What Is the Best Accounting and Payroll Software?

As business costs rise in Britain and inflation in the UK remains high, combining accounting and payroll in one provider is a great way to cut down costs. Plus, their integration easies processes and gives you more time to focus on growing your ventures.

Out of the nine providers we tested, Iris Staffology offers the best accounting and payroll software in the market. Overall, we found it to be the most versatile, have the most third-party integrations, and offer very transparent pricing, making it the most suitable software for most businesses.

That said, with varying options on the market, we know it can be difficult to make the right choice. We can help you with that if you use our free quote tool to be matched up with suppliers for your business.

However, if you'd like to know more beforehand, head to our top picks list below, in which we cover Iris Staffology as well as four other providers that stood out in our research – one of which might serve you better depending on your needs.

Top five accounting and payroll software providers

1. Iris Staffology – Best combined payroll and accounting software

iris staffology scorecard
Iris Staffology
Pricing From £11.75/month
Quick overview

Staffology is a HMRC-recognised payroll software, which makes submitting the necessary forms online that much more seamless. Created in 2018, it was acquired by software powerhouse Iris in 2021, being rebranded as Iris Staffology.

Its cloud-based interface allows you to control your payroll from both desktop and mobile hardware, as well as modify the program to suit your needs. For business owners who’d like to extend its capabilities, it also packs a native HR solution.


Plentiful accounting and HR integrations

Transparent pricing

Extensive training features


Doesn't provide payroll changes report

Doesn't allow users to create custom reports

Clock-in feature isn't available on mobile app

FeesPrice per month
Base price £10
Payslip fee for companies with up to 20 employees £2/employee
Payslip fee for companies with 21 to 50 employees £1.75/employee
Payslip fee for companies with 51 or more employees Quote-based

Iris Staffology tops our list because of the number of boxes it ticks. It offers both part-managed and fully-managed service, unlike TopSource, which only offers an outsourced service.

Also, its transparent pricing is a rarity in the payroll market, which largely operates on a quoting basis. Out of the providers on this list, only Sage Payroll also offers it. QuickBooks and Xero, while openly priced, are primarily accounting platforms rather than payroll ones.

Iris Staffology doesn't offer a native accounting platform, but links up with seven third-party providers: Sage, Xero, Reckon One, AccountsIQ, QuickBooks and Twinfield. It also integrates with other 12 solutions, in areas such as HR and benefits management. In comparison, TopSource also integrates with seven accounting platforms but lacks any other integrations. This makes Iris Staffology a better pick if you're looking to streamline your business and centralise operations.

2. QuickBooks – Best for a full tax service

Pricing £14.40-£70.40/month
Quick overview

QuickBooks is a accounting and payroll software launched in 1983 by US-based company Intuit. Primarily an accounting platform aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, it also packs a payroll solution that works seamlessly with its main product.

Its accounting prowess made it a juggernaut in that market, being used by over 8 million businesses worldwide. Furthermore, it's currently expanding the capabilities of its payroll software, with a new product, Bureau Payroll, expected to be released in 2023.


Integrates with QuickBooks Online as well as other accounting platforms

Offers auto payroll and tax filing and payments


Payroll software stopped being available separately and now is only offered as add-on

Limited features on mobile app

PlanPrice per month (inc. payroll add-on)
Simple Start £14.40
Essentials £24.40
Plus £34.40
Advanced £70.40

Like Sage Payroll, QuickBooks Payroll integrates easily with its provider's main solution – in this case, QuickBooks Online. If you're already using that platform, your bookkeeping records and reporting can be synced up and updated in real time each pay cycle, making it easy for you to share payroll info with your accountant.

On the flip side, like Xero Payroll, QuickBooks Payroll is only available as an add-on of its provider's accounting software, which means you must get them wholesale to use them. This is bad news if you plan on keeping your current accounting program and integrating it with QuickBooks, because you'll inevitably end up paying for two accounting services.

That said, apart from its entry-level Self-Employed plan, all of QuickBooks plans include full-service payroll, which is rare to find as other payroll providers tend to limit the number of services available depending on how much you’re paying. All of the plans include unlimited payroll runs, automated tax calculations and filing, direct deposit and an employee portal.

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3. TopSource – Best outsourced payroll and accounting service

Quick overview

TopSource is a fully-managed service, taking care of every aspect of the payroll process, from registering with HMRC to end-of-year processing. Similarly to ADP, it lacks a part-managed option.

TopSource has a strength in its associated service suite, packing native solutions that are easy to integrate with its payroll system. The same provider sells HR, recruitment, and benefit management software - which is a great help to companies wanting to acquire those systems but not deal with multiple suppliers to do so.


Excellent level of compliance

Allows for payment of international employees

Also sells HR and recruitment software

Has CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accreditation


Pricing only available through quoting

Doesn't allow for custom reporting

Doesn't provide live training

Based on factors such as number of employees and the solutions you need

As a fully-managed solution, TopSource is designed for business owners who lack a dedicated accounting team in-house and are happy for payroll and accounting management to be outsourced. If that's not your case, Iris Staffology will be a better option, as it offers a part-managed version.

TopSource offers integration with seven third-party accounting platforms: Xero, Sage, MS Dynamics, Navision, CODA, QuickBooks and Tally. However, like QuickBooks, it also offers a native accounting service, in which its team of experts take care of this operation for you.

4. Sage – Best for native software suite

Sage Payroll
Pricing £8-£106/month
Quick overview

Sage is a UK-based enterprise software company founded in 1981. It operates worldwide and boasts offices in more than 20 countries, with over 6 million users in its platforms.

