Workday and ADP are two of the most popular payroll management services, both of which offer comprehensive payroll and HR services for businesses of varying sizes and industries. For the most part, ADP’s products — especially its payroll and HR software, ADP Workforce Now — will work better for small businesses than Workday. In contrast, Workday’s more comprehensive HCM features make it a better fit for growing midsize and big businesses.

SEE: Payroll Processing Checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

This product guide will compare Workday vs. ADP to help you make the best decision for your business’s payroll needs.

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Workday vs. ADP: Feature comparison table

FeaturesWorkday HCMADP Workforce Now
Starting priceCustomCustom
Free trialNoneUp to 3 months
Unlimited payroll runsYesYes
Automatic tax filingNoYes
Global payrollThird-party providerAdd-on feature
Benefits administrationYesYes
Ideal customer company sizeMidsize and largeSmall and midsize

Plan and pricing information is up to date as of 8/8/2023.

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Workday vs. ADP: Pricing

As is typical of most HCM software companies, neither Workday nor ADP list their prices upfront. Interested companies will need to reach out to each company’s sales team directly to schedule a custom demo and request a quote.

Workday’s pricing and plans

Image: Workday

Workday is a cloud-based human capital management and financial management software provider. It provides global organizations with a single system to manage their entire employee lifecycle, from recruiting, onboarding and talent management to career development, payroll and benefits administration.

Workday offers a variety of products that satisfy the demands of large corporations or organizations with more than 200 employees. Workday’s popular human capital management solution, Workday HCM, includes hiring, onboarding, benefits, employee feedback, career pathing, time tracking and other employee management tools.

Workday HCM integrates with Workday’s other products for users who want to manage all business processes on one unified system. For instance, Workday HCM syncs seamlessly with Workday Financial Management, an enterprise-level accounting software solution.

Workday doesn’t advertise a free trial. As with any HCM system, you should expect Workday’s pricing to be much higher than that of payroll-only products for small businesses.

Learn more about Workday by reading our comprehensive Workday review.

ADP’s pricing and plans

Image: ADP

ADP is a payroll, human resources and benefits administration service provider that also offers talent management, time and attendance, HR BPO, retirement services and insurance services for small, midsize and large businesses.

Like Workday, ADP has multiple products that meet a variety of business needs. The one most comparable to Workday is ADP Workforce Now, a combined payroll and HR software program that caters mainly to midsize businesses. Other popular ADP products include the following:

  • RUN Powered by ADP is a small-business-centric payroll plan with optional add-on employee benefits and HR tools.
  • ADP Next Gen HCM and ADP Vantage HCM are two separate human capital management plans that cater to midsize and large businesses, respectively.
  • ADP TotalSource is a professional employer organization solution for small businesses that prefer outsourced HR.
  • ADP Global Payroll lets ADP customers pay employees in over 140 countries.

Again, ADP doesn’t list starting prices for any of its plans online, though it does advertise a three-month free trial for new customers.

Learn more about ADP Workforce Now by reading our comprehensive ADP Workforce Now review.

Not sold on either Workday or ADP? Paycor’s HCM software shares many of the same features with four plans at four different price points.

Workday vs. ADP: Feature comparison

Payroll

ADP Workforce Now and Workday HCM perform more or less the same basic payroll functions, including automatic payroll runs, direct deposit and employee self-service portals.

Both providers also offer global payroll. While ADP Workforce Now doesn’t have built-in international payroll, customers can add the ADP Global Payroll product to their Workforce Now subscription to pay employees in 140+ countries. Workday offers global payroll through third-party payroll partners that pay employees and contractors in 100+ countries.

Automatic tax filing

Tax filing is a critical component of payroll software. Most HCM software providers include automatic payroll tax calculation, deduction and filing, including end-of-year tax form filing. For instance, ADP’s comprehensive payroll solution includes automatic tax filing for federal, state and local taxes.

With Workday, the tax filing process is outsourced to partners such as Alight Solutions, everBe, HRPath, NorthgateArinso and OneSource Virtual. This approach may work for some employers; however, it does mean the employer is trusting an additional third party to accurately complete tax payment and filing in a timely fashion.

Benefits administration

Both Workday and ADP offer the ability to manage and track employee benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans.

ADP provides a comprehensive benefits administration solution that includes the ability to manage and track employee benefits and customize and adjust benefits as needed.

Workday provides a benefits administration solution that combines HR data with a benefits package. It also syncs benefits with employee status changes, such as new hires, salary increases and promotions. With Workday, employers can manage and track employee benefits and customize and adjust benefits.

Both ADP and Workday offer comprehensive and fairly equivalent benefits administration solutions for users who want to manage, track, customize and adjust employee benefits. The deciding factor may be the cost of implementation and the overall support offered by each vendor.

Customer support

Both ADP and Workday offer comprehensive support for their users. ADP provides automated phone support for basic questions and an online resource center with how-tos, webinars and FAQs. Its higher pricing tiers include dedicated support representatives.

On the other hand, Workday assigns a dedicated customer success manager who will onboard users and act as their contact person. They also offer community support and 24/7 online expert support.

Users who need immediate assistance and prefer a more personalized solution may find Workday’s dedicated customer success manager and 24/7 online expert support more beneficial. Those who want a more self-service approach and are comfortable with online resources may find ADP’s automated phone support and online resource center preferable.

Ease of use

ADP and Workday are robust HR and payroll solutions that can help streamline and automate processes. Both platforms offer powerful features and have earned high marks for customer satisfaction.

