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2014 Review of ZenPayroll


ZenPayroll is an outsourced, web-based payroll solution started in December 2012 and is backed by venture capital funds from many top Internet-based companies. The solution is designed to quickly process payroll and reports and relies heavily on user-guided assistance to ensure the most accurate processing. ZenPayroll is limited in its state compliance offerings but is rapidly expanding to multiple states.

Basic System Functions: 4.5 Stars

ZenPayroll is a web-based payroll solution accessible from a computer and nearly all smartphone and tablet devices. As a web-based solution, security is at the forefront of the offering and 256 bit SSL encryption is maintained to fully encrypt data at rest and in transit. Additional security measures such as data center security and multi-level backups are implemented as well as others as explained on the company website.

As a web-based system, ZenPayroll encourages collaboration between accounting professional and payroll clients. User access rights and restrictions allow clients to participate at any level from full processing capabilities to report viewing only. In all situations, accounting professional retains payroll processing oversight.

Accounting professionals subscribing to the service are presented with a dashboard upon entering the solution. This dashboard lists and provides direct access to all payroll clients enrolled in the service as well as important and upcoming dates for payroll runs, bank holidays and deadlines. Payroll runs, adding employees and generating reports may be processed quickly through a few mouse clicks directly from the client level dashboard.

Setup for employees is accomplished quickly through a guided screen detailing basic demographic and salary information. From there, users may enter additional detailed information, such as direct deposit information and withholding allowance amounts or send the request to the employee to enter information. Upon completion, the employee entered data will directly integrate into the system after management approval. Earnings and deduction codes are automatically generated and assigned to users as they are added to the system. Benefit items, such as 401(k) and HSAs, may be added and assigned to users in bulk.  If the user is converting from an existing payroll package, the addition of the ability to import standing and transaction information from a spreadsheet would be a useful addition.

Running payroll is a simple process of entering appropriate time information and adjusting for any reimbursements or other bonus items. Upon completion of the payroll run, direct deposit information is processed automatically, but employees and contractors opting out of direct deposit will need to receive checks which are processed manually.

Reporting & Monitoring: 4.25 Stars

ZenPayroll supports all federal tax compliance requirements. State requirements are currently limited to 22 states, but the list is growing.  As an outsourced solution, ZenPayroll automatically calculates all payroll taxes and submits them electronically to the respective jurisdictions. Additionally, all compliance filings are automatically processed for federal and supported states. As documents are processed, they are archived in PDF format and accessible for download at any time.

Report options are limited within the system consisting of individual payroll runs, payroll journals based on a date filter and tax payment history. All reports may be natively exported to PDF or saved to the user’s Google Drive account. The ability to customize report columns has been added, but currently there is no custom report building tool.

Integration/Import/Export: 3.5 Stars

ZenPayroll integrates seamlessly and automatically with accounting packages, FreshBooks, QuickBooks desktop, QuickBooks Online and Xero. Time & attendance integration is available through TSheets, WageBase / When I Work, Deputy and NimbleSchedule. Human resources integration is offered via Bamboo HR and Kin HR; Human resources intergration via Baypoint and Simiply Insured; Expense management through Receipt Bank; and Expense management via InDinero and Zenefits. Other accounting software may achieve integration through the use of text file exports from ZenPayroll.

Integration points for a number of third-party benefit partners to help administer medical insurance, 401(k) and other benefits is built-into the system. Human resource management partners are also available for users to consult with in addition to Namely.

Help/Support: 4.5 Stars

The bulk of help and support options are located in an online searchable help and knowledgebase that is updated frequently based on user feedback and questions. Users may also obtain help through a dedicated instant message dialog and through an email contact form. Telephone support is available toll-free at 800-936-0383.

As an online system, ZenPayroll updates all federal and supported states in the background. Users will simply process payroll as normal and are not required to download or apply any updates. All updates are applied on an as needed basis.

Client Self-Service Features: 4.5 Stars

Employee self-service portals are included in pricing. After payroll is processed, employees receive an email directing them to the appropriate login site. Employees have direct access to current and previous paystubs that may be downloaded to PDF or saved directly to the employees Google Drive online storage account.

A section detailing current compensation levels and year-to-date earnings is provided. Employees also have the opportunity to adjust their contact and tax withholding information. Upon management approval, the changes are pushed through and applied to the next payroll run. Selected forms, such as direct deposit authorization and benefit enrollment, may be downloaded and filled out, but will need to be emailed or manually submitted.

Best Firm Fit

Businesses or accounting professionals who want a fast, simple, online payroll processing system that is primarily designed for managing up to 20 employees. However, the system can manage larger employee bases.


  • Accessible from virtually any web connected device
  • Simple interface design
  • Up-front pricing model
  • Employee portal included in pricing
  • Aggressive continued software development

Potential Limitations

  • Currently limited to 22 states
  • Reporting options are not as complete as competitors

New for 2014

Since the last CPA Practice Advisor review and with $20 million in new funding, ZenPayroll has expanded the number of states covered from six to 22 and has increased the third party integrations, so that it now supports:

  • Accounting
    • FreshBooks
    • Xero
    • Intuit
  • Time & Attendance
    • TSheets
    • WageBase / When I Work
    • Deputy
    • NimbleSchedule
  • Human Resources (HRIS)
    • Namely

Two new features bear special mention:  the ability to give an employee a spontaneous bonus net of tax, the calculations being performed by the software, and the ability for the employer to add personal notes to paystubs.

Summary & Pricing

ZenPayroll is a web-based payroll solution designed to be fast and simple, making good use of internet technology. As a fully outsourced solution, all payments and reporting are processed automatically by ZenPayroll.  Currently the payroll solution is only available in a 22 states, but that number is continuously expanding. The pricing model for ZenPayroll is simple and straightforward and consists of a monthly base fee of $25 per month per company with the first ten employees processed at $4 per month.

After the first 10, each additional employee or contractor can be processed for only $2 per month. As an example, pricing to process 10 employees is $65 per month and includes all items noted in the review. The eleventh employee would raise the total to $67 per month.

2014 Overall Rating: 4.75 Stars