Jessica Dennis Avatar
Lauren Hansen Avatar

Written by
Jessica Dennis, Lead Writer
Lauren Hansen, Staff Writer

Kaiti Norton Avatar

Reviewed by
Kaiti Norton, Managing Editor
Read more HR content →

Written by
Jessica Dennis, Lead Writer
Lauren Hansen, Staff Writer

Reviewed by
Kaiti Norton, Managing Editor
Read more HR content →

What is human resources (HR) software?

Human resources (HR) software systems unify administration, recruitment, payroll, training, employee engagement, performance management, and other essential HR functions. This provides a secure database of employee data and a centralized view of the company. It also helps HR teams manage each stage of the employee life cycle effectively.

The right HR software solution can help optimize processes by automating manual tasks, organizing employee records, and building data-driven reports. Moreover, advanced HR software solutions enable better workforce planning, financial forecasting, and strategic decision-making.

We reviewed more than 30 top HR software solutions and narrowed it down to the best of the best:

  • ADP is the best HR software overall.
  • Rippling is the best HR software for global organizations.
  • SAP SuccessFactors is the best HR software for large enterprises.
  • Namely is the best HR software for midsize companies.
  • BambooHR is the best HR software for small businesses.
  • Bob is the best HR software for startups.

Nov. 14, 2023: Kaiti Norton clarified our recommendation analysis for Namely and SAP.

Nov. 8, 2023: Kaiti Norton updated Namely’s pricing information to reflect the company’s new pricing structure.

Nov. 6, 2023: Kaiti Norton updated Rippling’s section to clarify that the company supports businesses that are entirely based in the U.S. as well as international companies.

Oct. 25, 2023: Kaiti Norton added information about Bob’s pricing.

Oct. 16, 2023: Kaiti Norton added information about BambooHR’s pricing and made minor design tweaks to improve the page’s accessibility.

Sept. 26, 2023: We performed some technical maintenance to resolve user experience issues.

Sept. 19, 2023: We added information about Namely’s pricing. We also added a star rating to each of our editorial recommendations to offer more visual cues for comparison.

Sept. 7, 2023: We added information about SAP SuccessFactors’ pricing structure.

Aug. 28, 2023: We refined the pros and cons for each vendor.

Aug. 24, 2023: We reordered our list of top HR solutions from biggest to smallest. We also added a screenshot gallery for BambooHR and information about Rippling’s one-month free trial offer.

Aug. 17, 2023: We added a screenshot gallery for ADP.

Aug. 8, 2023: We added advice for getting executive buy-in for HR software.

Jun. 12, 2023: We refined the layout of the page and added dynamic design elements to improve the visual flow of information. We also added a screenshot gallery for Rippling and Bob.

Jun. 1, 2023: We reviewed our recommendations and revised each vendor’s pros and cons lists to preserve our editorial objectivity. We also simplified the page layout for easier navigation and implemented additional opportunities to connect directly with the software vendors we recommend.

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We picked our recommendations with you in mind.

First, we evaluated more than 30 of the leading HR solutions available on the market today. We used vendor demos, technical documentation, and user reviews from customers like you to compile our research.

We then narrowed our selections to the platforms that best addressed the most common concerns among startups, small businesses, midsize businesses, large enterprises, and global organizations. These factors include estimated total cost, breadth and depth of functionality, technical complexity, customer support, integration availability, and competitive advantages.

As the market changes, we reevaluate our choices so you always receive the best insight for your purchasing decision.

Our picks for the best HR software

ADP: Best overall HR software


  • Modular system.
  • 700+ integration partners.
  • Optional HR advisory services.
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • Employee self-service portal.
  • Global payroll support.


  • Benefits administration requires an upgrade.
  • Time and labor management is only available at the highest price point.
  • Limited reporting capabilities.
  • Slow customer support.

HRO and PEO services

Companies can leverage ADP’s HR services to help maintain compliance with appropriate labor laws, make strategic HR decisions, or outsource individual HR processes entirely.

For example, with human resources outsourcing (HRO), companies can choose which HR processes ADP handles on their behalf, such as payroll, benefits administration, or hiring and onboarding.

Alternatively, companies can reduce their overall employee liability through ADP’s professional employer organization (PEO) services, ensuring companies remain compliant with all labor laws while reducing their HR administrative tasks.

