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Providing multi-country payroll outsourcing

Case Studies Payroll

The Situation

This client provides worldwide real estate services and investment solutions. They decided they wanted to outsource their payroll processes for Asia Pacific offices, who collectively have a total headcount of 2,000 people. These offices spanned across 5 countries, including:

  • Singapore
  • Vietnam
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Korea

As a result of their business growth, they found themselves in a situation where they needed a more robust and automated payroll solution. All of the APAC countries were managing their own payroll in-house, which gave each country the choice to use varied payroll applications. The only office which did not follow this approach was Korea, who were already outsourcing their payroll processing. Based on Ascender’s strong APAC presence and a confident customer testimonial from a mutual client, the task of MCPO strategy and implementation was entrusted to Ascender.

The Challenge

The challenges the client faced included:


  • Frequently over and underpaying employees
  • Commission rules and calculations were onerous and disorganised
  • Leave calculations and balances were imperfect and were a significant liability on the Balance Sheet
  • Payroll data was considered untimely and inaccurate
  • Inconsistency in countries and a lack of standardisation across the region

No visibility into the true cost of payroll

  • Some countries didn’t have the industry recognisable platforms
  • Some countries didn’t integrate into the client’s global HCM platform
  • There was no ability to report on the true cost of payroll operations

High risk of non-compliance

  • Compliance with the local statutory and regulatory requirements wasn’t transparent
  • The complexity of the business impacted the ability of payroll to support the existing day-to-day business requirements. This placed significant constraints
 on the business increasing payroll errors and non-compliance risks

The Risks

If the client didn’t address these challenges they could be exposed for being non-compliant which:

  • a) Could affect their reputation in the market with existing and potential customers
  • b) Could affect employee engagement levels, leading to employees leaving the organisation for a more ‘trustworthy’ employer
  • c) Could subject them to fines and legal action

Their Needs

The client needed an integrated HCM solution to combine their five countries’ payroll. They wanted a single platform, with a single set of reporting capabilities. They were also looking for a system that provided a level of employee self- service, which enabled employees to view their own payslips.

The client was already using Oracle’s PeopleSoft HCM. With this HCM already existing, they needed a solution that would integrate their payroll back into PeopleSoft for finance and revenue accounting reporting purposes.

The Solution

Ascender worked with the client to determine the right solution that aligned with their overall business strategy.

Towards the end of 2016 the client will have Ascender’s enterprise Middleware integration solution – Ascender Connect – incorporated into their payroll strategy. Until that solution is live, Ascender has developed an interim integration that plugs into the client’s existing HCM platforms. The integration enables the seamless and fully automated transfer of payroll data into PeopleSoft and then the transfer of PeopleSoft data to the local payroll teams’ systems.

Phase 1 — Transitioning the client’s payroll processing online across the entire APAC region

Ascender took a country by country approach to roll out the client’s regional payroll strategy. Within 2 months of winning the project, Ascender completed end to end implementation in the first country of the roll out.

Phase 2 — Integrating 3,000 newly acquired employees

During the implementation the client acquired a separate organisation, whose payroll was being processed by another provider. With the acquisition came a headcount of 3,000 employees, whose presence is in countries the client already operates in. Some of these countries include Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.

Based on the great work Ascender had completed up to this point, the client decided to align all of their payroll processing for existing and acquired workforce.

The Results

The client was given a Project Management team who oversaw and executed the project, including identifying, monitoring and mitigating project risks. As a result of the Ascender team’s wealth of regional and industry experience, Ascender understood the variable compensation complexity as well as the local payroll regulations and ensured the client met all compliance standards. As the project was executed over phases, business interruption was limited.

It was a complete and successful implementation which provided an integrated solution to Corporate HR, single MSA and single SLA across the entire region post-acquisition which gives the client improved governance and total visibility of their data and fully aligned compliance standards across
the region.

The big wins included:

  • The client moved from a decentralised payroll model to a regionalised “hub” and spoke model.
  • Employees in Vietnam experienced major benefits, including:
  • The implementation of an electronic leave booking system — a big step forward from the manual processing of leave bookings pre-implementation
  • Ability to download payslips — a functionality that wasn’t available before
  • The client was given increased visibility into their payroll function for analytics and reporting purposes.
  • Payroll compliance was no longer a concern as the responsibility to monitor compliance across the region had been reallocated to Ascender, rather than an in house employee.
  • The total cost of payroll across multiple countries in APAC became visible.

Ascender set up the client’s payroll to be fully integrated with PeopleSoft. This was particularly important as they needed their payroll data to be accessible via PeopleSoft for financial reporting. This provided them one source of the truth and a more streamlined manner to access data.

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