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By Bruce van Wyk, Director, PaySpace

Cloud-based business technologies are transforming how many multinational businesses manage their processes. Time zones and borders no longer inhibit operations, and companies are expanding and integrating their operations around the world with greater success.

Payroll processes are changing too. Rather than distribute payroll responsibilities across various local offices, companies are increasingly choosing to manage their global payroll needs from one central location. This often involves entrusting it to one single service provider – instead of recruiting various suppliers in each country of operation.

And this is just the tip of the ice-berg. As a payroll manager, here are five key global payroll trends you have to be aware of to remain on top of your game in 2018 and beyond.

  1. Going global

Not too long ago, businesses expanding into overseas territories needed the help of local service providers to establish their new offices. This required a lot of administrative oversight and increased the HR workload significantly, sourcing trusted suppliers in many different countries and managing multiple contracts.

Thanks to new business technologies, companies can now manage their payroll and procurement needs from one central location – with one central team in charge. This central team of outsourced specialist payroll professionals provide expert support to ensure that multilayer governance is maintained – and that your payroll is 100% compliant at all times.

By outsourcing your payroll, company employees will have access to always-on experts with the most up-to-date legislative knowledge in all countries relevant to your business operations.

In 2018, companies will increasingly globalise their payroll operations and move to managed, or outsourced, payroll services. This will reduce their employees’ administrative workload, freeing up their time to focus on more strategic work.

  1. Data protection

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into full force in May this year. This new legislation will redefine how the payroll industry collects, stores and processes personal information. While GDPR has a strong focus on customer data, it also extends to the data businesses keep on their employees.

GDPR is applicable to EU citizens – regardless of where they are based. This means that international companies with expatriate employees will no doubt be affected. Here’s a potential scenario: if a company has EU citizens working in its offices in Lagos or Johannesburg, it needs to manage their data in accordance with GDPR regulations as well as the local Nigerian or South African legislation.

This means that the payroll software provider now shares the responsibility of protecting employee information. Data encryption has to be of a higher standard than ever before, and more detailed records of employee data have to be kept for far longer.

  1. Evolution of the payroll administrator

The role of the payroll administrator is changing significantly, too. With automated administrative assistance and increased access to information, payroll administrators are no longer mere data inputters. They are now expected to analyse global information, identify trends and patterns, and make suggestions for operational improvement.

To do this effectively, the payroll department must work closely with other departments and embrace new technologies and digital processes. This calls for payroll administrators who possess the right skills and knowledge to work outside of their comfort zones operate comfortably in an increasingly competitive world.

  1. Collaboration between service providers

Along with the need for greater internal collaboration, global businesses will require the support of an integrated pool of external service providers. Suppliers will start collaborating more to offer a one-stop-shop to clients, for example, bundling operations, sales, finance, HR and payroll services into a single API integrated software package.

In 2018, payroll service providers will be looking at ways to make things easier for their clients, and payroll managers in turn, must look out for the announcement of new partnerships and integrations.

  1. Employee self-service

The year ahead promises to enhance the development and use of employee self-service systems. In many multinational businesses, mobile-friendly, visually appealing payroll systems will become the norm. Supported by cloud technology, these platforms will enable managers and employees to access payroll and HR data from anywhere at any time – all they’ll need is a device with internet connection.

New generation ESS and MSS platforms offer users an array of self-service features. These include visual dashboards, employee payslip information, interactive widgets per team, an overview of all leave and claim statuses, as well as a powerful employee directory and social feel search facilities. To make these processes even easier and more user-friendly, intuitive grids filter complex items and form submissions include validation elements to ensure accurate data collection.

Important information is now available in real-time, 27/7. This will allow various teams and departments to collaborate seamlessly across various geographies. Payroll services are also becoming more multinational – offering services in various languages. Businesses will be able to set up their company payroll profile in a language their employees understand.

Technology is transforming how international businesses operate – for the better. However, with any major change comes new responsibilities. Payroll teams need to pay attention to the trends on the horizon this year, and prepare their processes now in order to benefit.

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