What is human resources (HR) software?

Human resources software, or HR software, is a business solution for managing and streamlining tasks for the HR department. The software empowers HR employees to improve time and resource allocation and increase productivity and efficiency. An HR platform optimizes HR processes by automating manual tasks, organizing employee records, and building data-driven reports.

HR tools unify recruitment, payroll, administration, development, compliance, employee engagement, performance management, and more. This type of software provides a single source of employee data and a centralized view of the company, so HR teams can effectively manage each stage of the employee lifecycle.

A reliable human resources software solution is essential for fast-growing businesses to securely store confidential employee data and stay compliant with regulations. Moreover, core HR and advanced solutions assist the HR staff in better workforce planning, budget management, and decision-making.

Find your new HR software

What is the best HR software?

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

1. ADP: Best overall HR software

ADP logo.

Notable features:

  • HR advisory services.
  • Global payroll capabilities.
  • More than 704 integration partners.
  • Scalable software solutions.
  • Mobile and desktop capabilities.
  • Employee self-service.
  • Various modules to support all stages of the business and employee lifecycles.

Pricing: Quote-based.

Visit ADP: www.adp.com

Key differentiators

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.

Why we picked ADP

ADP’s expanse of services and software solutions can cater to a variety of businesses, including startups, SMBs, and enterprise companies — even those conducting international business. As a result of ADP’s scalability and various features to adapt to companies’ changing needs, it tops our list for the best HR software overall.

2. Bob: Best for startups

The Bob logo.

Notable features:

  • Core HR and personnel data management.
  • Performance, compensation, benefits, and time management modules.
  • Customizable and automated workflows.
  • Dynamic organizational charts.
  • Ability to integrate with global payroll platforms.
  • Employee engagement surveys.

Pricing: Quote-based.

Visit Bob: www.hibob.com

Key differentiators

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.

Why we picked Bob

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.

3. BambooHR: Best for small businesses

The BambooHR logo.

Notable features:

  • Payroll and benefits administration for US-based employees
  • Time tracking with automatic overtime calculations
  • Onboarding and offboarding
  • 360-degree performance management
  • Employee wellbeing surveys
  • Dynamic reporting dashboards

Pricing: Quote-based.

Visit BambooHR: www.bamboohr.com

Key differentiators

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 also 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.

Why we picked BambooHR

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 for more options.

4. Namely: Best for midsize companies

The Namely logo.

Key features:

  • Employee recognition.
  • Company-wide announcements.
  • Guided benefits enrollment.
  • All-in-one employee self-service portal.
  • Managed HR services options for payroll, benefits administration, payroll tax registration, and more.
  • Customizable reporting and analytics, including workforce diversity, attrition, and time off.

Pricing: Quote-based.

Visit Namely: www.namely.com

Key differentiators

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 feedback cycles

Namely makes recognizing employees for their hard work easy through public recognition opportunities via the newsfeed feature.

Additionally, Namely allows managers to take advantage of formal performance reviews, continuous feedback, or 360-degree reviews capabilities. As a result, managers and employees can address poor performance early without waiting for traditional annual reviews.

Why we picked Namely

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

As a human resources 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, consider other options on our list of the Best Human Resources Management Systems.

5. SAP SuccessFactors: Best for large enterprises

Notable features:

  • Centralized HR files, data, and processes.
  • 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.

Pricing: Quote-based.

Visit SAP SuccessFactors: www.sap.com

Key differentiators

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 that 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.

Why we picked SAP SuccessFactors

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.

If SAP SuccessFactors HXM doesn’t match your needs, check out our Best HR Software for Enterprises to explore alternatives.

6. Rippling: Best for global businesses

The Rippling logo.

Notable features:

  • Single personnel data repository for all international teams
  • Rippling partnered brokers in each country or bring-your-own for international benefits administration.
  • Global reporting capabilities, including automatic currency conversion in reports.
  • Global financing tools, including international bill pay and expense reimbursements.
  • Holiday calendars by country.
  • International payroll support for contractors and employees, including an EOR option.

Pricing: Starts at $35 per month base fee, plus $8 per employee per month.

Visit Rippling: www.rippling.com

Key differentiators

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.

Why we picked Rippling

Despite launching its global capabilities in October 2022 with support in only 50 countries, Rippling 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.

While Rippling is our top HR platform pick for global businesses, it may not be the right fit for your international payroll needs. Take a look at our Top Global Payroll Solutions for a list of alternatives.

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 applicant tracking, onboarding, payroll, performance management, employee engagement, learning management, and more.

Human resources information system (HRIS)

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 system (HRMS)

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

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.

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Applicant tracking systems (ATS)

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a recruiting software that automates 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 let HR professionals post jobs on various sites and schedule interviews with qualified candidates automatically. ATS also manages information related to different candidates, allowing the HR manager to compare candidates against each other and choose the best one for the job.

Onboarding software

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

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

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

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)

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.

HR software resources

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