A stark and unsettling new normal is taking place among businesses everywhere around the world right now due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unprecedented and unanticipated, there was simply no way of predicting the circumstances we currently find ourselves in. None of this changes the fact that business continuity needs to happen and the need for multinational employees across multiple geographies to be paid accurately and on time, has not gone away.
As many business functions as possible still need to continue operating on a daily basis, but circumstances dictate that they now need to be performed in an alternative way. The most common alternative is to deliver services remotely, where employees based at home attempt to meet business priorities in very challenging circumstances.
Global payroll for right now
Global payroll has been identified as a key business deliverable in these unsettling times. From processing to checking to analysis, it has always been a function that has required people. This human element of business processes is now under severe pressure from a global event with unclear implications. The risk of employee absence has reached unprecedented levels. Technology now needs to be the main driver of success in global payroll but not all multinationals are equipped with the right technology to feel secure in these unsettling times.
We have identified four key questions that multinationals everywhere need to answer to ensure that their global payroll operations are capable of payroll continuity.
1 Are you remote ready?
Sounds like it should not be a major issue in 2020, but no business has faced a challenge like the one we are facing and very few members of the labor force have worked extensively from home for long periods of time. Remote access to data and continuity procedures are crucial – the global nature of companies today means that employees are spread across multiple countries and time zones. It also means that payroll is often processed by a centralized team who risk being absent from the office at the same time for long periods. Payroll teams and other employees must be able to access the relevant data to carry out their duties. Access is essential when managing a distributed workforce who are unable to attend the office. A business priority right now should be ensuring this access is made available in a simplified way. Data should be made clearly available in sensibly named folders and clear communications should be issued to all payroll professionals. Folder structures and comms should have clear workflows assigned to owners along with an agreed process for emergency or non-standard payroll processing. Staff should also be assigned as back up support for those unable to carry out duties- contingency plans are very likely to be tested during the current crisis. Now is the right time to make use of cloud- based storage facilities like Sharepoint or Google drive.
2 Are you clear on your vendor’s capabilities?
Your payroll providers will now be asked to deliver key global payroll services under difficult circumstances. While they may have delivered successfully in the past, things are different now and they also have to operate under payroll continuity measures. You will likely find out how robust their internal processes are over the coming weeks and you need to prepare yourself for some potentially disappointing results. You also need to have a backup plan in place if these disappointing results require immediate and decisive action on your part. Now is the time to ask about their business continuity measures and how aligned they appear to be with your own. It is sensible to assign a trusted member of your team to prioritize this information and be in regular contact with the vendor on this subject. Any backup plan will need to include actions for switching or replacing a current vendor who is not capable of delivering agreed services – switching to a new provider will need to be done quickly should the need arise. In such a case, the new provider will need quick access to data files. It is good practice to map out your payroll process and provide a strong, clear blueprint around your global payroll process. Create country specific folders and include as much relevant data as possible as well as a secure way to quickly transfer this data. Things will go quicker and smoother if your new provider can upload structured folders into their system quickly and easily identify the nature of your payrun files. This is a good time to check in with your provider network-even if you don’t yet have contracts with them, you may need them at some point during this current business crisis so reaching out to them and learning more about their availability and their business continuity measures is good practice. It also helps focus the mind on which vendors may be more at risk than others when it comes to a delivery failure. You should assign a person to help hedge locational risk and be in charge of fast-tracking a setup process with a new vendor, should the need arise.
3 Can you accelerate your reporting?
Everything about the current business crisis is unprecedented so you should expect requests for information and demands around reporting to also be unprecedented. You should also expect business leadership teams to ask for information on an almost daily basis- they will need regular information around the costs of payroll in order to make key strategic decisions needed to keep critical business functions running. They will likely also need varied data to help them make decisions about the future too. During business continuity, there is naturally a greater need for additional visibility over a global process like payroll. Expect to receive additional reporting requests around key metrics such as country-specific payroll costs and headcount analysis. Reporting will need to be consolidated and comprehensive. It will also need to be made available outside of normal scheduling so be prepared for advanced reporting requests that will put your payroll team under increasing pressure. It will be useful to assign a team member to anticipate reporting requests and examine in detail the current reporting structures in place to see if they are fit for purpose during times of global payroll continuity.
4 Do you have the right technology in place?
You can expect technology to become the main business driver for global payroll processing in a time of business continuity. It needs to be powerful and at the same time, agile and flexible enough to respond to changing business requirements. It needs to move from local, on-premise to cloud-based storage with full remote access so there is no compromise when it comes to knowledge transfer. Standardization and shareability becomes critical when colleagues are accessing data from remote locations. Processes, actions, owners and deadlines need to be identified, mapped out and performed within a technology infrastructure that drives efficiency. A technology platform that offers flexibility will be key here- what if you need to switch a task owner form one country to another in a seamless way- does your current technology allow this? What if you need to rapidly onboard a new ICP because of a service delivery failure in one of your countries? With the possibility of key personnel missing, do you have automation technology to automate repeat tasks and lighten the burden on your reduced team numbers? Zero touch payroll can help here as it switches the burden from people over to technology and makes your payroll infrastructure the main driver of your global payroll. Does your technology hinder or help when it comes to the visibility of team actions, specific workflows and overall processes?
Payslip’s automation & integration technology helps businesses everywhere to achieve global payroll continuity. Our technology features cloud-based document storage and access along with process and workflow visibility. You can onboard a new vendor quickly and also switch tasks between payroll professionals in different countries. Talk to us today about how quickly we can onboard your payroll countries onto our system.