Storytelling about Payslip with Fidelma McGuirk

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 98. This week we have storytelling about Payslip with Fidelma McGuirk. During this episode, Fidelma and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Payslip.

Fidelma is an expert in all things global payroll and data protection. Her passion for creating a positive payroll experience really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 23 minutes


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William  0:26

Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup, and you were listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Fidelma on from Payslip, and we’re going to be learning about her, and I can’t wait. So without any further ado, Fidelma would you do us, the audience, myself, a favor and introduce both yourself and introduce Payslip.


Fidelma  0:49

Great, yes. Hi. And thank you very much, William, for having me on the podcast with So I’m the Founder and CEO of a firm called Payslip. We are a technology company based in Ireland. And our technology is used by multinational employers to automate and standardize and integrate their global payroll management.

So in a previous life, I was international operations director of a large tax company. I grew it across 21 countries, and as the leadership owner for a large payroll bill across 21 countries, I consistently came across challenges and how to manage the processes in different countries at the same time, how to understand what story the payroll data might be telling us about our business, and how to make decisions in terms of vendor retention or vendor change.

And so after leaving that firm and moving to the other side of the country for personal reasons, I decided to build out a technology to enable multinational firms to solve those pain points.


William  2:02

I love that, and obviously with the name Payslip, you’re helping people with payroll, of course, but are there any other services or any other parts of the technology where you also help folks with?


Fidelma  2:17

Yeah, so it is it is specifically in the payroll domain. But there are many pre and post parallel processes that companies need to conduct and comply with every pay cycle and every year that we do support. So essentially, the different pain points that companies would come to us to solve would include the integration of all of the data flow from your HR system, like Workday like NetSuite, into Payslip and then onto the payroll providers.

And the issue for that is that the data set that’s needed for each country can be different, and while much of the data is hosted in the HR system, usually other data such as commissions or stock plan data is housed on other spreadsheets or on other systems. So there’s a lot of disaggregated data.

So while our core purpose is the standardization and management of global payroll, we help our employers’ customers to actually integrate all of the data from different sources into our system across all the different countries and systems that they have. And in that way, we help them standardize the data, which is really useful later, because then they actually can have reporting across all the countries in a standardized way,


William  3:41

Which, which sounds easy to the lay person. But once you’re dealing with multinationals, you understand that sometimes they’re sitting on 23 different payroll systems and 40 different countries and just getting a, you know, a headcount simple, you know, a number for a CFO to ask the CHRO, you know, how many employees do we have, isn’t as easy as it looks when you when you have all of these different systems, and they don’t talk with one another.


Fidelma  4:10

Yeah, exactly. And if you compile and stuff, then to the next level in terms of cost, you’ll have church tax in Germany, you’ll have local and city tax in New York, you’ll have lunch and vouchers in Canada. So there are lots of different types of pay elements as well across the different countries.

So firstly, to know how many people you have at any point in time is really important. And to see what that looks like in terms of the types of jobs, and then the costs and a comparative basis. So what is the total cost of a computer scientist in Canada versus Ireland versus South Africa versus Indonesia? It’s very difficult to pull that together, when all the data is in different formats across different systems that we have come across.


William  4:52

Yeah. Oh, I like that. Well, you bring up another interesting point with compliance issues, you know, just guessing you know, like again, not dealing with your own customers, but just multinationals in general. What do you when you look out? Because you did this, you were up here behind the scenes, and so you did this. And so you know, kind of what goes on behind the scenes and how the sausage is made. But it’s, it seems from an outsider’s point of view that compliance, there’s a complexity to global and a multinational that that most people can’t get their arms around.

You just went through something real simple with, you know, somebody in four different countries, and what’s the pay or the total cost of that pay? But now it got me to think like, well, what type of rules and compliance and laws that are in even in those four areas that are different that you have to kind of stay abreast of, so what’s your take on multinationals and their approach to HR compliance?


