Global Payroll Provider Continuity: Challenges and Responses

April 7, 2020 | David Daly 5 Mins read

New reality

A new reality has set in for global payroll operations at multinational companies around the world. The first order of business for payroll operations right now is continuity along with the need to establish and confirm that their network of payroll providers are capable of delivering payroll services as normal during times of great uncertainty. A number of discussions should be taking place right now- some conversations will be internal as employers sit with their global payroll team and examine their needs. Other conversations will be external as global employers seek assurances from their payroll provider network around business continuity procedures. In this article, we will examine the challenges global employers face with payroll due to COVID-19 and some of the actions they can consider taking in response.

 

Employer Needs

The employer needs are clear but that does not mean things are straightforward. Employers rely on payroll providers spread across different countries to deliver consistently so that their employees in multiple locations get paid accurately and on time. COVID-19 presents a threat to the stability of the workflows that need to be performed on a regular basis to make this happen. Regardless of which global payroll model a multinational has chosen to adopt, payroll continuity needs to be effective and employers everywhere are now in the process of revisiting their core payroll needs and assessing if their chosen providers remain in a strong position to meet these needs. If they are not, decisive action will need to be taken.  The size and complexity of a company will mean that these needs vary but here are a few that are likely to be common to all.

  • Payroll calculations and operational processes
  • Compliance, regulation, legislation and governance
  • Reporting and data security
  • Advisory and in-country expertise

 

Immediate Issues

Many employers are finding that such common needs are being replaced by more pressing and immediate needs due to the pressures resulting from the impact of COVID-19. Payroll teams are now forced to work from home for the foreseeable future and the majority of payroll operations must now be delivered remotely. This has narrowed the focus around meeting needs to deliver payroll in the here and now. Some new basic needs have cropped up as a result of this:

  • How to ensure continuity of payroll across all locations
  • How to supply remote access to payroll data and procedural documentation
  • How to gain clear visibility over specific workflows and overall payroll process
  • How to assess the reliability of ICP continuity measures
  • How to switch tasks between teams across countries if required

 

Payroll Provider Ability

Global employer need solid reassurance that their payroll provider partners are in a strong position to meet the above needs and deliver effective continuity over the weeks and months ahead. The global employer needs to feel 100% confident in the capabilities, skill sets, and technology used by their providers to deliver global payroll. Current business circumstances mean that payroll providers face unprecedented challenges to how they normally do things and their ability to deliver what the global employer needs is coming under intense strain. Available resource is a key challenge – they need to ensure they have the people in place along with the remote tools they need to deliver payroll. They also need backup resource who are familiar with payroll ready and waiting to deliver should available resource become sick or otherwise unavailable. A centralized document repository and available documentation to all staff is another challenge they need to respond to. They also need full access to previous pay run data for comparative validation. They will also need to be ready to switch tasks across countries and time zones should the need arise. Global employers need to be asking questions about these things and ensuring that the answers make sense and provide a strong level of comfort that their network of providers are ready and capable of delivering.

 

Emergency Back Up

These are unprecedented times for global payroll operations and employers everywhere should expect the unexpected. This means anticipating provider delivery failure and having a backup plan that can swiftly be put in place to minimize payroll disruption. Now is the time for employers to reach out to their network and ensure that they have ICPs in place in the event of emergency. These new providers will need to be sourced and vetted, and then onboarded as quickly as possible, so employers need to ensure that process and technology are in place to ensure this happens. Policy, structure set-up and payroll completion data all need to be in place to give any new provider a fair chance to meet a payroll run in a short time frame and avoid service disruption. Technology needs to be the employer enabler here and it is important that employers check if their technology has the right level of flexibility and innovation to respond effectively.

 

Actions to take now

There are things that employers can do right now to give themselves the best chance of dealing effectively with any turbulence that may hit payroll operations due to underlying issues either internally or with their payroll provider. A few essential provisions that will likely prove valuable over the coming weeks include:

  • Move to a cloud-based environment- you can no longer rely on on-premise storage for essential payroll documentation- these need to be stored in the cloud and easily accessed from remote locations.
  • Create an agreed list of vetted ICP and emergency contacts
  • Map global / country process, actions, owners, deadlines
  • Agree a process for emergency payroll processing in case of non payrun delivery
  • Develop a process that allows tasks and workflows to be switched
  • Ask ICPs for their business continuity procedures and highlight any risks or concerns
  • Identify key performance indicators for payroll health during business continuity

 

Payslip: How we are helping

We are in regular communication with both our customers and key industry insiders to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on global payroll and also to develop some best practices that can help global employers to deliver payroll in the here and now. We have heard from many people in global payroll who are experiencing some or all of the challenges we have outlined in this article. As a result of this, we have developed a Rapid Response Solution designed specifically to address these challenges and help employers with their most pressing needs as quickly as possible. This solution helps both employers and payroll providers with their continuity needs and ensures that global payroll is processed now while all parties look to develop a more stable process for the future. Key features of our Rapid Response Solution include:

  • Remote access to payroll data and continuity procedures
  • Remote switching of tasks, workflow assignments and authorizations
  • Rapid sourcing, vetting and onboarding of a new provider or ICP
  • Centralized process management for full visibility
  • Cost analysis reporting, forecasting and predictive analytics

This solution minimizes payroll service disruption and allows employers to achieve global payroll continuity in the here and now. Talk to our team today.

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