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Future of Payroll: Need to Knows of Global Payroll 4.0

Fiona Dardis
Fiona Dardis

Product Manager, Global Payroll, Immedis

Sep 14, 2023 6 mins

UKG One View is the next generation of Multi-Country Payroll Solutions

Artificial Intelligence, AI Powered, ChatGPT, and Machine Learning are not just buzzwords capturing the latest zeitgeist and media cycle. They are uniquely intertwined into our lexicon as a society, and are particularly associated with innovation. 

Said differently, AI isn’t something that’s coming—it’s here. You don’t have to look beyond your closest inner circle to hear someone casually referencing ChatGPT, or turning and showcasing a text that was drafted by OpenAI. 

Now, should we all be worried about our jobs and personal safety as a result of Artificial Intelligence? Short answer, “No”, because the human element will always prevail. 

There is an endless list of things that AI still needs to sort out before it can replace the vast amount of human-grounded tasks that already exist. Running in parallel, there are also a number of tasks that can be automated to let humans unlock more time in their days to focus on things like thoughtful analysis and insightful decision making. 

There are two main types of Intelligence: generative and computational. Much of what we are seeing in pop culture is generative AI. The better the prompt, the better the output, but it’s heavily reliant on inputs for outputs. The machine is taught, and then the machine gains traction. Computational intelligence is more adaptive in nature and is akin to soft computing.

Global Payroll is an industry that has been particularly impacted by the recent waves of innovation and use of computing to streamline the process, particularly because Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can catch errors and identify anomalies before they happen.

In today’s market, organizations no longer have the luxury of mistakes. An unfortunate 41% of employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Additionally, 76% of employees who are stressed about finances would be attracted to another employer that cares more about their financial well-being.

Also, employees have been conditioned to expect a world-class consumer experience when it comes to their technology and digital experience. Employees are ultimately consumers, and their daily consumption of native applications (i.e. Instagram, Uber, various airlines) is what they have become accustomed to. 

The Employee Experience needs to match or be better than what employees are used to when it comes to a digital experience. This means things like ease of use, clarity, and best-in-class user experience. 

Employees are now choosing the company they want to work for based on their onboarding experience as well. This is amplified when considering how and what they are being paid. 

As you can imagine, one of the biggest nuances in Global Hiring is Payroll: making payments on the right day, with the right pay, and compliant with local regulations. The global workforce does not want to be bothered trying to reconcile various currencies, and sources of income and fighting uncertainty of compensation. For the vast majority of companies, this experience is still limping along in what we are calling “Payroll 1.0”.  

Automation and intelligence is inextricably linked with helping Payroll specialists do their job better and faster. As the world becomes more and more connected, winning organizations will be better served to manage the payroll process in hours, not weeks. 

The power of control, automation, speed, and ease is ever more important in our desire to remain connected. These four attributes are core pillars in what we’re referring to as Payroll 4.0—The next generation of payroll solutions. 

Before we can take you on a journey of what this means, and what’s possible for your organization, let’s take you on a journey of our perspective on the cycle of innovation. 

Payroll 1.0: The Fundamentals of Managing a Global Workforce

Interestingly enough, you don’t have to backtrack too far to see where Global Payroll started. It’s also no secret that employees work for the monetary exchange of payments and benefits. Think of Payroll 1.0 as a minimum viable offering, focused on things like cost, control and compliance. Implementing systems to keep regulators off your back, and ensuring people can be paid in their local currency, on-time. 

payroll challenges in payroll systems

This is where the introduction of multi-country payroll outsourcing (MCPO) comes into play. Now, not all MCPO’s are created equally, but 1.0 introduces rudimentary systems and outsources core payroll processes along with tax filing. There is still a heavy reliance on in-country partners and dedicated payroll specialists. 

Think of 1.0 as a base model automobile delivering minimal to no amenities or technology advances. Much more functional, than aspirational. This is a table-stakes approach, and common challenges faced include:

  1. Disjointed and inefficient links between systems

  2. Minimal to no ability for proactive planning

  3. Time commitments and manual intervention

  4. Disparate processes in different countries

Payroll 2.0: Speeding up the process and finding efficiencies

Integrating with an HCM Suite and layering in automation and machine learning are two big value-adds for organizations in search of process efficiency. Investing in a cloud-based solution with integration to your HCM Suite brings much more visibility into your workforce. You’ll also begin to compress the payroll cycle by several days relying on technology. 