Fidelma  5:55

Yeah, so it’s really changed over the last, I’d say, 20 years. And also, it’s changed because of the nature of internationalization of companies. So if you think back 20, 25 years ago, what a multinational look like, we would normally fall into thinking about Dell or Intel or GE, really large companies with big national international footprint, and large headcount in most or all of those countries.

Now what, and for those companies, they usually licensed a big platform like SAP or Oracle, and they have their own internal payroll teams in the different countries because they had finance functions. Now, I’m sorry, there’s local teams that were responsible for the compliance because they were in country experts, and they maintained their CPD qualifications and the company.

Now what’s happened over the last 10 years there’s such an acceleration for internationalization before COVID, before any COVID factor is even considered, that you have companies that may have 150 people in San Francisco in their startup, and then they the next step is to put in 10 people in Germany and 14 people in another country. So they don’t have the internal strong functional teams with international expertise. And they don’t need them really, if you have what we call a long tail, so a large number of people spread across many, many countries.

So really, what they do and what’s increasingly the case is that the multinationals choose a local country provider in each country, who is like an addition. They have the legal counsel in the country, they have their accounting and audit the council, and then they have separate counsel, which may be related to the audit or not, for a separate company for their payroll provider, advice and their compliance.

So what’s really important is that they have a good relationship between whoever’s running global payroll, and they may not be in their country, they’re most likely not, and that local provider. And that local provider then is always the in-country expert for what their compliance requirements are, the reporting requirements, and all of the data protection and data transfer requirements. So that direct relationship becomes very, very important.


William  8:05

I love that. So let’s cross over into work from home and the things that that, you know, obviously with COVID and remote work, the impact on multinationals, and really even folks have probably weren’t multinationals, or even thinking about being multinationals, before COVID, all of a sudden found themselves in situations where they could hire people in France, or hire people, you know, across the globe. So it opened up a candidate pool of the globe, which is great.

But with that comes some complexity that, you know, maybe smaller companies or even startups hadn’t quite factored in or thought about that, you know, we can hire this person in Paris, and they look fantastic, and it would be a great hire.

How do we pay? You know, how do we how do we manage? How do we how do we pay them? Like how do we get started? So I know that you you’ve obviously run into this more than once, but really the impact from work from home and COVID remote work? What’s that? What’s that been for you in the business?


Fidelma  9:18

Yeah, so I suppose there’s two parts in terms of the impact or two kinds of impact. One is, we see that there’s lots of companies. So take a UK based company with a large London office. They have staff there who are from many different countries, even as close as like France and Spain. And then many of those people decided to be back home with their families during COVID. So there was this unplanned, practically viral internationalization of the workforce belonging to the company already there was no strategic decision to become a French or Spanish based employer.

And so what’s happening now is the where the employee is based will become, depending on the rules and the different country, will become their place of work, and then what they will be governed by the employment legislation and those countries. So it can deliver a huge amount of risk to the employer if they don’t call those people back to work from London once all the office spaces are back open again. And so that’s the first issue.

It’s really companies have to decide what they want to do from a corporate structure perspective. Do they want to have some sort of a registration in France and in Spain to facilitate those two employees? And if you’re a European company or UK company, there are ways to do it that don’t require full company incorporation, which are much lighter in the administration requirements and quite easy. But you still have to make sure that the activity of the person in the country supports that corporate structure decision.

So what we see is, companies are saying, generally trying to keep it as structured as possible, say, well, if we don’t have any entity already in that country, then we need you to come back to the office. And if you do want to remain with the countries where we have entities, we need you to fill out some form and we’ll decide what we’re going to, how we’re going to organize it. So that’s for the employers that currently have workforces that started to move around in different countries, they’re the issues that have arisen.

From a payroll perspective, on our platform, we are very fast to set up a new country, you can have any country and payroll provider live in our system in for days. That includes integration mappings specific to the formats of the payroll provider. So what our platform delivers to the company is the ability to scale very quickly across new countries, because we’ve helped them standardize the data model and standardize their process at a global level.

