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Creating a Successful Global Payroll Support Team

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By Lee-ann Kilroy


Success in a global payroll implementation is often a function of which provider is chosen and how. The journey begins with a dedicated support team that will work with you from start to business as usual. Members should be included from the following teams:

  • Implementation
  • Operations
  • Project management
  • Client account management
  • Treasury
  • Business analysts

A complete comprehensive project plan should coincide with the start of each country’s implementation. The allocation of resources should ensure full completion of each activity. Resources should be tracked through the provider’s risk management and appropriate mitigation (prioritization of resources) applied where necessary by senior management.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key project members who could make up each of the dedicated support teams.


Key Project Members

The following key project members help to make up possible support teams:

Implementation Consultant

Overall, this role is responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of the payroll system. This includes leading the requirements, set-up, parallels, and transition into live operations.

Key functions include:

  • Communicating with in-country partner (ICP) and with the client as the main point of contact
  • Conducting a needs analysis and quality control

  • Testing and troubleshooting system configuration and functionality
  • Validating new system input, output, and connectivity. Identify, research, and assist in resolving any issues with technical resources.
  • Developing training content (or assisting at a minimum)
  • Participating in the testing and implementation of best practices
  • Overseeing and managing the external payroll vendor relationship, holding the vendor accountable to service-level agreements (SLAs), and process improvements
  • Developing and maintaining regular reports via the company’s accounting system
  • Responding to customer questions, concerns, and issues via phone, email, and other methods as it pertains to time and payroll administration
  • Collaborating with finance and HR teams to work on process/policy standardization, compliance, and other projects as needed on payroll-related activities


In-Country Partner (ICP)

The ICP works hand in hand with the provider to provide local payroll knowledge.

Responsibilities typically include:

  • Completing gross-to-net calculations during parallels and live operations
  • Contributing to the team effort by accomplishing related results as needed
  • Partnering with other ICPs for consistency
  • Researching and applying local tax laws and regulations

Project Manager

The project manager produces and manages the project plan (milestones, timelines) to include managing risks and serving as the main point of communication to the client and serving as the escalation point for project-related issues.

Responsibilities typically include:

  • Managing projects for all stakeholders, internal and external
  • Providing status reports and producing green/yellow/red dashboards
  • Ensuring each team member understands their roles and responsibilities and tracking progress
  • Preparing and distributing all applicable communication
  • Leading all calls and meetings related to major projects, implementations, or upgrades

Payroll Operations Lead

The Payroll Operations Lead is responsible for managing the payroll processing and reporting during live operations and serves as the main point of communication for the client during live operations, in addition to these activities:

  • Clarifying and validating that payrolls are processed in accordance with company policy
  • Explaining and interpreting complex payroll information to payroll specialists, timekeepers, and employees
  • Creating and developing training tools to ensure company, union, and federal and state requirements, changes, and updates are communicated and followed
  • Processing, leading, and overseeing timely and accurate payroll processing
  • Reviewing and auditing reports for processing errors

Treasury and Service Management Accountant

The Treasury and Service Management Accountant is responsible for setting up the payment methods and managing invoicing. Other duties typically include the following: 

  • Performing difficult and diverse cost accounting work, including cost accruals
  • Applying accounting principles, theories, concepts, and practices to a wide variety of complicated situations and problems
  • Receiving, reviewing, researching, documenting, reconciling, and recording all property and inventory transactions
  • Making day-to-day decisions concerning the accounting treatment of financial transactions
  • Examining accounting/investment source documents for adequacy and propriety and ensuring that these can properly substantiate accounting/investment transactions
  • Reviewing audit reports in the area of travel, payroll, receivables, investments, budget execution, accruals, collections, deposits, and recommending positions on assigned reports and correspondence

Client Account Manager

The Client Account Manager holds one of the most important roles because this person is the primary point of contact for any service issues during the project phase and live operations. The Client Account Manager oversees any additional scope requirements and the overall health of the project, including these responsibilities:

