6 ways to jump start your global payroll project!

6 ways to jump start your payroll project

by Peter Bouten

Many global payroll projects with huge potential benefits simply never make it out of the starting blocks. Reasons can vary, from teams not being able to get the business case approved to having a poor understanding of what payroll services are actually required. We offer six tips to help you ensure your global payroll project gets off to the best possible start.

These challenges are often the result of either a lack of experience in executing transformational global payroll projects, the misconception that a vendor is trying to take advantage or ultimately, the fear of change.

All of these can be overcome by considering the following elements during the early stages of a global payroll project.

1. Hire a sourcing adviser

Remember you are not an expert in outsourcing payroll services. Hire a sourcing adviser for your project, ideally one who doesn’t also provide the services you may acquire! Look for a tried and tested sourcing adviser.

They should be happy to help you deploy your payroll transformation project in a manner relevant to 2019 and not 1985! Also be sure to talk to their most recent clients before you sign with them.

2. Scope your services

Before you write the request for proposal (RFP) or are too far into a project, you should really be working with your top two potential vendors. This is so they understand how your business requirements would align to their standard scope of services.

In a day’s session, it is usually possible to determine the exact requirements. This should take into consideration payroll, personal administration, benefits, time, attendance, talent management, administration and employee support services. Critically, it should also identify who will deliver each service.

Knowing the actual requirements ensures both you and the vendor have a clear understanding of requirements. Plus, your quotations will be easier to compare.

3. Build the business case

The business case is another element that is often cloaked in a veil of secrecy, with no direct vendor participation in its creation. This is ultimately why so many potential projects never actually begin – a badly written and ill-conceived business case.

Embrace your vendor, accept they will (and need to make) a sensible margin. Work together to develop a realistic business case. By doing this, it will deliver benefits to both your organization and the vendor.

Remember you’re entering into a long standing relationship and it needs to be mutually beneficially to both parties in order to succeed.

4. Visit a multi-client shared payroll service center

It is critical that you spend a day or more in several large-scale payroll outsourcing centers. This is, without a doubt, the most important aspect of the selection process.

It allows you to truly understand the operational elements of payroll outsourcing, compliance, integration and data management. By seeing it at first-hand you can see what best practice actually looks like.

Be aware, 75% of your time in the center should be with the people who will actually manage your service. This should include a floor visit and not just be in a boardroom listening to presentations.

At NGA HR, we always like to invite future clients to visit at least one NGA service center.

5. Consider FTEs and retained organization

Sharing FTE numbers – both in the vendor’s proposed model and in the client’s current and retained organization –  continues to be a sensitive topic.

The client doesn’t want to share this data for fear of losing commercial advantage, and the vendor is worried that their ‘secret recipe for success’ will escape.

Only an open and honest dialogue (firstly about Scope of Services and then the actual FTE numbers – current client, proposed vendor and client retained) will result in a sensible, well understood project.

6. Let go of your payroll processes

It is impossible to optimize your payroll business process and then undertake a global payroll transformation project that also includes new technology.

You need to accept that your future solution aligns to your outsourcing partner’s proven best practice and technology. If you insist the vendor uses your processes, you won’t benefit from any future innovations. This is simply because you don’t use their standards.

Running the payroll process is our business, so make sure you benefit from our expertise. You wouldn’t want your clients to tell you how to make your products or do your job, would you?


Designing, developing, launching and successfully delivering a global payroll transformation project requires you to embrace a more open, transparent approach to partnering with your vendor. Be open and share your data points, desired outcomes and demand the same from your vendor.

This partnership approach ensures not only the contract will have a much greater chance of success, but also that key concepts such as ‘Gain Share’ will be realized. Experience shows that a better outcome will be achieved if you spend twice the amount of time with half the numbers of vendors.