Payroll Outsourcing Company Reviews

ADP Payroll Service Review

Payroll service ADP dominates SurePayroll, PayChex and other payroll providers. We take a look at whether the payroll emperor has any clothes.

If you believe big is inherently better, then ADP payroll outsourcing might be the right payroll service for you.

ADP Payroll Service Review

In fact, ADP is one of the world's largest providers of outsourced business solutions. Revenues are nearly $8 billion per year.

In the world of payroll outsourcing, ADP is known as a traditional payroll service or a conventional payroll service.

That's in contrast to the newer generation of payroll services such as SurePayroll that offer an online payroll service.

Online payroll offers the added advantages of control, visibility and reduced errors, typically at lower payroll service prices than the traditional big boys: ADP and PayChex.

Nonetheless, markets get wise slowly. ADP continues to dominate the payroll industry with massive market share.

After all, ADP is a well-established brand and you can "never get fired for choosing ADP" as your payroll service. The boss will know the name.

It's a bit like the saying "You can't get fired for hiring IBM" -- a saying that used to hold true. These days, you can indeed get fired for hiring IBM as their are plenty of other good technology providers out there and there's a lot at stake.

Something similiar is going on in the payroll processing industry. What once was a near monopoly by ADP and PayChex is now a much more competitive marketplace. So, we recommend that you evaluate ADP payroll outsourcing but also evaluate SurePayroll and PayChex to get a good comparison. To our mind, those are the three full-service payroll providers worth talking to.

On their website, ADP says they provide "flexible corporate payroll services that improve payroll management for employers of every size. We handle the time-consuming tasks of payroll processing and employee payroll tax filing so employers -- regardless of their size -- can focus on their business."

While they seem adamant that they can handle any size business, ADP's sweet spot is with large businesses having 500 or more employees.

To us, ADP's biggest advantage is that they are used to working with big companies that have very complex payroll processing needs. If you run a large company, you won't find much that ADP can't do for you.

For a small business owner, however, that complexity leads to feature overkill and confusion.

Because ADP's offerings have been developed over so many years, there's an inherent legacy complexity that they seem to have struggled to overcome.

Even as ADP adapts into the Internet era, it's tough to figure out what they are doing.

They launched an online payroll application called RUN ADP some time ago but now if you go to those web pages, there are some allusions to RUN ADP but most of the language is about EasyPay.

Unfortunately, big companies tend to start and stop entire business units on short notice, so I'm not sure what's really going on.

Ages ago, I was a Peachtree accouting software user and ADP built a decent interface directly into the software. They had in fact acquired Peachtree so it was easy to do the integration. Then, all of a sudden one day, they stopped offering the integration and divested themselves of Peachtree.

OK, I digress but you get the idea. Big companies don't have much empathy for small companies. That's why I personally opted not to use ADP as my payroll service at a certain point. It just didn't seem like they gave a hoot about me and my business.

Of course, that was back when you had to call in payroll on a specific day and time -- which was a pain. If you had an important sales meeting at the same time as payroll needed to be called in, you were in a jam. That's why I now prefer the anytime, anywhere online payroll services, where I can process payroll in my PJs in the middle of the night if I need to.

So, getting back to this review of ADP payroll service, we haven't had a chance to put RUN ADP through the paces.

ADP tells us via their site that RUN is easy to sign up and set up, easy to learn and use.

Step-by-step wizards help you set up company and employee information to get you started. You can calculate and generate paychecks on an "as needed" basis, and pay employees through direct deposit or by printed checks.

Just like with SurePayroll and PayCycle, you can set up automated reminders on payroll and tax due dates, so you minimize the risk of missing a deadline or paying a late penalty.

So what are the drawbacks?

The knocks again RUN ADP are that there is no electronic filing at the state level, and the business owner must file all tax forms. Plus, there are no weekend support hours.

To our mind, these are some big disadvantages, enough to make us shy to recommend this relatively new offering.

Our part-time bookkeeper uses ADP for some clients and uses SurePayroll for others. She is not keen on ADP's payroll service limitations.

As an example of her frustration, she says that SurePayroll automatically does the 1096 forms for her, whereas ADP does not do the 1096 form for her. She has to do it herself. She says that's a big pain.

She also likes SurePayroll's instant payroll preview function much better than the way ADP informs her of the amount she needs for a payroll. With SurePayroll she gets the grand total for payroll instantly. With ADP, shes says she processes payroll and then gets an email 5 hours later telling her the required cash amount.

Long story short on ADP payroll outsourcing, don't go with them just because they are massive. Shop around. Talk to other players and get a payroll service that is right for you. Once you choose a payroll service, it's a pain to change so ask tough questions and don't move too quickly to decide.

