Paycom vs. ADP: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Here's how to determine whether Paycom or ADP Workforce Now is right for your business.

Randa KrissOct 28, 2020
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Both Paycom and ADP Workforce are both widely used payroll platforms that largely offer similar features. While Paycom is an enterprise-level solution, designed to work with larger businesses that have advanced payroll and HR needs, ADP is much more approachable for small to medium-sized businesses that want to streamline their payroll and HR processes. Here's how they stack up.

Paycom

ADP Workforce Now

Pricing

Quote-based pricing.

Quote-based pricing.

Plans

All-in-one, single software plan.

Four package options available, features vary based on package.

Notable features

  • Advanced automation and customization throughout all tools.

  • Direct Data Exchange tool to manage use of the system.

  • Single sign-in platform that automatically syncs data across all parts of the system.

  • Four packages to choose from, including one that focuses on compliance.

  • Highly customizable and advanced reporting tools.

  • Additional products available from ADP, plus third-party integration options.

Integrations

Offers a few add-on services through their own system, like ACA-specific tool.

Variety of third-party integrations available across multiple product categories.

Mobile app

Self-service app available for iOS and Android.

Self-service app available for iOS and Android.

Customer support

Phone and email support available.

Online and phone support, setup and training services also available.

Best For

Larger businesses that have more advanced payroll and HR needs.

Small to medium-sized businesses that want to streamline their processes but don’t need an enterprise-level solution.

Paycom features

As an all-in-one, enterprise-level platform, Paycom’s feature set is extensive. Therefore, we’ll be exploring some of the top highlights, especially as they compare to ADP. Of course, if you have any questions about individual features or are interested in additional details, you can talk to a Paycom representative for more information.

Paycom is a comprehensive payroll and HR software designed to accommodate several processes in a single system. Thus, Paycom only offers one version of their service, although certain add-ons are available based on your business’s needs.

Overall, Paycom differentiates their capabilities through five different categories — payroll, time and labor management, HR management, talent acquisition and talent management.

To summarize these features:

  • Run the entirety of the payroll process from setting up employees and their deductions to actually paying them

  • Receive automatic payroll tax management: Paycom will complete, file and pay your payroll taxes

  • Give employees access to their pay stubs, earnings and deductions and track time through the Paycom self-service app

  • Manage additional payroll tasks like expense reimbursements, reporting, mileage tracking and more.

  • Allow employees to submit time, use physical or web time clocks, manage and sync submitted time, customize time tracking for holidays, shifts and other rules

  • Use scheduling software to create schedules; give employees access to view their schedules and swap shifts

  • Manage employee PTO and requests

  • Generate time and labor reports, including real-time reports and monitor labor distribution.

  • Set up and administer employee benefits packages; allow employees to enroll in benefits through the self-service app

  • Create, assign and store HR documents and forms; set up tasks and workflows for onboarding

  • Manage government compliance for COBRA, ACA, EEOC, etc.

  • Use manager portal for managers to review employee requests, conduct performance reviews, as well as search job applicants and schedule interviews

  • Develop employee satisfaction surveys, receive feedback and track results

  • Use Direct Data Exchange to manage employee usage vs. managers and receive a real-time ROI for the software.

  • Distribute open positions across online job boards and manage postings

  • Maintain applicant tracking system for resumes and candidates to be interviewed

  • Run background checks on candidates and verify employment eligibility for new hires

  • Create a process for onboarding with new hire documents and checklists.

  • Conduct performance reviews, create performance goals and develop a directory of company positions and requirements

  • Develop and manage a compensation budget

  • Create training programs and allow employees to complete them through the self-service app

  • Allow employees to use Ask Here within the self-service app to ask questions and get answers from business management.

On the whole, although this list only touches on some of the functionality included within each part of the Paycom software, Paycom offers extremely detailed and customizable tools, all of which sync together and reduce the need for manual data entry or initiated transfers. You can access every part of the platform through one login and generate reports across the system — incorporating data from multiple years, EINs and locations within the software.

Plus, you have access to perhaps one of the most notable Paycom features: the employee self-service app. This app is available for both iOS and Android devices and gives your employees the ability to manage all of their necessary tasks from onboarding to benefits to performance reviews and more.

All in all, you can see how Paycom is often considered an enterprise-level payroll and HR software, as it not only allows you to manage several processes at once, but also offers significant automation, customization and advanced tools.

