Choosing the Right HRIS Software for Your Organization

October 22nd, 2019

Today’s Community Contributor is Sandy Sinclair, Payroll Coordinator at The Daniel and Henry Co.  Sandy has been working in the HR and Payroll fields for 20 years. She earned her CPP designation from the American Payroll Association in 2009. Here, Sandy shares her experience working with 4 leading HRIS tools and elaborates on the pros and cons of each. This blog post is great for anyone who is evaluating their current HRIS solution and on the market for a new tool to better suit their needs.


Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) are invaluable tools for HR and payroll.  They are basically the heart and soul of everything needed to perform human resources and payroll functions.  These systems are the tools many employers use for the following:

  • Employee personal data including contact information, dependents and emergency contacts
  • Benefits data
  • Pay rates and deductions
  • Tax setup
  • Time off accruals and balances
  • Performance reviews

Which HRIS system should you be using?  Having the right system for your company makes all the difference in the world because we use our systems for countless tasks!  Some things we utilize our HRIS system for:

  • House all of our employee data
  • Track employee benefits
  • Process payroll
  • Payroll tax filing
  • Track attendance
  • Write reports

If you aren’t using the right system, your work life can be miserable!  On the flip side, using the right system can make some parts of your job seem like a breeze.  I have been privileged to have used a number of payroll systems and would like to share the good, the bad and the ugly with Paylocity, Paycor, ADP, and Ceridian.

I’ve been with my current employer for 18 years.  When I was first hired, they were using ADP for HR and payroll.  At that time, the ADP system we were using was a very basic on-premise system (as opposed to the current cloud version).  There came a time when the “powers that be” requested we change systems. We did some research and ended up moving to a Ceridian platform.  We were unable to stay with Ceridian very long due to the reasons outlined below. We went back to the drawing board and discovered Paylocity.  

Paylocity was a great fit for us until we decided to automate our timekeeping for non-exempt employees.  Paylocity’s system was not able to handle our way of timekeeping, so we changed to Paycor. Paycor promised us the moon and the stars but were not able to deliver.  We quickly learned that many items that are basic with other systems, are not even available in Paycor. We were shocked! W2 previews for example. It’s extremely difficult to have a successful year-end without W2 previews!  We now are back with Paylocity which is by far the richest of these systems with the exception of their timekeeping module, for which we have created an acceptable workaround.

Here’s a synopsis of what I’ve learned over the last 18 years in regards to these systems:

Paylocity

Pros

  • Report writer—very easy to use and all fields in the system are reportable.
  • Benefits administration and feeds to carriers.
  • Very robust system that includes many bells and whistles that we take advantage of!  For example:
    • (1) Employee portal where employees can view their information. We control what items they are able to change on their own, which is a time saver.  There are also places to include messages we want to relay to employees and assign tasks to them;
    • (2) Employee check calculator.  Employees can create those “what-if” scenarios to see what their paycheck would look like if they make deduction or tax changes.
  • One login.

Cons

  • Attendance tracking system is too rigid for a company with loose and diverse policies.
  • This system is not the most intuitive. Some of the screens are cluttered and not easy to read or follow.

Paycor

Pros

  • Super easy to use payroll processing grid. Very intuitive.  Anyone can process payroll on this system even without prior system training.
  • One login.

Cons

  • Report writer is extremely limited and not all fields are reportable. Many reports that are standard with other vendors were not available to us in Paycor.
  • System as a whole (except the payroll grid) is very limited. 
  • No employee check calculator tool.
  • No W2 previews to assist with year-end. After years of being requested, they did come up with a “W2 preview” report which is actually only a monstrous and difficult to read spreadsheet.
  • Customer service seemed almost non-existent.
  • Employees cannot view their own deductions which resulted in increased questions to payroll and HR.

ADP

Pros

  • Ease of processing payroll.
  • System offers many standard reports.
  • Great customer service.
  • Outstanding training team.

Cons

  • Multiple logins.
  • Issues with data flows.  Separate sides of the system did not always communicate correctly with each other.

Ceridian

Pros

  • Ease of processing payroll.
  • Report writer – endless report possibilities here.
  • Benefits administration is user friendly.

Cons

  • Tax filing issues. This was one of the reasons we left Ceridian. The tax filing issues were constant.
  • Billing issues. This was the other reason we left Ceridian. They could not seem to get our billing correct and far too much time was spent on the phone after they overcharged us. They take the money directly from your bank account, so they owed us money month after month after month.

Some tips for finding the best solution for your company:

  • Create a team. Sit down to collaborate and brainstorm.  Start by listing all of the functions that you perform regularly.
  • Use a non-biased website to research available system options such as Software Advice, TrustRadius, or Fit Small Business.  Read what other users are saying about the systems. 
  • Schedule a demo and ask a lot of questions.  Use specific examples of processes your company uses.
  • Don’t assume that certain features will be available in a system.  For example, just because the systems you have previously used have offered employee check calculator, that all of them do.
  • Once you narrow your search down, ask to be provided with a “dummy” database in which you can play around in to test drive the system.

This can be a long tedious process, but doing your homework ahead of time will surely pay off in the end!