Preventing data error in global payroll

August 11, 2020 | David Daly 5 Mins read

Everybody understands the importance of employees being paid accurately and on time, but the inconvenient reality is that modern global payroll involves a huge amount of data flowing between systems, and a good deal of this data is input manually and therefore subject to mistakes.

You could be forgiven for thinking that modern technology would remove the need for manual processes in payroll, but this has not been the case and many global payroll departments have a real need for a digital upgrade in order to safeguard the accuracy of payroll processing.

Human error is not something that can be totally prevented but it can be managed in a way that significantly reduces the risk and likelihood of it occurring. In this article, we will explore what measures are available to global payroll professionals to help them better manage their data flows and prevent damaging errors to their multi country payrolls.

Hire the right people

This might seem like an obvious one, but the hiring of payroll professionals is subject to supply and demand just like any other industry. It is not a common career path for many people and the old saying ‘it is hard to find good people ‘applies to payroll departments a bit more than most.

It is also true to say that some people simply do not have a head for figures- they should obviously not find themselves working in a global payroll department, but it is an imperfect world and sometimes people not particularly suited to a job end up in a role anyway.

Global payroll managers have a duty of care to get the best and most qualified people into their teams in order to process payroll effectively every month. They need to employ diligent characters with a proven ability to be able to calculate and work with numbers correctly. They also need a lot of vigilance -being able to spot an anomaly or obscure error is a skill that needs to be developed over time and practiced regularly.

Commitment and consistency are important characteristics that a good payroll professional should display- with so much data flowing through disparate systems on a monthly basis, real commitment is required to dig deeper into the figures and search for errors and anomalies. The nature of the data means they won’t just jump off the screen, investigation is required.

Having the right people in the right place at the right time will go a long way to preventing major data errors that can have damaging consequences for both employee morale and the public perception of a company.  Generally, we find global payroll professionals to be extremely diligent professional and passionate about what they do, but finding such qualified people is not always easy.

Invest in technology

Assuming you can get the right people in place with the right mindset and attitude, the next step is to make sure that they are equipped with the kind of technology and innovative tools that can assist them in the delivery of global payroll.

First and foremost, technology must not be a blocker to progress -sadly, many global payroll departments today operate with legacy technology that is no longer fit for purpose or capable of handling the high volume and dense data involved in global payroll calculations.

Payroll professionals need innovative, cloud-based tools and user-friendly dashboards to help them manage and navigate these complex data flows, especially when operating global payroll which can mean delivering over a dozen international payrolls in a month.

A technology investment could come in the form of a complete digital upgrade and overhaul of legacy systems, or it could be incremental investments in some platform tools that can help streamline processes and improve efficiency while also reducing the likelihood of data error. You could choose to invest in an entirely new platform or global payroll model, or you could seek out individual tools like calendar digitization or enhanced reporting functionality.

Any technology that supports the secure exchange of global payroll data, while limiting the need for human manual input will have an immediate positive impact on the delivery of global payroll. The good news is that this technology does exist and can be purchased as individual tools or a wider platform investment.

Automate Processes

One area of focus when it comes to technology that would make a major difference is the automation of data and workflow processes. Time consuming manual inputs place a burden on global payroll professionals, drain their time and increase the likelihood of human error.  Introducing automation which would automate the data feeds from HCM and other third-party vendor systems directly into the global payroll system, would save a huge amount of time and remove the risk of human error.

There have been great strides made in automation in recent years and hyper-automation technology is now readily available. It has advanced significantly, and a platform integration with one offering automated services, is likely to be a game changer. Errors from data delivered via e-mail or spreadsheet upload will be removed as hyper-automation technology will take over the process of entering, checking and validating the global payroll data. Machine learning drives the process and payroll professionals then have more time to spend on priority tasks like reporting and analysis.

Robotic Process Automation or hyper-automation involves using a technology that configures computer software to copy the actions of a person performing a manual payroll data task. It then takes over the manual inputs and is capable of entering and validating high volume data in seconds. Many multinational employers around the world are currently undertaking projects with the aim of introducing RPA into their global payroll, often as part of a wider digital transformation of both the HR and global payroll function. This is how global payroll will be delivered in the future so, it is best to be ahead of the curve and investigate this key technology now.

Integrate Platforms

Platform integration has become an important factor in the prevention of error in global payroll. Global payroll technology now forms part of a wider IT ecosystem where various data is being transferred from system to system, further increasing the likelihood of either human error or the wrong data being transported.

It is more important than ever for systems to integrate and cohesively connect with each other for secure data transfers and overall data accuracy. HCM and finance systems now need to connect seamlessly with global payroll systems so that data flows are accurate and performed on time. There is an increasing need for innovative technology that supports this seamless connection while also adding value in areas like automation, standardization and global consolidated reporting. These technology platforms are likely to be the future of global payroll delivery and any conversations around preventing data error should take place in the wider context of secure data transport and platform integration.

Payslip and Error Reduction

The Payslip platform helps with the standardization of data and processes as well as automation activity and it greatly reduces the likelihood of data error in global payroll. The automation features of the platform remove the time-consuming need for manual inputs or insecure data transfers via email or spreadsheets. Instead, it automates the entry and transfer of data direct from the HCM into the payroll provider system.

The platform integrates with HCM and other accounting/ERP software, connecting systems and promoting the secure flow of data between them while eliminating any entry duplication. Any technology process that can automatically input and validate data, while securely transferring this data between disparate systems will result in a reduction in data error.

The Payslip platform was designed to be a single source of information providing visibility over your entire global payroll, making it much easier to see and fix any errors or variances that may otherwise be difficult to spot.

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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