RUN Powered by ADP (4.4 stars)

Starting price: Custom quotes only
  • 4 months free trial
  • Robust suite of payroll and HR tools
  • Full-service payroll tax management
  • 24/7 customer service

If your business is looking for software that combines payroll and HR tools into one comprehensive package, it’s hard to do better than ADP RUN. While the cost may put ADP RUN beyond some small business’s budgets, its user-friendly platform and robust suite of features can make it well worth the price for many companies.

ADP RUN plans and pricing

ADP logo.
Image: ADP

For the most part, ADP doesn’t list pricing for any of its plans or products online. (The one exception is Roll by ADP, a relatively new, AI-based payroll product for small businesses that starts at $29 a month + $5 per payee.) Small businesses interested in ADP RUN will need to contact ADP directly to request a quote.

Fortunately, unlike many other top-tier payroll and HR software providers, ADP offers a four-month-long free trial. New customers can — and should — take ADP RUN for a spin before committing to a plan.

Additionally, although it doesn’t list pricing online, ADP does describe RUN’s four plans in detail.


The cheapest ADP RUN plan, Essential, focuses largely on payroll with only a handful of HR features. It includes key payroll tools you should expect from any full-service payroll provider:

  • Complete payroll tax management.
  • Unlimited, automatic monthly payroll runs.
  • Multiple employee pay options, including direct deposit and prepaid debit cards.

ADP will also prepare and file your end-of-year W-2 and 1099 tax forms for an additional fee.

While ADP RUN Essential doesn’t include many HR features, it offers more than you’d get with payroll-focused providers like Patriot Payroll:

  • Customizable HR and payroll reports.
  • Automatic state new-hire reporting.
  • Background checks for job applicants.


The Enhanced plan adds paper checks to the list of ways to pay your employees. It also includes state unemployment insurance tax administration and wage garnishment.

Enhanced also includes a few more — though not many — HR tools than the Essential plan, such as access to labor law posters and ZipRecruiter’s job board.


ADP RUN Complete adds a slew of stand-out human resource features to the payroll tools included with Essential and Enhanced plans:

  • Access to a live HR support team over the phone or via email.
  • Pay band insights for salaried workers.
  • HR trainings and guidebooks that help businesses stay legally compliant.
  • Access to an HR library with thousands of templates, HR checklists, policies and more.
  • Guided employee handbook setup.

HR Plus

The most comprehensive ADP RUN plan includes HCM-level features that are typically available only to large businesses instead of ADP RUN’s core audience of small-business owners:

  • Applicant tracking system.
  • Learning management system.
  • Company legal services (provided through Legal Club).
  • Marketing tools and advice (provided through BizPro).

If the HR Plus plan doesn’t have enough HR features to meet your needs, ADP Workforce Now (ADP’s HCM solution for midsize and large businesses) is likely a better fit for you than ADP RUN. 

Add-on features

ADP RUN doesn’t include time tracking with any of its four plans, so if you want to use ADP’s time and attendance tool rather than trying to integrate a third-party solution, you’ll pay an additional fee.

Companies can also use ADP’s platform to find high-quality employee benefits, including retirement plans and healthcare, as well as workers’ compensation insurance. However, in contrast to ADP competitors like Gusto, integrating benefits with ADP’s payroll software costs an extra fee.

ADP RUN key features

Full-service payroll

ADP’s top-notch, practically pain-free payroll experience ensures ADP RUN makes any list of the best small-business payroll software. RUN automates every major payroll process, from federal and state tax administration to direct deposit. Its autopilot payroll feature means you can schedule payroll runs ahead of time. For an additional fee, ADP will also mail end-of-year W-2 and 1099 forms to your employees and contractors.

ADP further simplifies payroll processes with its top-of-the-line mobile payroll app. Employees can use the self-service portal to check tax documents, view paychecks, update their direct deposit and clock in and out (if you add ADP’s time and attendance tool to your ADP RUN plan). Managers can also use the app to approve time off and schedule shifts on the go.

