Tech & software

Best payroll software for big and small businesses

Karl Tippins
October 20, 2021

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Payroll software is relatively mainstream these days. Even businesses stuck in the early 2000s from an overall tech perspective will often use payroll software. Those of us who live in the 2020s benefit far more from using payroll software. We integrate it with our existing tech stack and take advantage of as many features as possible to automate other processes alongside payroll itself.

Payroll processes were among the first things to be automated in a business, and is a fantastic case study in a process ripe for automation. Think about the hallmarks of payroll.

  • Repetitive task
  • Time consuming
  • Uses a lot of duplicate data - at least as a foundation, but sometimes the entire dataset will be the same each time you process payroll
  • Requires calculations and checking that machines can do quicker

If you were going to take one business process and highlight why it is perfect for automation, you’d take payroll every time. An unkind person would make a joke here about finance people not having a sense of humour, so not having them in the office will not be a loss, but I will not go there!

However, the payroll app you have used for the last few years is not necessarily the best payroll app for your business today.

You should be continually looking around the tech marketplace to see if you can upgrade your payroll software and your tech stack. If you do not, you can potentially miss out on added value and even more productivity gains.

I am new to this: What is a payroll system, and why should I use one?

In short, payroll software takes care of all your processes around paying your employees. Not only does this save you time, but you can save a significant sum of money on outsourcing payroll to accountants or employing an in-house team specifically to deal with payroll. Payroll software can be useful for any business, from the startup with two or three employees to much bigger companies. The benefit of using software to manage your payroll is that you can quickly scale your use when you need to!

When you use payroll software, you are effectively outsourcing your payroll handling. Rather than giving to a person, you are utilising an efficient system that can perform tasks at scale and much quicker than even the most expensive accountant!

Payroll software performs many tasks, including:

  • Integrating with time tracking tools (some payroll platforms include time tracking as standard) to ensure hourly paid employees are paid the correct sums.
  • Producing wage slips and other documentation.
  • Calculating taxation and making the necessary deductions from employee salaries.
  • Depositing employee salaries into their bank accounts at their usual pay interval.
  • Calculating annual leave entitlement and holiday pay.

On top of this, the best payroll systems integrate with various other tools, including HR software, to help you manage your teams as efficiently as possible.

6 amazing payroll software platforms to consider for your business

Whether you’re a small startup, a growing business, or are already a reasonably large company, these six payroll software platforms are well worth a look.

1.     Zenegy

Full disclosure, Zenegy is the payroll software we use. The Zenegy team does not know we are mentioning them here (and they are not paying us!). Still, if you have become familiar with Contractbook, you will know we would not be using some sub-standard payroll platform!

Zenegy provides a wealth of features, including over 40 integrations with productivity and HR tools, and an app for your employees to access their payroll information. Your employees get interactive payslips with full explanations of hours and deductions. At the same time, a clean and intuitive user interface makes it easy for you to get an overview of your wage expenditure.

If you are looking for a fuller HR tech solution, Zenegy offers that, too!

2.     Salary

Image result for salary logo

Salary is a fantastic payroll software provider based here in Denmark. They do not yet have an English language website (but you can read it easily using in-browser translation), so I will tell you a little about them here.

Everything you would expect to find in a payroll system is here, including a wealth of integrations to ensure you can seamlessly bring your tech stack together. Where Salary really stands out for me is their free switching service from your existing payroll provider. Many other payroll platforms may offer this, but Salary is the only provider I have seen that does an excellent job of telling you about it.

Not wanting the administrative hassle of changing is undoubtedly a barrier to many, and Salary removes that!

3.     IRIS Payroll Basics

Image result for iris payroll logo

IRIS Payroll Basics is a free payroll software platform that can scale to a paid, fully-fledged suite allowing you to manage payroll and taxation across 135 countries. IRIS even has an "upgrade path" to help you understand when you need to move to the next product and pricing tier, ensuring a seamless payroll process at all times. The free version allows you to manage payroll for up to 10 employees, is fully GDPR compliant, and calculates all tax deductions on your behalf.

A fantastic no-frills solution with the ability to add on features as you need them!

4.     Gusto

Gusto is a brilliant software platform that offers a winning combination of features and value. You have the choice of using Gusto just for payroll or for all your HR needs. The payroll platform alone has a wealth of rich features. In addition to being a full-service payroll platform, taking care of salary calculations for hourly employees, tax deductions, and holiday entitlement, there is also an employee self-service feature where they can deal with any payroll issues and access documentation at the touch of a button.

An extra feature with Gusto is that you can even manage additional employee benefits such as healthcare through the system!

5.     QuickBooks Payroll

Image result for quickbooks logo

QuickBooks Payroll is fantastic as a standalone payroll platform. You don’t need to be using QuickBooks’ general accounting platform to use the payroll solution, but if your business is at an early development stage and you are looking for accounting software, save yourself time and money and take both.

The standout added feature with QuickBooks Payroll is the ability to manage employee pension plans – great if you are passionate about helping your team plan for the future.

6.     Wave Payroll

Image result for wave payroll logo

Wave is not just a free payroll software provider; you can use Wave's entire suite of features at no cost! You only pay for anything if you use Wave to process payments if you use the platform for invoicing. Wave can feel like it is a little too much if you just need payroll. However, if you are at a very early stage in your business' lifecycle, the integrations available mean you can make Wave central to your tech stack and business processes.

What is the best payroll system for your business?

The one that works for you!

Look out for the payroll systems and apps that you can integrate with the rest of your tech stack. If you need to pay a little more for a platform that will save you time pulling data from multiple sources, it will be well worth it in the end.


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