Top 7 Cloud-Based Payroll Software Solutions 2024

two laptops with payroll graphics and tables shown, finger pointing towards laptop

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Whether your business employs two members of staff or 102, paying them the right amount on time – every time – is crucial for your business’s reputation and financial integrity. Cloud-based payroll software enables you to securely manage employee data, comply with the latest legislation, and run payrolls automatically. Plus, being cloud-based, it’s accessible from any device with an internet connection, so being away from the office is no barrier.

Our independent testing found that Iris Staffology is the best cloud-based payroll software on the market. It boasts hands-on training features, an intuitive mobile app, plentiful integrations, and super secure data processing, as well as transparent pricing (a real boon in the world of payroll software). But it’s not the only cloud-based payroll software that shone during our latest round of research:

What are the best cloud-based payroll software solutions?

These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Use our comparison tool to find the best payroll software for your business.

1. Iris Staffology: Best cloud-based payroll software overall
2. ADP: Best for security
3. MHR: Best for reporting
4. Frontier: Best for international businesses
5. Advanced: Best for training
6. Moorepay: Best for expertise
7. 12 Cloud: Best free payroll software

If you want to get things in order before the beginning of the new tax year on April 6 2024, now is the best time to switch up your payroll software. If you’re looking to compare tailored prices straight away, use our free quote comparison tool to be matched with providers who’ll give you bespoke quotes. In an industry where price plans often aren’t shared publicly, this is a quick and easy way to compare accurate prices from the right providers for you.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a managed payroll service instead of a DIY software, visit our in-depth guide to the best payroll service companies in the UK.

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Iris Staffology

12 Cloud

Best

Cloud-based payroll software overall

Best

For security

Best

For reporting

Best

For international businesses

Best

For training

Best

For expertise

Best

For small businesses

Price Range

From £11.75/month

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

1-9 employees, £5 – £15/month

From 10 employees onwards, £25 – £200/month

Pros
  • Plentiful accounting and HR integrations
  • Transparent pricing
  • Extensive training features
Pros
  • Allows for custom reporting
  • Customer service is available via phone and live chat
  • Offers tax education resources
Pros
  • Allows for custom reporting
  • Allows for payroll data to be shared across different systems
  • Customer service is available via phone and live chat
Pros
  • Offers live training
  • Allows for custom reporting
  • Customer service is available via phone and live chat
Pros
  • Provides live training and CIPP-accredited expert advice
  • Allows for custom reporting
  • Customer service is available via phone and live chat
Pros
  • Provides live training and CIPP-accredited expert advice
  • Allows for custom reporting
  • Customer service is available via phone and live chat
Pros
  • Provides live training
  • Transparent pricing
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide payroll changes report
  • Doesn’t allow users to create custom reports
  • Clock-in feature isn’t available on mobile app
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide payroll changes report
  • Pricing only available through quoting
  • Help is not available through chatbot
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide live training
  • Pricing only available through quoting
  • Help is not available through chatbot
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide open API, preventing integration
  • Pricing only available through quoting
  • Help is not available through chatbot
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide open API, preventing integration
  • Pricing only available through quoting
  • Help is not available through chatbot
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide open API, preventing integration
  • Pricing only available through quoting
  • Help is not available through chatbot
Cons
  • Limited third-party integration
  • Help is not available through chatbot

Prices correct as of January 2024

Need help managing your employees' payroll data?

Find your cloud-based payroll provider

What is cloud-based payroll software?

Payroll software is a system using which you can manage all the elements of your payroll. Primarily, payroll software runs your payroll automatically and ensures your team are always paid accurately and on time. Payroll software will also keep you compliant with tax regulations, help you meet HMRC deadlines with timely notifications, and store your employee data in line with stringent security standards.

Cloud-based payroll software lives in and runs from – you guessed it – the cloud, which means you can access it from any device, anywhere you have an internet connection. In other words, you don’t have to be in the office to use it. There’s also the fact that it doesn’t sit on servers at your premises, which means that it won’t be at risk of failing due to local outages, hardware breakdowns, or unexpected accidents, such as a fire or flood.

