RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Which is Right for You?

If you’re still trying to decide between ADP vs Paychex, be sure to check out The Blueprint's side-by-side comparison, where we look at features, ease of use, and cost.

RUN Powered by ADP

RUN Powered by ADP is an easy-to-use payroll solution that can be used from desktop or mobile device. Despite its intuitive setup, the platform becomes increasingly expensive as employees are added. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 9/10
Support 8/10
Pricing 7/10
Features 8/10
out of 10
Paychex Flex

Small business looking to grow? Be sure to try out Paychex Flex -- a scalable payroll software. With four easy-to-use plans, this platform can help you find the right solution for your business. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 8/10
Support 9/10
Pricing 7/10
Features 8/10
out of 10
Updated December 31, 2019

RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex both offer a long list of features and add-on options to their customers. But what differentiates the two applications? Read on to find out.


RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: An overview

RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex are two of the oldest payroll services companies in the U.S. Both have a history of providing not only payroll processing, but related services such as human resources (HR) and employee benefits administration.

But which one is best for your small business?

In all honesty, you won’t go wrong with either application, but as we compare these two industry leaders side-by-side, you may find exactly what you’re looking for in a payroll software.

Who is RUN Powered by ADP for?

RUN Powered by ADP is an online payroll application that can be conveniently used with a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Designed for anytime/anywhere access, RUN Powered by ADP is geared toward small businesses with 49 employees or less. For larger businesses, ADP Payroll offers several other options.

RUN Powered by ADP offers four plans:

  • Essential Payroll
  • Enhanced Payroll
  • Complete Payroll (Payroll & HR)
  • HR Pro

Very small businesses can start with the Essential plan and move up to a more robust plan as needed.

RUN Powered by ADP uses wizards throughout the application, and years of payroll experience have helped them to create an intuitive user interface that works well for those without any payroll or accounting experience under their belt.

RUN Powered by ADP does offer a mobile app, but it’s considered an add-on, so you’ll pay extra for it.

Who is Paychex Flex for?

Paychex Flex is also designed for businesses with 49 employees or less. Scalable, Paychex Flex, like RUN Powered by ADP offers four plans to choose from:

  • Express Payroll
  • Select Payroll
  • Pro Payroll
  • Enterprise Payroll

The Express plan in particular is an excellent option if you only need to pay a few employees, though you’ll want to move up to Paychex Flex Select should you add staff. Conversely, you can also downgrade your plan should your employee numbers drop.

In addition, Paychex Flex offers a free mobile app that works with both iOS and Android devices, allowing you to easily process payroll right from your phone.


RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Features

Both RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex offer many of the same features that small businesses need. Here’s a breakdown of what each offers.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers the following features in all of their plans:

  • Calculation, remittance, and filing for federal, state, and local payroll taxes
  • Computer, mobile app, or telephone payroll processing
  • Direct deposit
  • Payroll delivery
  • Reporting
  • G/L interface
  • New hire reporting
  • Employee onboarding

State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) processing is not available in the Essential plan, but is available in the other three plans.

In addition, if you’re looking for comprehensive HR features such as the HR Help Desk, Employee Handbook, or access to various HR forms and documents, you’ll have to opt for one of the top two plans.

You can pay employees in all 50 states, but if you process payroll for more than one state, you’ll pay extra. You’ll also pay extra for the mobile app.

There are also add-on options for employee insurance and retirement administration, and if a feature is not included in a plan, it can usually be added at an additional cost.

What Paychex Flex offers

Paychex Flex features vary, depending on the plan purchased.

While all plans include complete payroll tax administration, new hire reporting, and a free mobile app, additional features such as a G/L link to popular accounting software, a workers’ compensation report, state unemployment insurance, and additional pay options are only available in the more expensive plans.

Paychex Flex offers payroll services in all 50 states, and employee self-service is available in the application as well.

In addition, Paychex Flex offers employee onboarding in its two higher priced plans, with a scaled down version available in the other plans.

You do have the option to add these services to your less expensive plan, which of course will raise the price. Paychex Flex also processes both W-2s and 1099s, again for an additional fee.

Other Paychex Flex features available include:

  • 24/7 phone and chat support
  • Paycards
  • Automated employment and income verification


Winner: RUN Powered by ADP

Though close, RUN Powered by ADP is the winner. While many of the features are the same in both applications, RUN Powered by ADP includes more of these features in their less expensive plans.


RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Support

Support isn’t usually the first (or second) thing you think about when purchasing software, but when things aren’t going right, and your payroll isn’t processing properly, you’ll want to be able to access support quickly.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers both employee and payroll administrator support, with separate options available for both.

While employee support is limited to general questions, payroll administrators will be able to access various support options using the password provided once your subscription has been processed.

