6 Core Lessons in Global Payroll Implementation

Once a multinational organization’s leadership realizes that consolidating, standardizing, and integrating payroll across the company is the best way to manage payroll operations, one big question immediately arises: How do we get there?

CloudPay has conducted some of the largest global payroll implementations ever completed, including a massive 70-country implementation for Thomson Reuters (which remains our valued customer). Throughout our many years completing payroll implementations at a global scale, we’ve found there are a few core things a multinational organization must do to ensure a successful global payroll roll-out.

Understand your starting point. As with any journey – technological or otherwise – you don’t automatically arrive at your destination. Your company’s overly complex and fragmented payroll operational environment may be a place you want to leave in a hurry, but you need to do it the right way. To make sure your implementation is successful, you must take all of the important stuff with you on the trip.

Much of the information housed in the internal and external systems you are decommissioning will be needed as you onboard to a new system, so review all aspects of your relationship with your existing technology provider to ensure you have the access and intelligence you need: What contracts do you have in place (and what are their terms)? Where and how is your data being aggregated and stored (and how do you access and control it)? What local, regional, or country-specific knowledge do you lack (and that your vendor reps possess)? How will you extract the historical information necessary for compliance (and in what format)? All of the answers are key to your migration process.

Organize for the end state. In a well-managed payroll software transition, you’re essentially consolidating, standardizing, and integrating payroll operations across your company in a global, end-to-end way. That’s also how you should think about organizing your payroll staff: We see the most success among customers who use a software switch to reorient their payroll operations with a holistic approach.

Key to success: Creating a global payroll organization (and organizing a distributed global team) complete with global oversight, programs, compliance accountability, and a global objective. What kind of global payroll objective? We see as many goals as companies: Lowered processing timelines; increased internal customer service levels; greater accountability via reporting and analytics; or otherwise.

Advocate for the change. A software transition is most likely to move smoothly when there’s enthusiasm – or at the minimum, true support – for the change among staff members, supervisors, and senior leadership. That doesn’t happen on its own: For a variety of reasons, both employees and executives can be highly resistant to embracing the shift to a new solution – making it crucial for there to be strong advocacy behind new global payroll services.

Vocal and visible campaigning and encouragement from the C-suite can help ensure success with a new solution. A payroll “change mission” truly comes to life when a global payroll executive owner – reporting through either the HR or Finance functions – champions the change (and its associated benefits) throughout the company’s regional shared service centers or internal departments. Those efforts can not only create stronger buy-in for a new payroll system, they can create stronger links between payroll and related common functions and processes in the company.

Manage the project thoughtfully. Strong project management is essential to a successful global payroll software implementation. No matter how well-equipped the new vendor’s implementation lead (and his or her staff), there will be a wealth of responsibility required of your internal project team – ranging from collecting and sharing data to plotting the country-by-country rollout to coordinating timelines, and more.

Build a project steering committee backed by executive support (ideally, with a C-level stakeholder’s involvement and oversight), and appoint one or more dedicated project managers depending on the scope of the implementation – ensuring that all internal subject matter experts for each country or region are prepared to be engaged when necessary. Use set milestones, clear operating procedures (repeatable across regions and countries), and a regular cadence of project meetings and calls to keep the pace on track.

Consider what else you can do. The complexity of operations across all departments of today’s multinational companies means there are always opportunities for improvement. Oftentimes, those opportunities only present themselves when they follow on from other projects, such as a new software implementation – which may shine a light on inefficiencies, redundant processes, or other issues across the enterprise. 

As you put new global payroll solutions and procedures in place, think about how this implementation can be used to create additional business value, deliver enhanced service to employees, or drive overall cost savings. For example, the deployment of a help desk tool or self-service portal inside your global payroll solution can enable employees to manage queries more efficiently. Benefits include more easily accessible pay slips; an automated general ledger output; real-time updated and validated employee master data; and standardized alignment to a banking provider for payment processing.

Commit to strong partnerships.CloudPay implementations work best when we have a high quality relationship with the customer, founded on a mutual commitment to making the project a success. Entering the deployment and onboarding phase with an “us and them” mentality to vendor management is a recipe for delays and disappointment, which is why we encourage customers to view us as a long-term partner in their business success rather than a temporary implementation team.

To do that, we invest in driving partnered meetings and calls in which joint strategy and decisions are set and made, and in delivering full transparency into project timelines and status. As a result, we help out clients drive stronger partnerships with their internal stakeholders, backed by enterprise-wide understanding of the clear business benefits of global payroll. The benefits are real for all the interested parties across a multinational company – and the more stakeholders you bring along to support the journey, the better.

Learn more about implementing global payroll in the informative selection of CloudPapers in our Resources section.