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By Warren van Wyk, Director, PaySpace

The rapid development of technology is transforming many business functions. The growing popularity of cloud software has enabled international companies to expand faster and with greater surety, knowing that their global payroll needs are met. This has also impacted the payroll administrator’s role in companies with offices around the world.

A global payroll platform requires administrators who understand the complexities of implementing and managing a multinational payroll. Gone are the days of simply inputting payroll information and calling it a day. Today’s payroll professionals are expected to gather information securely, input data and analyse the information, spot relevant market trends and patterns, and suggest areas for improvement.

To stay relevant and successful into the future, the next generation payroll administrator must develop some important skills. Here is an outline of three of these critical abilities.

  1. Strategic thinking

The ability to think strategically depends on one crucial factor: information. When information exists in silos, it restricts colleagues from sharing vital knowledge that will allow them to see, think and act strategically.

The modern payroll professional needs to thoroughly understand how the business they work for functions as a whole. To achieve this, they must cross divisive interdepartmental lines and get to grips with other functions such as HR and finance.

To fully understand the payroll function, its administrators must work with other divisions to understand how all the various stakeholders fit in the picture. Each department has its own business agenda and objectives which will affect the overall company direction, and guide important decision-making.

Payroll manages the biggest cost within an organisation; its impact should not be underestimated if incorrectly administered.

  1. Tech-savvy

The next generation payroll administrators need to be tech enthusiasts. They must show interest in and aptitude for all the latest and greatest automated business technologies that can help them do their jobs better.

Payroll involves a lot of administrative tasks that traditionally required full manual oversight. This made the work very time-consuming. Now, thanks to new technologies, like Business Intelligence (BI), analytics and the imminent world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), tasks such as employee leave requests, profile updates, salary gross ups and iterative tax calculations can all be automated. This frees up payroll professionals significantly, enabling them to focus on more strategic work like workforce planning.

The appeal of these new, and impending, technologies is that they can be applied to almost any payroll function across all sectors, industries and businesses. Most, if not all, organisations operating in the digital age are in need of applications such as raw data filtration and validation, business information mining and predictive information supply.

Payroll administrators of the future will also understand system integration and the application program interface (API) world. They’ll know which apps are best to ensure seamless payroll administration and integrate complementary software, for example accounting or ERP software, with their payroll system.

All in all, the next generation of payroll professional will know which technologies can lighten their administrative burden, and how to implement them in the best interests of the business.

  1. Agility

Last but not least, an agile attitude in an ever-changing environment is key to navigating the complex requirements of global payroll successfully. Given the amount of legislative changes that occur almost overnight in many countries, the modern payroll administrator will have to be agile and adaptive. Globally, data protection legislation is enforcing obligations on companies that require them to have controls in place to securely process and protect their employees’ data. A lack of experience or speed could result in non-compliance that could lead to fines to be paid and reputational damage for the business.

Furthermore, people no longer start out as a payroll administrator and retire as one many years later. In today’s economy, the ability to transform one’s skillset in a short period of time has become crucial for any worker. This builds experience and knowledge and demonstrates an agile attitude – all highly employable characteristics.

Technology enables payroll professionals to do a smarter, faster job – but it also helps companies expand into new territories quickly. This calls for payroll administrators who are able to keep up, and manage new offices and employees with no issues. Payroll management has moved beyond data inputting. It now requires professionals who are strategic thinkers, driven by technology and data analysis to push their companies into the future.