Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Who’s the Winner?

Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP both offer full-service payroll solutions for small businesses. If you’re deciding between Gusto vs ADP, be sure to compare these two tools side by side.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto takes the stress out of payroll with its bright, intuitive design. Designed with small businesses in mind, Gusto is an excellent payroll software for anyone getting started. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 9/10
Support 9/10
Pricing 7/10
Features 10/10
out of 10
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
Updated March 23, 2020

If looking for payroll software for your small business is stressing you out, stress no more.

Instead, take a look at our side-by-side comparison of these two popular payroll applications, which provides you with the information you need to decide which one is best for your small business.


Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: An overview

Deciding on a payroll application isn’t easy. There are a lot of quality payroll software and service applications on the market today, all offering varying levels of features that your small business needs.

So today, instead of focusing on how to do payroll, we’re doing a comprehensive comparison of Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP.

Who is Gusto for?

Gusto is designed for small business owners, offering a robust set of features well suited for growing businesses as well. Gusto offers three payroll plans, making it easy for growing businesses to scale up to the next plan if desired.

In addition, Gusto offers good restaurant payroll features and includes payroll for accountants. Gusto does not support a mobile app, but you can access the payroll application from your mobile device using a web browser.

Who is RUN Powered by ADP for?

ADP offers easy payroll processing that can be done from a desktop, laptop, or smartphone, though a mobile app has to be purchased separately.

Designed for small businesses with between 1 and 49 employees, RUN Powered by ADP offers easy system navigation and a variety of wizards to help with everything from initial product setup to adding new employees.

RUN Powered by ADP is also a good payroll application for restaurants and includes payroll for accountants.


Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Features

Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP both offer numerous features designed to make payroll preparation and processing easier for small businesses.

What Gusto offers

Gusto offers a long list of features for small business owners, with the features available dependent upon the plan purchased. Some of these features include:

  • New hire reporting: Gusto will report all new hires to the government for you.
  • Flexible payroll schedules: Great for businesses that have unusual pay schedules as well as those that have weekly and biweekly pay schedules.
  • Unlimited pay runs: This is important if you pay commissions and bonuses on a regular basis.
  • Multistate payroll: Employees in two states or more? Gusto can handle them at no extra cost.
  • Direct deposit: Nearly everyone wants to be paid by direct deposit. Be sure you offer your employees that option.
Gusto vs ADP showing Gusto screen to run payroll including information about employees, gross pay, taxes, benefits, etc.

Gusto lets you preview payroll before processing to make any necessary corrections. Source: Gusto.

While many of these features are standard in most payroll applications, Gusto offers several additional features that increase its value.

Employee onboarding: Once you assign a new employee their permissions, they can sign into Gusto and complete their onboarding process. This includes filling out their I-9, W-4, and all direct deposit details. The onboarding feature is only included in the Complete and Concierge plans, but it may be worth it to upgrade.

Processes all tax forms: Gusto takes care of all of your payroll taxes, including complete form preparation, tax filing, and remittance. In addition, Gusto will also process year-end tax forms including Form 940, which is filed annually under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). In addition, Gusto prepares employee W-2s and contractor 1099s at year end.

AutoPilot® payroll: If your business runs the same payroll each pay cycle, why spend time entering employee pay information when you can use AutoPilot?

Gusto settings page with options to turn on auto payroll

Users can easily enable the AutoPilot feature in Gusto for automatic payroll runs.

Just create your normal payroll, enable AutoPilot in your Settings, and payroll will run at the designated time.

Digital pay stubs: All employees will have anytime access to their pay stubs, both current and historic, which they can view or download at any time. They will also be able to download year-end W-2s.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

Like Gusto, RUN Powered by ADP offers a wide variety of features, many of them only available in more expensive plans. Some of the features found in all RUN Powered by ADP plans include the following:

  • Full-service payroll: Full-service payroll is available in all RUN plans, including the option to use your computer, a mobile device, or a telephone to report hours worked.
  • Direct deposit: Most of your employees will likely want to be paid by direct deposit, and RUN Powered by ADP makes that happen with direct-deposit capability included at no additional cost.
  • New hire reporting: RUN Powered by ADP takes care of both state and federal new hire reporting requirements to keep your business in compliance.
  • Payroll delivery: Yes, ADP still delivers your paychecks to your office, though check signing and stuffing is not included with delivery but can be purchased separately.

