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Case studies

How Blue Prism rolled out a global payroll system in 3 weeks with minimal disruption

How Blue Prism rolled out a global payroll system in 3 weeks with minimal disruption

Learn how cutting edge Robotic Process Automation firm Blueprism centralized its global payroll management in only three weeks with a self-enabled technology-driven approach.

Blue Prism is a pioneer and global leader in the fast-growing market of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The company has recently enjoyed a period of hyper-growth, doubling its geographical footprint from 10 to 21 countries, and tripling its headcount, from around 300 to 1100 employees in just over three years.

Like 70% of multinational companies, Blue Prism operates a hybrid international payroll environment. In most countries, the company has outsourced payroll processing to different in-country payroll providers (ICPs), leveraging their local payroll, tax, and compliance expertise. In other countries, Blue Prism is processing payroll in-house with its own team using third-party software. 

Blue Prism opted for this hybrid approach because the company values having greater operational control over the payroll in its largest locations, and the ability to customize its payroll workflow whilst setting its own cut off dates.

"Being able to be in touch with our local providers and keep some regions in-house allows us for greater control and accuracy, and shorter processing times"– Stuart Hough, Global Payroll Manager

When searching for a global payroll partner this proved troublesome, as traditional providers were not ready to accommodate Blue Prism’s hybrid model. However, outsourcing payroll for its largest locations was a no-go, because it imposed constraints on workflow and monthly cut off dates that didn’t fit Blue Prism’s requirements. 

"I was very insistent that I wanted to keep our two largest locations in-house to ensure control and quality and that wasn't an option with all these other [global payroll] providers. They would not allow us to act as the 'in-country provider' for those two regions" – Stuart Hough.

The Challenge

Without a centralized global payroll strategy, Blue Prism’s payroll operations were disjointed and very manual. Each country followed different processes and there was little standardization in workflows, data formats, and procedures.

“There was no standardization in the data, it was all PDF files coming from our providers. It was all very manual, pulling data out of those PDF files to check that everything was done correctly” – Stuart Hough.

In addition, Blue Prism required the ability to have a consistent, consolidated view of the payroll data across all its employees. Simple queries like understanding the total number of employees across countries or departments, or analyzing salary or cost of employment trends took a lot of effort and tens of hours to pull together. 

"If the CFO would ask me for a report, that would mean going through every country's individual data, trying to pull the costs together. It was really difficult, and as we kept growing with more countries it became more and more difficult to put things together. We were spending many hours just pulling data and trying to make something useful for the senior leadership with it." – Stuart Hough.

The Solution: Plug & play global payroll management

As Blue Prism grew, the need for better governance, control, and transparency in payroll increased. To address these needs and keep up with the growing demands of a fast-expanding business, Blue Prism’s payroll team, led by Global Payroll Manager Stuart Hough, was keen to move to a centralized global payroll model while keeping their hybrid in-house/outsourced payroll delivery setup. 

The key factors why Blue Prism selected Payzaar as its global payroll system were:

  1. Being able to overlay Payzaar on top of Blue Prism’s existing in-house payrolls and provider network, integrating them into the platform without having to re-implement them from scratch. 

  1. The ability to function with a hybrid payroll delivery model, combining elements of their own automation product to gather their data, for both their inhouse, and outsourced Payrolls
  2. Powerful, highly customizable Reporting and analytics that enabled the payroll team to use data from a variety of sources and build dashboards and reports in minutes instead of hours.
  3. Accounting Connect – Payzaar’s payroll-to-finance integration module, which allowed Blue Prism’s payroll team to serve data to finance and integrate it into its reports.
  4. Significantly shorter time-to-value than traditional vendors, with the full rollout taking weeks instead of months.

“Working with Payzaar gave us that flexibility to either work in house, have it outsourced, and be able to consider future change should we identify improvements or find a suitable global provider… there was a high degree of flexibility with Payzaar and we quickly started to see the benefits that could bring.” – Stuart Hough

What really resonated with Blue Prism is that it could obtain all the benefits of a centralized global payroll model without having to carry out an in-depth transformation project that required it to rip-and-replace its existing payrolls. 

Payzaar’s technology and ICP-agnostic approach allowed Blue Prism to connect all its existing payrolls through the platform and obtain standardization, visibility, and control with minimal disruption to existing processes and systems.

The Implementation: Rolling out a global payroll solution in three weeks

Thanks to Payzaar’s configurable and self-serviceable architecture, Blue Prism was able to quickly roll out the Payzaar platform within only 3 weeks across its (at the time) 14 countries. 

The rollout was led by Blue Prism’s central payroll team with support from Payzaar’s implementation team. Thanks to the easy click & drop configuration, no IT resources were required to get the platform up and running – the process was handled entirely by the payroll team with Payzaar’s support.

During the rollout process, Blue Prism’s team configured the workflows for each country, setting up their payroll calendars and user permissions for approvals and sign-offs for each step of the workflow, automating information flows between the organisation, to the central team and the in-country providers that produced the majority of Blue Prism’s payrolls.

“We got the system up and running in 3 weeks and we were able to do it without getting IT involved. That was a big win for us in front of the rest of the organization because usually it would take months.” – Stuart Hough 

[Since the initial rollout, Blue Prism has added 7 more countries, taking it to the current total of 21]

The Results: Clearer payroll with better oversight

Clear workflows: Since implementing Payzaar, Blue Prism’s workflows have become much clearer. Their payroll calendars and the relevant approval and validation processes are now built into the system by design. This has given them the desired degree of standardization across their different locations. 

Better oversight and controls: Before implementing Payzaar, payrolls were validated and approved by the payroll team without internal review from other departments. Payzaar’s approval system and audit trail has enabled them to involve regional financial controllers in the sign-off process, improving quality and oversight. 

"We have a very sturdy system that's capable of carrying us through an audit or demonstrating segregation of duties and a line of approvals" – Stuart Hough

Increased Payroll’s influence within the organization: When Blue Prism started working with Payzaar, the payroll team was only reporting on payroll costs. However, they realized there was potential to go much further. The big change came with the introduction of more complex journals, not only by country but also by regional code. With the implementation of an account integration module, Payzaar went from a nice-to-have product to a business requirement – one of the main financial systems within the organization”. Payzaar evolved from being used only by Payroll, to being used by Blue Prism’s Accounts team, Rewards team, and others. 

“Now there are about 20 users within the organization, and many more people who benefit from the kind of data we can obtain" – Stuart Hough

Key Wins

  1. Stronger, more standardized workflows with built-in segregation of duties and full auditability of every action taken along the way
  2. Better management of 3rd party vendor relationships through consistent, transparent processes and central information exchange hub
  3. Reduction of time spent producing reports for management, from often spending 10+ hours per report, to less than 10 minutes.  
  4. Hundreds of hours saved every year responding to ad-hoc data requests from different business stakeholders. – “Actually, thousands of hours potentially, because the organization is much bigger now both in terms of headcount and countries”
  5. Much improved data visibility and access across the organization. – "It would have been impossible to get the level of data we can access right now without Payzaar"
  6. Since implementing Payzaar, Blue Prism has more than doubled its headcount and has been able to service this growth effectively without needing to scale the payroll team.

"Payzaar has enabled us to have a standardized payroll workflow, to demonstrate segregation of duties, to meet internal audit guidelines, to have proof of every action taken, and to manage our third-party vendor relationships better" – Stuart Hough

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