Whether you use the app or browser version of RUN Powered by ADP, you can look forward to an excellent, well-designed interface. From your payroll dashboard, it’s easy to run payroll, view upcoming deadlines, access alerts and see a quick overview of your company’s payroll history.

Employee benefits

While benefits administration isn’t built into any RUN by ADP plans, companies that offer employee benefits can use ADP to find competitive insurance and retirement plan providers. For an extra fee, you can integrate those benefits with your RUN plan to automate benefits deductions and streamline the benefit sign-up process.

Crucially, though, plenty of other payroll software companies include benefits administration at no additional fee. For instance, OnPay and Gusto both have a cheaper starting price than RUN Powered by ADP and also bundle benefits integration and administration into every plan. That’s not to say you shouldn’t choose ADP to access its better-than-average benefits options, but be prepared to spend more on payroll than you would with other options.

Advanced HR features

While ADP definitely doesn’t skimp on the payroll front, its main selling point is the way it bundles full-service payroll with better-than-average HR features. While all four plans include at least some HR features, ADP RUN’s two priciest plans go heavier on HR support than nearly any other small-business payroll provider.

Only Paychex Flex can compete with ADP RUN in terms of offering a comprehensive HR library with thousands of templates, guidelines, checklists, white papers and trainings.

Perhaps most notably, ADP RUN’s highest-tier plan includes access to both an applicant tracking system and learning management system, which are more typically included with robust HCM software. Thanks to ADP, midsize businesses can access services often reserved for big businesses and enterprises without paying enterprise-level prices.

Third-party integrations

ADP is a popular enough brand to merit built-in integrations with hundreds of third-party apps, including accounting programs like QuickBooks Online, time-tracking solutions like ClockShark and onboarding tools like Workstream.

ADP RUN pros

  • Excellent range of plans to accommodate small and midsize businesses in any industry.
  • More HR features than most comparable HR and payroll solutions.
  • Well-reviewed mobile payroll app.
  • Free multi-jurisdiction payroll for multi-state businesses.
  • Extended live chat customer service hours (weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET).
  • Background checks, automatic state new-hire reporting and extensive HR reports included with each plan.
  • Useful add-ons, including global payroll and expanded compliance assistance.

ADP RUN cons

  • No transparent online pricing.
  • Additional fee for benefits integration and administration.
  • Additional fee for time and attendance tracking.
  • Limited self-guided setup options.
  • Platform may have a relatively high learning curve for first-time users and new employers.

Alternatives to ADP RUN

FeatureADP RUNPaychex FlexRipplingGusto
Free trial4 monthsNone listed30 days*None**
Starting base priceCustom quote$39/mo.Custom$40/mo.
Starting per-employee priceCustom quote$5/mo.$8/mo.$6/mo.
Global payrollAdd onAdd onYesFor contractors
Add-on benefitsYesYesYesYes
Learn moreTry ADPTry PaychexTry RipplingTry Gusto
Pricing and plan details up to date as of 2/2/2024.
*One-month free subscription available for TechRepublic readers only.
**Gusto currently offers a one month free discount on your invoice after you subscribe and run your first payroll. Other terms and conditions apply.

Paychex Flex: Best HR tools

Our star rating: 4 out of 5

Paychex logo.
Image: Paychex

Out of any small-business payroll provider, Paychex Flex’s payroll software is probably the most comparable to RUN by ADP. Like RUN, Paychex Flex has multiple plans that offer more or less the same payroll features but include an increasing number of HR features and support.

Even with the cheapest Paychex Flex plan, users can access Paychex’s remarkably comprehensive HR library — in contrast, Gusto limits HR library access to its most expensive plan only. And like ADP, Paychex also has a PEO solution (called Paychex PEO) that businesses can easily switch to from their in-house Paychex Flex plan.

