IN Conversation with Priyankan: Emerging Trends in Centralisation of Global Payroll

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Reprinted from Global Payroll-March 2017: The official magazine of Global Payroll Management Institute

What emerging trends or significant issues have your attention in global payroll?

Pri: The most significant trend in recent years is that organizations are starting to move toward a centralized or standardized model for managing global payroll, as it has proven to drive efficiency and scale. Industry leaders are starting to accept the usefulness of a single solution to global payroll in terms of technology and are backed by a single service provider.

At the same time, payroll is increasingly taking an employee-centric approach and has moved from being a traditional bridge between the HR and finance functions to a more strategic tower that defines business decisions and employee morale. One key challenge that we witness, of course, is the resistance to change, which is coupled with decisions resulting in the continuation of an old school of thought, rather than opting to optimize and standardize one’s processes through a wholesome global payroll strategy.

  1. As the role of the global payroll professional grows, what are key qualities you look for when hiring?

Pri: For me, more than anything else, it’s attitude. One may not have experience, but if one has the right attitude, the job gets done. Top that off with skill development and an appreciation for good work, and one can get the job done better than ever before. Add some mentoring and the right dose of motivation and that person can move up the ladder. That’s what is important in a growing yet challenging industry like the global payroll business. Having said that, of course, I look out for people who are good with numbers as well as communication. I look for people with integrity and the ability to learn quickly.

  1. What resources do you use to stay current on the latest trends and legislation in global payroll?

Pri: Decisions of payroll and compliance should be based on multiple sources. Articles and information are available in resources such as this publication, Global Payroll because the information comes from peers or leaders in the industry who have a lot to share in terms of experience and knowledge.

At Neeyamo, we take feeds from three types of sources. The first is an independent in-house compliance and research division that scans through several documented databases and resources for changes or updates in legislatures; the second is pre-qualified in-country experts or compliance partners who share reports on legislature changes, and the third is reliance upon updates from global advisory firms.

Here, the rule of thumb is to cross-validate any legislature change made with all these sources and update our systems as needed. If even one source implies a different story, we then investigate to ascertain the facts. We will contact a country’s appropriate authoritative body directly when needed.

  1. Is it possible to have a single global payroll solution and service?

Pri: I feel certain that the question “Can there be only one technology solution to global payroll” will soon become one of the past. It has already become a reality. It is just a matter of time before everyone starts moving in that direction.

  1. What are some of the considerations a company should ask to determine if there is good fit with a prospective vendor?

Pri: In today’s terms, I would recommend the following: Delivery capability, including quality and ability to transform and transitions.

  • Delivery capability, including quality and ability to transform and transitions.
  • Technology capability one needs to evaluate the technology being used. It will determine  the level  of automation and standardization one can achieve by selecting the vendor.The  Level of scalability  of the vendor to meet your growth or accommodate dynamic changes in  your organization. At the  same time, it is important to have culture fit to one’s  organization.
  • The Level of scalability of the vendor to meet your growth or accommodate dynamic  changes in  your organization. At the same time, it is important to have culture fit to one’s  organization.
  • Commercial proposition and benefits including the value-adds that the vendor can bring in.

Try to ascertain an answer to the question: “Would I be one among 5,000 customers or would I be one of their special 100?” It is equally important that you feel cherished as a customer.

  1. Share any thoughts about how your approach to change management has helped to make a successful organization.

Pri: The key to designing and driving change is to work collaboratively with the stakeholders who would be impacted by the change. For any org-level change such as centralizing global payroll, we follow what we refer to as the “Study-Analyze-Recommend” process and we carve out the blueprint to manage the change accordingly.

Taking global payroll centralization as an example, one can get started by conducting a high-level understanding of current as-Is processes in applicable countries to identify the actual scope for standardization.

This can involve charting out the localized centres where payroll is actually managed such as regional offices, shared model, etc. During this period, one needs to go through existing documents containing process maps and process documents to help understand the As-Is processes and identify and document existing best practices.

One also needs to identify immediate issues and challenges that need focus. Issues such as existing vendor-related risks like contract expiry, people related challenges like attrition, unionized agreements, planned holiday of key resources, and audit findings, etc. It is important to identify historical or recurring issues that needed to be accounted for.

Next, analyzing the data streams must include taking stock of the different technology/systems that are used for upstream and downstream processes such as movement of time and leave data and commissions, etc. This also needs to identify key control points and enablers for each process/data stream. It also is important to have clarity regarding the people involved in roles, activity, and effort.

Once one has detailed insights into these areas and every affected stakeholder is identified, a collaborative solution can be created and effectively implemented.

  1. What are some of the unique aspects of running an efficient and effective global payroll operation? 

Pri: Well, global payroll operations, especially if you are a service provider, can sound a bit complex because of its sheer nature. As such, I have great respect for global payroll leaders who have carved out their niche in the industry over the last couple of years.

However, the operations can be well managed if the whole complex piece is broken down into smaller structures. For example, your entire operations can be sub-grouped into different teams such as global payroll implementation, payroll delivery with regional-or country-specific teams, project management office (who also manage risks), compliance team, technology and configuration, partner management, help desk team, etc. These teams can be further broken down by client needs (if you are a service provider) or regional specific teams based on location being operated from; but the key to managing the whole gambit is to make sure every single team member sees the big picture and works in sync by being aligned to the overall organizational or business goal. Leadership with integrity and continual improvement is of utmost importance. I would say that the mantra to successful operations management is to effectively manage the four pillars—people power, process excellence, customer delight, and risk mitigation.


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