Throughout the years, it's expanded massively through acquisitions - many of which were rebranded and integrated into its vast portfolio of services. It now offers plentiful solutions aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, including HR, CRM, payroll, and accounting programs.


24/7 support

Fully HMRC-compliant

Also packs a native HR solution


Limited third-party integration

Set-up process is long

No. of employeesPrice per month
1-5 £8
6-10 £13
11-15 £19
16-25 £29
26-35 £39
36-50 £55
51-75 £80
76-100 £106

Sage offers a clean, simple and intuitive software for payroll, accounting, CRM and more. Its cloud-based payroll software has accounting add-ons, so you have one organised platform for all your business needs.

Overall, it packs a comprehensive native software, which we found impressive. If you're looking for a platform that can handle several aspects of your business without you having to integrate with third-party programs, Sage is a great choice.

Sage Payroll structure its payroll submission into a quick 4-step process, with the provider handling all the calculations. If maths aren't your strength, this can ensure your payroll is accurate. Sage is HMRC-compliant, so you can send real-time data to HMRC with just a click.

Like Xero, Sage has 24/7 online customer support and free telephone support. This is incredibly helpful if you hit a blocker with your submission and need to find a last-minute workaround.

5. Xero – Best for ease of use

xero logo
Xero Payroll
Pricing From £19/month
Quick overview

Xero is a New Zealand–based accounting and payroll software provider for small and medium-sized businesses. Founded in 2006, it's now used in over 180 countries by more than 3 million companies.

Its main product is a flexible accounting program that can be augmented with an integrated payroll platform. Besides versions for start-ups and sole traders, it also packs version designed with accountants and bookkeepers in mind.


24/7 support

Intuitive interface



Third-party integration can be clunky

ServicePrice per month (inc. payroll add-on)
Starter Plan (payroll for up to 5 people) £19
Standard Plan (payroll for up to 5 people) £33
Premium Plan (payroll for up to 5 people) £41
Ultimate Plan (payroll for up to 10 people) £49
Additional person £1

Xero is a accounting software that easily integrates with a native payroll service provided as an add-on. Unlike Sage, Xero doesn't offer these services separately, though this is also the case with QuickBooks. Like Iris Staffology, Xero is cloud-based and has a mobile app, so you can access it from anywhere in the world.

It packs an intuitive, easy to use interface that automates several tasks related to payroll, like pension re-enrolment and leave calculation. Because of this, Xero is particularly suitable for small businesses owners who don't have complicated accounting needs. By connecting to Stripe, GoCardless and others, you can accept payments online and get paid twice as quickly.

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What is payroll accounting software?

Payroll accounting software is software that offers tools to help you run your payroll and accounting. This includes automated calculations, NI deductions, taxes, invoicing and billing.

How much does payroll and accounting software cost?

Payroll and accounting software costs will depend on the number of employees in your business. Prices start from around £7 a month for a basic package.

What are the benefits of outsourcing payroll?

Outsourcing payroll gives you extra time to work on other important parts of your business. Running payroll in-house can take up a chunk of your resources, but by outsourcing you can have peace of mind and more time on your hands.

Outsourcing also reduces your cost to hire and train staff to run payroll. Although you have to pay to outsource, this can often work out cheaper when compared to running payroll in-house.

Outsourcing also reduces the chance of misfiling or not filing on time, along with other HMRC related blunders. If this sounds like the best option for your business, there are many payroll companies to choose from.

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How can you make the right decision for your business?

When choosing the best payroll solution for your business, take into account your budget, pay frequency, HMRC compliancy, invoicing and billing tools.

These are important factors, as every business is different and has its own set of needs. Considering the size and frequency of your cash flow means you have a bigger chance of finding a solution within your budget. Also, taking stock of your potential provider's features is a good way to ensure you pick one that's truly useful to you and one that doesn't make you pay for tools your business doesn't need.

Our Methodology: How Did We Decide on the Best Payroll Software?

Five researchers carried out in-depth research into payroll software platforms according to a comparison framework designed by our research team leader. For each provider we've asked these questions:

  • How much control does it give you over your payroll process?
  • How secure is it? What security measures does it take to protect your data?
  • How much help and expertise does it offer when it comes to taxes and compliance?
  • How scalable is the product? Can it grow alongside your company?
  • How helpful is its customer support offering?

We've factored all these questions into our rating system and come out with a ranking of the best payroll software platforms.


Our top choice is IRIS, thanks to its long-standing place in the industry, IRIS has all the tools necessary to run your business with ease.

We chose IRIS by looking at the best on the market, comparing their features, looking at reviews and user experience.

If you're still on the hunt for the right software, you can use our free quote tool to compare and save.


What is the easiest payroll software to use?
According to our research, Sage is the easiest payroll software to use. Sage offers a straightforward payroll process and the software is intuitive and simple.

What are the benefits of payroll accounting software?
Payroll accounting software provides businesses with more free time, less manual errors and peace of mind. Using payroll accounting software gives you tools and solutions to ensure all your business needs are taken care of such as automated calculations, HMRC forms, bill automations and much more.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.
Reviewed by:
Heleana Neil, Business Services editor
Heleana Neil specialises in Business Services, managing the strategy and production of content for SMBs, helping businesses with the challenges and opportunities they face today. Covering everything from payroll to payment processing, Heleana uses her expertise to help business owners make better, informed decisions and grow their companies.