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Conversation Board

Contribute to this ADP payroll service review. Add your comments and questions below. We especially would like to hear ADP comparisons to SurePayroll and/or PayChex. Thanks!

  • joan posted on 2/9/2009
    Unfortunately, I only have a comment regarding ADP, not a comparison. ADP is probably one of the worst payroll services in my experience. The company is uncommunicative, poorly managed and the staff appears to be lazy in efforts to remedy mistakes or errors within their system. I am a payroll recipient and would never recommend this service to anyone. Try another company such as Paychex.
  • Neil posted on 2/18/2009
    This is the second go round with ADP. The first time they screwed things so badly with the IRS it was two years until it was corrected. I left and returned several years later because of professional advice. The latest incident arose when my employees noticed that there were no 401K deductions. I called and was told that the changes which were made had to be looked into and that I would be called back. Never happended. I am out once again. The trouble plus 4X the expense of Paycyle is reason enough.
  • RB posted on 2/18/2009
    I believe this author is misinformed in some of opinions they hold about ADP. I have been a rep for ADP for 2 years and I deal only with small businesses 1-50 employees. First off, easypay and RUN BOTH do electronic filing of state AND federal taxes... that is one of the big reasons that companies use ADP. Next, the notion that the company is too big and "over kill" is a misconception. Though we have products other than payroll (that many times can save a company A LOT of $) we can do just plain old, regular, payroll just like the small companies... but usually cheaper. The advantage of a large company? We get buying power! So when you do things like workers comp we save you 30%. We give you FREE New Hire Reporting, we give you FREE Labor Law Posters, we give you FREE Delivery or checks... any way, I can honestly say that when I start my own business, ADP will be the first thing I will set up.
  • Disappointed posted on 4/15/2009
    I have to agree with ADP's lack of consideration for small companies. They made an error on one of our payrolls which cost us over $1200.00 in penalties. They are assuming ZERO responsibility for that! Their stand is that it is the customer's responsibility to check the accuracy of the payroll. UNBELIEVABLE! If I hired a bookkeeper to check up on ADP, she might as well do the payroll herself! What good is a company that does not stand behind their accuracy? As far as I'm concerned, that's the deal breaker! If your claim to fame is freeing up the business owner by taking on the responsibility of payroll, you need to actually ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY!
  • Debi posted on 5/15/2009
    ADP does the payroll for ITT college. They screwed up my son's payroll because they have not been paying his social security or medicaid for who knows how long. He gets direct deposit and never thought he had to check. Now most of his paycheck this week (2-week check) has been taken to back pay his ssi & medicaid. What kind of idiots are these people? From what my son told me they haven't been taking it out for a few years. I know he should have been checking but his tax man also dropped the ball when his W2 didn't show any payments and he never brought it up. What's wrong with this picture? I would have seen all this but we don't live together, since he's married. What the heck is wrong with these people at ADP? I've worked in accounting for years and I can't imagine how this happened. I'm not sure how many other people at the college were also affected.
  • P posted on 7/7/2009
    Debi, this error was made by PAYROLL. Not ADP.
  • Colleen posted on 7/10/2009
    I despise ADP - the system is insanely outdated, I cannot run it on my Mac nor on Firefox on a PC, there are just so many things that are non -intuitive... I can't believe I have a year contract with them, it seems like forever....
  • JB posted on 8/11/2009
    RB from ADP there is no such thing as free....your customers may be getting FREE labor posters but they have to pay they are not FREE and small clients are nickel and dimed to where is your FREE
  • Bob posted on 8/18/2009
    I have had ADP for almost 20 years. I needed them to do an amendement and they screwed up big time 3 times in a row. They tried to debit my account for over 3500.00 we did not owe and they made a big mess of everything. The person I have been dealing with does not seem competent in my opinion and we have had 3 conference calls with accounting and still we can not get a simple thing done right. After we fire them I will make a point of letting everyone I can know about the poor service. I go to all the chamber of commerce meetings and functions so I will really spread the word.
  • Terri posted on 12/16/2009
    Wow, I read everywhere about ADP causing tax problems, we too are a small company and decided to go with ADP, biggest mistake we ever made!!! It's been well over 6 months and I'm still cleaning up the tax mess they left. And try to get them to take responsiblity for thier mistakes is liking pulling teeth out of an alligators mouth.
  • kela posted on 1/12/2010
    ADP is horrible about returning any phone calls. Even when you ask someone to expedite the process after 3 attempts to call.
  • RP posted on 1/29/2010
