The successful implementation of global payroll often hinges on the strategic engagement of a wide array of stakeholders.
In part one of this two-part blog, we looked at how to identify and ‘map’ these stakeholders according to their interest and influence - a fundamental starting point for the creation of that strategy. But time must also be taken to understand each stakeholder’s priorities and perspective in detail.
Only through a clear understanding of your key stakeholder groups will you be able to devise a strategy that optimizes your interaction with each. So, from local payroll teams to C-suite executives, here’s a closer look at some of the main stakeholders - and the unique perspectives and agendas they are likely to bring to your project.
Local and regional payroll managers
Responsible for day-to-day payroll operations, local payroll leads (and their teams) are the people in your business most affected by the new global payroll solution. Equally, this puts them in a position to provide some of the project’s key insights.
Strong, constant communication with key contributors at local level will therefore be vital, to ensure each country’s cultural, operational and legislative specifics are captured in the implementation.
This might mean gaining crucial input on local tax and regulation variances, or on individual testing preferences - knowledge that a regional payroll project team may lack due to their broader geographic focus.
It’s also crucial to gain buy-in at this local level, conscious that these are the people who will have to change the way they work once the new systems and processes are in place. Be sure to give them a reason to adopt the change - showcasingthe wider organizational benefit as well as their own.
Like any major transformation project, a global payroll solution requires the buy-in of the boardroom - with your Chief People Officer, Chief Finance Officer and Chief Technology Officer among the key members of the C-suite to satisfy.
The interest of senior leadership lies ultimately in operational strategies and their bottom-line profitability, so your interactions with this group should be focused accordingly, framing the project in the context of increased efficiency.
This group will also require clarity on the potential risks involved with the project - late payments, non-compliance or overstretched resources - and how these will be managed.
Engaging senior leaders will be critical to gaining trust and approval, but also allows you to leverage leaders’ collective experience on the project’s change management element.
Many organizations do this through the formation of an Executive Steering Committee, bringing together senior leaders from across the business to discuss issues and receive feedback. With such influential people around the table, such a group can also be seen as valuable project ambassadors.
Business unit management
Leaders of regional business units have a significant role to play in your project roll-out, holding considerable influence over local operations. They are also best placed to provide guidance on the most effective ways to tailor your implementation approach.
Regional business leaders can also help the implementation team understand localized business priorities, and how these align with corporate strategic objectives. They will be able to steer you on how other parallel initiatives may impact your plans too - shedding light on whether you’re competing for resources that are committed to other critical projects.
Regional management teams occupy something of a unique position, given their access and influence with both senior leadership and the local payroll teams. This makes it vital for the project team to engage with unit managers early, update them regularly, and respond to their concerns as a priority.
The tight bond between payroll and HR dictates that your centralized HR team will be another of the project’s most important stakeholders.
With HR one of the most impacted areas from an operational standpoint, a significant amount of HR buy-in will be required to deliver the project successfully. If HR isn’t made integral to the process, challenges will undoubtedly arise.
Interest from HR stems from the responsibilities for accurate record-keeping, statutory compliance, and also the potential impact of the new solution on employee engagement and experience.
But payroll data is also increasingly seen as a rich (and often the most accurate) source of employee data, so HR will want to ensure integration with global payroll systems to deliver optimal reporting outputs, as well as analytical insights.
This extends the project’s already-considerable impact on IT teams. Depending on the nature of the deployment (on-premise or SaaS), IT will be tasked with all manner of hardware/software conflicts, data security and access management issues, before any required integration with HR systems.
Audit, risk and compliance teams
The afore-mentioned issues around data security come largely as a result of intensified recent pressure on compliance.
In the age of GDPR and Sarbanes-Oxley, audit, risk and compliance teams face an increasingly complex set of challenges - and with payroll both the organization’s largest financial expense and its key source of employee data, the roll-out of global payroll brings with it many considerations.
Among other things, these stakeholders will be concerned with role design, potential segregation of duties violations, and ensuring compliance with legislative guidelines - which can all vary greatly in different countries.
Last but not least, the provider of the new global payroll platform (and any associated services) clearly has a huge impact on the success of your implementation.
Whether you’ve contracted an external supplier, or an internal team has developed your solution, integrating their technical expertise into your project team will be essential for a smooth transition.
Clear roles and responsibilities must be established, with constant communication to ensure these are being fulfilled - and organizations working with third-party vendors shouldn’t be afraid to hold them accountable should they fail to deliver on what’s been agreed.
Too often, implementations are derailed when project teams pause ‘management mode’ to cover the vendor’s work - rather than enforcing the delivery of the third party’s contractual obligations.
At the start of a global payroll project, identifying and mapping your stakeholders lays the foundations for a successful engagement strategy.
Building on these foundations requires careful assessment and evaluation of each stakeholder group - allowing you to accommodate their interests, as well as leverage their insight to give your project every chance of success.