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Getting the Most Out of Your Global Payroll RFP, Part I

All You Need to Know About Creating an Effective Request for Proposal Document

By Mark Graham


By definition, a proposal document offers a solution to a problem. In this case, you're asking for a solution to your payroll problem.

Your company’s request for proposal (RFP) document should specify exactly what your organization is looking for in your new payroll solution. Unfortunately, most standard RFPs are long, impersonal documents that fail to ask the right questions relating to your actual needs and requirements from a vendor.

So don’t create a “standard” RFP—use this opportunity to leverage your vendors and get the best solution for your global payroll operation.

Often we come across RFPs that ask a vast amount of questions relating to procurement but fail to seek answers or solutions to the issues organizations face with their current supplier.

We recommend taking the following steps to create a tailored RFP document to help you find the perfect partner to tackle any issues with your global payroll and bring your global payroll into the future. The first part of this article deals with planning your RFP strategy and organizing your RFP team.


Take the Right Steps to Plan Your RFP Strategy

Before you even begin drafting an RFP, make sure you have an internal strategy mapped out.

Some of the world's most sophisticated businesses don't manage their RFPs in an efficient way, causing needless delays and undue stress to the process. By creating an internal strategy, you can target proposals to your specific needs and requirements.

Start with an end-to-end look at your organization and identify the vendors that align most closely with your business goals and objectives.

A successful RFP process starts with an understanding of the current issues and future objectives, and identifying what you hope to gain from a new vendor.

Be smart with your resources. Use your business case to identify the key areas you want to improve, the pain points you currently face, and how you can use a global payroll solution for growth of your business.

Then decide who the key decision-makers are and how you’re going to evaluate the proposals you receive.

Think about the following:

  • How long will we be accepting proposals and how many do we want to receive?
  • What information do we want to gain from the RFP and what is most important to us?
  • Who is involved in RFP creation? Is it procurement, or will there be a representative from payroll to ensure we ask the right questions?
  • Who will review the proposals? Who will have the final say?
  • How will we evaluate the responses? How will we weight the answers according to importance?
  • What is our budget? Are we willing to sacrifice an excellent solution over cost or is it seen as an investment in the future?
  • What does successful global payroll look like for us?
  • What are the non-negotiable features of our new solution?

Be honest and straightforward with potential vendors about your selection process. Your transparency will foster a good partnership with your new vendor and create the conditions for a great result. Additionally, it will save you time and effort down the line.


Involve the Right People

To give vendors a solid understanding of current issues and future objectives, you need to involve all of the relevant departments.

The transformation won't just affect payroll; it will touch many different facets of your business, including overseas expansion, recruitment and talent management, and departments like finance, operations, HR, IT, and other key areas, depending on the size of your company.

Ask the relevant people in each office location what the pain points are in their departments. Review your business case again. Why did you decide to look for a new solution?

Think about your reasons for wanting to change a provider or update your solution:

  • Time-consuming manual tasks (data entry, reporting)
  • Lack of standardised processes
  • Complex vendor management
  • Lack of integration with systems (HR, finance, time and attendance, etc.)
  • Expensive and fragmented payroll
  • High rates of reruns and errors
  • Limited support or bad customer service
  • Complicated, outdated, or inefficient user experience
  • Data security—No ISO certification and fear of data security implications
  • Lapses in compliance or lack of experience and knowledge
  • Lack of internal resources

These pain points in your business case will help you identify which functionalities are essential to your new payroll solution and remind you of what you need to ask to ensure you choose the right vendor.

Involving the various departments will always benefit you in this process. For example, IT may have concerns and rules around data security, so you should ask vendors about their ISO quality certification. With ISO27001, for example, you know that your new payroll provider is committed to active management of data security.

You do not want to choose a vendor and learn later that the sensitive data housed in your payroll is not secure.

Involving the right people at the beginning will help you determine which needs, wants, and concerns take priority over others.


Create a Goals-Driven RFP

An excellent RFP will be tailored to your organization’s needs and non-negotiable elements. It should begin with questions to identify the outstanding issues with your current solution and what elements you wish to include with your new vendor, such as data analytics or improved reporting.

While “Vendor A” might offer a fantastic dashboard, “Vendor B” may have ISO certification and excellent integrations. If both of these are important to you, then mention this in your RFP. “Vendor C” could have both.

A goals-driven RFP will help you avoid stumbling blocks at a later stage. You don’t want to choose a vendor only to realize later it doesn’t meet some of your key requirements or that what you want isn’t included in the cost but comes with an additional price tag.

Evaluate how your new payroll solution should align with departmental and organizational goals. List important elements like data security, payroll dashboards, improved reporting and business intelligence, real-time information, etc. Prioritize the most pressing concerns and map out your pain points—large and small.

For example, you should ask potential vendors if their technology complies with current data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The best-of-breed technology in this space should have fully integrated compliance standards (like those expected within the GDPR framework).

Think about objectives in light of the business at large and use feedback from key stakeholders to create your goals. These might include:

  • Minimizing errors and lowering costs
  • Consolidating a fragmented payroll
  • Increasing transparency of payroll
  • Automating more of the payroll process
  • Supporting global expansion with adaptable, scalable software
  • Integrating payroll with HR and other systems
  • Taking a global view of costs and performance
  • Standardising all processes 
  • Enhancing data security
  • Improving the user experience
  • Making it easier to extract reports and visualise the analytics

Think about what you want the end service to look like and shape your RFP. Part II of this article in the November issue of Global Payroll will cover asking the right questions, structuring and sending out your RFP, as well as some bite-size tips for success.

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Mark Graham is Executive Director at Immedis. He is responsible for the company’s sales strategy and driving growth through commercial partnerships. Graham studied Construction Management in Cork Institute of Technology before moving to the United States to work in construction until 2013. Following his time abroad, Graham worked in a sales role and then joined Taxback in 2014 as a Manager for Global Mobility. A year later, he was appointed Commercial Manager for Global Mobility Tax and Payroll and then became Executive Director with Immedis. While at Taxback Group, Graham invested significant time working in the United States with C-level executives to identify strategic solutions to leverage international growth and has vast experience assisting companies with a global workforce and all its challenges.