October 29, 2019

5 BambooHR Alternatives to Test Drive Before You Buy

Written by
Tags: HR

This article has been updated to include the latest information on product features and pricing.

BambooHR is one of the best systems on the market for SMBs that want to ditch spreadsheets and start automating administrative tasks in a centralized database.

Translation: fewer HR tasks, more meaningful work.

Serving tens of thousands of employees in 70 countries worldwide, BambooHR is known for its custom pricing model, simple and intuitive interface, and fervent dedication to their customers.

However, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for your business.

What is BambooHR?

As good as BambooHR is, it’s not for everyone. In fact, there are several reasons this system may not be the right choice for you.

Maybe you need a system that includes an LMS or full-service payroll. Or you may have a really, really small budget. Maybe you even love BambooHR, but your company has outgrown the system’s small business niche.

Read on to learn about the HR software vendors that should be on your shortlist next to BambooHR, or use our Product Selection Tool to request a free, personalized shortlist from us. We’ll recommend five software vendors based on your specific needs so you don’t have to spend hours on research. Click the banner below to get started.


Which HR software
is right for your business?



Screenshot of the payroll feature in Zenefits

TechnologyAdvice rating: 4.5/5

Zenefits is a cloud-based human resources information system (HRIS) that includes benefits administration, time and attendance management, stock options, and more. The easy setup make it a great choice for small companies that lack an in-house HR department. However, the system also scales to businesses of all sizes in any industry.

This is a perfect HR system for small businesses due to its flexible pricing model. Select one of three base plans, then choose from one of three add-ons: payroll, advisory services, and benefits admin using a third-party broker. Every base plan and add-on is priced per employee, per month.

You may have heard that Zenefits is free, but that’s no longer the case. Following a series of scandals, the company stopped offering its software for free in September 2017.

Even if you don’t include add-ons, the base plans offer everything you’d need for a solid HRIS. Even at the lowest-priced tier, this includes the following features:

  • Hiring and onboarding
  • Employee system of record
  • Company directory and org chart
  • Document management
  • Reporting
  • Schedule reporting
  • PTO requests
  • Employee self-service portal
  • Compliance alerts and triggers

Easy self-service lets employees access pay stubs, change or view benefits information, and request time-off. Onboarding is also quick and easy: HR simply fills out five fields for new hires, then employees can complete and sign onboarding documents electronically.

Drawbacks: Zenefits offers a solid product and a strong relationship with the insurance broker OneDigital, but a lackluster user interface (UI) and poor customer support negatively impact some users’ experiences. Long wait times for support are the biggest complaint here. However, users report a positive experience once they’re able to contact a rep.


Cezanne HR SMB HR

TechnologyAdvice rating: 4.5/5

Cezanne is global HR software that allows companies to manage their human resources via cloud deployment. Geared toward growing and mid-sized enterprises, Cezanne goes beyond people and absence/PTO management by offering performance management, online recruitment, time tracking, and payroll integration.

Also read: Recruiting Software Comparison: The Best Solutions For Enterprise, Medium, And Small Business

One of their features worth looking at a bit closer is the HR portal and social workspaces. Think of it as a work-related Facebook news feed. You can create spaces for HR activity, as well as spaces where departments can collaborate, post news, start discussions, and gather ideas and feedback. You can also use these team communities as a virtual filing cabinet to store, organize, and share important documents and images.

Cezanne’s core module starts at just $2 per employee per month and includes:

  • Employee self service
  • HR & employee portal
  • Training & development
  • Disciplinary & grievance
  • Health & safety
  • Document management
  • Org charts & dashboards
  • Query & reporting
  • Global capabilities
  • Mobile apps

Drawbacks: Cezanne does not provide full-service payroll, but you can either use their partner USA Payroll for your needs, or stay with your current payroll provider. Cezanne only offers Absences, Performance, Time, and Recruitment as optional modules, which are each an additional $2 per employee per month. However, this does mean you only pay for systems you’ll actually use, and only rounds up to a $10 per employee per month price tag.


TechnologyAdvice rating: 4/5

Namely is a cloud-based platform for growing companies. They offer a modern employee database with employee profiles, time and attendance tracking, a company calendar, reporting, and a social news feed. In addition to intuitive core HR and benefits administration, Namely also provides talent management, onboarding, and performance reviews.

The cherry on top? Full-service payroll.

You can process your payroll, run reports, and have your tax withholdings, year end tax reporting, and ongoing compliance taken care of all in one system. Pile document storage, task management, and an open API onto the meager price tag and you’ve got a powerful HR system for any sized company.

Drawbacks: Namely is a simple, intuitive platform, but the performance reviews can be tricky to navigate. While the news feed is a helpful way to keep up with the entire company’s activity, it would be nice to have a space for team- or department-related content. Lastly, like many vendors geared toward the midmarket, Namely lacks an LMS. However, they do have an open API to integrate with your learning management experts such as Saba or Cornerstone OnDemand.

Zoho People

Screenshot of the employee directory in Zoho People.

TechnologyAdvice rating: 4.5/5

Zoho People is the HRIS offering from Indian software giant Zoho. And while Zoho may be best known for its CRM, Zoho People doesn’t pull any punches either. This system lets you store employee information in one place, track attendance, gather 360 degree feedback, and onboard new employees.

This is an affordable, all-in-one HR software solution, and users love it for its clean and intuitive interface. Solutions like this that are tailored to small and medium sized businesses are hard to come by, but Zoho People also lives up to the high expectations of large and enterprise sized businesses, with advanced automation and analytics features.

I won’t list every single feature of Zoho People, but here are some of the most important ones to look for:

  • Employee database
  • Onboarding
  • Attendance tracker
  • PTO requests
  • Timesheets
  • Shift scheduling
  • Performance evaluations
  • Employee self-service portal
  • Document management

Zoho People also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. This app is surprisingly fully-featured, letting employees clock in and out, submit time off requests, manage travel, and more.

Drawbacks: Common complaints about Zoho People are common to many other Zoho products. While the product is comprehensive, it’s not necessarily easy to set up. In this way, allowing for a high degree of customization is both a blessing and a curse. Zoho’s customer support also has room to improve, with slow response times being a common thread among many user reviews.


TechnologyAdvice rating: 4.5/5

Workday was developed as a next-generation enterprise-grade technology. The company provides global, horizontal HR and ERP solutions to help enterprises standardize processes and increase organizational efficiency.

Historically, global enterprises required large suites of on-premise applications in order to manage complex and dynamic operating environments. Workday was designed from the ground up as a SaaS alternative to these systems, eliminating the up-front investment and annual maintenance fees inherent in traditional software implementations.

Workday offers a robust product for the enterprise, including modules for:

  • Financial management
  • Human capital management
    • Benefits and administration
    • Payroll
    • Recruiting
    • Talent management
  • Service automation
  • Student solutions
  • Procurement
  • Insights/analytics

Companies that appreciate BambooHR’s modern user experience will be pleased with Workday’s clean interface. Workday is an innovative platform built for the modern workforce, and their technology aligns with current IT trends. Their beginning as an HCM platform provides human resources professionals with a system designed with the workforce and financials in mind, while their continuous updates and enterprise focus makes them a viable choice for a variety of companies.

Drawbacks: Workday started out as a highly innovative, cloud-based alternative to Oracle PeopleSoft, but over the years, its innovation has slowed a bit. Not only is the software less disruptive than it once was — it can literally be slow. This will depend heavily on the size of your organization, but users from companies of many different sizes have reported sluggish navigation in the system.

Also read: The Best Learning Management Systems of 2019

Making your final decision

These five platforms represent some of the strongest HR players on the market — but this is by no means a comprehensive list. There are hundreds of all-in-one or standalone technologies to meet your needs.

If you’re still struggling to choose, then just throw a dart and see which system it lands on.

Actually, don’t do that. Do this instead:

Use our Product Selection Tool to get free personalized recommendations, call one of our in-house advisors to discuss your specific needs, or download the guide below to learn how to vet software vendors.

Don’t go with what’s popular, the first system you find, or anything you haven’t taken for a test drive. Keep in mind that choosing the best HR software isn’t about labeling a vendor “bad” or “good.” It’s about defining your business requirements and workflow, then finding the right fit — for your needs, for your budget, and for your workforce.

Top Human Resources Software Recommendations

1 Rippling

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Rippling is the #1 Rated All-In-One HR Platform. You can onboard new hires in 90 seconds, and easily manage your company's payroll, benefits, HR, and IT -- all in one, modern system. It brings all of your employee systems and data together, and helps automate your busy work. Take onboarding, for example. With Rippling, you can click a button, and take care of a new hires' I-9, offer letter, payroll, health insurance, and more -- 100% online and paperless.

Learn more about Rippling

2 Paycor

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Processing routine HR tasks by hand and entering data in multiple systems can be time consuming and risky. That’s why leaders depend on Paycor for a modern, adaptable, and unified system for all things HR. From engaging employee self-service, mobile push notifications and company updates to unlimited workflows, reminders, and notifications, Paycor‘s HR software helps you get out of the weeds so you can focus on bigger priorities like attracting, retaining and developing employees.

Learn more about Paycor

3 PeopleGuru

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Designed for mid-market organizations (100+ employees). PeopleGuru develops and supports cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM) software to help mid-market organizations attract, retain, and recognize their people and streamline back-office HR and Payroll functions. PeopleGuru HCM is a cloud-based, agile solution residing on one database that includes: HR, Payroll, ACA, Benefits Management, Time & Labor, Recruiting, Onboarding, Performance, Learning, Analytics, Salary.

Learn more about PeopleGuru

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