1. Iris Staffology: Best cloud-based payroll software overall

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.

Strengths

Plentiful accounting and HR integrations

Transparent pricing

Extensive training features

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide payroll changes report

Doesn't allow users to create custom reports

Clock-in feature isn't available on mobile app

Pricing
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’s key features

  • Comprehensive, feature-rich system
  • Deep-dive reporting
  • Unlimited users, employees and companies
  • Mobile app
iris staffology payroll
Iris Staffology's payroll dashboard

How does Iris Staffology compare to its competitors?

In an industry that largely operates on a quoted basis, our research found Iris Staffology’s payroll software pricing to be very straightforward, which is incredibly useful for small businesses with a limited budget and wanting to move forward fast, without going through a demo request (though the provider also offers this). This makes Iris Staffology more transparent than Frontier and Moorepay, which only provide pricing through a requested quote, and helped it shine brighter among the providers our experts tested.

It packs more accounting and HR integrations than any of the providers we researched (seven and five, respectively) – which allows it to work alongside more programs than ADP (three and three) or MHR (one and three). This benefits businesses owners who want to keep their current accounting or HR software and integrate them with Iris Staffology.

Iris Staffology’s pricing

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Base price

Payslip fee for companies with up to 20 employees

Payslip fee for companies with 21 to 50 employees

Payslip fee for companies with 51 or more employees

Price Range

£10/month

Price Range

£2/month each

Price Range

£1.75/month each

Price Range

Quote-based

2. ADP: Best payroll software for security

adp logo
ADP
Bespoke
Quick overview

ADP is a business solutions giant, offering both payroll and HR services to help your business. Founded in 1949, its industry cred is second to none: in the Global Payroll Awards 2022, ADP was crowned Global Payroll Supplier of the Year. It also was named the Best International Payroll Service Provider at the CIPP Annual Excellence Awards for four consecutive years. Also, with offices in the City, it's among the best payroll companies in the UK and London we analysed.

Strengths

Allows for custom reporting

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Offers tax education resources

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide payroll changes report

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through chatbot

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

ADP’s key features

  • Sells HR, recruitment, benefits management and learning management solutions
  • Provides CIPP-accredited expert payroll advice
  • Mobile app
  • Efficient time and attendance features
ADP payroll dashboard
ADP Payroll's dashboard

How does ADP compare to its competitors?

Following extensive testing, we can conclude that ADP is a payroll provider that’s big on security – attested by its ISO 27001 certification (something Qualitas Payroll Service doesn’t have) and its efficient data encrypting. Also, unlike Advanced, it wasn’t hit by any data breaches in the last two years.

Like Iris Staffology, ADP can be combined with several other types of software so you can run many strands of your company together. However, unlike this competitor, it does so through natively-developed platforms, not third-party ones. This is crucial for businesses keen on keeping the number of their suppliers low, thereby saving money.

Finally, through its time and attendance feature, our researchers recommend ADP for companies with rotating shifts, which can use ADP as a clock-in system.

ADP’s pricing

You’ll need to contact ADP directly for a quote as its pricing is dependant on factors such as payroll frequency and the number of employees you have.

3. MHR: Best payroll software for reporting

MHR logo
MHR
Bespoke
Quick overview

MHR boasts one of the most sophisticated hosted payroll software programs in the industry, iTrent. iTrent combines powerful payroll processing capabilities with time-saving HR functions to create a central business hub for employee data.

Founded in 1984, the company's now used by big names such as Microsoft Azure and Experian. In our independent analysis, our experts found MHR to be a good choice for business owners who want the flexibility of choosing between running payroll in-house, outsourcing or a combination of the two.

Strengths

Allows for custom reporting

Allows for payroll data to be shared across different systems

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Has CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accreditation

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide live training

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through email

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

MHR’s key features

  • Packs a highly-detailed reporting platform
  • Offers educational material
  • Provides CIPP-accredited expert payroll advice
  • Mobile app
MHR Payroll Analytics
MHR Payroll's analytics view

How does MHR compare to its competitors?

