee benefits administration solutions, as well as both online and in-person benefits advisory services. You can also get retirement plans, group health insurance.

  • Small Business Marketing Toolkit: Through ADP’s partnership with Upnetic, you get access to marketing experts who can help you manage your digital marketing.

You can integrate numerous apps into your ADP platform, too, including accounting solutions such as QuickBooks Online and Xero; ERP (enterprise resource planning) software; time and attendance apps; and lots more. ADP also has its own app marketplace where you can search and download compatible apps to suit your business’ needs.

ADP pricing

ADP pricing is based on your business’s size, which services you need and which payroll package you sign up for, among other factors. You have to request a quote by providing basic information about your business on the ADP website or by contacting an ADP sales representative.

ADP user reviews

Overall, ADP receives largely positive user reviews across major review platforms:

  • 3.9 out of 5 rating on G2 Crowd.

  • 3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs.

Overview: Paychex

Since their start in 1971, Paychex has become one of the best-known payroll and HR solutions providers for small-to-medium sized businesses. In addition to those two major services, Paychex also offers:

Let’s take a closer look at what Paychex offers its 700,000 small-business clients in the U.S. and North Europe.

Paychex features

Some of the features included with Paychex’s small-business payroll processing service are:

  • The ability to pay any kind of workers (full-time, hourly or contract) via direct deposit, paper checks or paycards.

  • Automatic tax payroll administration: calculation, filing and payment of payroll taxes.

  • Garnishment payments.

  • HR analytics and an events calendar.

  • Custom reports and analytics.

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Access from a free mobile app.

Employees can log into an employee self-service portal where they can access documents such as new-hire paperwork and payroll forms, change their personal information and request time off.

Also, Paychex can help you switch to Paychex if you’re already with another payroll processor.

Paychex offers combined payroll and HR solutions packages for businesses with between one and nine employees; 10-49 employees; or 50-1,000+ employees. Its payroll services include time and attendance management, hiring services, retirement services, workers’ compensation, and digital marketing services.

Paychex also offers additional services that payroll/HR solutions providers don’t typically provide, such as financial advisor partnerships management, payment processing, business insurance, payroll tax services and services geared especially toward startups, such as incorporation assistance and an online marketing platform.

Paychex pricing

Like ADP, Paychex provides custom pricing based on business size and needs. There are four packages:

  • Paychex Flex Essentials - $39/month plus $5 per employee.

  • Paychex Flex Select - quote required.

  • Paychex Flex Pro - quote required.

  • Paychex Flex Enterprise - quote required.

You can get a quote for any of these four packages by providing your business’s information on the Paychex website.

Paychex user reviews

User reviews about Paychex are a mixed bag:

  • 4.2 out of 5 stars on G2 Crowd.

  • 3.6 out of 5 stars on Consumer Affairs.

  • 1 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau site.

Payroll software

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on QuickBooks' website

QuickBooks Payroll Plans start at $45 per month (base) and $4 per person per month. Read review.

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on Gusto's website

Gusto Payroll Plans start at $40 per month (base) and $6 per person per month. Read review.

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on OnPay's website

OnPay Payroll Plans start at $40 per month (base) and $6 per person per month. Read review.

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on Square's website

Square Payroll Plans start at $35 per month (base) and $5 per person per month. Read review.

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on ADP's website

RUN Powered by ADP Plans start at $79 per month (base) and $4 per person per month. Read review.

Wave Payroll Plans start at $20 per month (base) and $6 per person per month.

Providers may offer lower promotional pricing.

A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet

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