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Micah Fairchild Ceridian Small Business Payroll

4 stars Average rating: 4 (from 128 votes)
 By Micah Fairchild

Ceridian’s Payroll Solution for the Small Business: An Un-biased Review

Although currently in the throes of changing strategic business course towards a unified cloud HR offering, for several years now Ceridian has topped analyst and customer lists for having one of the industry’s best payroll solutions. And with accolades such as "Payroll Outsourcing Provider of the Year" and a spot on the coveted "Global Outsourcing 100" list, you can certainly see why. From the perspective of small businesses though, Ceridian is not solely an outsourcing partner, but rather provides multiple avenues that companies can plug into to achieve their payroll goals and objectives. In fact, thanks to the multiple acquisitions that the company has made over the years (most notably with Stored Value Systems and Comdata), Ceridian controls a great deal of the supply chain associated with payroll—which has, at least in the past, meant a far better value proposition than other payroll outsourcing, service, and software solutions can provide.

Ceridian’s Payroll Options

Tailor-made for businesses of all sizes, Ceridian provides a number of payroll options for small businesses; including: processing only, processing with integrated HR and benefits administration services, and processing with integrated time/attendance. Further, as is the case with similarly-situated solutions, Ceridian offers customers the payroll submission options of online, by phone, or via installed software. Less transparent is Ceridian’s pricing, as no exact quotes were given. However, given a bi-monthly payroll, we ballpark that costs will run an initial figure of at least $50 plus an additional per employee fee (in the $1-2 range). And companies opting to go with Ceridian’s health/retirement benefit management services will pay an additional monthly fee of $2.30 per employee.


  • Ceridian Managed Payroll Services for Small Business: One of the industry’s only end-to-end solutions, this option (explicitly designed for small businesses) has Ceridian handle the payroll functions of processing, production, remittance filing, reporting, and in certain cases payroll-related questions from the client organization’s employees. Most closely associated with the work that typically occurs in a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) the feature set of this Ceridian solution also includes payroll data input, validation, testing, process & error analysis, metrics reporting, year-end reconciliation and reporting, and oddly enough (since Ceridian is handling all the aspects of payroll for clients with this solution) legislative and compliance support.

  • Online Payroll Basic: Built for businesses looking to manage certain payroll tasks in-house, this option provides U.S. state compliance and tax support; processing for unlimited pay classifications, earnings, and deductions; self-service (for limited pay stub access); automated tax filing, and an expanded (and for the small business market, rather extensive) HR feature set. Aside from these capabilities, Ceridian’s HR/Payroll Web solution also provides the novel functionality of multi-department support—which makes it one of the only small business solutions on the market to be able to easily handle staff that are geographically dispersed. Further, employee time data can be entered manually, via ancillary timecard system importing, or through the system’s automatic time entry function.

Tax Services

In the business of payroll processing for over three decades, Ceridian is the largest standalone payroll tax filing services provider—handling $163B in annual payroll tax liabilities. Aside from that though, fully 80% of the Fortune 100 have chosen to leverage some type of Ceridian product for their tax needs. This shouldn’t be an indication however that the Ceridian product line is solely for large enterprises; merely that the company is trusted at being adept at handling even the largest and most complex payroll systems. And given the fact that Ceridian carries an AAAf Rating (the highest fund rating) on Tax Trust from Standard & Poors (S&P), that sentiment is well-understood industry wide.


Ceridian’s reporting options for small businesses is very similar to the vendor’s offerings for larger enterprises; with reporting capabilities stemming from an easy-access vertical menu. This menu, divided into the sections of Payroll Reports and Other Reports further delineates payroll into segments for year-end summaries, off-cycle, period registers, employee lists, labor breakdowns and audits. While not as extensive as the 225 reports that come standard with Ceridian’s larger solutions (which most small businesses wouldn’t use anyway), users do have the ability to customize outputs via a simplified report builder and download files in a variety of methods. While likely sufficient to handle the bulk of reports that small businesses would need, companies on the upper end of this market could be left wanting additional capabilities that aren’t supported such as drilldown functionality.

Additional Functionalities

On top of the payroll services and products that Ceridian already offers small businesses, 2012 marked the year that the company launched an integrated suite of consolidated payroll and HR services call HR Authority that is specifically designed for the small business market. Essentially geared towards helping maximize the value of companies’ benefit spend, HR Authority is a single source for: HR/Payroll, taxes, COBRA, employee benefits enrollment/eligibility, compliance services, online Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), online work-life balance, and Premium Only Plans (POP); with additional services for 401(k) administration and “Pay-As-You-Go” Workers' Compensation. However, as even Ceridian attests, the most interesting and compelling feature of the HR Authority solution is the company’s strategic partnership with UBenefit, a proprietary benefit management platform for plan marketing, enrollment, and administration. What that means for small businesses is that HR Authority comes with the ability for companies to be able to now shop the benefits marketplace for risk management information and reduce their administrative burden even further by having a completely online enrollment process. Ceridian also offers payroll check printing and imaging services that provide customizable check layouts; check stock with built-in security features; and control processes to ensure accuracy and quality. On top of these features, Ceridian’s solution grants employees 24/7 online access to their pay statements.

Ceridian’s Strengths

  • Capable of supporting multiple departments, Ceridian’s web solution is particularly appealing for companies which are geographically dispersed.
  • Unlike most of the other solution’s reviewed, Ceridian allows employees to have multiple direct deposit accounts (as well as debit card and check payments).
  • Support is available for multiple benefit plan types; including: cafeteria-style, 401(k), and health insurance.
  • Master file data (i.e. time, benefits, etc.) can be imported from 3rd-party applications as long as an interface is provided—a capability that greatly expands reporting and functionality.
  • Ceridian’s knowledge center provides a go-to resource for payroll, compliance, and tax information, as well as broader benefits and HR best practices.
  • Ceridian’s user interface is a further simplified version of their enterprise solution, which is intuitive and boasts a shortened time-to-value.
  • Ceridian provides some of the small business industry’s highest security levels thanks to its tie-ins to broader ERP, CRM, and HR functionalities..
  • Surprisingly for a company that still appears to be North American-centric, Ceridian wields a partner network of over 50 countries for international coverage.

Ceridian’s Weaknesses

  • Reports do not offer drilldown functionality.
  • Small business customers are not provided access to Ceridian’s classroom training programs, which could impact the time to deployment.Another salient aspect of Intuit’s target market is that company size is capped at 150 employees.
  • While payroll capabilities for the HR/Payroll Web solution are undeniably adequate, Ceridian's real strength is in the capabilities it has for HR; a potential issue for small businesses not looking to capitalize on that strength.
  • As is the case with similarly-situated payroll outsourcing providers, outsourcers, economies of scale are not always possible, which can create a price issue for smaller companies.
  • Although Ceridian’s international footprint is growing, the bulk of functionalities at this time are concentrated in North America; especially in Canada for small businesses.
  • Although no other small business solution provider is making these efforts either, to date, Ceridian has failed to provide integration capabilities to its cloud and workforce management offerings.
  • Ceridian’s outsourcing option is significantly more expensive than other outsourced small business payroll solutions.

Short List Ceridian When:

  • You’re a business in the 1-300 employee category.
  • Your business is looking to leverage additional tools such as integrated HR rather than just payroll.
  • You need a provider that integrates with benefits and time/attendance.
  • You’re looking to utilize the services of a Tier-1 payroll vendor.
  • Your organization has a high concentration of complex U.S., Canadian, or UK payroll needs
  • You favor an on-premise payroll and/or HR software system over a cloud solution

Consider an Alternative Payroll Solution When:

  • You’re seeking a cheap, comprehensive HR outsourcing solution.
  • Your organization operates globally and needs global HR functionality beyond payroll
  • Your small business needs include drill-down reporting capabilities.
  • You seek one-on-one, personalized attention for your product support needs.
  • You have system training needs that will most likely not be satisfied by web-based tutorials or built-in system guides.
  • Your company needs the flexibility and innovation that comes from an established, "true" multi-tenant SaaS HR solution. End

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 Filed In Categories: Small Business Payroll
 Tags Tags: Ceridian, Small Business Payroll
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Author  Author: Micah Fairchild
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On top of the payroll services and products that Ceridian already offers small businesses, 2012 marked the year that the company launched an integrated suite of consolidated payroll and HR services call HR Authority that is specifically designed for the small business market.




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