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How Payroll Analytics Can Improve Global Payroll Teams

Mar 24, 2016  | Tag: Analytics

Unless you’re sending your payrolls out with 100% accuracy, 100% on time, your global payroll performance can always be improved. In fact, even if you are consistently reaching those enviable benchmarks, chances are your payroll performance can still be enhanced.

Performance, after all, isn’t solely defined by your accuracy metrics. It’s also about the cost and administrative effort that goes into earning your payroll operation that spot in the ‘100% club.’ Often, issues and challenges that arise in the pre-payment process mean that your (undoubtedly impressive) accuracy stats are only achieved thanks to an overstretched team, perhaps even working late nights and weekends.

That leaves definite room for improvement. But payroll teams are often overstretched due to deficiencies in the systems they utilize; boosting performance when working with a fragmented, decentralized approach is easier said than done. Even identifying potential areas for improvement is virtually impossible when you’re relying on disparate, localized data and heavily manual processes.

Has payroll been left behind? 

In recent years, most large organizations have invested significantly to deliver high levels of automation throughout their businesses. Yet payroll has largely neglected.

When it comes to global payroll, standalone systems with few integration points remain the norm – and the lack of integration necessitates additional (error prone) human effort. This is especially true when it comes to reporting: Key payroll team members frequently spend valuable time trawling for data from multiple systems, analyzing and formatting it for consistency, and manually create and disseminating reports. 

It could be argued that this is just the way it is – one of the unspoken, accepted truths of running a decentralized global payroll function. Yet while heavy manual effort may not drive, or disrupt, your accuracy and timeliness, eliminating more of it can certainly make payroll easier and reduce some of your organization’s heavy administrative burdens.

The payroll trap

With payroll performance data so difficult and time-consuming to mine, it often gets reported poorly (or not reported at all). That leaves payroll managers severely short on insight into how their payroll processes are really being executed and where they need to improve.

When there are complications, more time may be spent debating where the issues could be than on actually fixing the problems. Without high-quality intelligence, the global payroll services team can never break out of “reactive” mode – continually focused on issue resolution while doing whatever it takes to get the pay-runs out accurately.

Often the payroll team doesn’t see an issue until it hits. When this happens, it’s too late for a simple fix – and the problem is likely to be a lot more complicated to solve and stressful to manage under the spotlight of a costly error.

Thankfully, however, it doesn’t have to be this way.

The answers lie in your data

Broadly, payroll problems fall into one of three categories: System errors, human errors, and process errors. Breaking issues down in this fashion is the first step to making them more manageable:

  • System errors are fixed by straightening out bugs or correcting integration problems.
  • Human errors can be minimized through knowledge sessions, training, and increased automation.
  • Process errors are overcome by better documentation and quality control, and by ensuring systems are in place to support best-in-class processes. 

So, how do you get to a point where you can categorize your specific issues in this way? The answer lies in modernizing your operation to provide stronger insights – namely through payroll analytics backed by better system integration, improved self-service, and a move to cloud technology. Here’s why each of those is so important.

System integration

Fragmented data is a huge obstacle to peak payroll performance, and that’s why system integration is top of the bill for businesses reviewing potential platforms. The key is to understand exactly what systems are being used across your business, what kind of data they store, and how it’s extracted. From there, you can identify (and implement) the most pragmatic method of retrieving and transferring your data – taking into account various country-specific requirements, security, payroll schedules, and global payroll compliance considerations. 


Establishing the implementation of self-service, and encouraging its use by employees, is another step in the direction of increased performance. Explore the potential for anytime/anywhere web access to make the system more easily accessible to your staff, while increasing their productivity. 

Cloud technology 

Cloud-based services can facilitate both global processes and new capabilities more quickly if significant transformation is expected. Cloud solutions also help you to streamline and standardize processes, provide easier user access, and centrally store key data to make it more consistent and accessible in real-time. 



The starting point for perfecting payroll

With a modern, integrated global payroll, you’ll have access to richer data that can be analyzed to identify significant improvements. Here’s a couple of examples:  

  • Monitoring your ‘open run status’: This will enable you to drill-down into your in-flight activity, including open issues of pay runs, workflow statuses, and collaboration activities. You’ll then be able to make more informed decisions around planning and resource allocation across your global payroll operation.
  • Reviewing a ‘closed run’ dashboard: With this in place, you can analyze team performance country by country over a set period, and drill deeper into common performance-related issues. It will provide a root-cause analysis so that you can pinpoint key areas for remedial action.

Ultimately, improving payroll performance is about getting your data in order to gain actionable insights. It’s the key to cutting the costs and administrative effort that sits behind your output metrics. Even if you’re hitting 100% accuracy already, that’s the ideal starting point for perfecting your payroll – and perhaps giving your payroll team back their nights and weekends.

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