Best of Breed Apps: Gusto

Managing payroll and HR effectively can be one of the most difficult aspects of running a successful business. The data entry must be perfect, the record keeping must be perfect, the payouts must be perfect. When something goes wrong, nobody’s happy – not the employee, not the management, and not the tax man. 

The rapid development of new software over the last several years has greatly improved the process for many businesses, but now the question is which one? Whose software does it best, with the most functionality, at the best price?

Bookkeeping Express has had years of experience helping hundreds of businesses set up and manage their payroll and HR systems, and we are constantly on the lookout for best-of-breed tools to help our clients run their businesses smoothly and maximize their success. Based on our research, Gusto is a great choice for many of them to manage their HR and payroll tasks effortlessly.


There are a wide variety of payroll software providers to choose from, so what makes Gusto stand out?

  • Ease of use and directed implementation. More than anything, we have found that Gusto’s interface and guidance is second to none. For entrepreneurs and small businesses who are not well-versed in best practices for payroll, Gusto makes it easy and intuitive to take the right steps, make the right choices, and build out a complete, personalized system with a minimum of fuss. At every step it tells you what you need to do next and how to do it in Gusto’s system. In our experience, no other software “holds your hand,” so to speak, in such a clear and effective way. Even if you or your payroll manager are experienced with these matters, Gusto’s interface still makes it much faster and minimizes mistakes.

  • Onboarding current and new employees is simple and quick. Entering the Gusto system is done by the employees themselves via links to the website, so the onboarding process has minimal steps and reduces errors in the data entry process.

  • Tiered pricing. Gusto offers fours pricing tiers, each progressively offering more resources depending on your business needs. Most of its competitors have a one-size-fits-all-model that is either too expensive while providing unnecessary capabilities or are nominally inexpensive but exclude needed services. 

  • All-inclusive pricing. Gusto’s monthly pricing is upfront and all-inclusive. Other software providers often provide a basic service and then tack on extra, unanticipated fees as you need them. When you choose a plan from Gusto, you know what you will pay in advance and can reliably plan your operating budget around it. 

  • Employee Access. In the past, all employee needs had to be serviced through ownership or HR. With Gusto, things like requests for old records, changing withholding or personal information, and tracking hours or vacation can all be done directly by the employee through the website or app. And – rare among its competitors – Gusto provides employees lifetime access to details like W-2’s and pay stubs, even if your business eventually stops using Gusto for some reason.

  • Gusto supports local tax filings. Most of Gusto’s competitors offer some level of support for filing federal and state taxes, but rarely do they help with local taxes. We have found that Gusto’s support and interface for tax records and filings is excellent, and the ability to handle famously tricky local taxes as well is an invaluable bonus.

  • Gusto can handle taxes for all 50 states. And once again, without extra fees. This means not only that Gusto is available to your business no matter where you are located, but also that if your business needs to meet tax filing requirements in more than one state, Gusto will be able to do it.

  • Extensive support. Gusto’s support team is US-based and can interact via phone, email, or chat. Essential software support is excellent at all levels, and at the higher pricing tiers you practically have in-house payroll and HR experts available to you. It is important to note that direct support is only available during business hours Monday-Friday, so if you anticipate a need for such services in the evening or over the weekend, you may need to look elsewhere. 

  • You can upgrade or downgrade at any time. If you find that you don’t need all the services provided by your current plan, or (hopefully!) your business is expanding and needs more services, you are not trapped in a fixed plan for a fixed period.


The continuing development of software and applications have improved the payroll and HR experience for business and employees alike, but with such a wide variety of options on the market, it can be hard to know what is best for you. BKE has extensive experience helping clients sift through the options, and currently we think that Gusto is a best-of-breed option for many of the small businesses we serve.