Payroll software: native vs. integrated: what’s the difference in summary:

  • Native payroll software is designed and built for one specific HRIS platform, offering optimised performance and leveraging platform-specific features.
  • Integrated payroll software is built to work with a range of HR systems, forming part of larger systems for enhanced functionality and interoperability.
  • When it comes to deciding which is best, choose native payroll software for optimal performance on a specific platform, and integrated software for solutions requiring interaction with other tools.

If you’re looking for in-house payroll software, you don’t have to look very far to find a wealth of options on the market.

Head over to the HMRC’s website and you’ll discover a huge list of HMRC-recognised payroll software options that’ll allow you to manage your payroll in-house. But, when it comes to choosing the right one, things might start to become a little confusing.

That’s because there’s a myriad of terms that can be thrown around to describe payroll software: with “native software” and “integrated software” being the most common and often misunderstood – especially if you’re not from a ‘techy’ background!

Payroll Software Native vs. Integrated What’s the Difference Cezanne Blog

While they might sound similar, they represent two distinct approaches to software development and functionality. Also understanding the difference between native and integrated payroll software programs is crucial for making informed purchasing decisions.

So, what are the key differences between the two? Let’s take a closer look…

What is native payroll software?

A native payroll software program is an application developed specifically for a particular operating system or HRIS. Think of it as a tailor-made suit, crafted to fit the unique contours of a specific body perfectly.

A good example of this is (surprise surprise!) Cezanne’s native payroll software. It’s been built on the same architecture as the Cezanne HRIS, meaning it works seamlessly with Cezanne’s modular HR software suite: offering continuous and real-time data sharing between HR and payroll without the need for any additional coding or interventions from IT specialists.

What are the key characteristics of native software?

1. Platform-specific design

Native software is designed and optimised for a specific platform. For instance, Cezanne in-house payroll software is a native application tailored to leverage the features and capabilities of the Cezanne HRIS. This means users benefit from all the qualities of the Cezanne system – including self-service, enhanced security and automatic system updates – without the need for any assistance from IT teams.

2. One system for all

Since a native payroll software solution is built using existing HRIS architecture, you’ll benefit from a seamless user experience. Your dashboards will also reflect all your existing HR data contained within your HRIS; meaning you don’t need to go to HR to check an employee’s record. And, thanks to real time HR data being instantly available, you’ll immediately be aware of new starters, leavers, personal data changes anytime in your pay period. As a result, you’ll no longer need to wait to sync up with your HR system, or worse… mess around with spreadsheets!

3. Superior performance

Since native payroll software options are built with a particular platform in mind, they can fully exploit the system’s resources, leading to superior performance. This means faster execution of tasks, smoother operation, that all-important real-time data transfer and better user responsiveness.

4. Native = built into a wider system

Yup, while native software may interact with other specific software integrations, they’re not designed for integration with other HRIS systems. This means they can’t be used or purchased independently. Their primary focus is on delivering optimal performance and user experience only within their designated platform.

What examples of native payroll software are there?

Check out Cezanne (obviously!), Gusto and ADP Workforce Now.

So, what’s integrated payroll software?

On the other hand, an integrated payroll software solution (or payroll integration) is designed to work in conjunction with a variety of different HR software or systems, or in some cases just as a standalone piece of software.

Think of it as the jack of all trades: it’s been developed to offer compatibility with a broad range of different platforms. But, unlike a native program, it’ll often be built on its own architecture with its own distinct user experience.

What are the key characteristics of payroll integrations?

1. Interoperability

Integrated payroll software programs or payroll integrations are third-party programs built to interact with other software applications. This means they can essentially be ‘bolted on’ to pre-existing HRIS platforms or people management software. This is also beneficial for businesses if they use multiple payroll companies or operate in different geographical areas.

2. Off the shelf functionality

Being able to ‘bolt on’ a payroll integration means you’ll enhance the functionality of an existing HRIS or people management platform. Native software options often come as part of a wider HRIS and not as a separate system. So, an integration can be a potentially simple way to add payroll functionality without needing to implement an entirely new system… However, your IT team may need to be involved with its deployment.

3. Standalone user experience with limited customisation options

An integrated payroll solution (or payroll integration) will generally work harmoniously with a range of different HR platforms. But, it’s often the case the user experience will be different to that of the system it’s integrating with. This is because integrations are designed to work with a wide variety of platforms, limiting customisation options. As a result, it may not be as responsive or work as smoothly as a native option simply due to the differences in build and software architecture.

What examples of integrated payroll software and payroll integrations are there?

Some more popular payroll integrations include Xero, QuickBooks and Sage.

Which is better: native or integrated?

Now that’s a good question!

While native software offers seamless data transfer, peerless performance and enhanced user experience for specific HRIS platforms, integrated software options can provide a ‘quick fix’ solution for adding payroll operations to existing people operation platforms.

Ultimately, both have their unique advantages and choosing between them depends on your specific needs and goals. However, understanding the differences between the two options will help you make a more informed decision when it comes to implementing and deploying the right choice in payroll software.

Perhaps the simplest way to take a judgement would be to consider the following:

Choose native software if…

… You’re in the market for a new HRIS platform and manage payroll inhouse, it makes sense to choose one that includes native payroll software. You’ll benefit from seamless real-time data transfer, more customisation features and a more cohesive user experience.

Choose an integrated payroll solution / payroll integration if…

… You’re not looking to change your existing people management software. You simply need an ‘off the shelf’ solution that will give you the basics to manage payroll inhouse.

To summarise, while native payroll software offers a more tailored performance and user experience for specific HRIS platforms, integrated programs provide simpler, off-the-shelf payroll computability with existing HRIS software platforms.

Click here to discover how Cezanne's Native Payroll Software can transform your business

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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