Editor’s Note: While Global Payroll readers enjoyed Dee Byrd’s Professional Spotlight interview almost three years ago, we felt her perspective on changes and a forward outlook would continue to provide value to her colleagues around the world.
Editor’s Note: Dee Byrd, CPP, PHR, SHRM-CP, is a Mergers & Acquisitions Senior Payroll Project Manager for PayTech Inc., who has more than 25 years of global payroll management experience. She is a member of the Global Payroll Management Institute’s (GPMI) Global Payroll Editorial Advisory Board and numerous American Payroll Association (APA) committees, as well as a published author of the Payroll Certification Guide. Byrd has been a speaker for several years at the APA’s Annual Congress, has represented the payroll profession by speaking to the U.S. Congress in matters regarding multi-state payroll taxation issues, and has been an advocate for global education for the past 10 years. She was named PayTech’s Consultant of the Year for 2016 and was the APA’s 2011 Payroll Woman of the Year.
What are some of your current initiatives?
I am currently working to establish clear payroll processing guides for all countries. Our goal is to provide our clients with the best possible global resources when implementing companies within those countries’ boundaries.
What is the most challenging aspect of starting a new payroll globally?
The most challenging aspects are the treasury and general ledger functions. We take for granted that we can easily move money through direct deposit in the United States, but globally moving money from a U.S.-based company is not always as straightforward. There are many things to consider in each country, and we strive to provide our clients with the best options for their situation.
How do you deal with a payroll transition as it concerns General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR) restrictions?
Our company has worked hard to ensure that we hold our clients’ information to the strictest standards when it comes to privacy. Each country has its own challenges, and we are consistently developing new techniques to ensure those challenges are met.
How does the nature of positions differ between U.S. domestic and global payroll?
There is a huge difference when processing payroll in the United States and processing payroll globally. I like to look at it similarly to how we approach the differences in each state that we go into in the United States—each one has its own set of wage and hour laws, tax laws, etc. The big challenge in the comparison is that we have to think differently in the way we manage employees globally. There are very different cultural aspects when setting up payroll globally that we have to consider that we may not deal with in the United States. Working across time zones also impacts our ability to manage projects.
Are there differences in responding to urgent matters in global payroll versus U.S. domestic payroll?
There are significant differences in what is consider urgent globally. In the United States, we can have an overpayment to an employee, for example, and we can deal with in the next pay cycle. Globally, this is not always the case. In addition, we think in terms of “we can just cut a manual check” in the United States when we miss a payment, etc., but globally there are rules around how many times you can pay an employee. Payroll professionals need to be aware of little differences such as these and their great impact to the urgency of payroll accuracy.
What are your experiences in successfully navigating cultural and other differences on a worldwide stage?
I have had the pleasure of dealing with almost 63 countries in my career. I am blessed to have the opportunity to get to know these country cultures in respect to how they are paid and how benefits are handled. I think it is imperative that a payroll professional going into a new country gets well-versed on the different cultures they are dealing with. I have implemented in countries where it is not easy as a culture for employees to say “no” or “I don’t understand,” and this in any project can cause issues with a go-live. It is imperative to understand communication styles. Lastly, I would say that video conferencing where possible is the best approach for communication so that you can visually see what is being heard and understood. Emotional intelligence is strongly desired when dealing with global payroll.
What are the things you would like to see payroll vendors address in the next three years?
In working with several payroll vendors in the global space, the things I would like to see improved upon would be consolidated reporting and treasury management. Having one source of data and information to report on is imperative globally.
What are the value and limits to emerging technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) in managing a global payroll?
I think that emerging technology will be a space to watch in the next five years in the global space. As many companies continue to branch out globally, we are seeing the need for better technological advances in the global payroll and HR functions.
From what you are hearing from colleagues, what are the internal synergies you think may be strengthened in companies with a global workforce?
The most important thing I hear from clients is the need to have some sort of consistent processing methodology. Internal stakeholders need to understand the differences in each country and know how to handle those differences. Treasury management seems to be the hardest task.
Global payroll professionals have a much larger responsibility than their counterparts in the United States due to complex restrictions and HR guidelines within each country. A good global payroll professional is one of the hardest resources to acquire for my clients. The skill set for these professionals goes way beyond the ability to process payroll and should be taken into consideration when recruiting and hiring in this space.
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