Even without ADP’s HRO and PEO services, ADP can provide project-based consulting for unique HR situations, software implementation or integration help, or change management.

Breadth of integrations

ADP clients have access to ADP’s Marketplace. Here, clients can find solutions to integrate with their core ADP product to consolidate their data among their entire HR tech stack.

With integrations available for performance management, time tracking, employee engagement, recruiting, learning management, and financial wellness, companies do not have to sacrifice the HR platforms they already use to start with ADP.



Workforce Now

Vantage HCM



Benefits administration

Time and labor

Applicant tracking

Learning management


Performance management

Employee engagement

Included in all tiers

Included in some tiers



  RUN Workforce Now Vantage HCM
Benefits administration +
Time and labor +
Applicant tracking +
Learning management +
Recruiting +
Performance management +
Employee engagement

✓ Included in all tiers

— Included in some tiers

+ Add-on

✗ Unavailable

ADP’s expanse of services and software solutions cater to a variety of businesses, including startups, SMBs, and enterprise companies — even those conducting international business. Its scalability and robust feature set put it at the top of our list for the best HR software overall.

ADP is the only vendor that made it on our lists of the best HRIS systems and top HCM software. Learn more about the range of solutions ADP offers and whether it suits your business’s needs.

Rippling: Best for global businesses


  • Single personnel data repository for all international teams.
  • Global reporting capabilities, including automatic currency conversion in reports.
  • Global finance and IT management tools.
  • International payroll support for contractors and employees, including an EOR option.


  • Might be too expensive for basic HR needs.
  • Limited compliance features for benefits administration.
  • Reporting tools have a steep learning curve.
  • Some features are unavailable on mobile.

Global payroll

Instead of outsourcing payroll processes to different local entities for completion, Rippling users can complete their international payroll entirely in the system, with currency conversions, taxes, and net pay calculated automatically.

As a result, companies can finalize their global payroll within five days, instead of the two to four weeks’ advance notice needed by competitors.

Dynamic employee onboarding

Rippling’s software automatically changes its appearance and the required information based on the employee’s country. For instance, Rippling will require employees in India to provide entirely different information than employees in the U.S. to reflect Indian currency and labor laws.

Furthermore, with the addition of country-specific compliance safeguards, such as minimum wage alerts, Rippling ensures companies are following the customary onboarding practices and procedures of each country.

Rippling pricing starts at $8 per month, per user for the base Unity platform, and new customers can sign up for a one-month free trial. The following modules and services can be added as needed for additional fees:

HR Cloud
  • US and global full-service payroll.
  • Time and attendance.
  • Benefits administration.
  • FSA, HSA, and commuter benefits.
  • ACA and COBRA administration.
  • Recruiting.
  • Learning management.
  • Pulse surveys.
  • HR help desk services.
  • PEO services.
  • Global EOR services.
  • Headcount planning.
IT Cloud
  • App provisioning and management.
  • Device provisioning and management.
  • Inventory management.
Finance Cloud
  • Corporate cards.
  • Expense management.

Although Rippling is capable of supporting teams that only operate in the United States, the software stands out for its robust global features in every core HR function.

Especially in terms of payroll, benefits administration, policy management, and reporting, Rippling allows companies to collect and process international employees’ information in one place without needing disparate HR systems to accommodate their global teams.

Naturally, Rippling also made our list of top global payroll solutions — dig into its international payroll capabilities and weigh its features against alternatives.

SAP SuccessFactors: Best for large enterprises


  • Global payroll in more than 100 countries.
  • Intelligent text-based employee sentiment analysis.
  • Guided action planning.
  • Comprehensive employee life cycle management.
  • More than 2,000 standardized HR metrics.


  • May be too expensive for small teams.
  • No free trial.
  • Complex user interface.
  • Relatively limited customization options.

Employee experience

The SAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management platform includes a range of products that help optimize the employee experience.

Customizable surveys are embedded directly in the platform, so employees don’t need to navigate to an email, form, or other systems to provide feedback. Based on survey results, managers receive research-backed guidance to improve the morale of their teams, create action plans for change, and monitor the results of actions they take.

Succession planning

SuccessFactors HXM’s succession planning tools take a skills-based approach to developing employees and filling talent pipelines for critical roles.