    ADP is the worst service provider I have ever known. Client services can answer questions or call back in a timely manner to answer your question, they are expensive, they have terrible customer service and 30% of my job is fixing errors that ADP did on their end. For example, they forgot to stuff my W2's and then took a week to send the right envelopes, then they sent a 20 lb box of envelopes which I have to send back. Also, today they forgot to send me my payroll package and I have live checks in the package for today's paydate....I would not choose ADP if I had a better choice and starting a business.
  • Paul posted on 2/1/2010
    My company has recently switched to use ADP Freedom in the UK. I have to agree with the majority of posters here, ADP systems are rubbish and the support they provide is less than useless. The ADP Freedom online application only works with IE, so if you are a MAC user you will not be able to access you details using Safari or Firefox (which now comprises >50% of the browser market). We've been with ADP for over 3 months yet and I am still waiting to see my first payslip.
  • Wendy posted on 2/3/2010
    ADP filed our state withholding & unemployment taxes under someone elses EIN, more than once. They also debited over $2,800 from our account in error in August 2009. I'm still trying to get the money back but since I switched payroll company's, they won't return my calls. I've received several lien notices from the Dept or Revenue for nonpayment of taxes which ADP took from us but deposited into someone elses account. I've had to handle everything on my own. The reps I've dealt with in their tax dept have no idea what they are doing. If you are thinking of using ADP.....RUN!!!!! use Paychex or do it yourself, you'll be spending more time correcting their errors than it would take you to do your own payroll!
  • RT posted on 2/9/2010
    I've been using ADP for the last 3 years. Their client services are getting better, but so bad at calling you back. Also don't understand the people on the other end of the phone a lot of the time. I wish they were more professional, and knew what they were talking about. A lot of the time I get the feeling that CS don't want to be talking to you so just say "yes ma'am" to get me off the phone. So RUDE! Also their pricing has shot up recently.
  • Nora posted on 2/10/2010
    RB is incorrect for someone that supposedly works for ADP. ADP's RUN and EasyPayNet do NOT come with tax filing. efiling is a separate thing you have to fill out a form for, fax in, get approved, and pay for. That's what another ADP rep told me and that's what RUN says in the online help! Also, they are NOT cheaper--in fact, for 7 employees, they are nearly $40 more than SurePayroll and $30 more than Paychex and Intuit. And that doesn't include the ridiculous $200 setup fee that they will "reduce to $25." SurePayroll has free Federal and state compliance services. ADP RUN does NOT include poster compliance--it's a whole separate service or you have to move to one of three packages, which starts at $64 WITHOUT including the cost of employees on payroll ($64 per payroll processed for bi-weekly payroll). The others also report new hires at no cost so that isn't a selling point. Shop around. It's time consuming to get all the details from the vendors, but it's worth it in the end to know what you're getting into. And ADP's customer service isn't open on weekends, which is very inconvenient for small business owners. Who isn't open on the weekends? Big corporations and the government.
  • DH posted on 3/5/2010
    Nora is crazy! Posters do come with the Run package and files and deposits all federal, state and local taxes. It is limited and cannot handle multi- Jurisdiction. It can handle multi state along with Local, just not Multi-Jurisdictional. The way ADP does it is called "BUNDLES" and it gives you a flat cost based on the number of employees you pay, not the number of checks written. So if someone had garnishment(which it can handle) they do not get charged additional per check. Also as for the author of this article, RUN is real time and calculates all taxes and payroll on the fly. It shows you your full payroll liability before anything is submitted to ADP. The author would be referring to ADP's AutoPay platform and to receive the file back takes 30 minutes and no longer than 1 hour. Its a completely different platform, different main frame and built for more specific and complex payrolls. People need to get fact together before posting things out to the world and looking ignorant. Surprised that the same people knocking ADP are not even giving the facts. Oh yeah, EasyPay Net is internet based, hence the Net part in the name. Kind of like internet!!! HELLOOOOOOOO...
  • Mlatini posted on 3/16/2010
    ADP apparently neglected to take federal taxes out of my paycheck for 6 months straight! Not looking forwrd to paying for this mess! They are horrendus!
  • Jenn posted on 3/23/2010
    Our company moved from PA to NJ half way through the year. ADP sent me 2 W2's one for NJ one for PA but never deducted ANY taxes for NJ so they won't even accept my state tax return. I've tried all week to find a knowledgeable person at ADP to help. No luck. So I will definitely be looking for another service for next year. ADP has lost my firms business!
  • J posted on 5/2/2010
