A Guest Blog Post from Susan Myers, GMS
Director, Global Client Accounting
If your team is anything like ours, you’ve wrapped up your year-end deliverables and switched focus to tasks set aside over the last few months. But before saying goodbye to another year-end, stop and invest some time in process improvements that will pay significant dividends a few months down the road. Pull your mobility and payroll teams together to take a hard look at what’s behind the curtain. If you’ve outsourced the disbursement and payroll function of your relocation and assignment management program, engage your vendors in this exercise as well. Don’t forget to link your tax provider into this project to get the most out of the effort.
To start, it’s important to ask a few questions of all stakeholders to get the information and ideas flowing. Some key questions should include:
- How much time was wasted redoing work because teams found they didn’t fully understand the transaction data being passed?
- What portion of the work required was completed through manual efforts?
- Did you have what you needed at the time allocated to complete the task?
- And most importantly, when you combined all data and efforts for tax preparation, how many W2cs will you produce?
What you find will likely surprise you. And, the answers should give you a clear picture of areas that may need improvement.
If you are dealing with an international assignment population, establish a single coordination point for tracking and preparing all assignment related W2cs. Make sure you understand why the W2c was required. Categorize the reasons and attack the issues now. We often hear payroll teams talk about 100+% W2c rates for their international population. However, this situation can be avoided by simply identifying where the data is and who will be accountable for managing collection and reporting throughout the year. Once this team member is identified, they should make sure the data is being reported correctly and any questions or issues are escalated in a timely manner. If possible, make host country reporting a routine monthly process.
If analysis shows errors came from manual process breakdowns, investigate the possibility of automating the reporting and wage update. Additionally, let your provider know when you don’t process the file exactly as provided. The simplest of changes can make a big difference. If you can’t automate, make sure teams are reconciling between all stakeholders throughout the year. Since resources are at a premium, your relocation vendor should support the payroll reconciliation of interfaced data. When examining the data, don’t just identify the differences, fix them. And, encourage your payroll team to take the time to balance each quarter. If done right, year-end will be simply another payroll pass.
Throughout the process, strong communication will be the key to your success. And while communication is clearly a basic requirement in project management, it is not always easy when dealing with virtual teams across time zones, languages, and cultures. To combat confusion, create a master project plan and calendar now. Be detailed and stay connected to everyone accountable for a piece of the project throughout the year. If you have outsourced, ask your vendor to take on this role. You’ll find when all parties are communicating toward a common goal, issues are minimized.
Most importantly, committing time to review your year-end process now will mean less time and cost down the road.