Ratings Methodology for Payroll Software Services

Payroll software services

NerdWallet's ratings for payroll software services consider the following factors:
  • Core payroll features.
  • Overall cost.
  • Reports and integrations.
  • HR features.
  • Apps and portals.
  • Customer support.
The best payroll software services are priced competitively and make it easy for small-business owners to know how much they’ll pay monthly. A variety of options are available to the small-business owner, with providers typically offering packages that range from basic payroll functions to premium plans that include payroll, benefits and HR features. The best payroll software providers also offer extended customer service hours and a system that integrates with accounting and time-tracking software.

Data collection and review process

We collect data points for each provider from its public-facing website and from company representatives. These data points are then compared against one another and against NerdWallet's standards for good payroll software services to determine a star rating. Information is gathered on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy. Final star ratings are presented on a scale of one to five stars, where a one-star score represents "poor" and a five-star score represents "excellent."

The reviews team

The writers and editors behind our payroll software reviews are small-business specialists who have had their work featured by The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch and many other publications. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet’s strict guidelines for editorial integrity. Our small-business editorial team also covers business loans, business credit cards, business bank accounts, payment processing, accounting software and business insurance.

Rating specifics

Our star ratings are weighted based on our editorial and professional opinions. We use the following weightings when rating payroll software services:
  • Core payroll features (35%).
  • Overall cost (18%).
  • Reports and integrations. (15%).
  • HR features (13%).
  • Apps and portal access (12%).
  • Customer support (7%).

Core payroll features: These ratings are based on the payroll features offered by the provider including automated tasks, scalability of the offering and direct deposit timing. Consideration is also given to the calculation, filing and payment of federal, state and local payroll taxes and whether the software provides year-end filings.

Overall cost: These ratings consider a product’s overall cost including base monthly fee, per-person fees, additional fees for add-on features and free trial availability. These include not only published prices but also the degree to which the provider makes the pricing obvious and available to consumers on its website.

Reports and integrations: We rate payroll software providers on the reports they offer as well as the option to customize individual payroll reports. Consideration is given to whether their systems integrate directly with popular accounting software or offer a data export option as an alternative.

HR features: These ratings are based on how the system handles health benefits, non-health-related perks, workers’ compensation administration and deductions for garnishments. Consideration also is given to time-tracking integration options.

Apps and portal access: Payroll software products are rated on whether payroll can be run through their mobile app or from a web browser on a mobile device. Consideration is given to employee access to personal information, pay stubs and tax documents and the length of time their account is maintained.

Customer support: We rate payroll software providers according to their customer service availability. Our methodology awards higher scores to providers who offer consumer-friendly features, such extended hours and weekend support as well as help libraries or knowledge bases. Consideration is given to setup time and assistance.