ADP Workforce Now features

So, how does ADP Workforce Now stack up against Paycom in terms of features? Well, despite the similarities discussed above, ADP actually structures their platform differently than Paycom. Whereas all of the capabilities Paycom has to offer are bundled into a single software solution, ADP breaks their platform into four different package options: Essential, Compliance, Talent and Complete.

In this way, like many other HR or payroll services, the specific features you receive will depend on which package you choose. However, each of the four ADP Workforce Now packages includes payroll, tax and HR management tools, but with the higher-level plans, you’ll also receive enhanced HR features, benefits administration, recruiting and talent capabilities and more.

The Essential plan includes some of the core tools you need to automate your payroll and HR processes, such as:

  • Real-time payroll processing with customizable hours, earnings, deductions and adjustments

  • Expert tax filing and payment services

  • Built-in reports and custom report builder

  • Compliance management tools and reporting

  • Integrated onboarding experience with new hire workflows

  • HR recordkeeping and policy acknowledgments

  • Employee development tracking

  • Customizable portal with self-service tools for employees.

The Compliance plan, as the name implies, adds to the tools from the Essentials plan, with a focus on managing payroll compliance. With this plan, you’ll receive:

Compliance guidance and federal and state compliance reporting

  • HR document and policy toolkits, job description templates and wizard and employee handbook wizard

  • HR document library, alerts and tools

  • Employer helpdesk access staffed by HR professionals.

According to ADP, the Talent plan is the most popular of their four options, and although it includes all of the features of the Essentials plan, it does not include the enhanced HR tools from the Compliance plan. Instead, this package offers:

Benefits administration

  • Plan configuration and management; mobile enrollment for employee benefits

  • Library of benefits reports, compliance management and reporting, open enrollment management dashboard

  • Invoice auditing and carrier connections, ACA services.

Recruiting management

  • Integration with online job boards, talent communication, interview scheduling and offer letter management

  • Mobile career site for candidates; onboarding integration

  • Requisition process and reporting

  • Insights into key metrics including sourcing efficiency, cost and time to hire.

Talent management

  • Customize performance goals and reviews with review templates

  • Support for employee self-evaluations

  • Performance and compensation tracking, configurable merit and budget guidelines

  • Dashboard to view trends.

Finally, the ADP Complete plan includes all of the capabilities of the previous plans, as well as an enhanced analytics feature set which provides:

  • Easy access to key HR metrics and trends with team, department and timeline comparisons

  • Mobile view of C-suite insights

  • Actionable insights on turnover, overtime, etc.

  • Customizable and shareable reports

  • Thresholds for aligning and monitoring performance

  • Benchmark metrics against HCM data-set (this feature is optional).

Regardless of which plan you choose, like Paycom, ADP Workforce Now includes an employee self-service mobile app for iOS and Android devices that allows your team to manage their time, benefits and pay. Within this app, managers can also review and approve requests, as well as view analytics, access employee information and communicate with their team.

Moreover, ADP also offers a number of options for integrations with third-party tools, something that Paycom does not offer. With ADP, you can connect to top accounting software systems like QuickBooks and Xero, as well as enterprise resource planning platforms, time and attendance tools, productivity and collaboration solutions, point of sale systems, benefits platforms and more.

Overall, although ADP can provide a similar level of functionality to Paycom with their Workforce Now Complete package, they also offer a wider variety of options for businesses that don’t need the full range of HR features that Paycom includes. On the other hand, even though ADP’s platform is highly functional, flexible and customizable, it does not reach the same degree of advanced automation and enterprise-level tools that Paycom offers.

Paycom vs. ADP: Pricing

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to evaluate Paycom vs. ADP Workforce Now in terms of pricing. Both Paycom and ADP are quote-based services, meaning you have to work with a representative from each respective company to determine what costs will look like for your business.

This being said, however, it is worth considering some of the factors that may influence the overall pricing you receive for either solution. First, with ADP, the pricing will certainly vary based on which of the four packages you choose — more than likely, the price of the Complete plan will be greater than any of the other three options.

Additionally, for either Paycom or ADP, you might find that the size of your business, number of employees, payroll schedule and other similar factors will play a role in your cost. Generally, you’ll see that many payroll or HR software platforms that specify their pricing upfront charge a monthly subscription fee plus a per-employee monthly fee.

Moreover, because neither of these services offers transparent pricing, you should also keep in mind other costs you may incur, including setup fees, tax form fees, cancellation fees and similar extraneous charges. Ideally, you won’t face any of these types of fees, but it’s worth asking either ADP or Paycom if they charge in these instances.

