Five ways to ensure your new global payroll system delivers locally Five ways to ensure your new global payroll system delivers locally

Five ways to ensure your new global payroll system delivers locally
24 Oct 2018

Global payroll systems are particularly complex to implement because they contain both international and local elements, each of which need to work in harmony with one another. 

On the one hand, a global system includes international features such as a single contract as well as a standardised data protection approach and payroll approval process.

On the other, it is necessary to comply with local legislation and customs because, if your in-country employees and payroll teams are unhappy with the local service they receive, your global payroll system will not be a success. As a result, this article explores five ways to help you ensure that your global payroll implementation delivers at the local level. 

1. Communicate locally

The most important thing to do is communicate heavily in each country in which your global payroll system will be rolled out. This is because everyone, whether they are directors, managers or employees, gets very concerned about any payroll changes. Because it is such an essential service, they will require reassurance that the project will succeed. 

But your communication plan should be tailored to the different types of audiences that you intend to target. At a minimum, it should contain descriptions of the initiative’s scope, which includes the number of countries and employees involved. It should also explain the key benefits that the project will bring. 

Another consideration is how important it is to provide reassurance that the new global system will not jeopardise either the quality or reliability of the current local system. For example, you should explain carefully what testing will take place in order to address any local quality concerns going forward.

It is also preferable to be honest and realistic when talking about any possible implementation challenges, especially as payroll teams are often already fully stretched at different times in the payroll cycle anyway. You will be given credit and gain trust for explaining how you plan to manage such resource constraints. 

2. Get local stakeholders on board

When you are rolling out your global payroll system into a new country, recognise that you will need local stakeholders to help both before and after the go-live date. If they are engaged and supportive of the initiative, it will help to overcome many difficulties during the implementation phase.

As a result, take time to familiarise yourself with the local organisation. Identify the key stakeholders who are of importance to the project. It may be individual end-users who would be useful to help roll it out or it could be key user groups, such as managers with high numbers of employees. 

But whoever it is, meet them in advance to explain the initiative and clarify the advantages it will bring. If necessary, set up face-to-face meetings from the outset, so that they have a chance to ask questions and build a relationship with you.

3. Manage existing payroll providers

Many project teams underestimate the crucial role that existing payroll vendors play in terms of ensuring that a global payroll implementation works. As a result, managing your current providers well is important for a smooth local rollout to take place.  

But do not leave it too late to inform your existing supplier(s) that you intend to move to a global payroll vendor. You may require their help to provide the payroll data necessary to undertake testing and go live. These vendors often include substantial notice periods in their contracts, which may conflict with your planned go-live date. You may also need their help in testing during parallel runs and to enable cutover services as the system goes live.

Furthermore, you are likely to find in many countries that your current payroll vendor provides services other than purely payroll-based ones, including payment, lodgement and some HR services. But it is vital to determine all of this before you terminate their contract in order to avoid disconnecting any vital local services.

4. Map local processes

One of the key benefits of introducing a global payroll system is that is based on internationally standardised processes. But in order to achieve this, it will be necessary for in-country stakeholders to change their current ways of working and adapt to these new standards. 

Existing payrolls are likely to consist of numerous different local processes that vary greatly from country to country. Practices such as enforcing cutoffs, maintaining employee data, payroll validation and the like can all vary widely.

Therefore, it makes sense to map out existing local processes at an early stage in the project. This will not only enable you to understand these processes better, but also to identify the key changes that need to be made to them in each location.

Doing so will enable you to tailor communications and training for each country based on the local environment. The alternative is to adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ training approach, which risks being largely irrelevant to local teams.

5. Treat change management seriously 

While all of the above steps are useful in and of themselves, they are not sufficient to guarantee a successful implementation in each country if change management is not taken seriously. In other words, it is important to put sufficient resources into ensuring any changes are understood and well received by the local or regional teams required to implement them. 

A good change management workstream will identify any individuals or teams whose roles or tasks are likely to change following the introduction of a global payroll system. It will ensure that they receive the training and additional resources necessary to implement the changes required. 

In many cases, such changes will relate to the behaviour and culture of local teams. For example, the new system may result in fewer manual procedures, which will see the flexibility of local staff to make late changes reduced.

But adopting a change management approach will provide you with techniques to help modify their behaviour without managing to alienate them at the same time. 

 John Galvin

John Galvin is founder and CEO of award-winning international expansion company Galvin International, which has offices in the US and UK. His firm helps clients expand globally by providing one-stop commercial and compliance services in more than 100 countries. John is a former multinational CFO with over 20 years of international commercial and finance experience, and was named Global Consultant of the Year 2016/17 at the inaugural Global Payroll Awards.