RUN Powered by ADP offers a FAQ page, as well as quick access to both online and product support options, with toll-free telephone support also available. Online help options are also available from within the payroll application if needed.

What Paychex Flex offers

Paychex Flex offers toll-free telephone support around the clock, with chat support available as well. There are also separate support pages available for employees and payroll administrators.

Paychex Flex offers easy access to help and support features from within the application, or you can choose to access support directly from the support page by logging in.

Paychex customer service options are also available from your local Paychex office.

In addition, those subscribing to the Select, Pro, or Enterprise plans are assigned a dedicated payroll specialist that serves as your point person for any questions or concerns you may have.


Winner: Paychex Flex

While both applications offer good support options, I’d have to give the edge to Paychex Flex, as they offer 24/7 support along with local support options.

Ease of Use

RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Ease of use

When looking for software, one of the most important considerations is ease of use. After all, an application can be loaded with features, but if they’re difficult to access, it’s likely they’ll never get used.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers an intuitive user interface, with an easy-to-navigate dashboard featuring icons that provide quick access to payroll and related features. A series of graphs below the icon area display payroll totals, your current bank balance, and a to-do list.

The main user interface also includes a menu bar at the top of the screen with access to your home screen, employees, company information, a reports area, taxes, and your G/L.

ADP vs Paychex showing ADP payroll dashboard with options to run payroll, view reports, invoice, and more.

RUN by ADP includes an easily navigated, customizable dashboard.

When you click on any of the menu options, a grid with all related features will pop up on the screen.

Another plus; RUN Powered by ADP uses wizards throughout the application, including the Company Setup Wizard for creating your company, and the New Hire Wizard, which makes it easy to add new employees or contractors.

What Paychex Flex offers

An implementation specialist handles all setup in Paychex Flex, which is usually completed within 48 hours. The implementation specialist will also assist with your first few payroll runs to ensure that everything is working properly.

Once this process is complete, you can begin to process payroll, submitting information online, or by calling or emailing employee hours to Paychex Flex.

Paychex Flex offers an easily navigated dashboard display, where you can access application features from the vertical menu to the left of the screen. The dashboard display is completely customizable, so you can display only the information that you wish.

ADP vs Paychex showing Paychex Flex sample dashboard with cards for analytics and reports, feedback, current payroll, last payroll, and people

Paychex Flex’s customizable dashboard offers detailed payroll information.

The online payroll entry screen is designed in a grid for easy data entry, where you can add pay details, enter bonus pay, as well as vacation and sick time.

Payroll information can be reviewed and edited before processing, with a variety of payroll reports available, such as a payroll register or tax liability report, which can be set up to print automatically after each payroll.


Winner: RUN Powered by ADP

It’s great that Paychex Flex offers product setup, but when it comes to overall ease of use, RUN Powered by ADP wins this one by a nose.

Though both offer user-friendly navigation and easy access to all payroll features, RUN Powered by ADP offers a simpler interface that is less intimidating to new users.


RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Pricing

Both RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex are less than open about their pricing, using per feature pricing rather than an all-in-one price.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers four plans that are designed for businesses with 49 employees or less. Plans available include:

  • Essentials: a basic payroll package good for startups and very small businesses
  • Enhanced: includes basic payroll with a few added features
  • Complete: includes payroll and additional HR
  • HR Pro: offers payroll processing and enhanced HR support
ADP vs Paychex showing RUN Powered by ADP pricing chart

ADP offers a variety of plans you can choose from.

A typical monthly subscription for 10 employees will run about $150 to $180 per month. However, since you can add additional features to any core plan, the pricing can fluctuate tremendously.

ADP also runs numerous specials and typically offers introductory pricing to new businesses, so in order to get a more accurate quote, it’s best to speak with a company representative. Be warned that it’s very difficult to get a price quote from them prior to signing up for their service.

What Paychex Flex offers

Like RUN Powered by ADP, Paychex Flex is reluctant to publicly share pricing for their payroll services, so if you’re interested, you’ll have to contact the company directly to obtain a quote.

Pricing has been estimated at around $3,000 annually, though you’ll have to pay extra for things like a setup fee, as well as year-end form processing such as W-2s and 1099s.

Paychex Flex currently offers four payroll plans, which include the following:

  • Express Payroll: designed for very small businesses and startups
  • Paychex Flex Select: the most popular plan for small businesses
  • Paychex Flex Pro: ideal for growing businesses
  • Paychex Flex Enterprise: best for larger businesses with more complex needs
ADP vs Paychex showing Paychex Flex pricing chart

Paychex Flex is scalable, with four plans available.

You’ll also have to pay for any extra pay runs you may perform, such as a year-end bonus run. You’ll also pay more if you add time & attendance, HR, or benefit administration features.


Winner: Tie

This one is a tie. Both RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex offer similar pricing structures, with each application offering four plans, and numerous add-on options.


RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Integration with other software

Integration may not be terribly important today, but circumstances do change.

Check out exactly what your integration options are with RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex to make a more informed decision on what product will be best for your business, now and in the future.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers integration with hundreds of popular third-party applications including QuickBooks, Accounting by Wave, Xero, and enterprise applications such as SAP and Oracle.

Integration with numerous timekeeping applications such as TSheets, Dolce Software, Homebase, and ClockShark are also available.

It also integrates with HR related applications such as Jobvite, ZipRecruiter, Tempworks, and ClearCompany, along with numerous employee benefits and point-of-sale applications.

What Paychex Flex offers

Paychex Flex offers good integration with a variety of third-party applications including accounting software such as Xero, QuickBooks Online, and Sage Intacct, along with HR related applications such as Indeed, Tazworks, Crew, and HireRight.

For those that need to track time, Paychex Flex also integrates with Doce Software and OnShift. Paychex Flex also includes an API for those that wish to build a custom connection.


Winner: RUN Powered by ADP

RUN Powered by ADP wins this category easily, offering hundreds of integration options in numerous categories, along with an API.

Employee Self-Service

RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: Employee Self-Service

The addition of an employee self-service feature is a real timesaver for business owners.

Using the self-service feature, your employees can access current and prior period paystubs, check their vacation and sick time balance, and access year-end forms such as W-2s.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP allows all employees to access various payroll and HR documents using the Employee Access feature.

Your employees will be able to access pay stubs and year-end W-2s or 1099s, and they can also view and complete necessary documents such as W-4s or W-9s, for contract employees.

ADP vs Paychex showing ADP employee onboarding screen prompting user to upload paperwork

New Employee Onboarding lets employees fill out paperwork prior to their start day.

In addition, new employees can complete their portion of the required I-9 form, provide banking information for direct deposit, and read and sign any required documents, such as employee handbooks.

What Paychex Flex offers

Paychex Flex includes an employee self-service portal in both the Pro and Enterprise plans, though it can also be purchased as an add-on to a less expensive plan.

The online portal allows your employees to complete the employee onboarding process, filling out new hire documents such as a W-4, W-9, for contractors, and I-9 forms.

ADP vs Paychex showing Paychex Flex new hire screen with uploaded completed paperwork and documents.

The Employee Self-Service option lets your employees access and complete a variety of forms.

Direct deposit information can be added using the self-service portal, and your employees can easily access their pay stubs, change their withholding information, and check their vacation and sick time balance.

In addition, employees can access the Paychex Flex Learning Management System, which is an e-learning platform.


Winner: Tie

This category is a tie with perhaps a very slight edge to Paychex Flex for offering access to their e-learning system.

HR & Timekeeping

RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex: HR and Timekeeping

If you’re in the market for HR and/or time and attendance systems, both RUN Powered by ADP and Paychex Flex offer a variety of add-on options.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

ADP offers Time & Attendance, a timekeeping application designed for small businesses. The timekeeping system allows employees to sign in and out using a computer, mobile device, or time clock, and fully integrates with the payroll application.

If you’re in the market for HR resources, ADP offers a variety of options, including the HR Help Desk, a variety of HR forms and documents, and an Employee Handbook Wizard for easy handbook creation.

If you purchase the HR Pro plan, all HR features are included.

What Paychex Flex offers

Like RUN Powered by ADP, Paychex Flex offers a variety of add-on time & attendance systems, including online timekeeping, as well as standard and iris recognition time clock systems.

Paychex Flex also offers a variety of HR resources, including a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) that is designed to simplify new hire workflows, provide performance management tools, and track benefit profiles and enrollment data.

Both the time & attendance and HR systems are add-on options that will need to be purchased separately.


Winner: RUN Powered by ADP

RUN Powered by ADP wins this one, offering excellent HR functions within their payroll plan. While the cost of that plan is at a premium, it doesn’t require purchasing a complete HR system separately.

How They Compare: RUN Powered by ADP vs. Paychex Flex

RUN Powered by ADP Paychex Flex
Online access Yes Yes
Direct deposit Yes Yes
Free mobile app Yes
Prepares tax forms Yes Yes
Employee self-service Yes Yes

Which is best for you?

This was extremely close, with both applications offering advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, while both offer a mobile app, RUN Powered by ADP charges for their app, and while both offer a good list of features, RUN Powered by ADP offers easier system navigation than Paychex Flex.

In the end, RUN Powered by ADP slightly edges out Paychex Flex in this head-to-head competition, though these two products share more similarities than differences.

One of the main reasons RUN Powered by ADP scores slightly higher is that it’s better suited to new business owners unfamiliar with payroll systems, while Paychex Flex is better suited to those that know their way around payroll processing.