Integrations: Best practices to follow and pitfalls to avoid
Connecting HR and finance data to your global payroll process is an essential part of global payroll delivery at multinational companies today. Due to the amount of dense and complex data needed to deliver accurate payroll, it is no longer feasible or sustainable for these departments to be working separately or in silos.
While they may be individual departments with their own identities -there are clear and valid connections between them that necessitate the smooth flow of data between the relevant systems in operation in these departments. Data needs to flow quickly and easily between these systems and the professionals working within these departments need to be working with the kind of digital tools that facilitate easy file sharing and access to any data they need in order to improve efficiencies in the delivery of their day-to-day duties.
Integrations are needed in order for this data sharing to become a reality-in this article, we will take a look at what we mean by integrations and examine specifically HCM system data integrations with global payroll software. We will shine a light and why it is necessary and why innovative and progressive multinational organizations are prioritizing HCM and global payroll integration right now.
We will also look at a few best practices that global employers should follow when it comes to integrations as well as some of the key pitfalls or common mistakes to avoid.
Integrations mean greater efficiency
Payslip recently held a roundtable discussion where our own VP of engineering and a Specialist Integrations consultant from Workday gave their views on all things integrations. We ran a few polls during the roundtable which revealed some interesting results.
This was revealing, global payroll has become a complex multi-vendor and multi system environment with a lot of moving parts and disparate data that needs to be managed on a daily basis. This data needs to flow between HR and global payroll on a regular basis for the kind of streamlining and process efficiency that global employers want to have today. It is, therefore, somewhat surprising that 38% have not developed a project around global payroll integrations.
This one was less surprising -it makes perfect sense to want to introduce greater efficiency around the management of global payroll. This efficiency has now become a necessity due to the complexity involved – it has gotten to the point where any lack of efficiency now introduces a level of unacceptable risk into the process – data accuracy and security are key challenges that can benefit from a greater level of efficiency that comes when global payroll and human resource technology is integrated for smooth data flows between these two interconnected departments.
Best Practices in global payroll integrations
Theresa Field is a senior integrations consultant with a vast range of experience delivering global payroll integration solutions for major organizations like Workday. She is no stranger to the complexity involved and unsurprisingly, she had some very useful insight to deliver when it came to outlining some best practices that anybody undertaking a global payrolls integrations project should consider. During our recent roundtable discussion webinar, she gave the following advice:
You can only really know if your integrations are going to work well in practice if your testing process is robust and comprehensive. It is therefore advisable to put a lot of thought into the kind of test system you want to use right at the start of the project. Test systems are crucial to finding issues and anomalies early in the process that need attention – test systems that are not capable of finding these anomalies will result in these issues growing and becoming very apparent, and likely very costly at a later stage in the project. The test system technology stack must also be capable of running a parallel process with the current existing process to measure how well it is working.
While acknowledging the skill set, experience and insight that human resources professionals and global payroll team members can bring to the process, it is also a vital importance to work with specialist integrations consultants or experienced project managers when undertaking a complex and demanding global payroll integration process.
People who have worked on several global payroll integrations across different organizations and industries will likely have encountered many of the challenges and problems that you will face when you undertake yours. This experience and insight will prove invaluable to the process and roadmap. Technical expertise is needed – you will likely be dealing with innovative digital technology that requires a lot of behind the scenes work in terms of mapping data and configuring datasets. Attempting to do this on your own without surrounding yourself with professionals who have deep technical expertise in this area is not a good idea.
Getting the right people in the door is about matching skill sets to requirements and recognizing the specialized nature of global payroll integrations. It is best to rely on experience, and trust specialist consultants right from the outset as opposed to being forced to fix problems later on or in the live environment.
This might sound like an obvious one -but there can be a tendency for people to run a couple of parallel tests and then move straight into the live environment. Just because the testing reveals that the process is working and all of the mapping and configuration has gone smoothly, this does not mean that no further analysis is required.
The nature of implementing a global payroll integration with innovative new technology means that this new technology is capable of throwing up new learnings and insight that did not exist previously. The testing process and analysis of results that come out of an integrations project can even help a global employer to change the way they manage and deliver global payroll.
Only detailed and comprehensive analysis of results on an ongoing basis will ensure that the integration is working to a satisfactory level and that the results are what you expected to see.
Common pitfalls to avoid in global payroll integrations
A common pitfall when implementing global payroll integration projects is not dedicating enough time and resources to ensure that the project is managed in the correct way. Sometimes, global employers get the early estimates and working assumptions wrong -they do not allocate enough time for the project to be completed or they underestimate the number of resources, technology or specialized skill sets needed for the integration to work.
It is always important to have conversations with people who have gone through this in another organization -you will find that most people will reveal that there was a lot more involved than they may have initially thought. One reason that this happens is conversations take place which involve a bit too much guesswork around how it could be done- organizations sometimes tend to want to do some of the groundwork themselves before getting a specialist or subject matter expert involved. The reality is somewhat different- the specialist or SME needs to be there right from the start as they are the most qualified people to help define what this groundwork should look like.
Data validations, workflows and verifications are a crucial part of the process -integrations are all about the smooth flow of data between separate yet interconnected departments. Human resources and global payroll departments may have their own technology stacks, and these stacks will contain quite a lot of data that is configured in different ways. A successful integration may require new technologies and some customization of software solutions to ensure this user data flows in a better way and meets business needs.
It is crucial that a testing plan is fully thought through and then implemented in a strict and rigorous way. A lot of time and effort goes into global payroll integrations so there is really no room for complacency or shortcuts when it comes to testing. Rigorous testing will help you validate data and spot anomalies around things like specific pay elements- strong payroll accuracy and data integrity is not possible with limited testing so this is an area you should definitely never cut corners on. Catching issues early during the testing process is a far better scenario than having to go back and ask for additional funds or resources to fix something later in the process.
A common pitfall with integrations projects is changing the scope halfway through the process or attempting to introduce something that you forgot to consider at the start of the process. Generally, you will find that things like this introduce an unnecessary additional layer of complexity to what is already a complex project!
It is better to stick to the plan that was mapped out at the start of the process- things that are out of scope should remain out of scope, and unless absolutely essential to the integrity of the data and the process, they should be left to the post live stage. People simply have enough to do and enough to focus on without complicating things further.
It is easier to monitor project process, test specific things and assess results if you are sticking to the original plan. The original plan should involve a bit of benchmarking against test scenarios -this is essentially comparing what you want to happen versus what actually happens. This is where you get into the fine detail and do strong detection work along with detailed comparison and analysis.
Following the above best practices and taking steps to avoid the pitfalls outlined will mean that you are on sure footing as you implement your global payroll integrations project. Ultimately, it is a very rewarding process as smooth data flows between HR and payroll systems are essential for effective global payroll delivery and management.
Integrations projects typically take one to three months but can go on for longer depending on the complexity of the project -it all depends on the organization and the structure within it. The Payslip team have lots of experience with global payroll integrations and our payroll management technology platform features automation and integration technology design specifically to ensure automated data flows between a HCM system and global payroll. Talk to our team today to find out more about how we can help you.
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.
Payroll Manager, LogMeIn
Payslip as a technology platform has added a missing piece in our payroll set-up. As an international company with offices in 16 countries, it’s important to us that every employee at GetYourGuide has the same great experience when accessing their pay data.
At the same time, we work well with smaller local payroll providers, supporting us with direct local expertise in their countries. We were able to combine those two elements by placing the Payslip platform in the middle, to simplify reporting and communication with local providers, and to have one simple employee-facing solution across all locations.
Head of HR, GetYourGuide
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.
International Payroll Manager, Phorest