Ultimately, the lack of upfront pricing makes it nearly impossible to compare the cost of Paycom vs. ADP, or either of these solutions against any other alternatives, for that matter. Therefore, although you might assume that as an enterprise-level platform, Paycom will be more expensive than ADP Workforce Now, you won’t know definitively unless you work with each company to receive a customized quote for your business.

Paycom vs. ADP: Reviews

When comparing two business solutions, HR or otherwise, it’s always helpful to consult user reviews to get a better sense of how other business owners feel about their experience with each platform. User reviews can be particularly helpful with solutions like Paycom and ADP, which don’t offer pricing upfront, so you have access to more information to use in your comparison.

Overall (and perhaps, unfortunately), ADP Workforce Now and Paycom fare very similarly across internet reviews. Both of these providers seem to have a healthy mix of wholly positive and well-balanced reviews, with a few negative reviews as well.

In particular, reviewers of Paycom highlight the range of features, the customizable flow of the system, the helpful customer support resources, as well as the employee self-service app and portal. Along these lines, many business owners specify how using one or many of the Paycom features helps them save time and streamline processes. On the other hand, some users critique the complexity of the system, mentioning that it’s not very straightforward and isn’t always easy to use. Some users also write that the platform is expensive.

When we talked to Mike Falahee, owner and CEO of Marygrove Awnings, who has used both platforms. He said:

“In our experience, Paycom is the best. It offers an all-in-one affordable software which covers all the main areas of a business.”

He also mentioned that Paycom reduces the pressure on his HR staff, increases the efficiency of processes and enables him to spend more time on other aspects of his business.

With ADP Workforce Now, online user reviews focus on the platform’s compliance tools, payroll tax capabilities and employee self-service portal. Additionally, many reviews specifically mention ADP’s reporting tools and how easy, customizable and useful they are. Although some reviewers mention that there are some bugs with the system, many more users write about ADP’s ease of use in comparison to Paycom.

On the other hand, however, users also critique the lack of customization capabilities with certain ADP features, as well as report issues with the flow of the system between different tools. Plus, just like Paycom, some reviewers write that the ADP pricing is expensive and not on par with competitors.

According to Yannize Joshua, managing partner of The Teknique Agency, however, the best part of ADP is their customer experience. She told Fundera: “My company has been using ADP for six years. They take the guesswork out of the payroll process; if you have any questions, there is always someone who has an answer for you, and their follow-through is second to none. I recommend ADP to every small business I know. It has been a lifesaver and a trusted partner in the growth of our business.”

Top alternatives

Ultimately, because ADP and Paycom are so expansive in their product offerings, it's important to discuss a few top alternatives that might be more approachable for newer and smaller businesses. Although there are a number of solutions to choose from, if you’re looking for something a little different than Paycom or ADP Workforce Now, you might consider these two options:

Gusto

Gusto is a payroll and HR software platform that offers three different plans: Core, Complete and Concierge. Gusto also has a new option for contractor-only employers, who simply pay the $6/employee rate and no base price. With the Core plan, you’ll receive full-service payroll, employee self-service and profiles, health benefits and workers comp administration and paid-time-off policies. Although the Core plan is mostly payroll-focused, with the Complete and Concierge plans you’ll have access to a wider variety of HR features, including employee onboarding, time tracking, surveys and more.

Pricing for Gusto Payroll starts at $39 per month, plus $6 per month, per person. Overall, Gusto is a much simpler system than either ADP or Paycom; however, it’s a competitive option for smaller businesses with less complex needs. If your business wants to start automating payroll, as well as some HR tasks, Gusto is certainly worth considering — especially since you’ll know how much it will cost your business upfront.

Zenefits

For a smaller Paycom and ADP alternative with a greater focus on HR tasks, you might look into Zenefits. Like Gusto, Zenefits offers three different plan levels: Essentials, Growth and Zen. With the Essentials plan, you’ll receive tools for hiring and onboarding, managing employees, time tracking, document management, reporting and more. The Growth and Zen plans expand on the HR capabilities of the Essentials plan, each offering compensation and performance management tools, with the Zen plan also offering well-being tools.

Unlike Gusto, payroll is not included automatically with any of the Zenefits plans. This being said, however, you can add payroll capabilities for $6 per month, per employee. Overall, Zenefits does not charge a monthly base fee, but only a per-employee monthly fee — starting at $10 per month, per employee for the Essentials plan. Again, like Gusto, Zenefits is a fully functional, yet much simpler, system in comparison to ADP and Paycom. Therefore, if you’re looking for an HR-specific solution for your smaller business, Zenefits may be worth considering.

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