HR Software

Rippling vs ADP vs Paylocity - The Best Payroll Systems for Growing, Mid-Market Companies

February 15, 2021
Brett Ungashick

If you're a growing, mid-market company looking for a new HRIS & payroll system, chances are that you've come across Rippling, ADP and Paylocity in your research. We're here to help you make sense of their pros and cons:

If you work in HR at a mid-market company (50-500 employees), chances are you have received sales outreach from a variety of different HRIS providers.

With everything else going on in your day, you oftentimes don't have the chance to really learn about what each of these solutions can offer, and how they differ.

Adding to that confusion is that there are many new providers in the industry that might not have been around when you last did your research.

To save you the time of researching, demoing and being sold to, we wanted to provide a quick comparison of three prominent platforms for modern mid-market companies: Rippling, ADP and Paylocity


  • Founded in 2016
  • Headquarters in San Francisco, CA
  • ~1,600 employees
  • Ownership: Private / VC-backed ($250M round in May of 2022)


  • Founded in 1949
  • Headquarters in Roseland, NJ
  • ~810,000 customers
  • ~58,000 employees


  • Founded in 1997
  • Headquarters in Schaumburg, IL
  • ~20,000 customers
  • ~3,100 employees
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Best Front-End Interface

Rippling. Rippling is the youngest company in this group and their user interface utilizes modern design aesthetics to deliver a simple and elegant user experience for end users. Part of Rippling's simplicity comes from the fact that the platform doesn't have as many modules and features as peers. Given the amount of functionality in ADP Workforce Now, their front-end user interface has remained remarkably modern too.

Blog: The Most User Friendly HRIS Systems [with screenshots]

Best for Global Companies

ADP. ADP has the most multi-national companies in their roster of clients and has offices around the globe. ADP also acquired a global payroll company called Celergo a few years ago, allowing them to provide global payroll services to their customers (albeit in a separate system). Paylocity has followed suit by acquiring another global payroll vendor (Blue Marble), but Paylocity is still relatively new to the global HR space. Rippling has focused primarily on domestic companies historically, but is rolling out a natively built global payroll solution for 2023.

Blog: The Top 8 Global Payroll Platforms in 2022

Best for Integrations

Rippling. More and more companies are opting for a best-in-class approach to their HR systems. Their recruitment team wants the best ATS and their people operations team wants leading engagement & performance management tools. The key to making this best-in-class approach work is having a core system-of-record that is able to bring all of your 3rd party data together. Rippling is leading the way in terms of how many integration partners they have, and the way that they can allow users to create automated actions based on 3rd party data. ADP has a robust partner marketplace and Paylocity has done a good job of modernizing their APIs lately.

Blog: The Software Buyer's Guide to Integrations

Most Cost-Effective

Paylocity. Paylocity has traditionally been a very cost-effective solution for mid-market companies, typically charging between $18-24 PEPM for their full suite of functionality. Lately, their prices have started to rise and have gotten closer to ADP's ($20-27 PEPM), but Paylocity still gets the nod due to having a simpler, more predictive billing model. Rippling's costs have climbed significantly and they are now a premium-priced provider ($24-32 PEPM)

Blog: How Long Does it Take To Buy and Implement an HRIS

Best for Scalability

ADP. As companies grow and become more complex, they need their HRIS system to be dynamic enough to support their increasing requirements. ADP has significantly more experience up-market than Paylocity and Rippling, and is very accustomed to managing the nuances of multi-FEIN organizations and complex workforce management requirements. Paylocity's average customer size is still between 50-200 employees and Rippling's average customer size is still 25-150 employees, although those are climbing for both groups.

Best Back-End Capabilities

Rippling. While Rippling is primarily an HRIS & payroll tool, in some ways, it is also a single sign-on tool. Many HR tools can digitize the onboarding paper work process, but Rippling can go a step further by automatically ordering computers and creating accounts for employees in their various workplace apps. This capability is unique to Rippling and can create more harmonious operations for IT, finance and HR. Rippling also offers built in capabilities for creating automated workflows. Paylocity acquired a company in 2021 with the hope of adding these capabilities and ADP's Next Gen platform is supposed to offer these features too.

Shopping for an HRIS? Work with an HRIS advisor to streamline your shortlisting, evaluations and selection - for free!

Best for Complex Workforces

ADP. Complex workforces often have very detailed requirements when it comes to scheduling, workforce management, job costing and tax management. These are all areas that ADP excels at. Managing these complexities isn't flashy, but it's a necessary requirement for supporting companies with large blue collar workforces. Rippling tends to work better for more straightforward, white collar-dominated organizations and Paylocity still has some limitations in their time & attendance tool

Brightest Future

Rippling. Rippling achieved unicorn status in 2020 when it raised a new round of funding that valued the company worth over $1B. They raised another round in 2022 that re-valued the company at $7B. Rippling's headcount and customer base is growing rapidly and their product continues to roll out new enhancements. In 2023, they are expected to roll out performance management, comp management and global payroll.

Best Customer Support

Paylocity. Custom support, unfortunately, is not a strength for most mid-market HRIS providers. Rippling achieves high scores on some software review websites, but they have very few call centers which have created issues for customers with urgent needs. ADP's reputation as a customer support organization is well known in the industry and not for great reasons. Paylocity tends to be the most effective in this space for response times, resolutions and willingness to handle messy issue. However, even they have struggled with turnover during the Great Resignation.

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Brett Ungashick
Brett is the founder of OutSail. He spent the early part of his career selling HR software before switching sides and going to work for the people buying the software.

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