Workday vs UKG vs Ceridian vs ADP

Mid-enterprise HRIS comparison: Workday excels in scalability, UKG in support, Ceridian for core HR. OutSail simplifies HRIS selection

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
July 4, 2023
logos of 4 HRIS vendors

If you work in HR at a Mid-Enterprise company (350-5,000 employees), you may have received sales outreach from various HRIS providers.

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

To save you the time of researching, demoing, and being sold to, we wanted to quickly compare four of the most prominent platforms in the Mid-Enterprise Segment: Workday, UKG Pro, Ceridian Dayforce, and ADP Workforce Now.

selected workday, hcm system, human capital management,


  • Founded in 2005
  • Headquarters in Pleasanton, CA
business, users, review, feedback, integration, access,


  • Founded in 1990
  • Headquarters in Lowell, MA

Ceridian Dayforce

  • Founded in 1992
  • Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN
adp vantage, cloud hcm suites, payroll processing, valuable time

ADP Workforce Now

  • Founded in 1949
  • Headquarters in Roseland, NJ

Best Front-End Interface

Workday and UKG Pro. Workday came to market in 2005 as the first cloud-native HRIS system. While many of their peers were migrating their systems 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 Pro 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 Dayforce and Workday. Ceridian Dayforce 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 onto their system. This unified database leads to better security, more admin efficiency, and greater accuracy with data calculations.

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Best for Global Companies

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

Best for Core HR

Ceridian Dayforce and ADP. When it comes to Core Human resource management (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. Dayforce's single database architecture is a massive advantage in this area. ADP also deserves mention for its unmatched payroll experience and robust tax filing support.

Get the Full Picture: Want more details on these HRIS options? Dive deeper into features, pricing, and user reviews in our comprehensive HRIS Marketplace.

Most Responsive Support

UKG Pro. UKG's "Partners for Life" philosophy leads to long-term customer relationships. UKG has consistently rated a top workplace, leading to very tenured customer support reps with deep knowledge of the product and UKG's capabilities.

Most Scalable

Workday. While all four of these companies have clients in the Fortune 500, Workday has far and away the most significant 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 needs. With the other vendors, some configuration is possible, but other parts of the system are set-in-stone.

Easiest to Implement

ADP and UKG ProSmooth implementations often 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 have the fastest go-live times on this list and provides several best practices through the implementation process

Most Cost-Effective

ADP and Ceridian Dayforce. From a cost standpoint, ADP, Ceridian Dayforce, and UKG Pro all fall into a similar band. Workday used to be the most expensive option, but is streamlining costs as they target the mid-market. ADP can discount the most with their customers and bundle outsourced payroll and benefits services in their offering. Ceridian Dayforce 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

Q: What are the key differences between Workday, UKG Pro, Ceridian Dayforce, and ADP Workforce Now?

A: Workday, UKG Pro, Ceridian Dayforce, and ADP Workforce Now are prominent HRIS platforms, each with its own strengths. Workday excels in scalability and front-end interface design, UKG Pro is known for its responsive support and user-friendly interface, Ceridian Dayforce offers strong back-end capabilities and integration, and ADP Workforce Now is recognized for its robust payroll processing and ease of implementation.

Q: Which HRIS platform has the best front-end interface?

A: Workday and UKG Pro are recognized for having the best front-end interfaces. Workday, being a cloud-native HRIS system, offers a responsive and mobile-friendly platform, while UKG Pro consistently enhances its user interface with front-end refreshes and mobile app improvements.

Q: Which HRIS platform offers the best back-end capabilities?

A: Ceridian Dayforce and Workday are known for their strong back-end capabilities. Both platforms operate on unified systems at the database level, resulting in better security, administrative efficiency, and data accuracy.

Q: Which HRIS platform is best for global companies?

A: ADP, Ceridian Dayforce, and Workday are considered the best options for global companies. While Workday has a high percentage of international customers, ADP offers global payroll capabilities through its acquisition of Celergo, and Ceridian Dayforce provides an integrated global payroll solution with offices worldwide.

Q: Which HRIS platform is most scalable?

A: Workday is considered the most scalable HRIS platform, particularly suitable for large enterprises and Fortune 500 companies. Its customizable nature allows for extensive reconfiguration to meet the unique needs of clients.

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Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.

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