The organizational chart within the platform helps HR leaders identify skills gaps and roles that have a relatively high impact if they were to become vacant. The platform then leverages data from employee talent profiles to surface high-potential, top-performing talent to focus on for training in those key roles.

SAP SuccessFactors is a suite of modular HXM products that are priced individually. This offers more customization than more streamlined HR suites, but it also risks a higher total cost. SAP organizes these modules according to four key functions of HR departments:

SAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) balances personalized experiences for individual employees with powerful, strategic functionalities for the business as a whole. 

The breadth and depth of SuccessFactors’ features are difficult to match, especially when combined with SAP’s solutions for enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, financial management, customer relationship management, and other software needs. This extensibility is a competitive advantage for companies looking to optimize their tech stacks.

Compare SAP SuccessFactors with other large-scale solutions on our list of the best HR software for enterprises.

Namely: Best for midsize companies


  • All-in-one employee self-service portal.
  • Managed services for payroll, benefits administration, and other core HR functions.
  • Customizable reporting and analytics, including workforce diversity, attrition, and time off.


  • Slow technical support.
  • Less cost-effective for large businesses.
  • Limited automations.
  • No pulse survey option.

Self-service features

Namely’s employee self-service features allow HR departments to move away from repetitive HR tasks to focus on tasks that contribute to the company’s bottom line.

For example, employees can add or change direct deposit banking information, manage paid time off (PTO) requests, view and download paystubs and tax documents, and enroll or change benefits without contacting an HR administrator for assistance.

Employee experience

Namely makes recognizing employees for their hard work easy through public recognition opportunities via the newsfeed feature. Additionally, Namely users can take advantage of formal performance reviews, continuous feedback, and 360-degree review capabilities to address poor performance proactively.

Namely recently updated its pricing structure to offer more flexibility and accommodate a wider range of businesses. The new structure consists of four options:

Namely Now

Starts at $9/mo./employee, and includes:

  • Payroll.
  • HR.
  • Onboarding (add-on).
  • Large group benefits options (add-on).
Namely Plus

Includes everything in Namely Now, plus:

  • Onboarding.
  • Recruiting.
  • Performance.
  • Compliance.
  • Benefits administration.
  • Time tracking.
  • Large group benefits options (add-on).
Namely Plus People

Includes everything in Namely Plus, plus:

  • Managed payroll services.
  • Managed benefits administration services.
  • Large group benefits options (add-on).
Namely Complete

Includes everything in Namely Plus People, plus:

  • Large group benefits options.
  • Workers’ compensation.
  • Risk and safety management.
  • Shared liability compliance.

Namely’s platform is for companies with 25-1000 employees and offers balanced capabilities in data management, recruitment, and time and attendance.

As an HR management system (HRMS), Namely helps midsize companies move from core HR administration tasks to more employee-focused initiatives, such as employee engagement and performance management.

If you’re not confident Namely is the right choice for your midsize business, explore our roundup of the best human resources management systems to compare Namely with other leading solutions.

BambooHR: Best for small businesses


  • Native payroll and benefits administration for US-based employees.
  • Time-tracking module automatically calculates overtime.
  • Native onboarding and offboarding.
  • 360-degree performance management.
  • Dynamic reporting dashboards.


  • Relatively limited integrations.
  • Reports have limited customization settings.
  • No modules for employee training or scheduling.
  • No support for global payroll.

Automated workflows

BambooHR’s customizable, automated workflows help HR, managers, and employees make time-sensitive decisions more quickly. BambooHR offers pre-built workflows for things like employee information updates and time-off approvals.

It also offers customizable workflows with up to five levels in the approval chain and configurable workflow paths based on team, department, or location.

Employee data management

BambooHR empowers employees to manage their own data, including pay stubs and benefits, without needing to reach out to HR. Any changes to employee data sync across modules to ensure accuracy and reduce duplicate data entry.

Compared to other vendors, BambooHR’s pricing is relatively straightforward.


The Essentials plan starts at $108 per month for up to 20 employees. Once you reach 21 employees, the pricing shifts to a per-employee structure.

This package includes basic tools for effective HR management:

  • Employee records
  • Basic reporting and analytics.
  • Time-off management.
  • Employee self-service.
  • Mobile app access.
  • Support via email.

