How is the changing role of the payroll professional—typified by greater interaction with the human resources department, data analysis, and strategic planning—making an impact in the field?
More is expected from global payroll teams than ever before. While in the past payroll professionals were working in an isolated environment, globalization has meant that they need to interact with more departments and technology. They have to interact with human resources (HR) teams, analyze data and compliance, forecast, help with strategic support, and impact long- and short-term strategic initiatives. The downside is that many are not prepared, nor do they have the tools.
What are the emerging trends or issues demanding your attention?
The biggest trend right now is standardization—global standardization and access to data for instantaneous reporting and data analysis. We see a move from isolated data sets to single point. New growth internationally means a lot of companies are implementing global strategies—how to launch, stay compliant, and hire and staff global employees.
How will secure access to payroll data emerge as a critical analytic business tool?
It is critical to have secure data as the regulations change in terms of sending data across channels. As the laws get stricter, the data must be secure. Clients who find it difficult to send secure data can impact local payroll companies that are charged to ensure they stay in compliance.
What resources do you use to stay current on the latest trends and legislation in payroll?
We rely on local network partners to supply us with information, subscriptions to key publications like Global Payroll by GPMI, blogs by thought leaders, and access to global consultants.
What is the one thing that happened in the past year that you didn’t see coming but has had a most profound impact on payroll?
The Brexit change, the change in government in the United States and Australia—all of these changes contribute to uncertainty in how it will impact business and government.
What are the biggest challenges for payroll teams?
The biggest challenge we see is access to tools to make their jobs easier. Payroll teams are asked to do more with less but are working in archaic environments that rely upon Excel spreadsheets, etc. It takes them away from being strategic and makes them tactical. Better tools help provide payroll professionals with more time to be a strategic partner.
What would you advise for a company moving from a domestic to a global payroll?
The first question to ask is: Why are you doing it? Will it make a positive impact? Make sure you have the correct resources from the start—setting up the right business entity, banking, statutory regulations, benefits, employee contracts—should be part of the planning process as you expand. Often, companies expand but they haven’t thought through the impact of the logistics.
How is technology helping payroll become more strategic?
Having technology in place dramatically cuts down on time spent processing payroll, issues with employees and vendors, tax preparations, and payroll payments. With the time saved on tactical issues, they can spend time on employees, employee engagement, and figuring out how to impact productivity, etc.
With the emergence of technology and data-driven HR decision-making, how do you see the role of the payroll professional evolving?
Payroll teams can now take on more responsibilities, jurisdictions, and time zones. They can learn new languages, travel, and spend time on professional development to make them stronger partners in the workforce than by just processing payroll.
How can companies better leverage payroll data for strategic decision-making?
Today, most companies don’t have ready access to data—it’s staggered and in different formats and languages. The painful process of getting global, consolidated reports, then, has payroll teams reacting to data instead of learning from it. With data-driven reporting and analytics, they can look at trends and better manage and be current instead of just reacting. It also allows them to forecast future trends based on current information.
Why and how did you become involved in payroll?
I’ve been in U.S. payroll for a long time. In college some of the courses I took were organizational behavior and management, which discussed how companies work and manage. I am more of a salesperson than HR, so I later moved into sales. Although payroll is seen as tactical, a company without effective and efficient payroll will impact morale, company growth, and finance—all contributors to the strategic growth of the business.
What are the most important qualities of effective leadership?
To communicate your vision across levels in the organization and get buy-in, but provide each individual the freedom to create, plan, and execute at their own level. One leadership style is top down—dictating everything. It is preferable to give your team room to grow and create—that is how they learn and develop. Hold them accountable, teach, and train, but let them come up with their own ways of working and let them be creative.
Everyone has a different skill set with strengths and weaknesses—let them shine in the areas they can, but help with weak areas.
How has your approach to change management helped to make a successful organization
Blue Marble is going on our fifth year; but when I started, we were creating a product. During that time we also had to bring a team together. With their expertise, we learned from failures and evolved until we found the right model and team. The mindset to evolve instead of dictating has helped us grow. We wouldn’t be the company we are today without everyone on our team providing input.
Victor Lobo has spent many years in the financial services and human capital management industries, including eight years working with ADP. Lobo has successfully led sales teams in the Bay Area and Chicago markets focusing on new business acquisition, client growth and retention, and partnerships with private equities, CPAs, and broker communities. Currently, he is involved with the sales and marketing initiatives for Blue Marble Global Payroll.