6 Tools to Help Automate Payroll

6 Tools to Help Automate Payroll

6 Tools to Help Automate Payroll

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Running a small business includes so many tasks. From marketing to manufacturing to customer service, it can be easy to let payroll get lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, things have changed quite a bit from those paper ledgers and handwritten checks of the 70’s.

First, it’s important to understand the benefits of adopting a new system. While automation can sometimes be accused of lacking personalization and being unresponsive to change, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, today’s payroll automation tools are super-intuitive, meaning they can grow easily when your company thrives, making sure payments are accurate, timely, and in compliance with federal, state, and local tax laws.

There is also an awesome cost-savings benefit. The American Payroll Association estimates an 80% cost benefit to switching to automation. As soon as you have enough employees that you can’t easily state how much they get paid – and how many hours a week they are working – moving to more innovative payment solutions is advised. Because many of today’s solutions also allow your workers to input their own data, make changes to payment methods, and keep tax-related paperwork up-to-date, it can reduce your HR department’s workload significantly.

See what these top automated payroll tools can do for your team!

1. QuickBooks

Owned by Intuit (the same folks behind Mint and TurboTax), this trusted brand in all things financial has a robust payroll feature that makes it easy for even newbie accountants to implement. Because QuickBooks is poised to serve businesses of all sizes, they offer more than just one solution. You’ll want to research their products a bit to see which one best fits your needs. If you are a DIY-fan, their smaller tools should suffice; companies with a full-time accountant on staff can look into the pricier options that track compliance in some areas.

Online Payroll by Intuit

Payroll services that go beyond a paycheck, pay your team and access HR and benefits Learn More

2. Sage Accounting (Peachtree)

One of the very first major competitors to QuickBooks, this company specializes in making tax filings and automation a breeze. Like the other company, Sage has a variety of solutions for small, mid, and large businesses. Even start-ups with fewer than 20 employees will find their payment services efficient and easy to use. Especially nimble companies may even find their cloud-based solutions to be a good fit for handling payroll wherever you have an internet connection. Businesses in the real estate and construction fields may also want to check out their full-spectrum business management suites – which, of course, include payroll.

3. ADP

Many of us got our first paper paychecks with the letters “ADP” on them, but now – you’re the boss! ADP has evolved quite a bit over the years, offering so many adaptive solutions for payrolls of all sizes. Their best features are also available online, so that you can track employee time, make payroll adjustments, view benefit payments, and more, from your mobile device. ADP also integrates with your favorite accounting program, so you don’ have to change what you’re already doing to pay employees with direct deposit, VISA cards, or paper checks.  

4. Paychex

This is a direct competitor to ADP and another big name in the payroll industry. Like many of these companies, you can choose to implement payroll from the first day you start your business – even with just one employee. Track time on your own, inputting data as you can, or have them do it for you. Paychex still prides itself on being a full-service accounting and payroll company, if you find that you need these features.  

5. Gusto

For companies that are looking for a more one-and-done, cloud-based solution, Gusto may be the perfect pick. With a low monthly service price ($39), plus $6 per person each month, its cost is directly tied into your company size. You can handle unlimited payrolls, issue unlimited checks, and offer direct deposit for employees in all 50 states. Its interface is easy to use and very intuitive, so even those who don’t have any accounting experience can be up and running the same day. Additional features, such as benefits tracking and worker’s compensation calculations, are available for an additional charge.

6. Square

Most business owners are familiar with the Square point-of-sale tool, but did you know that they also offer payroll services? If you already use the Square POS screens, it’s incredibly easy to use the same screens as your employee time clocks, so tracking hours is a cinch. Even if you aren’t a Square POS customer, however, their payroll services are uniquely priced. Employee payroll can be done for $29 a month (plus $5 per employee), but they also offer independent contractor services. Paying your freelancers each month will cost you just $5 per month per contractor – with no monthly fee. Compliance with all state and federal laws come standard at this price, including calculation and payment of sick leave and all tax filings!  

As companies continue to evolve, you may see fewer options on our list. That’s because many of the more popular payroll services of the past have been acquired by, the bigger brands. SurePayroll, for example, was bought out by Paychex, and we can expect many of the new, smaller players that pop up to be absorbed by the larger players in the near future. If you find a smaller start-up that you like, you’ll probably get to keep using them, but expect that they may go up in price, or could offer additional features as they try to stay competitive in today’s amazingly aggressive small business landscape.

Business owners are too busy to have to deal with the headaches of payroll. Whether you choose a cloud-based DIY option or pursue the benefits of a full-service, done-for-you payroll provider, know that today’s companies are poised to keep track of all the moving parts of compliance. Rather than try to keep on top of all the law changes, state variances, and new court rulings affecting independent contractor partnerships, get help from these affordable payroll providers. Your time will be best spent doing other things.


This article was originally written on September 6, 2018 and updated on September 7, 2022.

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