So if you had that UK company, and they suddenly needed to get French and Spain set up, that’s no problem. If it’s now at the start of June, they can have it set up definitely for the July payroll, maybe even for the June payroll. The other types of companies who are now, as you said, are looking at the broader labor market because of the work from home, then the same question arises at some point is, how are they going to pay somebody in Israel or in Finland or in Norway if they’ve never had anything there.

And they either have to look at the corporate structure question, or they can consider using an employer of record services. And there are many large established employer record companies like globalization partners out there. Yeah.


William  12:31

Right. So, so back to when you were a practitioner, and, you know, the questions that you get asked now on the other side. So, you know, what’s interesting is you’ve played, you’ve been on both sides of this. And so the questions that practitioners ask you, you know, in the by, you know, when they’re when they’re evaluating these types of systems, and when they’re evaluating these types of stuff, what questions should they be asking you? And what questions like do you love to hear from practitioners? In terms of like what Payslip does, like, what are those questions?


Fidelma  13:07

Yeah, so my favorite sentence of the question is, if a company rings and says, we grew really fast, or we’ve grown and we’ve stabilized now, and we’re in 11, countries, 19 countries, it doesn’t matter, more than five, usually. We have different payroll providers in place we think they’re delivering, but we now want a smart way to manage the whole process globally and have good reporting and safe data management.

That’s my favorite sentence because it means they’re coming and they’re looking for technology. The questions that are going in, where there can be confusion I see in the market for practitioners, is that they go online, and they Google something broad, like global payroll software. And many of the service providers have built some level of software to deliver their own service, but it’s not standalone technology.

So for a practitioner that goes looking for a technology solution, that can be confusing, because they don’t have a problem with their service providers. And they don’t think that they do, but then they kind of trip into a service aggregator service offering, and they end up looking for their technology, but having a conversation about something else.

So really, the questions they need to consider themselves I think, first is what are they really trying to solve for in their job or payroll management for their as-is situation? And then where do they see the growth is going to lead them in terms of new countries, in terms of scale of workforce.

And then the third one, which is obviously hyper important still for HR practitioners is, what’s the employee experience that they want for from payroll? So do they want, if they’re investing a huge amount of effort in building a culture across countries, which is difficult to do, it’s a big task and people are really working hard to do it, but then you don’t want the employees usually having a different payroll experience, if possible.

So then you’re looking to see, are there online portals so all employees can get their pay slips in the same way? Does that integrate into their HCM? Does it kind of look like their own company culture. So they’re really looking at those three things. What do they need to solve for now? Where do they see their company calling into, so what will they need? And most importantly, what do they want for their employee payroll experience?

So the fourth one I’d add will be does, are they using payroll as a differentiator in the labor market to acquire talent? And what that might mean if the answer is yes, is that they’re innovating with their comp and ben all the time. They’re developing a new benefit on the pension side or a new flexi way of choosing what you want to invest your comp in, so you have the 5k budget, you can choose what goes into as an employee.

All of those kind of value-added payroll differentiators that you might want to have means that you need additional support from your vendors and country are from your technology to support it. And if you have an idea of what that might look like, it will help you find the best solution for you.


William  16:01

A simple, simple question. I love that you mentioned employee experience and the candidate experience and payroll clerk experience. Like those are so important, because a part of their experience is also part of their engagement and a part of the retention of folks as well.

But just a quick question, and it’s going to be a stupid one, so bear with me, but it’s when people look at Payslip, are they are they do they think of it displacing other global payroll providers that they’re working with? Or is it integrating with those providers and, and pulling that data together? And I’ll give you for example.

Let’s say Safeguard Global. You know, it could be CloudPay or ADP, it doesn’t really matter, I’m not really, you know, thinking about the brands. But I really just want the practitioners to have a good understanding of if they’re working with those folks, is Payslip, is it a replacement for those services? Or is it modifying and making those services better?


Fidelma  17:09

Yeah, so the three companies you mentioned are, would fall into the global payroll services aggregation model, right. So they have local payroll provider partners in the countries. They centralize that in a managed service to their clients with a single contract and a single invoice. And they’re all very [inaudible] players. And, and just as I mentioned, they’ve all built some level of software to deliver their services. So that can be very useful for many companies.

