Choosing payroll systems can feel confusing without expert help.

A Bookkeeper’s Review of Payroll Systems for Your Business

Hiring your first employee as a business owner is an exciting step. However, it also brings a new requirement: payroll. Whether you have one employee or hundreds, you have to pay them, and payroll systems can make that job easier. 

Handling payroll and other bookkeeping needs can be intimidating and overwhelming for many entrepreneurs. For expert outsourced help, reach out to the team at Fisher Bookkeeping. We help businesses thrive by keeping their books in excellent shape. 

As Profit First coaches, we also help you gain financial freedom that lets you live the life you love while making an impact in the world. Reach out today for a free consultation to see how we can support you.

What To Look For In Payroll Systems

There are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for online payroll options. You have a lot of choices, and finding the right fit might feel confusing. 

Updates Are Critical

The first requirement for any payroll system you use is proper updating. That is, does the software have frequent updates that keep it in compliance with GAAP protocols? You should be able to trust your payroll system to stay on top of new rules and regulations.

As you investigate all of your options, pay attention to how various companies handle updates. It isn’t your job to learn new payroll rules as they come out. That task should fall to your payroll software, so make sure your purchase or subscription includes all necessary updates. 

True Customer Support

Excellent payroll systems will offer high-end customer service and support.

A second crucial feature to seek out in payroll systems is the ability to talk to an actual human when you need assistance. You are bound to have times when you run into a problem using the software. Make sure that whatever company you choose has an easy way to get live support from a person who can help you troubleshoot.

Budget Considerations

Every company, no matter the size, has a budget. Finding a payroll solution that meets your needs and stays within the budget is critical. Make sure that when you search for a system, you are looking at all of the details. It’s easy to inadvertently compare apples to oranges if you don’t look at all of the included features for each product.

Will You Actually Use It?

The final piece to consider when vetting payroll systems is whether or not it’s intuitive for you to use. Even though the software does the heavy lifting for you in payroll, you or an employee still need to be able to use it.

Look at user reviews and ask other entrepreneurs what they like about their system. Check in with your bookkeeper for suggestions and tips, too. After all, if you invest in something that you end up not using, it’s just a waste of your resources.

A Review of Five Popular Payroll Systems 

There are loads of choices when it comes to payroll. Let’s take a look at the most common systems for businesses.


A relative newcomer to the payroll world, Gusto routinely appears at the top of “best-of” lists and reviews for payroll systems. This software solution is ideal for businesses that have part-time and full-time employees as well as 1099 contractors.

With this variety, you may need to run payroll several times each month to account for different workers. Many systems charge you per payroll, and it gets costly if you have to run it more than once a month.

Gusto, however, charges a monthly base fee and then a per-employee fee. It views 1099 workers as employees for this purpose. Your monthly amount doesn’t change whether you run payroll one time or five.

And best of all, Gusto has a reliable customer support team. You get a real person to help you when needed. From onboarding to troubleshooting, the Gusto help crew is available to assist you.

At Fisher Bookkeeping, we highly recommend Gusto. We believe in it so much that we have an affiliate link to try Gusto for yourself. If you decide to give it a try, you get a $100 gift card. They offer a range of plans to meet your needs, including one for businesses with no W2 employees that only use 1099 contractors. 

Fisher Bookkeeping highly recommends Gusto for payroll.

If you are an accountant or bookkeeper who wants to have back-end access to Gusto, you’ll receive $500 once you get three clients set up and run payroll. Get started with Gusto here for your bookkeeping or accounting business. You’ll love it!

Additionally, Gusto provides options that include HR services, such as managing healthcare benefits and paid time off. This payroll system is an excellent choice for many businesses.


From the longstanding company, Intuit, QuickBooks payroll holds a steady place in the payroll world. Many businesses use QuickBooks for their accounting software, so including the payroll option often makes sense.

QuickBooks, like all Intuit products, targets small businesses. It offers popular features in its pricing, such as:

  • Unlimited Payroll Runs
  • Direct Deposit
  • Employee Portal

With both desktop and online versions, QuickBooks fits the bill for a lot of companies. Your ability to customize and run a wide range of reports is a significant benefit that many entrepreneurs enjoy.

If you choose the desktop version, however, be mindful of a significant downside. QuickBooks decouples payroll tax payments from net paycheck payments. If you aren’t on top of making your tax payments, you will end up with hefty fines and fees.


SurePayroll is the small business payroll solution from Paychex. It offers a flexible, user-friendly interface that many business owners enjoy. 

However, SurePayroll doesn’t offer as many benefits as its competitors in its monthly subscription. For example, creating and distributing forms such as 1099s and W2s cost extra in this system, but they are free in other options like Gusto.

Business owners must weigh the pros and cons to find the best payroll solution for them.

A newer offering from SurePayroll is the self-service tier. This lower-priced option is budget-friendly but requires you to file your own payroll taxes.

One popular feature with SurePayroll is their US-based client success team. They are available to help six days a week for issues that arise.


Ok. We can’t in good conscience do a review of payroll systems without including this heavy hitter. ADP commands a significant market share in the payroll software world, especially for big businesses.

To be honest, however, the Fisher Bookkeeping team doesn’t recommend them to most of our clients. ADP can be a good fit for large companies with thousands of employees. Smaller companies, though, will do much better elsewhere. 

ADP products are very expensive, and it is nearly impossible to get an actual person on the phone for assistance. Small and mid-sized business owners generally do not have the time to waste trying to get help when they need it. With plenty of more affordable and functional products on the market, ADP does not fit the bill for most entrepreneurs.

Friendly Help Is a Phone Call Away

Are you ready to take some big things off your plate? Fisher Bookkeeping has offices in Portland, OR, and outside Lexington, KY, to serve clients coast to coast. From setting up your chart of accounts to running payroll to prepping for tax time, we have you covered. 

Set up a free call with us to get started. We can’t wait to be on your team and watch your business grow and thrive.

About the Author Barb Fisher

Barb is the CEO of Fisher Bookkeeping, an outsourced bookkeeping consultancy that provides small businesses with a full-service financial department. Her favorite aspect of work is to break down the accounting to meaningful bits, so entrepreneurs can make a powerful difference in their own business. She's also a power lifter (squat: 215, DL: 270).

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