2021 Global Payroll Health Check

January 13, 2021 | David Daly 5 Mins read

A new global payroll delivery year has arrived, and as we all attempt to shake off the severe disruption that happened last year, we look forward with anticipation to an easier year.

It is always a good idea to start the year with a business health check – in particular when it comes to business-critical services like global payroll. Every organization wants to hit the ground running and maintain solid momentum throughout the year. In order to achieve this, it is vital to do a payroll health check in order to stress test your global payroll model, technology and processes.

A strong payroll health check will provide a solid indication as to whether or not your current global payroll processes and technology stack can produce the kind of consistent delivery every organization wants from their global payroll department.

In this article, we will examine how you can go about this payroll health check and list a number of things that you need to examine in detail to ensure you are prepared for global payroll delivery in 2021.

Take the learnings

Last year delivered some very painful lessons to many multinational organizations who were simply not prepared for global payroll continuity in emergency circumstances. This is not a criticism as nobody could have anticipated a global pandemic and the subsequent devastating economic consequences around the globe. Nonetheless, many professionals and payroll experts across global payroll could easily have pointed to legacy technology, insufficient data access and poor visibility and control as significant problems that needed to be resolved.

Now that multinational corporations have had a chance to digest the learnings of the past year -it is crucial that they act upon these learnings and put in place the foundations and structures for effective and continuous global payroll operations.

It must now be very clear the following are key priorities when it comes to business continuity and global payroll delivery:

    • remote access to data and global payroll procedures
    • cloud based environment and digital tools
    • standardized data and processes across all payroll countries
    • manual inputs invalidations to be replaced by automated technology
    • consolidated multi country reporting
    • audit trails for compliance and regulation
    • digitized global calendars for task monitoring and action tracking
    • task switching functionality between countries
    • rapid payroll provider and vendor onboarding

Multinational organizations who are keen to hit the ground running in 2021, will need to have addressed these already as part of last year’s process. But it is quite likely that not everything on this list will have been addressed as global payroll departments spent a good deal of last year fighting fires and doing their level best cope with day-to-day payroll issues. Security risks, payroll system problems, payroll provider failures and non-compliance were daily challenges as payroll teams struggled to manage international payroll across different countries.

There was probably little or no time last year to sit down and map out a full digital transformation project for global payroll delivery. While remote delivery of global payroll is likely to continue long into 2021, we are not quite in the panic mode that we were at this time last year.  This means that there is now greater scope for attention and investment in the kind of digital innovative tools needed to ensure that the learnings from last year have been noted and responded to.

Global framework

The start of the new year is a good time to consider if the framework you have in place for a specific business function such as global payroll is the right one for the years ahead. There have been very few advantages to a global pandemic, but one of them just might be focusing on the future and ensuring that processes and technologies are in place to futureproof critical services.

Now is a good time to ensure that your global payroll operates with a global framework- it would simply be shortsighted to focus on a few key countries in your multi country global payroll.  Every country on your payroll is different – each has its own unique and individual nuances when it comes to pay run elements, tax differences and cultural or country specific laws.

A global framework is one where a global approach is applied to payroll processing while also being flexible enough to account for local country nuance. This is also a data first approach in that the focus is on standardizing the data across all payroll countries so that your global payroll professionals and service providers across these countries are working with similar or identical data and processes. This is the type of framework that has everybody operating from the same playbook and enables much greater clarity, visibility and control at management level.

Prioritize integrations

Interconnected departments that do not have technology capable of smoothly interacting with one another are going to run into problems sooner or later. Finance, HR and global payroll need to share data with one another on a consistent basis – this data needs to flow smoothly and rapidly between integrated systems, ideally in an automated fashion.

A key part of any global payroll health check for 2021 will be insuring that integrating the various technologies within these individual departments is given priority. This is not about buying a simple piece of software or downloading a basic plugin – this is about mapping out a process that ensures standardized data flows between these systems in an automated fashion, and in a manner that facilitates query resolution along with comprehensive reporting.

The global payroll landscape has been characterized for a long time now by complexity: multiple disparate systems, dozens of in-country providers or vendors, different compliance rules across countries- the list goes on. System integrations will be key to solving these problems any investment in innovative digital platforms that helps systems connect better is the way forward.

Your global payroll 2021 Checklist

COVID-19 has not gone away and while there is positive news on the vaccine front, it will be many months before it is in widespread use. So, there is no room for complacency and the likelihood is that global payroll will continue to be delivered remotely for the first six months of 2021 at least.

Some of the below items on the checklist you may already have put in place in response to the pandemic last year, others may still be on your to do list, while one or two might even raise a few eyebrows as you simply hadn’t thought of them.

At Payslip, we know from talking to our clients as well as industry professionals, that if you focus on the items below and take action, your global payroll delivery process has a very good chance of withstanding any turbulence this year while also futureproofing your payroll delivery for years to come.

When you can confidently place a tick beside the majority of these items, you have the right blend of structure, resources, technology and approach to effectively manage multi-country global payroll.

Tick every box with Payslip

Payslip is the only Integration & Automation platform designed specifically for global payroll management. It solves a range of complex global payroll delivery problems and covers everything on the above checklist.

Remote access, task switching, and new provider on-boarding is catered for on our platform and we introduce data and process standardization across multiple countries for all of our clients.

Our automation tools replace manual input and increase the security of data flows between your payroll software and external sources such as local country providers or your HCM system.

Data security, compliance and access authorizations are built into our platform. Our technology is scalable by design to support business growth so that companies can scale easily into and within new countries.

Payslip reporting suite provides real-time access to consolidated pay and cost data, delivering analytical insights on entity, country, payroll, or employee level. This is a flexible reporting tool to ensure central governance and local country accountability and transparency.

A global payroll health check is an important under-taking and a wide range of considerations need to be looked at to ensure that your global payroll department has all the bases covered.  We recently created a comprehensive paper covering these considerations-it contained a detailed checklist on the things you should have in place and provides further details on how the Payslip platform delivers on this checklist. To read this paper, please leave your details below and we will send it to you.


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Using Payslip, we can manage all our payrolls across nine in-country vendors on one platform. When the global Covid-19 pandemic arose, it was not an issue from a payroll perspective, and critically getting everyone paid. The Payslip platform enabled continuity for our international payroll service including the fast and seamless implementation of the Payslip Employment Self Service during this time.

Colin Smith

Payroll Manager, LogMeIn

With business and employee growth rates of above 50%, we rely on our vendors to deliver on time, every time. Payslip’s workflow automation, enables Phorest to manage our payroll provider process – data driven, real time and transparent. Payslip saves us time so we can focus on our business growth.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest