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3 Ways to Keep Your Global Payroll Implementation On-Track

Aug 16, 2016 

As a global payroll project enters its deployment phase, organizations typically seek a swift, streamlined implementation to minimize time to value. Yet failure to prepare for the rigors of roll-out often leads to painful project delays – with issues often showing up late in the implementation process.

This not only gives rise to the possibility of missing your go-live date and increasing your project costs, it also brings the potential financial implications of retaining existing global payroll providers for an extended period while the problems are overcome. But with a smarter approach to project management and a more thoughtful approach to planning, organizations can avoid delays – ultimately saving them time and money.

In this article, CloudPay looks at how to avoid the pitfalls that can create unnecessary project delays. With more than two decades of experience of implementing large-scale global payroll roll-outs, we have deep expertise on the key steps to a successful project.

1. Ensure the Readiness of Reliable Data

Fundamental to the successful implementation of integrated global payroll is a data-ready HR system containing current, up-to-date payroll information and historical data.

Historical payroll data is of crucial importance to getting up-and-running on a new solution, yet many companies find it challenging to obtain. With their global payroll data often spread out across multiple local offices, rather than stored in a central repository, it can be complex and time-consuming to aggregate the information necessary for implementation. The issue is exacerbated when organizations elect to implement a global payroll system and a new HR system simultaneously, which is highly common.

Alternatively, it’s sometimes the case that businesses are choosing not to store global payroll data in their HR system at all. Instead, they are processing payroll through multiple local-level teams or accountants, emailing data or filling in spreadsheets on an ad-hoc basis.

In that scenario, it’s crucial to identify where your payroll teams are pulling their data from. The process is most likely not standardized, creating discrepancies between the data you hold at a global level and the data being passed between local offices and an existing payroll provider.

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Ahead of implementation, ensure that a standardized global payroll data set is prepared and stored in full in your HR system. This will likely mean creating multiple fields of data, including those that may be only relevant to one or two countries (for example, in Germany, religion is a required field to allow collection of Church tax). This may seem like a huge undertaking, but failure to provide this data is the most typical cause of delayed implementations.
  • Engage local teams and task them with validating centrally held information against their own records. Ultimately, you need to ensure the consistency of data across your HR system, your local HR offices, and your existing payroll providers. This verification process is critical and will have a significant impact on your post-implementation outcomes.

2. Recognize the Complexity Level Country-by-Country 

The roll-out of new global payroll solutions is almost always a complex process, but some countries represent greater onboarding challenges than others.

An organization setting up payroll in Brazil, for instance, will typically need to provide five years’ worth of historical payroll data, whereas operations in the United Arab Emirates may not need to produce any year to date figures.

When establishing your deployment plan, it is therefore wise to schedule such countries for parallel roll-outs (regardless of their geographical distance) – pairing one complex challenge with one ‘easy win’ to ensure a sense of momentum.

Acknowledging the local requirements in each of your territories also forms an important part of your ‘gap analysis.’ In other words, understanding the role your global payroll solution can and can’t, play in each country.

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Liaise with local contacts to understand the legislative requirements in all of your territories. 
  • Deploy resources carefully – that is, don’t schedule roll-outs in challenging countries like Brazil, China and Germany all at the same time.
  • Assuming it fits your business needs, consider building a journey of success by beginning exclusively with an easy country before undertaking a comprehensive global roll-out. By starting small, you can learn the methodology and functionality of a system in a limited scope before moving on to tackle bigger challenges.

3. Manage the Change Wisely

Resistance to change is expected in any significant business technology switch – and in the world of global payroll software, the resistance most often manifests itself at local levels. Local payroll team members often push back against the implementation of a new solution out of fear their jobs will be impacted, or because they feel discouraged at the prospect of re-learning established processes.

And given the global nature of a payroll-tech implementation, there will almost inevitably be local operations teams involved that are already performing payroll to a high standard – and they may feel especially reluctant to change their ‘winning formula’ for the greater good of the global organization. 

How to overcome the challenge

  • Engage local-level teams in the project from the outset, communicating specifically how the benefits of global payroll relate to them.
  • Commence the roll-out with a relatively simple country or region, gaining a global champion in the process that can vouch for both the efficiency of the implementation and the value of the technology.
  • Achieve team-wide buy-in by holding regular status meetings, support your phased implementation with proper IT guidance, and following our other suggestions on getting local teams to back your global payroll project.

In Summary

A global payroll implementation brings with it many challenges, but through proactive preparation of both your data and your people, deployment can be delivered in a smooth and seamless manner, on time and on budget.

It’s important to stress that many key considerations should be made well in advance of your deployment. The initial business case must be built, and the appropriate technology evaluated, well before you can move into the actual deployment phase.

All three of these steps are covered in greater depth in our comprehensive CloudPaper Three key stages of global payroll implementation’ – essential further reading for payroll project managers embarking on the journey towards the efficiency and effectiveness of a cloud payroll solution.

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