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LIVE from Dublin: Bringing the best of global payroll together

LIVE from Dublin: Bringing the best of global payroll together

Last week we hosted our fourth live, in-person Payzaar-on-the-go event! After very successful events in Amsterdam and Warsaw, our next stop: Dublin, Ireland. In this article we will share the key insights and takeaways from the presentations, client case studies & Fred's story Chapter IV.

We had a great attendance with a mix of customers and interested global payroll leaders from companies like General Motors, Payrollminds, Ribbon, TikTok, Pinterest and GitLab. We had international guests from all over Europe who all came together to be inspired and network with peers.

In a beautiful location in the heart of Dublin, we had two hours with four inspiring presentations that generated a lot of interest, followed by much-appreciated networking. Personally, it is very rewarding to watch my peers meet each other and share experiences. Unlocking this is pivotal to advancing our industry.

For those who couldn't make it, please check out our YouTube channel for the video with highlights and Fred’s full story. Should you be interested in receiving the slides, message me on LinkedIn and I’ll get them over to you personally. 

As our theme was that It takes two to tango (i.e. the payroll provider and customer), our agenda included presentations and inspiring talks such as: 

  • Centralization while balancing local & shared services, by Céline Caveye (Global HR Director at Fagron)
  • The (Global) payroll provider perspective, by Bróna Grogan (CEO at Paycheck Plus).
  • Global Payroll Transformation Case Study, by Rob Falkner (Associate Director, Payroll at Regeneron)
  • Fred's Story Chapter IV, by Max van der Klis-Busink, that’s me! (Head of Service Delivery at Payzaar)

In this blog article, I’ll give you a run-down of the key insights that inspired me personally and others I have spoken to.

Insights from our event

You don’t need to lose flexibility when you move to a SSC

Céline shared the journey of how Fagron pivoted their HR operating model to a business-led organization with an HR Competence Center, HR Business Partners, and an HR Service Center (SSC). This required very careful planning from understanding business needs and talents, to choosing the right location. With Global Payroll reporting into HR, there was also a need to find the right place for payroll. This led to an in-depth analysis of the pro’s and con’s, including factors like:

  • Cost savings
  • Improvement in efficiency, cohesiveness & consistency of HR operations and Global Payroll.
  • Talent management, Scheduling & cross-training.
  • Risk of non-compliance.
  • Lack of local relationships and language barriers.

As you can imagine, this was not an easy choice to make. Fagron decided to move the Global Payroll organization (EMEA specifically) to a SSC in Barcelona, Spain, while the starting position was all local providers and some in-country experts. Due to this complexity, they decided to first go into a deep discovery phase which exposed some key findings: different outsourcing models, manual and paper-based processes, minimal documentation and a low-tech control environment with inherent risks. 

So how to move forward?

They decided to implement a best practice Global Payroll Management approach (written by yours truly), covering strategy, governance, operating models, and operations. With these four interrelated components they ensured a holistic approach to global payroll. The next critical step was selecting the right vendor.

They had evaluated all available vendor options in the market: global aggregators, accountancy networks, regional providers, and platform providers (like Payzaar). They decided to choose Payzaar’s platform as it allowed them to scale processes, workflows, data, and controls to the SSC, while still allowing for local compliance and flexibility to work with best-in-class local providers. This approach has worked out beautifully for them, as they could:

  • Minimize disruption - only switch the providers they choose to, keep the rest. They ended up switching around 4, with Payzaar’s support.
  • Modular deployment of Payzaar technology - all modules for largest countries, workflow for smaller countries, and global reporting & analytics for all countries.
  • Phase the implementation to adapt to the change appetite of the business and local business partners.

To summarize, the main takeaway for me is you can have flexibility and standardization even in a very complex transformation like Fagron was in, and still is. You can read the full case study here.

From a whiteboard to doubling revenues, and reducing  headcount proportionally by 30%

Brona shared the inspiring story of how Paycheck Plus, an industry-leading payroll provider for Ireland and the UK, transformed from managing their customers' workflows through whiteboards to fully digitized with the Payzaar Platform. 

Yes, the Payzaar Platform is used by both (local and global) providers and international businesses.

Paycheck Plus processed €850 million in payments and 360,000 payslips in 2023 across 8,500 customers. This was all processed through their Engage Platform, which is how they white-labeled the Payzaar technology. Brona shared how she stayed ahead of the curve through the platform with trends like system-agnostic integrations, data analytics/insights, and mobile accessibility.

She explained how the end-to-end workflow enhances the customer experience and her internal team’s workflow experience to a seamless process. The ability to keep running payroll in their local payroll engines was also a key factor in deploying the platform in less than a year for all customers - with no customers lost during the transition.

In terms of the business outcomes, well, those are just mind-blowing:

  • Continued growth with ability to scale.
  • Improved internal KPIs – 90% processing time savings.
  • Revenue doubled; headcount reduced by 30%.
  • Smooth and fast migration to the cloud.
  • Improved communication and collaboration.
  • Improved reporting capabilities.

If you are a provider reading this, speak with us to discuss how you can achieve similar results. If you are a customer reading this, you might want to send your provider our way - for both of your sakes. It takes two to tango, remember. You can read their full case study here.

