Six Tips for Successful Global Payroll Transformation

The increasingly globalized world of work means the traditional geographical barriers of how, when and where businesses operate are being dismantled. All this has an impact on payroll, which has to pivot towards a similarly global approach.

This is done through global payroll transformation, where payroll processes, people and tools are changed and redeployed so that it can be delivered in better ways. However, achieving this is often easier said than done: resistance to change, a failure to properly scale and a lack of a firm timeframe to transform often hold these projects back. Indeed, according to research from McKinsey, 70% of transformation projects fail.

This blog can help you ensure that your transformation is one of the 30% that succeed, with six key tips that can keep you on the right track:



Think about project resources

Every project – whether it’s global payroll or something else – will be doomed to failure if it isn’t planned out properly and adequately resourced from the start. Part of this is making sure the right stakeholders are involved, that they’re able to air any concerns that they have, and that you’re able to address them; a detailed roadmap can help ensure this positive engagement. 

This plan should also include clearly defined roles, responsibilities and timelines, so that expectations and goals are set out from day one.


Fix issues as you go

Of course, even the best plans are sometimes blown off course by unexpected or unintended issues, so it’s wise to build some agility and flexibility into the transformation so that you can quickly solve issues as they arise. 

As Pearl Young, Global Head of Payroll Operations at Moody’s, said in our recent transformation webinar: “You’re not defined by how many issues that you have, but how well you respond to them and how soon you fix the issues”.

Anticipate risk

Operating payroll in many different countries and territories at the same time can substantially increase the risk profile of a business. Naturally, some countries pose a greater risk than others, and so understanding where the biggest risks are is an important part of strong global payroll.

As well as conducting research into each country, it can also be valuable to bring in specific expertise that can highlight unforeseen issues and negative outcomes before they can have an effect.


Data, data, data

As with most things in modern business, quality data is vital to any payroll operation running smoothly. Bad data will inevitably lead to bad payroll – and vice versa. Payroll data should therefore be confirmed and fully validated during the testing process and before the go-live of any new implementation within the transformation process. 

Validation should ensure that all employees are present within a system, that their pay details are correct and in the right cost centers, that terminations are all keys and that pay codes are mapped from the source. Any calendar issues in certain countries around switching to a new provider should also be discussed.


Get a good project lead

In the context of global payroll transformation, a good leader will not only bring their own expertise to the table, but will also be able to bring together all the disparate parts of the project such as IT, HR and employee experience. 

Their expertise can also be extremely valuable if they have knowledge of particular countries involved in the transformation, and can plan around the potential issues or country-specific circumstances that may arise.


Pick up the phone

If you’re partnering with a good global payroll provider, then they’ll be able to offer you far more than just technology. You should be able to build a relationship with them that is strong enough for you to get the benefit of all their years of experience and expertise. 

By picking up the phone and discussing any issues as you go, your global payroll transformation should run much more smoothly and with much clearer communication between all parties involved.


In summary

At a time when globalization is making payroll services more complex, alongside increased compliance demands around finance and data, getting a global payroll transformation right is absolutely critical. These six tips will hopefully put you on the right track, and ensure you deliver a multinational payroll operation that works for your business and your employees, all over the world.

Watch our on-demand webinar with Pearl Young to learn how Moody’s approached their global payroll transformation, and get more insights on how to approach your transformation strategy.


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