This has been a significant year for global payroll and HR teams, with important technology developments, fundamental regulatory changes, and ongoing consequences of both. Improved applications and robotic process automation (RPA) have paved the way for important changes in how payroll professionals do their jobs, as well as how they interact and work with colleagues in related functions. GDPR, MiFID II, and other regulations, including country-specific directives like eSocial in Brazil, have dominated discussions among global companies and delivered important changes to essential data-dependent functions like payroll.
Several of these developments will continue to impact multinational teams for years to come—but that won’t prevent 2019 from bringing additional changes. As we wrap up one of the most dramatic years the payroll function has experienced in a long time, let’s take a quick look at some of the emerging trends and technology that will impact global payroll and HR in the year ahead.
The importance of using single-source data and reducing the manual management of data files became clear in the rollout of GDPR and other regulations focused on data protection. As global companies process the lessons learned from trying to bring legacy data systems into compliance with new security requirements, they will look more closely at the promise of cloud-based solutions for key functions like payroll and HR—and at the added benefits to be gained from integrating those solutions.
Just as moving payroll data to the cloud provides a single, central source of up-to-date information for all team members regardless of their location, integrating global payroll and HCM solutions expands that centralized source to include the payroll and HR data that would otherwise need to be transfered from HCM to payroll platform and back. Eliminating that need to move data files also eliminates the chance of errors from manual transfer or outdated versions. It also boosts data security and standardization, and reduces processing times, all of which support compliance needs while empowering both the payroll and HR functions.
By this point, if you’re using a modern technology solution for your payroll or HR needs, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of big data and analytics at least once or twice. The problem is that different providers use the word “analytics” to mean different things, leaving payroll professionals to decipher the value of their solution—or decide to ignore the feature.
In 2019 global companies will be looking closer at distinct sources of data within their organizations, invariably coming to examine the potential of their largest, regularly updated data set: their payroll data. While advanced, real-time analytics can help stakeholders investigate changes and spot trends over time, benchmarking that data against similar organizations in the same countries or regions will be key to assessing their company’s performance and understanding what’s possible from their payroll function.
Automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence have been hot topics this year, presented as solutions, debated at conferences, and feared within teams around the world. Going into 2019, however, the conversation will shift from the threat of automation to the benefit of augmentation.
Augmented work is that which supplements the expertise and distinctly human skills of professionals with the capability of robotics to perform repetitive, high-volume, programable tasks that neither require nor benefit from human intervention. A perfect example of an augmented process is using Robotic Data Validation to identify errors prior to gross-to-net calculations, in a fraction of the time it would take a payroll professional to review a portion of the data, and instead letting the professional use their time to address the errors and possibly even adjust the process to prevent them from recurring.
The continuing trend of process optimization will expand the perspective of payroll to include the entire pay process, bringing the traditionally separate function of payments into scope. Although payroll and payments are directly linked in the sense that their primary purpose is paying employees, they have long been distinct from each other, with payroll focused on preparing data and doing calculations, often from under the HR umbrella, and payments dedicated to moving funds according to those calculations, from its usual seat in Finance.
With greater appreciation for data and process integration, organizations will begin considering and planning for payments as part of a global payroll transformation. New trends and capabilities around payments, such as mobile payments, electronic wallets, and even borderless accounts, are affecting the way workers use their money, which will increasingly affect how they want to be paid. Bringing payroll and payments together within a solution will enable organizations to adapt to future changes and employee preferences.
There is plenty to look forward to in global payroll in 2019, with both continuing trends and emerging opportunities helping payroll teams deepen their contribution to and role within their organizations. Professionals can prepare for the coming year by getting a clear assessment of their current payroll solution and exploring their analytics capabilities, as well as looking into integration options with their company’s HR and finance systems. Today’s leading payroll solutions are empowering organizations with important insights—and enabling payroll professionals to explore the potential that lies within this critical function.