Our in-depth research established that, in iTrent, MHR has one of the most detailed report-generating payroll software on the market. In our testing, we used it to track KPIs, assess risks, establish costs, and produce legislative reports and it excelled in all those tasks, with the bonus that you can action them through the same platform. Due to its sheer breadth, this makes MHR more suited to large businesses, as such deep reporting prowess is likely to be lost in smaller organisations.

Unfortunately, our researchers noted that MHR is very light on the accounting and HR integrations: it packs only one and three, respectively – way less than Iris Staffology (seven and five). This is bad news for business owners who want to coordinate payroll with these related activities. For its part, however, MHR makes it easy for payroll data to be shared with different systems, which mitigates the lack of integration to some degree.

MHR’s pricing

You can fill out a quick from on MHR’s website to get an accurate quote.

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4. Frontier: Best payroll software for international businesses

frontier payroll logo
Frontier
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Our extensive testing process found that Frontier offers solid reporting tools for businesses keen on getting payroll data insights. Established in 1983, it now helps over 1,700 customers, from small to very large enterprises. Its payroll tools, which provide statutory taxation obligations in 26 countries, make it a good choice for international businesses.

However, Frontier doesn't provide an open API, which may be limiting for businesses that want to integrate their payroll data with other systems.

Strengths

Offers live training

Allows for custom reporting

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Has CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accreditation

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide open API, preventing integration

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through chatbot

Frontier’s key features

  • Mobile app
  • Native HR software
  • Allows for payment of international employees
  • Provides payroll changes report

How does Frontier compare to its competitors?

Frontier allows payment of international employees – a must if you have staff across different countries. Among the providers we tested, Frontier shares this feature with Iris Staffology and ADP, but beats out Advanced and Moorepay, which don’t come with this capability.

On the other hand, like Advanced, Frontier doesn’t provide an open API, dealing a killer blow to business owners hoping to integrate with their own HR and accounting software. For those, ADP will be a better choice. Also, like MHR, it doesn’t offer advice on how to stay compliant with payroll laws.

Frontier’s pricing

Frontier’s pricing is bespoke so you’ll need to contact the provider directly for accurate pricing.

5. Advanced: Best payroll software for training

advanced logo
Advanced Payroll
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Advanced is an efficient cloud-based payroll software currently used by over 22,000 customers globally. Its training offering is a key asset, making it a great choice for businesses keen on implementing and getting a hold of the system quickly. Like Moorepay, it packs both fully-managed and part-managed services.

Advanced offers integration with HR, attendance and finance solutions, providing you with one comprehensive platform. In fact, we found it to be one of the best providers to integrate HR and payroll.

Strengths

Provides live training and CIPP-accredited expert advice

Allows for custom reporting

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide open API, preventing integration

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through chatbot

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

Advanced’s key features

  • Pensions auto enrolment software as standard
  • In-depth reporting
  • Easy integration with other Advanced business software products
  • Dedicated support centre with 300 staff
advaned payroll cycle
Advanced's payroll cycle view

How does Advanced compares to its competitors?

During our extensive testing process, we were impressed by Advanced’s training prowess, which makes it great if you’re running a small accounting team. In that regard, it beats Moorepay by having a live training feature. However,  in our deep analysis, we found Iris Staffology also offers this.

Advanced provides integrations with its native suite of other applications, like ADP does. However, it lacks the free trial that Iris Staffology offers, which, combined with the fact that its pricing is bespoke, can delay knowing if it’s right for you. Similarly to MHR, however, Advanced offer in-depth reporting which can especially benefit larger companies.

Crucially, it lacks the mobile app that many of its competitors (such as Iris Staffology and Moorepay) offer. And as far as data security goes, it could be better: of all the providers we researched, it’s the only one that had a data breach in the last two years, being a victim of a ransomware attack in 2022.

Advanced’s pricing

You’ll need to contact Advanced directly as it only offers bespoke pricing.

In Case You're Wondering...

Unlike traditional desktop-installed programs, cloud-based payroll software is charged on a monthly basis, which reduces your upfront costs massively.

It allows you to file PAYE reports with HMRC in real time, ensuring your business stays fully compliant with industry regulations. There are clever tools for calculating pay and, crucially, information is stored online where it’s available to access at any time, from anywhere.

6. Moorepay: Best payroll software for expertise

moorepay logo
Moorepay
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Moorepay provides a cloud-based integrated payroll and HR platform, which allows companies to easily analyse employee data and generate reports. Established in 1966, it packs both part-managed and fully-managed services and is accredited by the CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS).

The winner of The Rewards Payroll & HR Software Product of the Year Award 2022, Moorepay boasts big names as clients, such as McDonald's, Wolkswagen, and Mountain Warehouse. It's also rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot, with an impressive 4.5/5 score.

Strengths

Has CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accreditation

Allows for custom reporting

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide open API, preventing integration

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through chatbot

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

Moorepay’s key features

  • Extensive advice offering
  • Offers large suite of HR/people management solutions
  • Mobile app
  • Offers tax-related educational resources
moorepay employee details
Moorepay's employee pay details

How does Moorepay compare to its competitors?

Winner of The Rewards Payroll & HR Software Product of the Year Award 2022, Moorepay boasts an array of consultants ready to give insightful information to its customers, making it ideal for businesses that require hands-on guidance. Like ADP, Moorepay provides CIPP-accredited expert payroll advice and offers tax-related educational resources.

When testing the software, we found that, unfortunately, Moorepay doesn’t allow for the payment of international employees nor does it offer live training – features that Frontier offers. Also, it lacks the transparent pricing that Iris Staffology packs, although for its part, this fact does align it with most of the providers we analysed and tested in our in-depth expert research.

Moorepay’s pricing

Moorepay’s pricing is based on factors including processing, add-ons, and setup. You’ll need to contact Moorepay directly for a bespoke quote.

7. 12 Cloud: Best payroll software for small businesses

12 Cloud Payroll’s prices changed on 6 January 2024

As of 6 January 2024, 12 Cloud Payroll has discontinued its free plan. Prices now start at £5 per month and go all the way up to £200 per month, depending on how many employees you have – with teams of one to two employees paying the cheapest rate, and teams of 301 to 500 paying the most expensive. Businesses with more than 500 employees will pay 50p per employee, per month.

12 Cloud Payroll logo
12 Cloud
Pricing From £5/month
Quick overview

12 Cloud is one of the best providers for small businesses, with pricing that starts at £5 a month for 1-2 employees. It offers a comprehensive payroll software actioned through a feature-rich dashboard. One feature we particularly like is the “rollback facility”, which makes it easy to correct mistakes and re-run pay with minimal effort.

Our experts were satisfied with 12 Cloud's data security: the provider is ISO 9001-accredited, which means its standards are on par with the best in the industry.

Strengths

Provides live training

Transparent pricing

ISO 9001-accredited

Suitable for small businesses

Weaknesses

Limited third-party integration

Help is not available through chatbot

Pricing
Company sizePrice
Up to 9 employees £5 to £15 per month
10 to 50 employees £25 to £50 per month
51 to 150 employees £60 to £100 per month
151 to 500 employees £120 to £200 per month

12 Cloud’s key features

  • Cheaper pricing suitable for small businesses
  • Competitive pricing for larger businesses
  • Free phone support within working hours
  • “Rollback facility” for easily amending errors in pay

How does 12 Cloud compare to its competitors?

12 Cloud is an HMRC-approved payroll software provider suitable for small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. When testing the software, our researchers liked its intuitive dashboard layout, similar to ADP’s.

On the flip side, 12 Cloud doesn’t pack a lot of integrations: it only syncs up with Sage on the accounting front. As far as accounting integration goes, this is the same offer as Moorepay’s, but that competitor also allows for HR and time and attendance integration (which 12 Cloud doesn’t).

12 Cloud’s pricing

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Up to 9 employees

For 10+ employees

Price Range

£15/month

Price Range

£25 – £200/month

Important payroll dates in 2024

With nearly 15 years of covering the payroll industry, we know how crucial keeping HRMC’s deadlines is. When one approaches, you have to be extra careful with your reporting and make sure everything is kosher to withstand the government’s scrutiny.

Cloud-based payroll systems can certainly help you meet the relevant deadlines, but in any case, you need to be on the ball when it comes to them. As a refresher, here’s a brief recap of the most important payroll dates.

 

DateEvent
5 AprilThe 2023/2024 tax year ends.

Deadline for payroll software update.

6 AprilThe 2024/2025 tax year begins.
19 AprilDeadline for final 2023/2024 tax year reports submission.
22 AprilDeadline for the month 12 Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) payment.
31 MayDeadline for your employees to receive their P60s (earning statements).
6 JulyDeadline for expenses and benefits report to the HRMC.

Deadline for P11D and P11D(b) forms submission.

 

19 JulyDeadline for Class 1A National Insurance contributions on benefits in kind payment (if you’re not using digital systems to do so).
22 JulyDeadline for Class 1A National Insurance contributions on benefits in kind payment (if you’re using digital systems to do so).
Verdict

With start of a new tax year coming on April 6 2024, now is the time to choose a payroll software that suits your businesses needs the best. And while you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good cloud-based payroll software, our testing revealed Iris Staffology to be the best option overall. It’s comprehensive and feature-rich, with insightful reporting capabilities, extensive training features, and an impressive variety of HR and accounting integrations. Plus, its transparent pricing shows off its strong value for money.

Of course, Iris Staffology might not necessarily be the best option for your business. If you’d like a more personalised recommendation, try our free quote finding tool. Simply answer a few questions about what you’re looking for in a payroll software, and we’ll match you up with the best providers for your needs. They’ll then provide quotes that have been tailored to you – something that’s especially helpful in this industry, where prices are so often opaque and confusing. It’s an easy way to compare accurate prices and choose a software solution that suits your business.

Compare payroll software quotes from leading suppliers

How We Test Payroll Products and Services for Businesses

We tested eight market-leading payroll products and services to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, data security, and customer support so we can make the most useful recommendations to UK businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in five main categories of investigation and 10 subcategories – in fact, we covered 56 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that's our product research algorithm in a nutshell!

Our main testing categories for payroll products and services are:

Control: the level of customisation and flexibility provided by the payroll software in managing and processing payroll, such as the ability to define pay periods, setup tax withholding rules, and manage employee data.

Data Security: the measures and protocols implemented by the payroll software to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive payroll information.

Expertise: the level of knowledge and guidance provided by the payroll software vendor or support team. This can include resources such as documentation, tutorials, and training materials.

Scalability: the ability of the payroll software to accommodate the growth and changing needs of a business, including the capacity to handle an increasing number of employees and support multiple locations or entities.

Customer Support: the various channels and methods available for users to seek assistance and support from the payroll software vendor, such as email or ticket-based support, phone support, or live chat.

 

FAQs

What is cloud-based software?
Cloud-based software is software stored on a server and accessed over the internet, rather than your computer’s hard drive. This means it can be accessed anywhere provided you have an internet connection and your login details.
Why choose cloud-based payroll software?
Cloud-based payroll software gives more agency to authorised employees to access and update their own information. They also update automatically, are highly scalable, and are more easily integrated with other platforms, such as HR systems.
What's the difference between payroll software and payroll service?
Payroll software is DIY where you or your internal finance team use a software program to run your payroll, paying a monthly or yearly subscription.

Meanwhile a payroll service is where you pay a third-party to run your payroll.

 

How much does payroll software usually cost?
Most payroll software providers we researched are have bespoke pricing. Iris Staffology starts at £11.75/month which is one of the cheapest providers on the market.

Meanwhile 12 Cloud charges up to £200/month for a business of 301-500 employees, which gives you an idea of the kind price range for business that size.

Written by:
Rob Binns
Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.
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.