ADP (especially RUN Powered by ADP) and QuickBooks Payroll are excellent choices for payroll software as they are reliable, offer a smooth user experience and have a solid set of core features. While both applications are market-leading payroll solutions, they have advantages and disadvantages. On this page, we dig deeper to compare both software.

The bottom line: 

  • ADP is the best payroll software for midsize businesses that want robust HR tools alongside full-service, automated payroll features.
  • QuickBooks Payroll is the best payroll software solution for small businesses that already use QuickBooks Online as their accounting system.

If you want an alternative to both ADP and QuickBooks Payroll, here’s our recommendation:

  • Paychex Flex has features similar to ADP and QuickBooks Payroll but with a lower starting price point.

What is ADP?

The ADP logo.
Image: ADP

ADP is one of the leading payroll and HR software on the market. While most of ADP’s competitors have been in the market for less than a couple of decades, ADP has been around for more than 70 years. The payroll solutions offered by ADP include advanced features and the scalability required by large businesses; however, you may have to pay extra to access these features. Along with a full range of payroll solutions, ADP comes with tools for employee benefits and recruiting. ADP offers four plans for payroll services: Essential, Enhanced, Complete and HR Pro. The pricing is customized and is not available on the website. See our comprehensive ADP review for more.

ADP

What is QuickBooks Payroll?

The QuickBooks Payroll logo.
Image: QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks Payroll is a cloud-based payroll system that can be used as a standalone product or integrated with QuickBooks Online. If your business has less than 50 employees, the standalone product offers everything you need for payroll services, such as unlimited payroll runs, reporting, benefits administration, automatic tax filing and other core features. However, it does not offer time tracking or integration with third-party applications. Also, you will only be able to integrate with QuickBooks Online. See our comprehensive Quickbooks Online review for more.

Features/pricing comparison

Here is a comparison of its features to help make it easier to decide between ADP and QuickBooks Payroll.

QuickBooks PayrollADP
Unlimited payrollYesNo
Tax filingYesYes
Direct depositSame day and next dayTwo day
Time trackingYesNo
W2s and 1099sYesYes
Customizable reportsYesYes
PaychecksYesYes
New hire reportingNoYes

Unlimited payroll runs

A key difference between the two software choices is that you get limited payroll runs with ADP, while QuickBooks Payroll offers unlimited payroll runs. ADP charges on the frequency of payroll runs. All QuickBooks Payroll plans offer unlimited payroll runs, including their cheapest plan. With QuickBooks, you get same-day and next-day direct deposits, while with ADP you are limited to two-day direct deposits.

Time tracking

Time tracking tools allow businesses to schedule employee shifts and record their time at work. Time tracking is only available as an add-on feature with ADP, while it is a standard feature in all QuickBooks Payroll plans.

Payroll reports

Payroll reports include data on tax deductions, net wages, income tax withholdings and other payroll details. Both ADP and QuickBooks Payroll offer impressive reporting tools.

Taxes

Both software offers tax filing and can automatically generate documents such as W2s and 1099s.

New hire reporting

U.S. employment laws require companies to submit information about their new hires within a specific time from the start date. ADP offers new hire reporting as a built-in tool in its platform, while QuickBooks Payroll is missing this feature.

Pricing

QuickBooks Payroll

  • Core: $37.50 per month + $5 per month per employee.
  • Premium: $50 per month + $5 per employee.
  • Elite: $80 per month + $8 per employee.

ADP

Customized pricing.

Integration capabilities

The advantage of integrating your payroll software is that it allows it to expand its functionality. Here is how ADP compares to QuickBooks Payroll in terms of integration capabilities.

ADP

ADP offers integration capabilities with several popular business software, including ERPs, accounting systems and CRMs. The most common integrations include SAP, Oracle, QuickBooks, ZipRecruiter, Microsoft Teams and Slack.

QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks Payroll can only be integrated with QuickBooks Online.

Pros and cons

ADP

Pros

  • Scalable plans are ideal for growing businesses.
  • Customized solutions.
  • Full HR suite.

Cons

  • Lack of clear pricing structure.
  • Analytics tools are limited.
  • Confusing setup.

QuickBooks Payroll

Pros

  • Offers deep integration with QuickBooks Online.
  • Flexible setup.
  • Robust reporting tools.

Cons

  • Native time tracking is not available.
  • It can only integrate with QuickBooks Online.
  • 24/7 customer support is only available for higher-priced plans.

How to choose between ADP and QuickBooks Payroll

SEE: How to Choose Payroll Software

The ultimate decision between ADP or QuickBooks Payroll will depend on your business needs. While ADP is more customizable and offers more integration capabilities, QuickBooks Payroll offers faster payroll runs and deep integration with QuickBooks Online.

The pricing structure of QuickBooks Payroll is transparent, while for ADP, you will need to get a customized quote. This makes it difficult to compare pricing between the two software options. While not having transparent pricing is a drawback for ADP, this also means that you get customized plans to match your specific needs. The customized pricing structure of ADP makes it more suitable for larger businesses, while the standard plans make QuickBooks Payroll a better payroll software for small businesses. 

A key distinguishing factor between the two software is that QuickBooks Payroll offers unlimited payroll but has limited functionality for other HR functions. On the other hand, ADP has more expanded HR functionality and more flexible plans.

Read next: The top ADP competitors and alternatives for 2023

Other payroll solutions

1 Deel

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Run payroll in 100+ countries and 200+ currencies from a single place. Deel’s comprehensive global platform eliminates the ongoing admin of local compliance, taxes, and benefits. With in-house experts across 100+ countries, dedicated CSM’s, visa and PTO support, and more, Deel provides unmatched payroll expertise and service. Plus, with a single point of contact, we eliminate handovers, providing you with faster support and compliance, so your entire global team gets paid quickly and securely.

Learn more about Deel

2 Multiplier Technologies

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With Multiplier, pay any number of global employees easily in multiple currencies. Eliminate the hassle of maintaining individual providers per country. Generate a single invoice and pay international teams in minutes. Have a consolidated dashboard to manage global payroll from a single window.

Learn more about Multiplier Technologies

3 Paycor

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Payroll can be a time-consuming, administrative task for HR teams. Paycor’s solution is an easy-to-use yet powerful tool that gives you time back in your day. Quickly and easily pay employees from wherever you are and never worry about tax compliance again. Key features like general ledger integration, earned wage access, AutoRun, employee self-service and detailed reporting simplify the process and help ensure you pay employees accurately and on time.

Learn more about Paycor

4 QuickBooks

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QuickBooks from Intuit is a small business accounting software that allows companies to manage business anywhere, anytime. It presents organizations with a clear view of their profits without manual work and provides smart and user-friendly tools for the business.

Learn more about QuickBooks

5 Workforce Now - ADP

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ADP Workforce Now serves clients across nearly every industry who are looking to manage their human capital management needs across payroll, HR, benefits, talent, and time and labor, among others. ADP Workforce Now provides clients with custom-tailored solutions that fit their organization, so they can save time and money while getting expert support and accuracy.

Learn more about Workforce Now - ADP

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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