You can also preview payroll prior to running it, with the preview including the entire Payroll Cash Required amount, to ensure that payroll is funded properly.

RUN Powered by ADP will also process year-end forms for both employees (W-2) and contractors (1099) at an additional cost.

Gusto vs ADP showing RUN Powered by ADP payroll summary showing total amount, paid employees, and taxes.

RUN Powered by ADP offers a payroll preview summary that displays total cash requirements. Source: RUN Powered by ADP.

RUN Powered by ADP offers a few more features, too.

Prior payroll amounts wizard: If you’re migrating to RUN Powered by ADP from another payroll software application, this feature can save you a lot of time by providing you with assistance in entering payroll totals to ensure accuracy for both tax reporting and year-end documents.

New employee onboarding: Another feature that will save you a significant amount of time, the employee onboarding feature lets your employees complete their new-hire forms — such as I-9, W-4, and direct deposit details — online.

Pay employees and contractors: RUN Powered by ADP lets you process payroll for your employees and contractors from one central interface.

Comprehensive HR features: Though only available in RUN Powered by ADP’s two most highly priced plans, the HR features provide terrific resources for small businesses without an HR person on staff.


Winner: Gusto

Gusto wins. While many of the same features are found in both Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP, certain ones, such as W-2/1099 processing and unlimited payrolls, are available in Gusto at no extra charge, while RUN Powered by ADP charges for both.


Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Support

It’s important not to underestimate the importance of good product support.

This can be particularly true if using payroll software for the first time. Both Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP offer good product support options.

What Gusto offers

Gusto offers good support options, with telephone, email, and chat support available during regular business hours.

In addition to the support options, Gusto’s Help Center offers numerous payroll and HR-related instructional articles. Gusto also includes a searchable knowledge base as well as a FAQ page.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers separate support options for employees and administrators, with a FAQ page available to administrators. A 24-hour toll-free support line is also available, as is online help and support, both which can be accessed directly from the application.

Payroll-related articles and calculators are available on RUN Powered by ADP’s website, but they are not specifically related to the application.


Winner: RUN Powered ADP

RUN Powered by ADP wins this by a nose by providing round-the-clock telephone support.

Ease of Use

Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Ease of use

Never underestimate how important it is that an application be easy to use.

Most small business owners have limited time to spend learning new software applications, so the easier an application is to use, the better for everyone.

What Gusto offers

Step-by-step instructions for a variety of features are included with Gusto, including complete instructions on initial product setup, with Gusto personnel available to help with the product setup process.

Gusto offers an intuitive user interface, with a dashboard display that contains useful details including reminders to complete outstanding tasks such as time-off approval or new employee onboarding.

A vertical menu bar to the left of the main screen provides easy access to all Gusto features, including quick access to the Gusto Help Center.

Mentioned earlier, Gusto offers the AutoPilot option for automatic payroll. But even if your payroll changes from period to period, Gusto makes it easy to run payroll by just entering the necessary data in the correct fields, entering vacation or sick hours, if any, and then reviewing and submitting the payroll run.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP includes an intuitive user interface featuring a series of icons that provide access to payroll and any add-on features.

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

RUN Powered by ADP includes an easily navigated user interface


Below the icons is a graph that displays information for your last payroll, including pay date and period date. To the right is a to-do list of outstanding tasks that still need to be completed as well as access to any system messages.

RUN Powered by ADP offers a variety of wizards designed to help new users navigate the application, including the Company Setup Wizard, which guides you through the company setup process, and the New Hire Wizard, which makes it easy to add new employees.


Winner: It’s a tie.

Though they offer different user experiences, both solutions make it easy to get up and running quickly, navigate through the applications, and access features and functions.


Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Pricing

Neither Gusto nor RUN Powered by ADP is inexpensive, but both applications offer solid payroll functionality along with HR and employee management features that are available in the more expensive plans.

What Gusto offers

Gusto pricing varies depending on the plan you choose. The core plan is surprisingly robust, containing all of the features a small business needs, but if you’re looking for employee onboarding or HR functions, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the more expensive plans.

