Payroll Continuity Plan – How to Manage Global Payroll Under any Circumstances

Alex Margolin March 30, 2020

The COVID 19 crisis has taught many lessons about our business process. One important lesson has been about the challenges of running a global payroll.

Over the past few days, companies have told us about being caught in scenarios like these:

  • I can’t connect with my payroll provider in Italy, and I don’t know how to pay my Italian employees.
  • I don’t have access to the payroll data he collected from them. The only option we have is to send money to our employees directly without initialling a pay slip
  • I don’t have the contact information of all my global employees. I can’t connect with all of them.
  • My board of directors is requesting a breakdown of all worker global costs in order to discuss immediate action, and we don’t have this data available.

The companies facing these scenarios all have one thing in common – they all use a standard, manual payroll. As they and many other companies across the globe scramble to meet their payroll obligations amid severe disruptions,  it is increasingly clear: just as ERP and CRM has moved from paper and Excel to SaaS-based solutions, payroll must make the same advance.

Companies across the globe are unveiling hastily-constructed contingency plans. These measures are bringing the limits of manual payroll into clear focus. Companies need more than emergency measures. They need modern, cutting edge technology that will work under any emergency.

Switching to a sustainable, automated process would allow companies to continue to function at times of disruption, disaster, or crisis.

Let the current situation serve as a wake-up call for the need to modernize payroll, once and for all.

Limits of Manual Payroll  

In a manual process, people not technology are at the heart of the operation.

Those people – the payroll manager or local payroll partner – may be sick or otherwise unavailable. In most companies, a small number of people (and sometimes just one) are responsible for the manual data process of gathering all of the payroll reports, calculating the tax withholding, adding the benefits and perks, and generating a payslip.

In a global payroll, relying on a specific set of people to be available at each location is a recipe for failure. The unavailability of a single individual could bring the entire payroll operation to a screeching halt. When companies are already running on contingency levels, manual payroll becomes a major liability.

Technology in these times is an asset. An automated payroll platform is equipped to process multiple streams of data and make payments across borders in the local currency. The platform is not tied to specific people but can be operated by anyone.

Payroll data may be lost or out of reach

A company with a global payroll will often outsource payroll to a local third-party provider. The local provider, not the company, then collects and stores the essential payroll information – bank details, tax documents, benefit plans, the employee’s gender and number of children, address, vacation days accrued, and other relevant details.

In a crisis, this could prove disastrous. If the company has to conduct an emergency payroll internally, it will not have access to the crucial payroll documents and data.

Even if a company decides to store the documents on its own, if it is using a manual payroll system, those documents will still be vulnerable at times of crisis. Computers could be damaged and spreadsheet files lost.

Data must be stored in the cloud, If the people responsible for keeping it are unavailable, the data will still be safe and accessible.

It is unrealistic to expect a person to swoop in on short notice and save the day  

With the amount of data needed for a global payroll, believing that anyone could possibly step in on short notice is an illusion. To process even one single payroll, this mythic figure would have to collect and process

  1. Attendance and time off reports
  2. Base salary
  3. Expenses and benefits
  4. Other contractual obligations from the company
  5. Apply the rates of tax and social security withholding for that particular person (based on gender, age, family status, etc…)

That’s just one regular payroll. A global payroll is at least three times more complex and time consuming than a regular payroll. The reports would be in different languages, reporting styles, even different software.  Expense reports would be backed by receipts in the local language and virtually impossible to audit. The tax laws would require real expertise for compliance.

In other words, it is simply unrealistic to believe someone can be brought in at the last minute. A global payroll has too many moving parts. Automation is the only way to cut through the jungle of data and ensure the workforce is paid correctly and on time.

Payroll history is essential

Taxes, social security payments, and many mandatory benefits run according to a yearly timeline. A payroll manager cannot calculate them compliantly without access to the historical record for each employee. Those records, however, are stored by the third-party payroll provider, not the company. Without payroll history, payroll will not be accurate.

A manual system relies on files, in some cases, physical, paper files, to maintain its historical record. An automated system keeps it all as a matter of course and any information can be called up in a matter of seconds.

A manual process never shows the big picture

Every local payroll processor uses its own workflow completely independent of all the others. A CEO or CFO never see the full picture of all workforce spending.

This can be a major problem in taking contingency measures, as many companies are doing in the COVID-19 crisis. Many are looking for ways to slash money from the budget, but are not sure what they are spending in total workforce costs. Without being able to see all of the data in one view, the CEO will not be able to make smart decisions.

With payroll consolidation, which brings all global payroll information together into a single view, real time business intelligence allows senior management to see all workforce-related costs instantly. Decisions are made with full, reliable information, with none of the guess work and uncertainty that is typical of a manual system.

Costs stay high because of time and effort expended

When companies go into crisis mode, the first thing they do is look for ways to reduce spending. With a manual payroll, costs will stay high because of all the time and effort needed to get it done. With a global payroll, that’s even more true.

A company looking to make easy cuts in the face of unplanned and unpredictable circumstances should start with automating the functions that are easily replaced with technology. When times call for the leanest possible operation, automating payroll allows the company to save while also improving its functionality.

Papaya Global has the Automation Platform for the Modern Age

Papaya Global has the technology solution that would allow a company to withstand a crisis, and to function at a higher level at any time. With companies facing so many challenges across every business vertical, the last thing they need is to worry about how they are going to meet their payroll obligations.

Papaya offers a total workforce management solution supporting all types of global workers (payroll, EoR, and contractors) in over 100 countries. The automated, cloud-based SaaS platform provides an end-to-end solution, from onboarding to on-going management and cross-border payments.

Automation has many advantages beyond data collection – it saves staff time, eliminates human errors, and ensures legal compliance across the globe. It also brings together information from many sources into a single dashboard, which serves as the database for the BI.

Papaya’s automated platform ensures payroll compliance, provides benefit management, and ensure data privacy in compliance with GDPR. All payroll data is stored in the cloud and transferred through Papaya’s secure channels.

Contact us for a strategic consultation. Don’t be caught off guard for the next global crisis. Be prepared with Papaya Global.

Papaya Global payroll platform lets you:

  • Automate payroll with zero processing errors
  • Manage global payroll, PEO & contractors via one platform
  • Make cross-border payments in 140+ countries