What is the Best Payroll Software | A Top 5 Comparison

Jamie Fryar
October 13, 2021

Everyone has different criteria when seeking the best payroll software, but they all have one thing in common: They want it to work well and help them run a successful business.

Automation trumps manual processing in today’s business world, but people need an automation tool that is easy to learn, and can adapt to any business structure without hassles.

Choosing the best payroll software for your business is important because it will save you a lot of headaches and unnecessary stress, and allow you to focus on running your business.

Today we compare payroll software solutions—ADP, Push Operations, Ceridian, Payworks and Rise—to see how these unique solutions can help support each client's specific needs.

The top five best payroll software providers include:

In this article we will compare these top-rated solutions, in no particular order:

  • ADP
  • Push Operations
  • Ceridian
  • Payworks
  • Rise

These solutions all fall under the category of best payroll software, however, each of these payroll solutions has a unique set of pros and cons, as well as several bespoke functionalities when it comes to the markets they serve.

We analyze the different functionalities and aspects of these payroll software providers to give you a quick but extensive overview of how they operate, and what each provides. 

Let’s begin at the very basics of payroll management.

What is payroll software?

Payroll software is a solution that automates and manages the payroll system for an organization or business. The solutions are used by business owners, bookkeepers, and operations managers to ease the administrative work of calculating payroll, paying employees, and keeping the books clean. 

Non-integrated payroll:

With a standalone payroll solution, the business owner or manager inputs into the payroll software information about wages and work hours for employees extracted from data logged in the employee scheduling software. The software uses this to make the necessary calculations or deductions. 


Integrated payroll:

Integrated or automated payroll software also exists and, with this solution, employee hours are automatically pulled from integrated workforce management software and streamlined into payroll. These integrated workforce management and payroll solutions don’t require any manual data transfer, and so provide a fully automated and hands-off solution.  With these solutions, payroll can be run in a matter of minutes.

Automated payroll:

Ideally a part of an integrated system, an automated payroll solution does calculations for you based on automated features, for example: Push will automatically calculate employee stat holiday pay, payroll taxes, and wage adjustments, so you don't have to.

Other functionalities of payroll software include: 

  • Time Tracking and management:
    Most payroll software in Canada offers time tracking and management features, otherwise known as workforce management. Keeping an accurate database of employees and timesheets is a great way to calculate their compensation plan. 
  • Multiple payment options:
    The payroll software can also include multiple payment options for different employees. It is also a great feature in tracking employee vacations, paid travel periods, health-related issues, and all PTO management-related issues.
  • Insurance: 
    Payroll software can also include insurance features for both the company and for employees. This keeps a timely tracker on the insurance plans of employees and ensures that all payments required to keep them active are made.
  • New employee reports:
    Great payroll software will provide a reporting system that documents all new hires and employees within your business. Such an information bank can be helpful in understanding employee retention and turnover and is also required by the Canadian government. Good payroll software will make it far easier for you to handle multiple employee types such as full-time, part-time, hourly work, contract staff, or freelancers. 
  • Automated tax calculations:
    Payroll software is also a great way to handle all tax reports for your business and your employees. Some providers will calculate and withhold employee tax and pay the tax to the proper local, state, or federal department.

We’ve studied the top five best payroll software solutions in Canada as voted by user experience and functionality. These five represent the best in terms of the solutions they provide for businesses in Canada and globally.

1 - ADP

ADP or Automatic Data Processing offers a wide range of human resource management solutions for businesses of all sizes. ADP is a well-known brand in the market for providing payroll solutions and operates globally. For over 70 years, ADP has been one of the providers at the forefront of human resource management. The software is full of a variety of business tools and functions that are great for administrative processes.

ADP offers a cloud-based program, which means you do not have to purchase physical software to install on your computer. ADP also offers an integrated solution covering group benefits, workforce data, and other HR systems.

What we like most about the software

There are three features of ADP we like. The first is its simple but comprehensive user interface. This straightforward UX design makes it easy for anyone with little or no technical knowledge to operate the software with ease. 

The second feature is the availability of several add-on modules. These add-ons can be used to customize the software specifically to meet individual business needs and personal taste. The third feature is the access to self-service options for employees using the software solution. This can be used for aspects such as time, scheduling, work, or leave-related requests.

What’s missing from the software?

While ADP may be one of the oldest solutions, it does not have a strong customer support system. This can prove to be an issue, especially for businesses with branches in multiple locations around Canada and the world. 
The software  is somewhat dated in design and the user interface has been found to be overly complex. 

2 - Push Operations

When it comes to payroll, Push Operations offers robust features that are ideal for any business owner and any type of business—but specifically a business with hourly employees or the requirement of integrated functionality.

