Ask the Expert: How do I get global payroll right? Ask the Expert: How do I get global payroll right?

Ask the Expert: How do I get global payroll right?
31 Oct 2014

Q. I’m looking at whether we can change the way we deliver global payroll - what should I do?

Admittedly I see this from a vendor perspective but actually this is no different to a lot of ‘buying’ processes that we all go through regardless of what it is. I’ve been lucky to get a good cross section of what companies look at and the different approaches they follow. My key thoughts on this subject are:

• Do your research internally. Understand what you want to achieve from a corporate perspective and what the needs are of each department that influences this.

• Don’t forget your local country requirements. Engage your local countries even if the intent longer term is to centralise payroll. Too many times I’ve seen corporate teams buy an ‘unimplementable’ programme because they have not considered the local folks in-country who are then not only alienated by the decision but also have not had their local needs considered. For example, a lack of appreciation that their local time and attendance system is provided by their payroll vendor.

• Understand what can be bought. Sometimes companies have a strategy to achieve a number of things, but they haven’t got an understanding of whether what they want to buy is actually available. Amazing but true. Research the market. Perhaps it’s not time to go to market until you see greater availability.

• RFI then RFP. Whilst more time consuming, it is worth using the request for information (RFI) process to help you understand what you can and can’t buy and some indication into the other important areas - costs, timescales to implement, ongoing resource requirements etc. This gives you a chance to validate your strategy, come up with ideas, understand the market and vendor landscape better and refine what you may want. Then, when you go into a Request for Proposal (RFP) process you can be more formal in what you want.

• Make your RFP process one that isn’t onerous on the vendor, but does give you what you need to know. Many companies have corporate standards in place for how they manage vendor questions, for example, data security, so work with procurement teams on what the standards are that are required for all projects of a certain spend level.

Q. I’m a payroll manager and I have just found out, later than I would have liked, that we are expanding into a new country. What are my options?

This is unfortunately something that does happen in companies today. There are processes to follow, registrations to be undertaken, legal processes to adhere to and so on.

Sometimes a temporary measure like an external employment arrangement may be the best way to ensure you stay compliant whilst you’re establishing the official entities etc. But if you work in a high growth organisation that is expanding into new markets regularly, it is worth spending time with the business development people within your company.

Help them understand the pains that it puts you through when you have to find and implement ‘workarounds’ due to a lack of internal communication.

I’ve had scenarios in the past where payroll is the last to find out that a company has expanded into say, Italy. It’s important to partner with the business to ensure they understand that payroll must be considered.

If you have experienced this a few times then it is worth generating a ‘playbook’ on how to expand into new countries including all the relevant facts you’ll need to ensure compliance and speed to market.

One of the reasons that Uber, the driver service has been able to expand so quickly into new markets, is due to the way they built their playbook. They have the same fundamental steps to go through in each country and have perfected using it.

By Tristan Woods, chief technology officer at SafeGuard World International.

Q. I’m looking at whether we can change the way we deliver global payroll - what should I do?

Admittedly I see this from a vendor perspective but actually this is no different to a lot of ‘buying’ processes that we all go through regardless of what it is. I’ve been lucky to get a good cross section of what companies look at and the different approaches they follow. My key thoughts on this subject are:

• Do your research internally. Understand what you want to achieve from a corporate perspective and what the needs are of each department that influences this.

• Don’t forget your local country requirements. Engage your local countries even if the intent longer term is to centralise payroll. Too many times I’ve seen corporate teams buy an ‘unimplementable’ programme because they have not considered the local folks in-country who are then not only alienated by the decision but also have not had their local needs considered. For example, a lack of appreciation that their local time and attendance system is provided by their payroll vendor.

• Understand what can be bought. Sometimes companies have a strategy to achieve a number of things, but they haven’t got an understanding of whether what they want to buy is actually available. Amazing but true. Research the market. Perhaps it’s not time to go to market until you see greater availability.

• RFI then RFP. Whilst more time consuming, it is worth using the request for information (RFI) process to help you understand what you can and can’t buy and some indication into the other important areas - costs, timescales to implement, ongoing resource requirements etc. This gives you a chance to validate your strategy, come up with ideas, understand the market and vendor landscape better and refine what you may want. Then, when you go into a Request for Proposal (RFP) process you can be more formal in what you want.

• Make your RFP process one that isn’t onerous on the vendor, but does give you what you need to know. Many companies have corporate standards in place for how they manage vendor questions, for example, data security, so work with procurement teams on what the standards are that are required for all projects of a certain spend level.

Q. I’m a payroll manager and I have just found out, later than I would have liked, that we are expanding into a new country. What are my options?

This is unfortunately something that does happen in companies today. There are processes to follow, registrations to be undertaken, legal processes to adhere to and so on.

Sometimes a temporary measure like an external employment arrangement may be the best way to ensure you stay compliant whilst you’re establishing the official entities etc. But if you work in a high growth organisation that is expanding into new markets regularly, it is worth spending time with the business development people within your company.

Help them understand the pains that it puts you through when you have to find and implement ‘workarounds’ due to a lack of internal communication.

I’ve had scenarios in the past where payroll is the last to find out that a company has expanded into say, Italy. It’s important to partner with the business to ensure they understand that payroll must be considered.

If you have experienced this a few times then it is worth generating a ‘playbook’ on how to expand into new countries including all the relevant facts you’ll need to ensure compliance and speed to market.

One of the reasons that Uber, the driver service has been able to expand so quickly into new markets, is due to the way they built their playbook. They have the same fundamental steps to go through in each country and have perfected using it.

By Tristan Woods, chief technology officer at SafeGuard World International.