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Global payroll systems are particularly complex to implement because they contain both international and local elements, each of which need to work in harmony with one another. 

On the one hand, a global system includes international features such as a single contract as well as a standardised data protection approach and payroll approval process.

On the other, it is necessary to comply with local legislation and customs because, if your in-country employees and payroll teams are unhappy with the local service they receive, your global payroll system will not be a success. As a result, this article explores five ways to help you ensure that your global payroll implementation delivers at the local level. 

1. Communicate locally

The most important thing to do is communicate heavily in each country in which your global payroll system will be rolled out. This is because everyone, whether they are directors, managers or employees, gets very concerned about any payroll changes. Because it is such an essential service, they will require reassurance that the project will succeed. 

But your communication plan should be tailored to the different types of audiences that you intend to target. At a minimum, it should contain descriptions of the initiative’s scope, which includes the number of countries and employees involved. It should also explain the key benefits that the project will bring. 

Another consideration is how important it is to provide reassurance that the new global system will not jeopardise either the quality or reliability of the current local system. For example, you should explain carefully what testing will take place in order to address any local quality concerns going forward.

It is also preferable to be honest and realistic when talking about any possible implementation challenges, especially as payroll teams are often already fully stretched at different times in the payroll cycle anyway. You will be given credit and gain trust for explaining how you plan to manage such resource constraints. 

2. Get local stakeholders on board

When you are rolling out your global payroll system into a new country, recognise that you will need local stakeholders to help both before and after the go-live date. If they are engaged and supportive of the initiative, it will help to overcome many difficulties during the implementation phase.

As a result, take time to familiarise yourself with the local organisation. Identify the key stakeholders who are of importance to the project. It may be individual end-users who would be useful to help roll it out or it could be key user groups, such as managers with high numbers of employees. 

But whoever it is, meet them in advance to explain the initiative and clarify the advantages it will bring. If necessary, set up face-to-face meetings from the outset, so that they have a chance to ask questions and build a relationship with you.

3. Manage existing payroll providers

Many project teams underestimate the crucial role that existing payroll vendors play in terms of ensuring that a global payroll implementation works. As a result, managing your current providers well is important for a smooth local rollout to take place.  

But do not leave it too late to inform your existing supplier(s) that you intend to move to a global payroll vendor. You may require their help to provide the payroll data necessary to undertake testing and go live. These vendors often include substantial notice periods in their contracts, which may conflict with your planned go-live date. You may also need their help in testing during parallel runs and to enable cutover services as the system goes live.

Furthermore, you are likely to find in many countries that your current payroll vendor provides services other than purely payroll-based ones, including payment, lodgement and some HR services. But it is vital to determine all of this before you terminate their contract in order to avoid disconnecting any vital local services.

4. Map local processes

One of the key benefits of introducing a global payroll system is that is based on internationally standardised processes. But in order to achieve this, it will be necessary for in-country stakeholders to change their current ways of working and adapt to these new standards. 

Existing payrolls are likely to consist of numerous different local processes that vary greatly from country to country. Practices such as enforcing cutoffs, maintaining employee data, payroll validation and the like can all vary widely.

Therefore, it makes sense to map out existing local processes at an early stage in the project. This will not only enable you to understand these processes better, but also to identify the key changes that need to be made to them in each location.

Doing so will enable you to tailor communications and training for each country based on the local environment. The alternative is to adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ training approach, which risks being largely irrelevant to local teams.

5. Treat change management seriously 

While all of the above steps are useful in and of themselves, they are not sufficient to guarantee a successful implementation in each country if change management is not taken seriously. In other words, it is important to put sufficient resources into ensuring any changes are understood and well received by the local or regional teams required to implement them. 

A good change management workstream will identify any individuals or teams whose roles or tasks are likely to change following the introduction of a global payroll system. It will ensure that they receive the training and additional resources necessary to implement the changes required. 

In many cases, such changes will relate to the behaviour and culture of local teams. For example, the new system may result in fewer manual procedures, which will see the flexibility of local staff to make late changes reduced.

But adopting a change management approach will provide you with techniques to help modify their behaviour without managing to alienate them at the same time. 

 John Galvin

John Galvin is founder and CEO of award-winning international expansion company Galvin International, which has offices in the US and UK. His firm helps clients expand globally by providing one-stop commercial and compliance services in more than 100 countries. John is a former multinational CFO with over 20 years of international commercial and finance experience, and was named Global Consultant of the Year 2016/17 at the inaugural Global Payroll Awards.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Implementing global payroll: Specifying solutions

International expansion for start-up companies

How to cut global payroll costs long-term