The path to payroll digital transformation

January 12, 2023 | 5 Mins David Daly

More and more multinational companies around the world are hiring digital transformation officers and leaders to help set them on the path to specific digital success in a range of different mission critical departments.

The leadership team and senior executives believed that the hiring of a digital transformation officer with a broad range of past success and experience with digital transformation projects is a solid strategy for the kind of long-term success they are looking for.

In this article, we will examine how a digital transformation officer could apply their specific skill sets to global payroll transformation and radically alter the way multicountry payroll is delivered and managed at a multinational company.

A patient examination

An experienced digital transformation officer is unlikely to rush out into the market and purchase software or start a range of conversations with software vendors. This person fully understands the power and importance of innovative software, but it is usually not their starting point.

This person instead will look to assess exactly where things stand right now and speak to people internally in the business about what they really want and need from their global payroll process.  This is really an establishing what is not working in the present moment and what needs to change.

The officer will speak to global payroll managers, human resource directors and senior global payroll professionals. They should really look to get a global perspective too-payroll delivery is local and nuanced in each country so a digital transformation officer will need to understand it from all angles. This patient examination and getting a clear picture of exactly what the process is now will provide an understanding of the key pain points and what the current blockers to payroll success are. Simply put, you cannot overcome challenges if you do not understand what the challenges are.

Focus on strategy

A lot of communication needs to happen in the early stage of any project to put it on the path to success. A digital transformation officer will come to the table with ideas, after all this is exactly what this person has been hired for, but the early stages are about listening and helping to define a strategy. It is important that these conversations are internal and involve all of the relevant stakeholders in the business. If you go external, you are likely to encounter biased individuals with an agenda to sell -software vendors and systems integrators are likely to be biased towards their own offering, this is simply human nature. So, a likely starting point would see a digital transformation officer set up a range of strategy alignment workshops featuring key stakeholders.

If a digital transformation officer can quickly learn what kind of specific payroll strategy will produce the payroll process results that they are looking for, then they can put in place the foundation and initiatives for digital transformation.  Some questions to be answered include:

What payroll model are you pursuing?

    • Is the right approach a mix of models-a hybrid approach?
    • What technology do you need in place to optimize the delivery and management of payroll services?
    • Is your current process manual or automated?
    • Do you require payroll data and process to be standardized across all of your payroll countries?
    • Do you want to operate on premise or in the cloud?
    • Which departments and software eco-systems do you need to integrate with?
    • What kind of reporting do you need?
    • What kind of digital tools are needed to empower global payroll professionals?
    • What management solution needs to be applied to the local country payroll providers that you will need to engage with?
    • What are your data security, information protection and compliance/regulatory obligations?

The answers to these questions will help create a pathway or roadmap for digital transformation success. They will essentially highlight what the finishing line could look like- then you can begin the journey. This process around strategy will be a mix of immediate present-day concerns plus long term scalability objectives. Your focus may not be on growth right now, but if that changes towards the end of next year, you will need a global payroll process and technology platform that can keep pace with any future ambitions, so it is important to factor it in right from the start.

Evaluate technology alternatives

As soon as the digital transformation officer looking at payroll transformation has a clear understanding of the payroll related objectives of the business, this person can then start to evaluate the kind of digital technology needed to truly transform global payroll. At this point they will likely have been informed that there is a need to standardize processes and develop a single way of delivering payroll across all of the countries. They will also have learned that many of the data calculation processes are currently manual processes, dated and focused on excel spreadsheets. They will likely also have discovered that the level of reporting currently in place is limited, non-existent or simply nowhere near what is required for comprehensive analysis in a post pandemic business world.

As a result, they will be looking at digital payroll platforms, new technology and integrations that can address and resolve these payroll system issues. They will begin looking at specific types of technologies that can quickly digitize payroll delivery and equip global payroll professionals and payroll teams with innovative digital tools that help them do their jobs in a smarter way. They will be looking at cloud software from a data security angle and they will also want a centralized platform where data from multiple local country payroll providers can be consolidated in a single location for analysis and reporting.

Digital platform technology like a global payroll control platform can go a long way to solving a lot of the present-day complexity while also introducing the necessary levels of standardization, automation and reporting needed for effective multi country payroll delivery and management today. Powerful and seamless integrations will be needed to connect global payroll to related areas such as finance, HR and benefits providers. The digital technology stack that best aligns with the overall strategy but can also result in the fastest progress, will likely be selected. Innovation, flexibility and scalability will also come into the equation along with important data security and information protection features.

Prioritize Automation

This won’t come as a major surprise; it is a digital transformation project after all. What is a surprise, is that many people are still unaware of the dramatic levels of improvement that can happen when you replace a manual data process with an automated one,

The time savings can range from significant to huge-productivity increases almost immediately, accuracy improves straight away as the likelihood of human error is taken out of the process. But some of the most positive results really stem from global payroll professionals having much more time and breathing space to focus on high value work such as analysis and reporting as well as process improvement.

Global payroll delivery in 2022 should be automated end to end-digital platform technology can be leveraged to integrate all of the key players in the global payroll ecosystem to ensure that automation of data begins at the pre payroll stage, flows into the pay run and continues write through to last mile elements of payroll such as reporting and analytics.  This is the difference between change and true transformation- if payroll data is currently calculated via manual excel spreadsheets, and this subsequently gets replaced by 100% end to end automation, then payroll becomes unrecognizable to what it was before-faster, smarter and better.


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A digital transformation officer when it comes to something as specific as payroll processing will be interested in next level automation, not just robotic process automation. they will focus on hyper automation, a kind of automation that is specific and purpose built for payroll, highly intelligent and configurable.

The above is a selection of the considerations any digital transformation project lead or officer will encounter when transforming a global payroll process with digital transformation initiatives at a multinational company. Payslip work with digital transformation officers and are uniquely positioned to explain how our global payroll control platform can immediately digitize standardize and automate multicountry payroll delivery and management. Take a platform tour today to see how we can transform payroll at your organization.

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