Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the world is getting smaller and markets are getting bigger.
The silver lining of this is that an increasing number of businesses now operate in more than one country or region.
Of course, globalisation provides businesses with a host of opportunities and advantages that they wouldn’t otherwise have, from a broader market base to cheaper operating costs.
But it also throws up a series of potential pitfalls—one of the most obvious being the difficulties associated with global payroll.
And these difficulties aren’t just quantitative, they’re qualitative.
Tackling the problems of infinite diversity
First, there’s the problem of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”, as Mr Spock so famously put it.
It’s hard enough for directors and managers to oversee a workforce in one country with one language, one currency, and one tax code, so it goes without saying that managing a workforce across different time zones can produce all sorts of headaches.
Then there’s the issue of scaling.
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make when they take the leap from domestic to multinational is assuming that their current payroll structures and processes will still be effective if they simply grow to accommodate more employees. But often these processes and structures don’t need to grow—they need to adapt.
On a basic level, these challenges boil down to two fundamentals—the proliferation of data and the question of how best to organise it.
But neither are insurmountable obstacles.
In fact, half the battle is recognising that they exist in the first place.
The other half is putting appropriate structures and processes in place, ones that accommodate both the need for data integration and complexity on a local level.
Standardising payroll systems
Maintaining different payroll systems in different countries can end up being confusing and counterproductive.
Integrated payroll systems, on the other hand, provide a bigger and more diverse pool of data, giving HR Managers and analysts in Manchester access to the same data as their equivalents in Madrid.
In the long-term, this allows businesses to gain or produce comprehensive insights that have the potential to reduce costs across the board.
Hiring the right people for the job
This might seem like a mind-numbingly obvious observation, but it’s surprising how many businesses spend all their time and money developing impressive software and hardware only to put them at the disposal of underqualified staff.
To borrow a popular phrase, businesses that want to succeed globally, need to think locally.
In a nutshell, this means that they need to employ people with the relevant situational and cultural knowledge so that each arm of their operation is equipped to meet the demands of often unique and contradictory legal and regulatory environments.