Paychex Flex starts at $39 a month plus $5 per employee. Its low starting price and transparent pricing give it an edge over ADP, though notably, only the cheapest Paychex Flex plan’s pricing is presented upfront.

Although Paychex Flex starts out at the cheaper end of the payroll software spectrum, its monthly price can escalate quickly depending on how many add-ons you need. Like ADP, Paychex Flex charges an additional fee for time and attendance tracking and benefits integration. In contrast to most payroll providers (ADP included), Paychex also charges an extra fee for general ledger integration.

Learn more by reading our Paychex review.

Rippling: Most customizable plans

Our star rating: 4.3 out of 5

Rippling logo.
Image: Rippling

Are you more interested in building a payroll and HR plan from scratch instead of choosing from a preset package? Each company that uses Rippling can pick and choose from a series of HR, finance, IT and payroll services to build a completely unique, business-specific software plan.

Rippling doesn’t list pricing for any of its services beyond its $8 per-employee fee for payroll. Users also pay a monthly base fee to access Rippling Unity, Rippling’s proprietary platform, though the base fee isn’t listed online.

While Rippling’s system and setup may be complicated for new business owners and employers, it’s one of the easiest platforms to scale up with: It’s not hard to add more features and automations as your business grows from a startup to a global business.

Learn more by reading our Rippling review.

Rippling is currently offering a one-month free subscription for TechRepublic readers. Visit the link below to sign up.

Gusto: Best small-business payroll alternative

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

Gusto logo.
Image: Gusto.

Gusto is among the most popular small-business payroll services for good reason. It offers fully automated, full-service payroll on a ridiculously user-friendly platform that appeals to new and experienced employers alike. It also includes many key services in its base price that payroll providers like Paychex Flex and ADP charge extra for, including benefits administration. While Gusto’s cheapest plan doesn’t include a native time-tracking app, Gusto syncs with dozens of apps, including commonly used time-tracking products, at no additional integration fee.

Gusto’s pricing starts at $40 a month plus $6 per person paid. Its contractor-only plan has no base price for the first six months, then increases to $35 a month plus $6 per person paid from there. However, Gusto focuses far more on payroll than it does on HR, which makes it a better choice than ADP if your business doesn’t need comprehensive HR.

Learn more about Gusto by reading our Gusto review.

Our review methodology

To rate and review RUN Powered by ADP, we analyzed its strengths and weaknesses in the following key categories:

  • Pricing, including free trial information.
  • Scalability, including number of plans.
  • Payroll features.
  • HR features.
  • Ease of use (both the browser interface and mobile app).
  • Customer service hours, modes of contact and reputation.

See our payroll methodology page to learn more about our approach to product reviews.

Should your small business choose RUN Powered by ADP?

If you own a small or midsize business, we recommend choosing ADP RUN in the following situations:

  • You want an all-in-one payroll and HR solution.
  • You want the option to scale up to robust, HCM-style plans as you grow.
  • You want payroll and HR software that integrates with the business apps you already use.
  • You have the time and patience to adjust to a more complicated payroll software system.
  • You’re comfortable paying more for payroll to access better automations, customizations and HR features.

On the other hand, consider looking into ADP alternatives under the following circumstances:

  • Your top priority is finding an affordable payroll service.
  • You need payroll software you can implement quickly and adjust to immediately.
  • You don’t want to pay extra for crucial payroll features like time and attendance software, benefits administration or workers’ compensation integration.

Other ADP products

If you like ADP’s platform, products and customer care but need more features than those offered through RUN Powered by ADP, consider one of these ADP solutions instead:

  • ADP TotalSource, ADP’s professional employer organization for small businesses.
  • ADP Workforce Now, ADP’s HCM solution for midsize and large businesses.
  • ADP Global Payroll, ADP’s international payroll solution.
  • ADP Vantage HCM, Next Gen HCM or Enterprise HR, three customizable HCM products for large businesses and enterprises.

Read Next: The Best Restaurant Payroll Software (TechRepublic)

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Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays