Heartland vs. RUN Powered by ADP®: A comparison of payroll solutions for small businesses

Handing out cash on payday sounds simple, which might be why so many employers start out managing payroll in house. But as complicated considerations arise, like withholding wage garnishments, providing health insurance and juggling tax forms, it’s no wonder small business owners see outsourcing to a full-service payroll provider as an attractive option.

There’s no shortage of payroll options. Finding the best payroll software to fit your clients’ payroll needs can feel overwhelming…and finding the wrong one can cost them time, money and considerable frustration. That’s why we’ve created this comparison between two payroll solutions — Heartland and RUN Powered by ADP®.

Read on to learn:

  • Key payroll features and add-ons offered by Heartland and RUN Powered by ADP®
  • How their payroll solutions differ
  • Why your clients might choose one small business payroll provider over the other
  • How to get in touch with Heartland for a quote
ISV meets with clients to discuss potential payroll providers

Two quick notes before we dive in: Each company provides functionality for small businesses that’s so robust, we couldn’t possibly cover all the details with just one blog. Instead, our goal is to provide an overview of what we see as the most important features a payroll system should offer small businesses. For more information on any solution, be sure to visit these providers’ websites. We’ll also be referring to RUN Powered by ADP® as simply RUN throughout the rest of the piece for simplicity.

Explore features and functionality

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Packages and pricing models


Heartland and RUN both sell tiered packages with set groups of features that increase in price as they move from basic functionality into full-service payroll solutions. RUN’s four packages start with Essential, and level up to Enhanced, Complete and HR Pro. Heartland's three plans are Essentials, Advanced and Complete.


One of the biggest differences between offerings is the size of business they’re optimized to serve. RUN primarily serves startups and small businesses with between 1 and 50 employees. If customers grow beyond that threshold, they can opt into ADP’s offerings for mid-sized businesses all the way up to enterprise organizations. Heartland is specifically built for small businesses, but is capable of supporting the mid-market range up to 250 employees. Unlike ADP, Heartland does not offer an enterprise software solution for larger businesses.

Another key differentiator is the product suite of each company. ADP is a payroll processing titan with add-on services for businesses with 1 employee or 1,000. Heartland’s payroll scope is more limited. If your clients are interested in managing payments, point of sale and payroll with one provider, though, Heartland does offer POS and payments solutions that range from small business to enterprise.

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Payroll processing and tax management


RUN and Heartland both provide cloud-based payroll processing and full-service tax management for US business owners and their employees in all 50 states. As you’d expect, both can handle calculating wages, overtime and bonuses for hourly, salaried and contract workers, and users of both systems can access all of their functionality via one payroll platform.

New hire reporting is included in both providers’ Essential(s) offerings, as well as employee payments via paycards and direct deposit. Employers using Heartland and RUN have 24/7 access to their payroll platform of choice, and can provide staff with an online self-service employee portal to access pay stubs, 1099s or W-2s.

Naturally, both providers integrate with popular accounting software like Quickbooks and Quickbooks Online, so your clients’ payroll and bookkeeping are always in sync.


Heartland offers garnishment support and physical checks as an employee payment option in the Essentials plan. RUN customers must upgrade from the Essential to Enhanced package to get access to garnishment payment services and check signing, stuffing and secure check.

RUN includes a few human resources-related features in their Essential package, like HR tips, reading materials and self-assessment checklists. Heartland users would need to upgrade to the Complete plan to access human resources materials and resources, but that upgrade would include a library of HR assets, compliance updates, training and certification tracking, an employee handbook builder and a labor law poster program.

Year-end reporting is part of any Heartland payroll plan. RUN only offers year-end reporting as an add-on, meaning it’s not baked into any of their plans.

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Applicant tracking and onboarding


Likely in response to the demands of the modern workforce, both Heartland and RUN offer self-service onboarding to save time and minimize errors. New hires can complete onboarding on the go before their first day, meaning they can truly start work on day one without the distraction of piles of paperwork. Business owners gain convenient digital documentation for any inquiry.

Send onboarding packets via email in seconds, including Forms I-9, W-4, direct deposit information, customized documents like your clients’ employee handbook, signature requests for policy documents and more. Although this feature is available in the Heartland Essentials plan, customers must upgrade to the RUN Complete package to access self-service onboarding.


Heartland’s Advanced plan takes hiring services a bit further, giving business owners access to robust applicant tracking tools. Users are able to review applications, schedule interviews, rank candidates, run candidate screenings, background checks and send offer letters all in one place. Heartland customers can also include specific questions that will flag candidates and new hires who may be eligible for Work Opportunity Tax Credits. Based on their publicly available marketing materials, RUN does not provide applicant tracking functionality at this time.

While both companies offer options for posting jobs and running background checks, the details differ significantly. RUN offers two revolving job postings with ZipRecruiter® and background checks as part of their Enhanced package. As part of the Heartland Advanced plan, business owners can post an unlimited number of jobs, and promote them on sites like Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder for an additional fee.

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Employee time management


There are plenty of popular third-party time tracking solutions on the market. Fortunately, both of these providers are integration friendly.

Employee time management is treated as an add-on by both providers, meaning your clients won’t find it listed in any of the plans or packages but it can be added for an additional cost. This is also true of benefits administration services.


Heartland offers an in-house time and attendance solution for payroll budgeting, shift coverage, punching options, labor distribution and various accruals (like time off and state-mandated sick leave programs). RUN offers time tracking integrations, but doesn’t have a solution of their own. This may not be a make-or-break detail for many, but could be a deciding factor for those in search of specific time and attendance functionality like geo-fencing or continuous tracking.

Managers reviews employee time punch logs together

Key takeaways

At the end of the day, it’s all about your clients’ specific business needs. Nonprofits will naturally be focusing on different features than nightclubs. But to summarize in broad strokes, here are some important facts in each area:

Processing and tax management

  • Business owners looking for full-service tax management including year-end reporting at no additional cost may be a good fit for a Heartland plan.
  • Business owners who need HR resources and checklists without any bells and whistles may be more interested in RUN’s Essential package.

Applicant tracking and onboarding

  • Business owners who have low turnover or don’t expect to hire more than one or two people at a time could be a better fit for the functionality offered in RUN’s Enhanced package.
  • Business owners who anticipate higher turnover or need to hire a variety of positions at once could benefit from the features for reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews and running screenings in Heartland’s Advanced plan.

Employee time management

  • Business owners who already have a third-party time tracking solution they like might consider any of RUN’s three packages once they’ve confirmed an integration is supported.
  • Business owners who would want the option of an in-house solution and a third-party integration, or prefer an all-in-one solution to multiple providers, may be intrigued by Heartland.

Drop us a line

As you’ve likely noticed, there’s a sea of information out there about different solutions and payroll providers. Even in this blog, we covered just a fraction of what Heartland and RUN Powered by ADP® can do.

Sometimes talking it through with an expert can help. If your clients would like to learn more about Heartland’s payroll technology or just ask a few no-pressure questions, contact us today. We would love to learn more about their businesses and how we can help them thrive!

Peggy McDonald

Senior Copywriter

A senior copywriter at Heartland, a Global Payments company, Peggy has spent the majority of her career in the tech space. With specific expertise in payroll, payments and point of sale technologies, she shares data and tells stories to help entrepreneurs, enterprises and every business in between make decisions with confidence.