Failed Implementations: Don’t buy a car that doesn’t drive

November 17, 2022 | 5 Mins Fidelma McGuirk

In the past year or two, there have been some increasing instances of global payroll multi country implementation projects that have simply failed to launch. By this, I am referring to a failed implementation- the inability of the service or technology provider to follow through on their commitments outlined in the contract.

The reasons why software implementations fail are varied and complex-but the end result is very simple, you end up missing out on what you thought you were buying, months and months of time have been wasted and you still don’t have a payroll system solution to your multi country global payroll challenges-Simply put, this is a disaster to be avoided at all costs.

It may be a case of let the buyer beware when it comes to new software- but it is rarely the fault of the multinational company who are simply looking for a better way to deliver and manage payroll across all of their countries. They may have been sold a good story during the sales call and the due diligence report suggested that things would work out okay-but the story of the implementation in reality turned out to be one of endless delays, complications, feelings of no confidence and ultimately no go-live or end product rollout to show for all their efforts.

Let’s dig a little deeper as to how such an unfortunate scenario could happen.

Nightmare software implementation scenario

It’s the ultimate business process nightmare right? You walked into the marketing communications, you study and research the website, you read the blogs, attend a few webinars and then deep dive into the sales process.

You’re a global payroll manager looking for a solution to a specific set of global payroll challenges while also looking for something scalable and sustainable. you have a strong sense that the current way you deliver and manage global payroll simply can’t go on, and now you’re prepared to do the work involved in seeking out a solution.

You attend the sales demo videos showing you platform demonstrations, you hear the answers you want to hear from senior sales professionals and some technology savvy people. You get sign off and approval on the investment funds from your CFO, sign on the dotted line and you’re ready to go with your software implementation. Except…. nothing happens.

A car that doesn’t drive

So, what is happening with your payroll project besides nothing? Well for one thing, it turns out that the technology is nowhere near as compatible as the solution provider thought it might be or suggested it might be.

Tech professionals from both sides (seller and buyer) encounter a string of technical glitches and a series of problems that suggest this whole payroll system implementation just isn’t going to work out. The integrations are not “smooth and easy” as promised- they’re dead in the water because the technology is not compatible.

They buyer may also have wildly overstated the ability of the implementations team- they simply do not have the number of experienced professionals with payroll understanding to actually go out and implement a multi country software system payroll. Or they are spread too thin with their professional services/human capital -they have commitments to other clients and are unable to dedicate the time they promised they would. They may not even have an official SaaS implementation team Days, weeks and months go by-more and more problems surface and the responses you are receiving are far from satisfactory-it is a big dark cloud hanging over your head as the realization sets in that maybe, just maybe you have purchased a car that does not drive.

A major let down

At this point, you might have to work hard to resist the urge to panic-you have invested a lot of time and money in a digital transformation project to overhaul the way you deliver and manage multicountry payroll. You thought you were buying shiny new tech or an amazing service that would signal the end of all your global payroll problems and the beginning of a new era of payroll efficiency, digital tools, smart working and operational excellence.

Some level headed thinking is needed here but of course, you reserve the right to hold on to some anger-you have been sold a lame duck and quite rightly, you are severely disappointed with the results of a failed implementation. Nothing has been solved and you are left with way more problems than when you started.

So, it may be over to the legal team to immediately cancel the contract and look at ways you can be compensated for the months of wasted time and effort. in the meantime, you still have global payroll challenges, and you still need a solution.

Real clarity required

Transparency and openness should be part of the value system of any providers out there offering global payroll solutions. But it is also the responsibility of the buyer to get some real clarity around the implementation capabilities in place at the solution provider.

What is the team like, what experience levels do they have? Can they talk intelligently and confidently about implementations to have performed for previous clients? Do you have confidence in their answers. deep dive into the timelines-try to get an understanding of the average timelines for an implementation- what country is expected to go live first, how long will it take and what country sequence is next-you will need all of this information to be able to plan for the future.

Get your technology experts and professionals on the sales call early in the process to try and get a view of the seller’s tech expertise and ability to execute implementations. Talk to your tech people, what exactly do they need to ensure an implementation happens quickly and effectively? What are the red flags they need to be aware of- those crucial bits of information that suggest perhaps all is not what it seems?

Payroll system project recovery

Ok, so you have suffered through a failed implementation, and everything looks pretty grim right now-but you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last to have projects fail. There are ways to get things back on track and find out why software implementations fail. Start by getting fully versed with the reasons as to why the project failed-yes, you were dealing with a payroll software provider who oversold and under delivered and they simply couldn’t get the job done, but you still need to delve into the specifics so that you can avoid it in the future. This will make you fully aware of the common threats and patterns that you will want to sidestep in the future. Look back on your notes from the sales calls-what was promised that turned out to be far from the truth? Look at the kind of questions you can ask in the future that might help alert you to misinformation. Some key considerations for you as you go back out into the market to find a multi country global payroll solution:

    • Is your time, budget and resource plan realistic?
    • Is your due diligence process as strong as it could be?
    • Have you talked to peers and industry professionals about payroll solutions?
    • Have you clarified the the vendor implementation process and level of support- timeline commitments, what to expect, key deliverables?
    • What stakeholders do you need to help you identify potential gaps in the technology or service solution being put forward?
    • Do you need to make operational improvements or organizational change management strategies to facilitate and augment any new technology or service solution you are bringing on board?


Read our Implementations Whitepaper


It goes without saying that a failed global payroll implementation is the last thing you want when you have so many payroll related challenges to solve. You are looking for a scalable solution that can help future proof your multicountry payroll delivery and management for the next decade.

Key to all of this, is the technology capability of the solution provider as well as the manner in which they demonstrate an understanding of your requirements-all of their answers should be ticking all of the boxes and each call or platform demonstration should result in further confidence that you are dealing with a company that can actually deliver on what they say.


For more information about our Global Payroll Control Platform contact us today.

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