The Advantage tier starts at $180 per month, which also shifts to a per-employee structure for businesses with more than 20 people.

This tier includes everything in the Essentials plan, plus:

  • Onboarding.
  • Offboarding.
  • Applicant tracking.
  • E-signatures.
  • Employee well-being surveys.
  • Training tracking.
  • Customizable reports.
  • Support via phone and chat.
  • Open API access for custom integrations.

BambooHR offers these capabilities as add-ons as well:

  • Payroll: Starting at $150/mo. for 20 employees.
  • Benefits administration: Starting at $5.25/mo./employee.
  • Performance management: Starting at $3.00/mo./employee.
  • Time tracking: Starting at $5.25/mo./employee.

BambooHR is a great choice for small businesses prioritizing HR efficiency because it automates repetitive HR tasks and enables employee self-service. The added efficiency gives HR staff more time to put toward higher-priority responsibilities.

BambooHR’s packages and add-ons cover all the HR basics but leave room for customization, so you can feel confident you’re not paying for features you don’t need.

We think BambooHR is the best choice for small businesses, but a different solution might be a better fit. Browse our list of top HR software for small businesses to learn more about what BambooHR has to offer alongside additional options.

Bob: Best for startups


  • Simple user interface.
  • Modular system.
  • Customizable, automated workflows.
  • Dynamic org charts.
  • Specialized features for DEI initiatives.


  • Limited customization opportunities.
  • Configuration can be difficult and time-consuming.
  • Functionality may be too limiting for larger businesses.

Employee time tracking

Startups need employees to track their hours accurately to get paid for their varying work schedules. Bob’s time tracking module allows employees to clock in and out on their computers, mobile phones, or even through Bob’s integration with Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Workflow testing in Sandbox

Companies can leverage Bob’s Sandbox feature, which allows HR leaders to test new workflows, such as compensation review cycles or new automations, in an isolated environment. This is ideal for startups that may expand rapidly and need the flexibility to play with new processes or optimize current ones before a live roll-out.

Hi Bob does not disclose its pricing upfront, so you’ll need to contact the company to get a custom quote based on your business’s feature requirements and employee headcount. All pricing packages include core HR and administration functions, but the precise combination of features beyond the basics is entirely customizable.

This flexibility means you can start small and add capabilities as your business grows. However, it may also mean you end up paying more for the software in the long run than you would with a competitor.

Bob is a great HR system for startups as it layers core HR functionality with features to accommodate rapid growth. Bob can quickly assist startups with diverse pay schedules, workforces, workflows, and international needs.

As the needs of startups can vary week-to-week as their business strategies change, Bob offers a mix of core HR essentials and workforce features to help businesses gauge their success overall.

Check out our roundup of the best HR software for startups to see how Bob stacks up against its direct competitors.

Find your new HR software

What are the types of HR software?

Although they are often used interchangeably, there are several technical differences between the three main categories of core HR software: HRIS, HRMS, and HCM. Alternatively, some HR software focuses on specific human resources functions, like recruiting, onboarding, payroll, performance management, employee engagement, learning management, and more.

Core HR software:

Human resources information systems (HRIS) offer a variety of capabilities for HR data management. The goal of these multi-function systems is to maintain individual employee data and handle the company’s regulatory and legal employment requirements.

An HRIS stores key details about an organization’s workforce, including employees’ personal information, employment details, performance metrics, and compensation history. HRIS platforms can also act as a repository for important HR documents like employment contracts, tax forms, policy guides, and more.

An HRIS can be a standalone product that integrates with other HR applications, or it can serve as a central database in an all-in-one HR software suite. At its core, an HRIS application focuses on optimizing processes associated with HR record-keeping and reporting.

Human resources management systems (HRMS) focus on process optimization and cost efficiency. This type of software improves how an organization handles its HR processes by automating tasks and centralizing access to critical information.

Many HRMS products extend the functionality of a traditional HRIS by including tools for payroll, benefits administration, and more. An HRMS can also be used for more robust reporting and forecasting purposes, like succession planning and position control.

Human capital management (HCM) software is often regarded as the largest umbrella in the HR software category. Most HCM solutions combine all of the functionalities of HRIS and HRMS platforms, plus additional features for recruiting, employee engagement, performance management, and more. HCM software also offers advanced data analysis capabilities for business intelligence and HR process optimization.

