HR Software

Workday vs UKG vs Ceridian vs ADP

February 15, 2021
Brett Ungashick

With so many HRIS vendors in the market, it can be challenging to know which solution is right for your business. For companies with more than 300 employees, many HRIS systems are too basic and they need to evaluate up-market solutions such as Workday, UKG, Ceridian and ADP. Learn more about how these solutions compare

If you work in HR at a Mid-Enterprise company (350-5,000 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.

Learn More: Request a Free Vendor Report Comparing Workday, ADP, UKG and more including pricing, pros/cons and user reviews

To save you the time of researching, demoing and being sold to, we wanted to provide a quick comparison of four of the most prominent platforms in the Mid-Enterprise Segment: Workday, UKG, Ceridian and ADP.

Note: In this article, UKG refers to UKG Pro, formerly called UltiPro


  • Founded in 2005
  • Headquarters in Pleasanton, CA
  • ~15,000 employees


  • Founded in 1990
  • Headquarters in Weston, FL
  • ~9,000 employees


  • Founded in 1992
  • Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN
  • ~6,300 employees


  • Founded in 1949
  • Headquarters in Roseland, NJ
  • ~64,000 employees

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

Best Front-End Interface

Workday and UKG. Workday came to market in 2005 as the first cloud-native HRIS system. While many of their peers were migrating their system from on-premise mainframes to the cloud, Workday was building in the cloud from the get-go, allowing them to design a more responsive and mobile-friendly platform from the ground up. While UKG was a system that migrated to the cloud, they have consistently done front-end user interface refreshes and enhancements to their mobile app, leading to a user friendly experience.

Best Back-End Capabilities

Ceridian and Workday. Ceridian and Workday are both unified systems at the database level. Neither company has relied on 3rd parties to build out their system, and when they do make acquisitions, they rebuild those software platforms from the ground up, so they aren't just bolted on to their system. This unified database leads to better security, more admin efficiency and greater accuracy with data calculations.

Best for Global Companies

ADP, Ceridian and Workday. Workday has the highest percentage of international companies in their customer base and is designed to support large, multinational organizations. However, Workday's global payroll capabilities lag behind their peers. ADP has the highest total number of global companies in their customer base and owns Celergo, a leading global payroll provider. Ceridian offers the most integrated global payroll solution and has offices across the globe.

Blog: How to Negotiate an HRIS Agreement

Best for Core HR

Ceridian and ADP. When it comes to Core HR (payroll / time / benefits), the best software is the one that can automate data transfer, create continuous, real-time calculations and avert errors before they happen. Ceridian's single database architecture is a huge advantage in this area. ADP also deserves mentioned for their unmatched experience in payroll and their robust tax filing support.

Most Responsive Support

UKG. UKG has a "Partners for Life" philosophy that leads to long-term customer relationships. UKG is consistently rated a top workplace which leads to very tenured customer support reps who have deep knowledge of the product and of UKG's capabilities.

Most Scalable

Workday. While all four of these companies have clients in the Fortune 500, Workday has far and away the largest percentage of the Fortune 500. What differentiates Workday from the other groups on this list is how customizable the system is. Nearly every part of Workday's system can be reconfigured to meet a client's need. With the other vendors, some configuration is possible, but other parts of the system are set-in-stone.

Easiest to Implement

ADP and UKG. Smooth implementations oftentimes go hand-in-hand with quality support and UKG's large investment in customer support has paid dividends in the speed and effectiveness of their implementations. ADP can also has the fastest go-live times on this list and provides a number of best practices through the implementation process

Blog: How Long Does It Take to Implement a New HRIS

Most Cost-Effective

ADP and Ceridian. From a cost standpoint, ADP, Ceridian and UKG all tend to fall into a similar band, while Workday is often 2-3x as expensive as the others. ADP is capable of discounting the most with their customers and can also bundle outsourced payroll and benefits services in their offering. Ceridian tends to have the lowest software fees, but charges more for implementation. While UKG ends up being on the higher end of these three solutions

Request a Pricing Comparison of Workday, UKG, Ceridian and ADP

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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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