Gusto payroll pricing chart

Gusto offers three plans for small businesses.

Gusto plans are as follows:

  • Core: Core offers full-service payroll, the employee self-service option, health benefits administration, and complete product support options. The Core plan is $39 per month, plus a $6 per person, per month fee.
  • Complete: Complete offers everything in Core along with an employee offer option, employee onboarding, time tracking, and an employee directory. The Complete plan runs $39 per month, plus a $12 per person, per month fee.
  • Concierge: If you’re looking for extensive HR capabilities, this is the plan for you. The Concierge plan offers everything that’s included in the Core and Complete plans, along with access to certified HR professionals and the HR Center. The Concierge plan is $149 per month, plus a $12 per person, per month fee.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP is designed for small businesses with between 1 and 49 employees, with all RUN plans designed for that demographic.

ADP pricing chart with four options

RUN Powered by ADP offers four payroll plans for small businesses.

ADP pricing varies, with four plans available for small businesses:

  • Essential: Designed for startups and very small businesses that just need payroll basics.
  • Enhanced: Offers the same features as the Essential plan with the addition of wage garnishment and State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) processing.
  • Complete: RUN’s Complete plan offers both payroll and HR Plus, which includes access to the HR Help Desk, HR forms and documents, and HR tracking.
  • HR Pro: Offers both payroll and HR, including access to numerous employee management tools and resources such as training, employee assistance programs, and the Enhanced HR Help Desk.

RUN Powered by ADP typically runs between $150 and $180 per month for 10 employees.

However, there is no set price for any of the plans, so you’ll need to speak to an ADP rep to obtain a quote for your business. You’ll also have to pay extra for any pay runs you do outside of your regular payroll processing, such as for commissions or bonuses.


Winner: Gusto.

While Gusto is certainly not the lowest-cost payroll application, it’s very transparent about its pricing, so you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay going in. ADP pricing is different from business to business, so you may experience some sticker shock when requesting a quote.


Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Integration with other software

Good integration with your accounting software can be beneficial, reducing data-entry mistakes while also saving you a lot of time.

Both Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP offer good integration capabilities.

What Gusto offers

Gusto integrates with numerous small business accounting applications including QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, and Xero while also integrating with timekeeping applications such as TSheets, When I Work, and Homebase.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP integrates with popular small business accounting applications such as QuickBooks, Wave, and Xero, along with time and attendance applications including TSheets, Homebase, and ClockShark.


Winner: It’s a tie.

Both Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP offer excellent integration capabilities, making this category too close to call.


Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP: Reporting options

Payroll reports are an important component to any payroll software or service. Both Gusto and RUN Powered by ADP offer solid reporting options.

What Gusto offers

Gusto offers a good selection of payroll and payroll-related reports, including a payroll journal, benefits report, employee summary report, and a contractor payment report.

Reports can be customized by year and grouped by work location, state, or employee. All reports can be exported to a CSV file for further customization or saved as a PDF.

What RUN Powered by ADP offers

RUN Powered by ADP offers good payroll, tax, and benefit reporting, with custom reporting options available as well. Report creation is a bit more complex than in Gusto, and all reports can be exported to Microsoft Excel for further customization if desired.


Winner: Gusto.

Gusto wins this category. Though reporting options are fairly equal in both applications, Gusto makes it easier to create and customize a report.

How They Compare: Gusto vs. RUN Powered by ADP

Gusto RUN Powered by ADP
Online access Yes Yes
Unlimited payroll Yes
All-inclusive pricing Yes
Prepares federal tax forms Yes Yes
Employee self-service Yes Yes
Mobile app available Yes

Gusto wins!

In our side-by-side comparison, Gusto edges out RUN Powered by ADP, but not by much.

Both of these applications, designed for small businesses, offer similar features and functionality, and both will get the job done.

Gusto is better suited for smaller businesses, while RUN Powered by ADP is suitable for businesses with up to 49 employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about other payroll software and services, be sure to check out our payroll software reviews.

Combine your small business payroll and HR needs with Gusto. Get started with a free one month trial today.
Use RUN Powered by ADP to easily run payroll for companies of 50 employees or less.