The drawback of that will be that if you have countries that don’t fall into their geo fence, or if you want, if you want to have your technology do more than deliver their service. If you wanted to automate your own processes internally. If you want to have independent reporting. Then their technology is designed to deliver their service; it’s not designed to actually manage all of their process independently.

So what we find, what we find is we didn’t go after dislodging any of their customers, we specifically targeted technology companies and high growth companies who already have grown country by country and have multiple vendors or also the companies who are using the large accountancy network. So if you’re using run any of them PWC, EY, Digio, they don’t have a technology delivery, a unified global technology delivery. So we have many of their customers that our platform, as well.

So to start with we, because we’re like this small entrance into the market, we dedicated our voice to talking to those customers who are trying to, who automatically have multiple vendors and are thinking, how am I going to manage the vendors. And then they feel as though we can help them manage the process, help manage their internal stakeholders, and bring automation benefits for the entire compliance calendar as well.

That’s where we targeted. In the meantime, though, we have customers signed up and working who have those vendors that you mentioned in some parts of the world, but they have other vendors in other countries. So what they’ve done to start with is, what they’ve done to start with is say, right, well, you’ve ADP in those 20 countries, and we have these other 15 countries and different vendors, let’s clean up the other 15 countries in the process. And now what’s happening is they see the internal benefits for of our technology across the payroll.

So now there’ll be starting the conversation to see if they can bring some of their, for example, ADP countries onto the platform. So that’s what we see happening.


William  19:38

Perfect. I love that you mentioned, you can spin up a country, I think you said, in four days. That’s really attractive. Tell me Tell me more about that.


Fidelma  19:50

So our customers usually bring their own payroll providers onto our platform. So we don’t we’re not married to any provider network. So we have about 90 countries live on our platform already. We have over 150 payroll providers. So every customer that comes on board brings new providers.

So Cloudera, for example, comes on board with 25 countries, they have 25 providers, some of them might be on our system already, some many are not. So the providers in our system are always growing. So we had to build an integration core from our platform that would enable any provider come on the system easily, but to not impose any work on them.

So in essence, if you think about it, like simply, if you’re an HR practitioner or a finance colleague, and you choose a payroll provider in a local country, you’re choosing them because they’re experts in the payroll of their compliance, so they really are kind of following the traditional accounting model. They’re not going to have a big it capable team for doing integrations.

So we built our IT integration core for payroll providers in a way so that 90% of it is the same for every payroll provider in the world. And the last 10% is only a mapping. So because of that, it means that if a customer comes in and says this is our country, here’s what our payroll looks like, and they can show us what their payroll file looks like, we can get the platform spun up in a couple of hours.

And then we just need to be introduced to the payroll provider, we explain our role, we show them the technology, we give them our formats, we ask them, can you accommodate these? They say yes, great. If they say no, this is what we need, then we do the mapping.

So that means after they’re live, every month or every pay cycle, the payroll provider will receive all the data from the client in their own formats. And that means they can upload it directly into their engines, it reduces the human error risk, it actually increases their compliance with their own SLAs, and it makes everything very going to say audit trail is also visible from an audit trail perspective, which is very good for your internal compliance. So we designed it to be hyper fast. And we have up to four days. I think we can get it down further but we’re still working it out.


William  21:59

I love it. You know what I love about this is that the pandemic has freed us open up to think about employees being anywhere. And which is great. I mean, it’s actually liberating, right but also for most HR and most recruiters, it’s also terrifying. And you’ve now created something that kind of lessens some of that fear anxiety, so I love what you’re doing.

Fidelma I just absolutely love it. And thank you for coming on the podcast and explaining what you’re doing.


Fidelma  22:32

Thank you so much. And if you get on a plane anytime, if any of us get on a plane this year, and you end up in Ireland, be sure to give me a buzz, and I’ll show you around over here.


William  22:40

I love that. Thank you so much.


Fidelma  22:43

Okay. And you, William.


William  22:43

And thanks everyone listening to The Use Case Podcast. Until next time

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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