  • Building and maintaining a strong relationship with clients through effective communication and proactive interactions 
  • Maintaining regular contact with clients with both face-to-face visits and phone calls 
  • Operating as the lead point of contact for any and all matters beyond day-to-day transactional activity 
  • Acting as the liaison between clients and cross-functional internal teams to ensure the timely and successful delivery of services and products 
  • Assisting with the organization and delivery of communications and processes for annual open enrollment to clients and employees 
  • Responding to service requests, questions, and problems 
  • Communicating escalated client activity in a timely manner
  • Identifying opportunities to recommend changes in services to ensure the effective fulfillment of ideal client experience and seamless service and product delivery

Escalation Roles

The following key project members are used on the support teams only when escalation is needed:


Chief Operating Officer

The role of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) varies within most organizations; however, they tend to be the final point of escalation during both the project phase and live operation, in addition to these functions:

  • Providing day-to-day leadership and management to a production organization that mirrors the company’s mission and core values
  • Driving the production organization to achieve production goals that consistently provide a quality product in a timely manner at a competitive price
  • Overseeing the measurement and effectiveness of all production processes
  • Providing timely, accurate, and complete reports on the operating condition of the company
  • Establishing the development, communication, and implementation of effective growth strategies and processes
  • Collaborating with the management team to develop and implement plans for the operational infrastructure of systems, processes, and personnel designed to accommodate corporate objectives
  • Motivating and leading a high-performance management team
  • Building rapport with key accounts
  • Fostering a success-oriented, accountable environment within the company

Global Implementation Director

The Global Implementation Director strives for a flawless execution—however, we all know that perfection is impossible. This role serves as an escalation point for all implementation queries and has overall accountability for the implementation phase (from requirements to transition to live operations), in addition to these roles:

  • Leading the development of a global payroll solution across all countries to deliver accurate and timely payroll processing insights and analytics
  • Guiding process standardization and improvement in designing the global payroll solution
  • Developing and implementing a detailed cross-functional project plan
  • Managing transformation projects
  • Maintaining a rapport with each country’s payroll function

Project Management Director

In coordination with the Global Implementation Director, the Head of the Project Management Office also serves as an escalation point for all project-related queries. This role has overall accountability for the end-to-end project timelines and risks (from pre-contract phase to live operations), along with these functions:

  • Partnering with business unit leaders to manage strategic business objectives into actionable plans
  • Managing the delivery and execution of programs and projects to ensure business capability is realized and that cost, time, and quality goals are met
  • Conveying program challenges to key business unit stakeholders
  • Understanding business strategy, operating vision, business imperatives, and capabilities
  • Directing and enhancing organizational initiatives by positively influencing and supporting change management
  • Directing the project planning process
  • Establishing priorities, performance goals, and objectives to ensure expected business unit outcomes
  • Directing and managing resources and resource allocations for multiple ongoing complex projects, including: project planning, reporting, and monitoring the projects for resource contention and cost

Operations Director

The role of the Operations Director can vary based on how many other roles are represented based on a company’s size. For most companies, the Operations Director oversees escalation for all live operational issues/queries. They are accountable for delivering great service once payroll has been implemented and is in live operations, in addition to these ongoing functions:

  • Establishing performance targets and providing guidance and support for ensuring targets are met
  • Ensuring that all operational and working practices are compliant with industry standards
  • Identifying process and product improvement opportunities using a data-based, metrics-driven approach with a goal toward making sustainable, effective, and logical improvements on an ongoing basis that directly impacts balance sheet and income statement measures at the business unit or company level
  • Managing payroll operations related to employee compensation and benefits
  • Managing all participant equity plan transactions (grants, exercises, terminations, leaves, etc.) and ensuring that they are correctly processed in a timely manner
  • Managing and driving accountability with third-party vendors

In the end, success and failure in a global payroll implementation project is often a function of the provider chosen and how that determination is made. With an experienced team in place, focused preparation, and a steady pace, everyone involved cannot only finish this race, but finish strong.

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LeAnnKilroyLee-ann Kilroy is Solutions Support Director, iiPay. She joined iiPay in 2014 from a U.K. top-40 accountancy firm. Kilroy has more than 10 years of experience in the global payroll industry and has held key leadership roles throughout iiPay's operations, implementation, and project management teams. As head of implementation at iiPay, Kilroy led successful implementations through more than 30 countries across multiple clients, including supporting HRIS integrations and mobility workers. She now works alongside the iiPay enterprise team to provide custom solutions for all accounts using her knowledge of internal systems and global payroll.