9 min read
Jul 11, 2017

No More Spreadsheets: Alternatives to Excel for Payroll to Pay Your Workers on Time

People don't work for a startup for the compensation package, but everybody needs to eat. Here are alternatives to Excel for payroll to pay workers on time

Karen McCandlessAnalyst

Most people don't work for a startup or small business for the outstanding compensation package, but everybody needs to eat and expects to be paid the correct amount on time. Excel may be able to do complex calculations, but do you really trust it for something as important as your payroll?

Speed, accuracy and complying with regulations - just more reasons to ditch the spreadsheet and invest in payroll software. Here we propose some leading alternatives to Excel for payroll that can give you all that, and more.

For the first section, we've selected apps where reviewers have mentioned their viability as Excel alternatives or noted that they've moved away spreadsheets. In the second selection, we've included payroll software that is well rated by GetApp reviewers. The apps are arranged alphabetically.

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Reviewers' alternatives to Excel for payroll

Below we've listed which alternatives to Excel for payroll GetApp users have moved to after ditching their spreadsheets.

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Excel isn't right for your payroll, and it certainly can't help you manage all your HR processes. That's where Namely, an all-in-one payroll, general HR, and benefits solution that can scale with any growing business, comes in.


Namely's key features for payroll include:

  • HR and payroll data sync

  • Automatic benefits deduction

  • Employee self-service portal

  • Time tracking integration

  • Payroll reporting

  • Compliance and ACA reporting.

User reviews

One GetApp reviewer choose Namely as an alternative to Excel for payroll due to its user interface and customizations.

"I used to dread doing payroll, because the system we were using was not user friendly and extremely time consuming and cumbersome. Now, with Namely, I can input information into the HRIS system, and it feeds right over into Payroll; so no more double entering! Namely does not look like a typical boring old spreadsheet. The system is easy to read, with nice use of color, and some areas even customizable w/ our own graphics and pictures. It's nice to work in software with some personality."

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Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll is a simple yet effective payroll solution for small businesses, which also offers add-ons for HR, time and attendance, and accounting. It's a viable alternative to Excel for payroll due to its ease of use and the speed at which you can get up and running on it


Patriot Payroll's key features include:

  • Employee portal

  • Free direct debit deposit

  • Ability to file state, federal, and local taxes

  • File W2s and W3s.

User reviews

GetApp user Jennifer Hay says: "We were still doing payroll on Excel spreadsheets and just needed an easier way to keep records. This is exactly what we needed! So glad for the Basic Payroll so that we can still file our own taxes…but the option is there for upgrade if we want Patriot to do them for us. Very reasonably priced services…very pleased!"

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Payroll Mate

Payroll Mate is an easy-to-use payroll solution that integrates with accounting software. The downside is that it is only available in five states in the US: Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, and California.


Payroll Mate's key features include:

  • Automatically calculates federal and state payroll taxes

  • Exports payroll data to accounting software such as QuickBooks and Quicken

  • Ability to set different pay frequencies, such as weekly or monthly

  • Create payroll reports.

  • Calculates Medicare and social security contributions

  • Ability to print key forms including 941, 940, 944, W-2 and W-3.

User reviews

One reviewer says: "It is a huge time savings to use Payroll Mate over the Excel-based system I used to use, and the margin for error is greatly reduced since I only have to enter the hours once and not worry about entering all the payroll information in several places for summarizing for taxes. Now when it comes time to pay or file the payroll taxes, it's all in the system."

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Ultimate Software's UltiPro solution provides both HR and payroll functionality from within the same app - so you can save money forking out for two different pieces of software. It's an Excel alternative for payroll that's aimed at businesses in the US and Canada.


Some of UltiPro's key payroll features include:

  • Retrieve time and attendance data for payroll processing automatically

  • Calculate and track retroactive pay

  • Create direct deposit files, paychecks, and direct deposit advices for American and Canadian banks

  • Issue off-cycle pay checks

  • Void payments instantly.

User reviews

Jeff Hyde, search engine advisor at Google, says: "I have used a number of products to manage employee payroll in the past. Earlier last year I used Google docs to manage payroll and was managing it in various google spreadsheet tab. It was a pain to work manually on different employee data. After I started using UltiPro, things become easier and automated. It has helped in a number of ways."

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Top rated payroll software

To help you make a decision, we've also included apps that are among the top rated apps by GetApp users. We only include apps with more than 100 reviews.

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APS Online

Rated 4.5 out of 5 from almost 200 reviews, APS Online combines payroll with HR and workforce management functionality. It's a top pick for one of GetApp's alternatives to Excel for payroll due to its ability to ensure that payroll records are compliant and to be customized for different incomes, deductions, accrual plans, and departments.


Some of APS Online's key payroll features include:

  • Real-time reporting

  • Self-service employee portal

  • Year-end processing

  • Direct deposit and pay cards

  • Paycheck reconciliation

  • Tax rate overrides for supplemental pay.

User reviews

GetApp reviewer Ben Patterson says: "We have worked with several different payroll companies in the past and were always looking for something that was less complicated. APS works great. The site and layout is simple to use and easy to navigate. Being able to direct import our payroll information and review it makes completing payroll simple and less time consuming. We still have all of the other information and reports provided from other companies, but without the headache."

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Gusto provides payroll, HR, benefits, and tax processing features. It has a rating of 4.75 out of 5 from almost 150 reviews, with its pricing and mobile apps being particularly popular with reviewers.


Some of Gusto's key features include:

  • Automatic filing of state and federal taxes

  • Employee self-onboarding

  • Integrates with accounting software

  • Off-cycle payroll

  • Multiple pay schedules

  • Payroll for permanent employees, as well as contractors

  • Vacation, leave, and illness tracking

User reviews

GetApp reviewer Maire Hina Bavarday, owner at Relay Shop USA, describes Gusto as the best payroll app ever.

She says that Gusto is: "A very complete platform for payroll, the best function is the self on boarding when hiring a new person. All you need is their name and email address and Gusto does the rest! They also make sure your business is HR compliant."

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Which alternatives to Excel for payroll would you recommend?

Let us know which alternatives to Excel for payroll you would recommend in the comments below or by emailing me on karen@getapp.com.

If you'd like more information or are ready to make a purchase, we have some resources that can help:

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