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6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Global Payroll Provider

By Matan Lazar, CPA

GPR ProviderAre you considering converting to a new global payroll provider, but you’re hesitant to make a change? You may be concerned about missing payroll periods or data errors during the transition, but the conversion doesn’t need to be chaotic. The key to a successful payroll conversion is a streamlined conversion process that meets the unique needs of your company while minimizing the amount of work required to get started. When you are ready to make the switch, there are six things to consider when choosing a payroll provider.

1. Timing of a Payroll Conversion

Deciding when to implement a new payroll solution is important. The second quarter is a good time to start the process if you’re considering a mid-year conversion. Another option is to convert at the end of the year. The ideal time to begin a year-end conversion is October, minimizing conflict with any year-end processing you need to handle.

No matter which time of year you choose, a streamlined implementation process will ensure a smooth transition. Part of this process is working with an experienced and knowledgeable sales consultant who understands your needs and requirements to recommend the best solution.

Given the complexity of workforce solutions and the multitude of capabilities that will impact your company, a good payroll provider should have a sales team that is involved every step of the way.

2. Data Conversion

When considering a conversion, it is important to look at whether the payroll system is unified with core HR and attendance. There are many benefits to incorporating a system where payroll, core HR, and time tracking data are stored in a centralized database, including the following:

  • Greater user flexibility
  • Reduced payroll errors
  • Eliminated duplicate data entry
  • Decreased labor costs
  • Increased visibility into company trends and metrics

Look for a global provider that assigns a dedicated implementation manager with the experience to translate the differences in the systems and suggest improvements that will increase productivity, reduce the potential for errors, and drive down costs.

Whether your company has employee garnishments, non-cash fringe benefits, or complex vacation policies, you’ll want to look for a solution that will meet your unique requirements and scale to your company’s structure.

3. Data Integration Capabilities

Many companies have existing business investments for benefits, such as general ledger software and retirement packages. The ability to integrate these existing systems with an online payroll system is a huge benefit as all the data can be kept accurate and up to date.

Other benefits include:

  • Eliminated duplicate data entry
  • Reduced paperwork
  • Point-in-time reporting

Consider global providers that have an established portfolio of integrations with the most popular business applications and vendors.

4. Payroll Tax Compliance Management

With payroll tax compliance rules constantly changing, it is crucial to engage a global payroll provider with a tax compliance department to help manage these updates. Once your conversion is complete, a tax compliance team should update your payroll tax tables each year and help with year-end processing.

A good global payroll provider should have a tax compliance team that consists of experts who will review your existing data to check for any potential payroll tax errors. The tax compliance team should also update payroll tax tables each year, handle tax filings and payments, and help you with year-end processing.

5. Data Conversion

One of the most important steps of the conversion process is accurately migrating company data out of your old system and into the new system. To ensure your data will be accurate, make sure the following tasks are performed:

  • Data Conversion—Year-to-date history is entered into the new payroll solution
  • Payroll Assessment—A payroll compliance assessment is performed to reconcile data history
  • Validate Accuracy—Parallel, or side-by-side payrolls are run prior to the first live payroll submission to confirm data and tax settings are correct

Look for global providers that assign an implementation point of contact who will handle your data conversion process. They should perform all the above tasks in addition to importing payroll and employee data from previous years.

6. Questions to Ask an International Payroll Partner

Before committing to a global payroll provider, companies should carefully vet multiple providers to determine the best fit for their unique business needs to ensure a prosperous partnership.

Here are few questions that every company needs to ask before selecting a payroll partner:

Will the payroll partner guarantee certain performance and implementation targets and offer a discount if those are missed?

Companies need to define clear, agreed-upon goals to help shape the relationship with their payroll partner and ensure a positive experience going forward.

Are all services in-house or do they contract with global providers?

If a global payroll partner uses third-party local providers, it is important to know how they are managed and whether it will affect their relationship with the international payroll provider. This will help companies understand how the relationships will work going forward.

What is the size, composition, and investment in their global and local compliance team?

Companies need to ask where a team is located, how many experts they have in a particular market, and what they do to ensure their payroll services are compliant with all local regulations. This will help determine whether a global payroll provider has the necessary expertise to help companies avoid compliance issues down the road.

What technology platform do they use and how will it integrate?

It is important for companies to understand if their current payroll systems will integrate with the platform used by their payroll provider. Clarifying this ensures a smooth and seamless implementation of a company’s international payroll services.

What is the payroll partner’s experience with expatriate payroll and tax compliance?

Compliance requirements for expatriates are different in every country, and it is important for companies to know the requirements in their target countries. For example, in Singapore, income taxes and social security contribution rates for expatriates and locals are different. Before selecting a partner, companies need to make sure the payroll company understands the unique requirements for each type of employee they plan to hire in a country.

What ongoing support will the service provide to a company and its employees?

Do they offer online documentation and troubleshooting? Do companies have a dedicated representative on the account that they can call in an emergency? Do employees come to their employer with questions, or do they go to the payroll service? Companies need to anticipate how the long-term relationship with a global payroll provider will work and how their employees will interact with and benefit from the service.

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Matan Lazar, CPA, is the co-CEO and Principal Accountant with Lazar and Company, Certified Public Accountants. Lazar holds an M.A. in business management (M.B.A) with specialization in finance and a B.A in business management, specialized in accountancy from the College of Management. Lazar is a licensed accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Israel (ICPAI). He has extensive experience performing financial and accountancy projects and has been dealing with PEO service for many years operating worldwide. Lazar was previously a controller at one of the large leasing companies in Israel and currently is an external advisor to the company. Lazar is a member of the academic staff of the business school in the College of Management.