Dave Ryan Reviews ADP, The Behemoth

This is the second review/overview of some of the major Payroll/HR software providers in the marketplace.  Today I want to talk about ADP (Automatic Data Processing). They are the behemoth out there. The Company is publicly traded and is often quoted when talking about job data on a national level.  Based upon my own research, it also seems that anyone who works in the Payroll/HR/HRIS space has worked for ADP at some point. To summarize they are the GIANT in the space.

I have worked with ADP for a number of years, off and on.  Just like most of the major players in the HRIS space ADP does a good job. ADP can also be a low-cost provider, if that is what you are looking to find. If you strip down the services and reporting ADP can hit some very low price points. I would suggest that if this is of importance to your Company you should look to try to close a deal with them a the end of a quarter. My experience is that they are always “a little more hungry” at these times.  Understand though if you buy on price from ADP, pretty much anything else that you would like to add, anywhere down the road is going to come with additional fees.

Additional fees, is where ADP has a history of generating a lot of revenue. With more competition in the HRIS space they have become a little more flexible, but if you speak to people who do business with them you will learn that they are very creative in adding charges to the customers billing.  This may go unnoticed too, because for the most part once a business inks a deal to go with a provider, they feel like then need to give it a fair amount of time to see if it will work.  However, in the meantime, you get added on $0.50 a week per employee this charge or that charge. It may seem inconsequential at the time but as this continues to happen it can become quite a bit of money.  So, pay attention to this tactic.

Another tactic that ADP uses is, what I call, the connect everything tactic.  As they are eager and helpful to integrate all of your applications, (for a fee of course) they are making you more and more dependent upon their service.  And as you become more and more dependent upon their service, it becomes harder and harder for you to change providers. That is where they want your organization to be. Most of the sales folks who work in this area will tell you it is no big deal to change payroll providers, I would beg to differ. Unless you are working somewhere that had 11 salaried only employees that are on a semi-monthly payroll and get no paid time off, the process is quite cumbersome.

In conversations, I have had with other about ADP’s customer support, I would characterize it as “ok”.  No one I talked to about this told me how great it was.  I heard comments like it’s not too bad, they are ok if you get the “right” person and so on.  I would characterize their support adequate.  If given an opportunity I would request a sole representative for your company. This is always a good ask.

I don’t want this piece to be a dig on ADP, because they are good at what they do. The HR joke is that ADP invented payroll and today they have more money than God. With the market the way it is today, everyone has to be at least good, or you won’t be around too long.  I don’t see ADP leading the way in innovation and creativity in the space.

I looked at their product seriously earlier in the year and there was just something about it that had the look and feel of an old outdated mainframe (green screen) application.  It is not that way, and perhaps this is just me showing my age.

ADP can be a good provider if you get the right team on your account. My advice is to watch out for those add-on charges.  They will get you every time.