With integrated systems and automation, a big benefit is standard reporting. Standard reporting is one step toward arming leadership with data points needed to continue to find efficiencies.  

payroll challenges in payroll processing and payroll systems

Once your payroll team can gain insights from payroll, your organization has moved past the baseline of, “we have paid our team”, and now into the direction of being able to analyze various trends in the cost of your workforce. To make progress in closing the Gender Pay Gap, and create global equity, insights are the key attribute. 

Organizations in this phase of their Payroll still struggle to truly know what’s possible, and have to cope with inefficiencies:

  1. Inevitable discontinuity from country to country

  2. High maintenance costs and management

  3. Subpar employee experience

  4. Leaving money on the table

Payroll 3.0: Thinking outside in, leveraging a complete system

Payroll 3.0 enables the next wave of cost and efficiency improvement. These are features like including a Mobile Application to arm employees. A beautiful user interface that puts the power in the hands of the customer. In addition, Employee Wellness now comes into focus as a priority. Organizations investing in a payroll 4.0 solution like UKG One View will benefit from having an end-to-end payroll outsourcing experience.

payroll trends and payroll system

Reporting evolves from standard charts and reports to real-time insights and a dynamic dashboard at the behest of the organization. Lastly, with HRIS/HCM solutions integrated directly, organizations will experience more of a payroll marketplace, versus a single unified solution. Compared with Payroll 2.0, HCM in Payroll 3.0 is integrated more tightly.

Payroll 3.0 is the Gold Standard for ensuring you can properly manage your global payroll process. Companies investing in a cloud based system still cope with challenges: 

  1. Fixed UI systems that can be limiting

  2. Reliance on additional outsourced support and time lags

  3. Largely dependent on Desktop versus Mobile

  4. Significant switching costs

Payroll 4.0: Unlocking the future with One View

One View provides a complete system. Payroll leaders experience the luxury of a centralized view of global payroll operations, real-time data analytics, and advanced reporting capability while ensuring legislative compliance and data security. 

payroll software and payroll management

Boasting deep integration capabilities with HCM partners, Workforce management platforms, finance and many other technology solutions, One View transforms payroll from a core process that’s often cumbersome to a streamlined process through the provision of both technology and service. The continued challenges that teams cope with in Payroll 3.0 are now solved. 

Innovation has been woven throughout the entire Payroll lifecycle in One View, resulting in flexibility that can’t be matched elsewhere in the market. One size does not fit all in global payroll solutions and, in our experience with global organizations, it’s common that not all countries within a customer footprint are suited to fully managed payroll processing. 

This can be from a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Lack of in-house payroll expertise and/or established relationships with local providers.

  • No access to centralized global payroll data, forcing manual analysis

  • Multi-country payroll outsourcing (MCPO) can be cost-prohibitive 

One View gives organizations all of the benefits of intelligence while finally having a global view of all employee data, even without a standardized payroll process. 

Enabled by the flexibility provided by One View, global payroll leaders can now choose the payroll delivery model that suits each country while achieving the greatest goal of global payroll – instant visibility of payroll data across all employees and enablement of data-informed decision making. 

Payroll data is consolidated into one single view to provide instant access to global payroll data along with a suite of out-of-the-box reports to drive a deep understanding of how employees are being paid across the globe. 

Beyond simply understanding how employees are being paid, One View enables organizations the luxury of one standard employee experience for all employees globally. All expatriate employees will be able to view their payslips and understand precisely what they are being paid in one experience. 

One View also offers the ability for customers to be able to execute their payments using One View Payments, regardless of who processes their payroll. This unlocks incredible efficiency for organizations, enabling organizations to manage global payments through a single provider for all countries and currencies from a single or regionally-funded bank account(s).

With traditional global payroll solutions, if an organization wants to achieve global visibility of data in an automated way, they must purchase MCPO for all countries they manage. 

Don’t be left behind

Despite the growth of AI, organizations still need an immense amount of “real-intelligence”. The combination of systems and expertise can unlock the ability to provide both flexibility and experience. 

Change is hard, and innovation can be daunting. The majority of global payroll providers are still doing things the way they have always been done—Payroll 1.0.

Most payroll teams are faced with the labor-intensive tasks of producing group finance and standard reporting using payroll data and performing planning and risk analysis in Excel. In almost all cases, Finance teams lack access to documentation to “prove the proof” and provide auditors with the assurance that costs are not misstated. These pains are what drove the innovation behind UKG One View.

Being at the forefront of the payroll evolution is largely based on our experience. We have spent nearly two decades listening to multinational organizations and have designed One View based on their desire for global visibility.