For a function so integral to the success of any organization, payroll doesn't get a lot of attention outside of the people who run it. Yet, everyone at a company relies on it, it's typically the largest cost center, and it tends to be responsible for more up-to-date, company-specific data than any other department.
Which is why a company's choice of payroll service provider is one of the most important decisions it can make. Consideration of potential payroll solutions tends to hinge on technology, which is crucial. All payroll systems are not equal, and there are key benefits to unified, cloud-based solutions that every company should know. However, the personal service available from providers can be just as important — and just as unique.
Especially if you are implementing a global solution for the first time or switching systems after years of the same service, who the provider is is at least as important as the technology they offer. And it’s important to note that in global payroll, with all the country complexity and constant change, biggest doesn’t mean best, and company longevity doesn’t count for much if the payroll team has a high turnover.
So how do you choose the right full-service provider for you? It helps to begin by thinking of potential vendors as future partners. Ongoing success requires a team that will work to improve and enhance your payroll delivery rather than just collect fees. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating your options.
A partner is a provider you can trust.
Payroll is a long-term need, the requirements of which are always evolving. Depending on the countries you operate in, relevant legislation could change multiple times a year, and regardless of location, there can be significant consequences for mistakes.
Additionally, opportunities will arise to improve your payroll process and fundamentally advance the way it supports the broader business, for example by gaining greater visibility and control over key data. The right partner will not only help identify those opportunities, but they can guide your payroll team through transitions and offer practical insight based on previous experience.
Central to both establishing and maintaining effective, compliant payroll is trust, and an experienced provider knows the value of that as well as how to inspire trust in their customers. The right provider for you will make you feel like they will be accountable to your business and that they understand your concerns and share your goals. Payroll is a challenging business area to manage, and when you’re working with a provider you trust, you won’t feel like you're on your own.
Expertise covers both payroll and platform.
Global payroll is a complex and challenging field, in which the rules and requirements change regularly. Sometimes the changes are planned, sometimes they're not. For example, in Ireland, new payroll information like income tax rates are announced the year before. In the Netherlands, additional changes could be introduced mid-year. In other countries, specifics for tax filing, social security, or even health insurance could change at any time.
Obviously you need a partner who quickly understands those changes, as well as how they affect your payroll processing and what you need to do to stay compliant. However, there’s an important distinction to be made between knowing the global payroll industry and knowing a specific payroll platform. It’s a point a lot of providers don’t make because of high turnover, but it can be key when it comes to managing your payroll. What good is the fact that a payroll company has been around for fifty years if the practitioner running your payroll has only worked there for five months?
The practical benefits of platform expertise extend beyond the ability to adapt calculations and schedules as needed. A practitioner who knows the ins and outs of your payroll solution will better understand key features like analytics, and be able to advise you on how to use payroll data and KPIs to improve workforce management. Additionally, they may fully understand the benefits and pitfalls of integrating with your specific HCM because they've done it before.
Personal service means ongoing support.
Every business is unique, and one-size solutions for payroll and human resources must be adapted to meet company-specific needs, particularly for multinationals. A partner who understands that will take a personal approach to service, beginning by understanding your unique payroll needs and plans for global growth.
During the implementation process, your team will gain crucial knowledge from the provider around what's required in each country and processing workflows. However, the true test of service often comes after rollout, when an unforeseen issue arises or it's time to expand into a new country. This is when the provider's responsiveness, experience, and support can make you feel either secure or suspect about your system choice.
A payroll partner offers ongoing support for the duration of your contract, including additional training when its needed and up-to-date resources you can turn to. Taking a service-driven approach to payroll delivery means these providers strive to continually improve both their service and your results, leading to an optimized experience for everyone involved.