    Your service is only as good as your representative. ADP flurishes in a market that is turned upside down because it stays on top of the game. It is funny to see that 90% of issues that stem from payroll are usually consumer faults. Ask yourself why so many top companies use and remain with ADP? If you are having issues with your payroll you either A)have a bad rep who didn't stay tight to the business or have you on the wrong service b)have internal issues with the person keying in or calling the payroll in C)did not take the time with the person implementing your account or training. In any of these events it comes down to the business owner. I myself use adp and have been with them for 10 years now. I had a few issues that were simple errors made by my payroll person. Sometimes you must point the thumb before the finger. Get with your rep and service and get your issues hashed out. If you want cheap go with another company and see how quick you realize the difference between price vs cost. Good luck all
  • C posted on 5/12/2010
    Great...well at least all 10 of the unsatisfied customers have been identified out of the 550,000 ADP has. By the way, it is true most of these issues are input errors...but some people have to point the finger I guess. Run flat out is the best small business platform hands down. Nothing touches it. Price is realative also. Like the last post pay less and watch teh issues and time to process pile up and also the Iphone app for ADP payroll is rolling out as well as being able to use on Mac. Imagine running payroll on the go from your Iphone...only ADP!!!
  • C posted on 5/12/2010
    Paychex is in a lawsuit and paying a portion of a 30 million dollar settlement for defrauding customers not to mention after this announcement they sent a letter out to their customers raising prices (maybe to pay for their lawsuit...? hmmmm...)
  • ADP SBS posted on 6/28/2010
    I also work for ADP in our Small Business Services. Our RUN product is without a doubt the best outsourcing platform for a 1-49 employee business. Everything is included from tax filing (yes we file taxes with a 99.9% accuracey rating) to the free labor law posters (no delivery charge). The payroll preview function also shows you the exact amount you need to have in your account before your payroll is even processed to reduce user error. Not sure where some of you (author included are getting the facts on RUN, but you need to go look again. Maybe you are speaking of the wholesale side where we do not have an e-file option as of yet. I have converted 79 Paychex users in the past year and a half and have had 3 leave due to errors. This is a solid product that has made my wife very happy (she spends the commision)
  • Dave posted on 7/14/2010
    I have just started working with a small hardware store that wants to do some data integration. I was shocked and appalled to learn that ADP works only with IE8/Windows. What a joke. Companies that don't follow widely accepted technical standards should be boycotted imho.
  • jim posted on 7/15/2010
    ADP is incompetent! The online service is great and easy to use but this does not make up for the lack of direction in their customer service on a local and national level. ADP computed several of my taxes wrong. First one took 9 months to resolve because they were filing under the wrong id number. Next one is an 8 month nightmare and still going with liens and penalties. Broken promises, never a callback, one department doesn't speak to another.
  • Yvonne posted on 7/28/2010
    I work for a company that implemented ADP in 1999. In the eleven years that ADP has been our payroll provider I can count on one hand the mistakes that would be considered ADP's. The rest of the errors was from our errors. As far as support we usually get a return call within a very acceptable response time. I cannot speak for all the ADP service centers but I can say the Midwest service center had been great.
  • Jeff posted on 9/24/2010
    Don't forget to look at your local independent payroll providers for options. is a good option for New Jersey companies. Just go to google and search payroll with your zip code to find a local provider near you. In addition to generally having lower rates the customer support is usually much better because of lower turnover.
  • Richard posted on 11/16/2010
    I am another fool who assumed their size had to be for good reason. The PayExpert system has to be the worst system I have ever experienced. I get anxiety just thinking about it. Paychex was a fairly simple system which treated each pay item as a file which could be amended in any way (salaried or hourly). ADP uses the batch system in which you never can anticipate the outcome. Salaried get auto pay cancelled. It is impossible to understand how the system works unless you become a power user who does payroll 100% of the time. The implementation was set up erroneously causing uncorrectable errors. My advice to anyone under 500 is to steer clear of ADP. Paychex, although not my first choice, was far more simplistic and error free. The instant preview feature was great in a time crunch.
  • Chris posted on 12/14/2010
    The reason their revenues are so high? They are earning interest on the tax float. In other words, whether or not the company's taxes are due, they go ahead and take the money, earn interest on it, and wait until the last second to pay the payroll clients' taxes. If I did that to my payroll and bookkeeping clients, I would be out of business.
  • Jason Holcombe posted on 2/19/2011
    Jason Holcombe
    You probably are out of business if you think that ADP can survive without the float. Have you ever thought that ADP fees include over night delivery, posters, new hire reporting, no down payment workers compensation with a minimal audit, free direct deposit, Employee access to pay stubs, General Ledger Interface, Electronic signature on paychecks, and many more features.

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