Why CIOs need to understand the role of payroll

July 22, 2021 | David Daly 5 Mins read

Major technology deployments across business-critical services at multinational organizations around the world will fall under the remit of the CIO. CIOs are expected to oversee a lot of technology related projects and ensure that the reasoning behind any investment our deployment falls broadly in line with the overall company objectives.

They will also want this technology to be next generation, cutting edge and fit for purpose for many years to come so that it proves to be a sound investment. The CIO will also be looking at how well any new technology stack connects and integrates with other business critical services across the organization.

In this context, it makes a lot of sense for a chief information officer to become very familiar with global payroll delivery and the nature of this business-critical service. There are a number of reasons for this but one of the biggest is that the global payroll department is often in need of digital transformation, and it would be a mistake to overlook this department when undertaking a wide-ranging digital transformation project, especially if such a project covers the finance and human resources department.

In this article, we will look at some of the reasons why CIO needs to fully understand global payroll and how this understanding needs to fully incorporate the digitization of the payroll function.

A critical function

It is now fully accepted that global payroll delivery at any organization is a business-critical service. This is a service delivery that cannot fail because any failure has major consequences in terms of reputation and employee retention capability. No person will permit continued errors or inaccuracies with their payroll-it is testament to the hardworking an extremely diligent nature of global payroll professionals around the world that such instances are quite rare. But these dedicated professionals need assistance in the form of innovative technology.

A starting point in all of this, is for business leaders like the CIO to become fully aware of how global payroll is currently delivered at their organization and what specific improvements are needed to ensure it can handle any of the challenges coming down the line. The CIO should be particularly interested in how global payroll was delivered during the extremely challenging circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simple conversations held with global payroll managers and professionals will inform the CIO that there were a range of pain points and challenges long before COVID-19 arrived that needed to be addressed. The pandemic exacerbated many of these challenges while also introducing a new range of challenges, particularly with the shift to remote global payroll delivery. So, there is plenty for a CIO to get their head around as they dive into the world of global payroll delivery. If they plan to make decisions that could significantly impact how payroll is delivered at a company, then part of the role of the CIO should be to gain some detailed insight into how it is currently delivered and in particular, which new technologies are in use to assist with this delivery.

Making payroll part of a digital first culture

Many multinational organizations around the world are moving to a digital first culture and undertaking a series of digital transformation projects to ensure that their business is best positioned to thrive in the future.

This means investment in a range of digital platforms and technology tools that can better equip their employees to deliver crucial products and services. Part of a CIO’s role will be to ensure that business critical services are part of this digital first culture. The CIO is likely to be surprised to learn that in many cases, the global payroll function, is not considered when it comes to digital transformation. They may even be shocked to discover the reliance on legacy technology and manual processes in place at many global payroll departments today.

Therefore, if a CIO truly wants to embed a digital first culture at an organization, then they must look at global payroll and get a handle and just what kind of difference a new digital technology stack could make to this business-critical service. This is about understanding how the process is currently delivered and then devising a plan to improve it using digital technology. Understanding the needs of global payroll professionals as well as a broad overview of the complexities of the global payroll landscape will greatly enhance any CIO’s understanding of what needs to happen in terms of investment and culture change within this department.

A broader understanding will also mean that there is a far greater chance that global payroll will be considered for a digital transformation project immediately after or in line with any such project taking place within the finance and HR departments. These departments are very much interlinked so integrated platforms that enable crucial two-way data flows between the three departments should be something that any CIO should look at as offering long term value for the overall organization.

Prioritizing data security

Data security is likely to be at the top of any CIO’s priority list-there is simply zero room for complacency in a modern-day organization when it comes to information protection and data security processes. There is a legal and legislative obligation to get this right and CIOs everywhere will be having regular conversations with their information security teams to ensure that all departments across the organization are adhering to what are likely to be very strict cybersecurity rules around data security and information protection.

A key reason as CIO needs to become familiar with global payroll is to gain some insight around information security and data protection practices in place at this department. The CIO will likely be unimpressed with the results of any investigation into data security if the global payroll department is still processing payroll via excel spreadsheets and sharing crucial data via email.

Global payrolls data contains hugely sensitive and personal information so should be subject to the highest data security standards. Leveraging a cloud deployed digital platform with inbuilt data security tools and features is the future of global payroll when it comes to data security. As it stands, money organizations do not deliver global payroll via a secure cloud deployed platform.

The CIO will therefore have a keen interest in any internal processes that represent a significant data security risk. They will no doubt discover that a data breach is more likely to happen in a global payroll department due to legacy and no longer fit for purpose technology, the prevalent use of excel spreadsheets and a tendency to share data and information via non secure methods such as email transfers.

Leveraging technology to optimize processes

All CIOs want to leverage technology in order to fully optimize processes in the most cost-efficient manner possible. There is huge scope for process optimization via technology in the global payroll department-here are a few ways it could be done.

A digital transformation of the global payroll department is an opportunity for the CIO to leverage next generation technology and innovative digital platforms to optimize and streamline a business-critical service. This is ultimately to everyone’s advantage, especially the executive and C-Suite team who have become a lot more demanding in recent months when searching for data, statistics and consolidated reporting on global payroll costs to help with their strategic planning

CIOs should be scheduling meetings with their global payroll management and looking at reports coming from the global payroll team to enhance their knowledge and understanding of exactly what is involved when processing global payroll for thousands of employees spread across multiple countries and continents.


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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

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.

Julian Fichter

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.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest

Payslip made our payroll process entirely transparent, which was something that we really need as we continue to grow and scale at such a rapid pace.

Travis Saville

HR Systems Lead, Wave