The dream of every global payroll team: late cut-offs, short processing times, and access to local experts

Our friend and long-standing customer Rob shared the story of how he and his team moved away from a global aggregator to Payzaar and local providers. His company at the time, Mercury Engineering, had over 3,000 employees across 14 different countries.

They were using a global aggregator to manage the payrolls for them, which led to well-known industry challenges including:

  • No direct contact with the payroll specialists in the countries.
  • Very slow response times to queries in an already tight timeline, with poor customer services and persistent language barriers.
  • Long processing schedules leading to very early cut-offs, and therefore off-cycles and missed payments.
  • Overall, very expensive due to scope creep, non-value add middle man and PEPM mark-ups.

Something had to change! Based on Rob’s experience with Lionbridge, where he was also a Payzaar customer, he decided to reach out to us once again. He, his team and their employees could no longer put up with this setup. He knew that he had to avoid moving to another global payroll provider, as that would result in “the same challenges, but a different logo”. He went through this transformation with us and in less than a year he transformed the payroll, with very tangible results:

  • Standardization of processes, approvals and reporting through Payzaar.
  • Local providers in all locations with strong knowledge and English speaking, including providers recommended by Payzaar.
  • Peace of mind around audit and compliance due to tight controls and Payzaar’s ISO 27001:2013 certification.
  • Improved customer service with agreed SLA’s, and processing schedule reduced in every location by at least 5 days.
  • All employees able to access payslips from any device
  • Considerable cost savings.

When sharing his story, he received an interesting question: 

“How did Legal & Procurement react to a move from “one contract” to “single country contracts” with this move?”

Rob acknowledged that although there was more initial paperwork, the business case was a one-time activity. He explained that the short-term pain was worth the long-term gain, unlike the previous situation, which was just painful.

To summarize, the main takeaway for me is that moving from an aggregator to Payzaar and local providers is certainly worth the investment, and the right thing to do. You can read the full case study here.

Fred went through an intense period, again

Fred was back for Chapter IV. He is beginning to make a name for himself and continues to be the relatable friend of all working in global payroll. He embodies the payroll DNA and makes everyone feel heard and could relate to.

In Chapter IV of Fred’s story, he is still waiting to get the approval for his business case to improve after a painful internal audit. Will his business case be approved, will he finally get the green light to transform his payroll? 

After one final refresh of his inbox before going to bed, he receives the outcome: rejected! And not only that, but also an invite to meet his manager (who came over from Singapore) in his Amsterdam office for a meeting. Of course, he cannot sleep at all and is very anxious. When he meets his manager he is informed that his company is divesting the biggest part of the company; and he is laid off after a 6 months transition period.

Fred is emotional, beaten down and devastated. Yet, he  knows the show must go on, so he continues to work with his team, who are also impacted. At the same time, he is also contemplating what his next job should be: stay in global payroll, move to a provider, or…? He decides to move to a tech company in Barcelona as the EMEA Payroll Manager and moves with his family from Amsterdam to Spain. (He could use some sunshine).

Onboarding to a new organization is always challenging, but in payroll this is next level. The next payroll is already waiting for his attention! He has no handover from the previous manager and finds that his new team is super stressed. There are no set processes, no standardization and everyone is scrambling for data and time. Will he get this approved on time? 

Of course he does! But then he finds, after the payrolls are approved and payments are released, that there was insufficient funding of the accounts.

Just another day in payroll paradise. You have to be in it to know it. He then goes to Dublin to attend our event and get some outside perspectives, such as:

  • A confirmation that 60% of his peers also find flexibility just as important as standardization.
  • You always need a mix of providers and service levels, as the only one-size-fit- all is hybrid in global payroll.
  • He also looks for a perfect combination of service levels and technology platforms when contracting a new provider. But Fred also acknowledges that the contact person makes you stay with the newly selected provider.
  • Oh my, I am not the only one that has to process 5 or more data sources? Yes, Fred - we all feel the same pain. He now knows how to handle those with a Payzaar Platform.
  • He blushes a bit when he sees that he allows too many post-cut-off changes; he needs to change that, also at his new company. Too accommodating.
  • With poor quality of data inputs being the main root cause of errors, he has heard enough: he needs to focus on solving the pre, run and post-payroll data issues.

Fred heads back to Barcelona totally inspired, by the presentation from Céline, Brona, and Rob. He knows it takes two to tango: he and his team, he and HR, he and Finance, he and his providers, and he and his wife. He actually goes to tango with her, and this is where we left him. What will Chapter V have in store for Fred? Stay tuned to find out.

You can check out his full story (Chapter I-IV) on YouTube. You’ll have fun watching, I guarantee you.

Your network is golden; so invest in it

I hope you have found this write-up useful. Global payroll is everywhere, anywhere and we bring the insights to you live from across the world. Our next stop? Stay tuned to find out (but I am guessing it will be London ;)

I would personally encourage everyone to participate in as many networking events (like ours) as possible. Why? Because you get to extend your network and gain outside perspectives that in turn, help you develop your professional skills. Your network is the aorta of your career - invest in it. That’s at least what I have done, still do, and will continue doing. Join me!

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