Push Payroll, which operates in Canada and North America, provides a fully integrated solution to business owners, allowing them to streamline their system and pull data from scheduling, and time tracking software to track employee hours in a fully automated way. Using this same functionality, they can help business owners save money not just in time, but in labor forecasts, smart overtime alerts, and more.


What we like most about the software.

We have three favorite things when it comes to Push Payroll software. - First, we love how easy it is to use, and how it is the ideal tool for managers or business owners who need to manage their hourly employees due to the easy wage adjustment features. Payroll is done with the push of a button.

Next, we love that Push is an integrated, a-la-carte system. This means you could choose payroll to start off with and build the system out to integrate time tracking with facial recognition, HR with self-onboarding reports on sales and labor, and scheduling to create a full back-end operations system.

Our final favorite feature is how this software runs automated calculations on statutory holiday pay, and government deductions and remittances, saving you time running payroll and doing your taxes.

What’s missing from the software?

If you are a Canadian business owner, Push payroll has it all and isn’t missing anything, explaining its candidacy for best payroll software in Canada.   Push offers a robust system that provides all the automation and transparency a business owner could want. Push Payroll is constantly growing and expanding its capabilities while maintaining a strong value for people and their experiences.

3 -  Ceridian

Ceridian offers a global human capital management solution to businesses small and large. The software provides a payroll solution for both timed and untimed employees in an organization.

The business has two headquarters in Canada—Ontario, and Toronto—but operates across North America. Ceridian offers business owners and HR managers a great platform on which to make quick and smart decisions for their business. Ceridian is an all-in-one solution that simplifies many of the complex processes of payroll management.

What we like about the software.

The first thing about Ceridian we like is the efficiency of its mobile app. Users and business organizations have access to the entire solution from their mobile phones. This option makes Ceridian easier to access and provides a unique on-the-go human capital management tool.

The second thing about Ceridian we find fascinating is the number of options available for enterprise businesses to scale and modify the platform to meet their specific needs. The payroll app isn’t just a one-size-fits-all solution but has great flexibility in use.


What is missing from the software?

While a lot of work is going on at Ceridian, the platform is built on an old operating system. This can be a problem, especially for new businesses that operate on a more modern and cutting edge platform. Yes, the platform is fairly easy to understand but will require a certain level of training to get a proper overview of the software.

A basic customer service structure also suggests there might be hiccups and road bumps along the way for businesses who choose this platform.


4 - Payworks

Payworks offers an integrated solution for employee management, cloud-based payroll, human resources, and attendance tracking for businesses. When it comes to payroll management, Payworks provides a platform built on one database that can process business data in a scalable system.

The payroll software has been a long-standing provider of payroll management in Canada since 1967. Payworks also offers multiple payment options with deposits directly into more than five accounts.

What we like about the software.

First and foremost, Payworks has a new and mobile-friendly employee self-service option. This cuts down on the amount of administrative work for HR managers and eases the workflow for employees. 

Secondly, Payworks integrates other HR management solutions such as employee tracker and time management in one database to reduce the time taken in processing data.


What is missing on the payroll software?

PayWorks is good payroll software and has had great reviews across Canada, but the interface of the software can sometimes be confusing for users. A much simpler design feature would do wonders for businesses. Also, Paywork Payroll Software does not have much room for flexibility in the services it offers. Having additional customization modules would also be great for the payroll software app.


5 - Rise 

Rise payroll software is designed to help businesses create a more efficient workplace through its three-in-one integrated service. The platform is first and foremost designed to focus on people, their experiences, and efficiency ahead of processes and paperwork.

The payroll software is cloud-based with great solutions for managing employees, payroll, workflows, and attendance. Rise offers a great service to help businesses cut down on costs and time and also improve effectiveness by keeping the focus on the main priority of human resource management—people. The service can work for any Canadian business of any size or structure.

What we like about the software.

Rise is a very convenient platform to access and use. The interface is user-friendly and offers plenty of options for self-service for employees within the organization. There is also a good customer support structure that ensures both employers and employees scale through any hassles they may encounter while using the payroll software app.


What is missing from the payroll software?

The payroll software is good but there have been issues with delays. The time taken to move between processes could be shortened. The setup process is also too manual in approach. And there is a need for better flexibility in the payroll app, so that, when major changes need to be made to the overall software, there won’t be any effect on the data stored by clients using the payroll software.


In conclusion.

As a business owner or an HR manager looking for the best payroll software for your company, you must make your decisions based on solutions that are sufficiently  robust, flexible, and customizable to meet your business needs. Using the best payroll software will save you much time, cost, and energy in administrative work and help you to keep your business running effectively.

Still want clarity on how running payroll works? Check out our helpful payroll resources, or download the free guide to walk you through.

best payroll software in canada


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