ADP’s basic features are generally easy to use and require minimal training. These features include a range of payroll and HR tools, such as employee self-service, payroll processing, and time and attendance tracking. Advanced features like workforce analytics and reporting may require additional training.

Workday provides an easy-to-use, organized interface with streamlined processes, well-structured menus and sub-menus. Workday’s user-friendly features are ideal for users who are new to HR and payroll software or those who are looking for a simple way to manage their organization’s HR and payroll needs.

​​​​Overall, both ADP and Workday offer robust, easy-to-use features. Workday’s modern, streamlined interface may be the better choice for less experienced users, but for those with more complex tooling needs, ADP may be the better option.

Workday pros and cons

Workday’s pros

  • Ease of use and intuitive user interface design.
  • Expansive customizability.
  • 24/7 customer support.
  • Strong performance management functionality.

Workday’s cons

  • Lacks transparent pricing.
  • Includes no automatic tax filing.
  • Expensive according to some users.

ADP pros and cons

ADP’s pros

  • Automatic tax filing.
  • Extensive knowledge base.
  • Expansive customizability.
  • Several payroll plans for various user categories.
  • Extensive integrations.
  • Up to three months free for new users.

ADP’s cons

  • Tool is pricey, according to some users.
  • User interface could be improved.
  • Lacks transparent pricing.

Our methodology

To evaluate ADP Workforce Now and Workday HCM, we considered how both products performed in the following key categories:

  • Pricing, including add-on fees for optional services and free trials.
  • Features, including payroll, benefits administration, hiring, onboarding, time-tracking and other essential HCM tools.
  • Ease of use, including employee self-service options, mobile payroll apps and overall interface accessibility.
  • Customer service, including 24/7 customer service options, multiple modes of customer support and dedicated account managers.

Our research process involved testing demo accounts whenever possible, reading and watching customer reviews from sites like Gartner Peer Insights, downloading apps and reading product spec sheets.

Should your organization use Workday or ADP?

The choice between ADP and Workday depends on various factors, including the size of your organization and its specific payroll and HR needs.

ADP is a well-established provider, offering an extensive range of HR services and features, including payroll, benefits administration, time tracking, recruiting and performance management. It is a good choice for growing businesses that are scaling quickly, as it offers a comprehensive suite of services and is able to scale according to an organization’s evolving needs.

On the other hand, Workday is an enterprise-level solution that is best suited for medium-sized and larger organizations. It is also simpler to configure and use than ADP and offers a more intuitive user interface. Workday is a good option for enterprises that want an easy-to-use solution with features and tools to improve employee engagement and productivity.

Ultimately, the choice between Workday and ADP comes down to your organization’s specific payroll needs and budget. Both ADP and Workday offer a range of features and services that can be tailored to meet your requirements, but it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of each system before making a final decision.

If you’re not interested in either Workday or ADP after reading our comparison, we recommend considering one of these options for a better fit.

1 GoCo

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Elevate your HR with a modern, easy-to-use HRIS designed for small businesses. GoCo is a secure, compliant hub for sending, digitally signing, and organizing your sensitive HR documents and data. Manage records, performance, time off, onboarding, benefits, and more – all in one place. With the best support in the industry, every GoCo customer is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Team that is readily available to provide guidance and ensure a smooth and reliable HRIS experience.

Learn more about GoCo

2 BambooHR

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BambooHR is an award-winning HR platform that helps your growing organizations automate, centralize, and connect your people data all in one place. It gives you a one stop shop to manage data, hire talent, run payroll, and help employees grow.

Learn more about BambooHR

3 Bob

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Meet Bob, the modern HR platform for modern business. With Bob, HR teams get everything they need to operate efficiently and engage employees in one HRIS. Use automation and workflows to save hours on HR admin time. Connect employees from anywhere with a social media-like homepage that drives culture with communications, kudos, and recognition. Centralize all people data in one place for a holistic view. Share accurate reports for stronger insights and better decision-making.

Learn more about Bob

4 Connecteam

Visit website

Connecteam is the perfect all-in-one solution for the mobile workforce. It offers the full package so HR professionals can easily manage all their employees from one place. From the moment an employee begins onboarding to direct internal communication to time tracking and compliance, Connecteam has it all. This helps keep your team productive and engaged while you have full visibility of what is going on.

Learn more about Connecteam

5 ADP HR

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ADP HR services that empower. Hiring. Onboarding. Managing HR compliance. Whether you've got urgent questions or need ongoing support, with ADP, you can get the HR services you need.

Learn more about ADP HR

Workday vs. ADP: FAQ

Which is better, Workday or ADP?

Workday and ADP are two of the best payroll and HCM solutions for midsize businesses and larger corporations. While it’s hard to say which one is objectively better, Workday HCM is best for bigger businesses with hundreds of employees and complex HR needs. ADP, especially ADP Workforce Now, is a better choice for smaller and midsize businesses with up to 150 employees and more straightforward HR requirements.

Generally speaking, ADP Workforce Now is cheaper than Workday HCM, which makes it a better pick for midsize businesses on a budget.

Are Workday and ADP competitors?

Workday HCM and ADP Workforce Now are close competitors in the human capital management software space. However, each company has a slightly different — though occasionally overlapping — audience: While Workday targets bigger corporations, ADP Workforce Now can be adapted to meet the needs of midsize and large businesses, including international corporations.

What are Workday and ADP?

Workday and ADP are two business software companies that offer payroll, accounting, HR and other tools that are essential for personnel management in the modern workplace.

Read next: The Best Payroll Software for Your Small Business (TechRepublic)

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