HCM software cultivates human capital by streamlining all HR functions and creating a holistic view of the employee lifecycle. This breadth allows companies to maximize the potential of their employees and their contributions to organizational performance. HCM software helps keep employees engaged and motivated to work in the direction of the company’s business goals.

Function-specific HR software:

Recruiting software, specifically applicant tracking systems (ATS), help hiring teams optimize the hiring process. It manages the entire recruitment process from beginning to end, from sourcing and screening candidates to extending job offers and onboarding new employees.

ATS platforms manage information related to different candidates, allowing hiring managers to compare candidates against each other and choose the best one for the job. Many recruiting software suites include applicant tracking features in addition to candidate relationship management and workforce planning capabilities.

Onboarding software facilitates the process of introducing new hires to a company. It typically includes capabilities such as electronic signatures, pre-boarding checklists, and employee questionnaires to help HR ensure a smooth employee onboarding experience.

Payroll software lets organizations track expenses, taxes, payouts, and schedules accurately. It also helps HR teams maintain compliance with labor and payroll regulations and analyze payroll data for discrepancies or inefficiencies. Organizations use payroll software to calculate, process, and record employee pay on time.

Performance management software enables organizations to assess employee skills, track goals, and monitor performance over time. Companies often use performance management software to coach employees and evaluate performance during formal reviews or through weekly pulse updates. It gives managers a clear view of employees’ growth and development in their roles.

Employee engagement software helps companies understand employee sentiment over time and identify areas where the employee experience can improve. These systems offer survey tools, follow-up workflows, gamification, and analytics to understand how employees feel about their work. Employee feedback data is then consolidated and analyzed to produce actionable insights that can improve retention.

Learning management systems (LMS), or eLearning systems, help HR teams design, organize, and deliver employee training programs. These systems can evaluate employee skills, track active certifications, and identify opportunities for professional development.

By incorporating this tool, HR can onboard new employees and keep tenured employees up to date with current industry knowledge standards. Moreover, LMS can optimize job and compliance training and learning and development.

What are the benefits of HR software?

HR software solutions offer businesses a number of advantages, including increased efficiency, consistent compliance, and deeper reporting capabilities.


Many HR software solutions include automation capabilities that drive the efficiency of different HR processes. When HR staff can spend less time on repetitive, manual tasks, they are able to focus on more valuable priorities. Additionally, HR software provides employees with direct access to the services employees need most so they can complete tasks like direct deposit updates or benefits enrollment independently.


Compliance with HR-related laws and regulations is usually non-negotiable because of the costly penalties associated with violations. HR software helps organizations stay in compliance with current local, state, federal, and international laws, as well as industry-specific regulations.


Robust HR software reporting features help organizations make informed decisions with accurate data. Many HR platforms offer report generation templates to help users find the information they need quickly, and others offer advanced AI tools to support deeper data insights like predictive analytics and natural language processing.

How to get HR software buy-in from key executives

Of course, you already know the benefits of HR software: how it streamlines administrative tasks, simplifies the hiring process, and creates one central location for all your workforce data. But to get approval for such a significant investment, you’ll need to connect the dots for other decision-makers.

As such, a well-rounded proposal will cover how individual departments will benefit from new HR tech, whether by reducing costs, avoiding risks, or propelling strategic, long-term goals.

For new HR software, your CIO is concerned with integration complexities and loss of control over data and systems. They want to choose an agile system that will scale with the company’s growth projections and minimize the need for additional infrastructure. They will also want to know about potential hardware requirements, security controls, and implementation options.

When proposing your technology investment to a CFO, put the software’s cost-benefit analysis front and center. Establish a realistic budget before evaluating individual software options, then craft your proposal with facts and figures that show how HR initiatives maintain profit margins (or reduce costs), combat healthcare prices, and improve employee morale and productivity.

CEOs make high-level decisions about policy and strategy, so their buy-in is arguably the most important. To speak to your CEO’s top concerns, focus on how HR software will help your organization sustain a competitive workforce. Tools that support rich analytics, recruitment, performance management, and employee development are essential to hire, engage, and retain the top talent.

    • Which HR software is right for your business?
    • Find out now
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