Today we are chatting with George Delaney, Immedis’ CFO. George is a Chartered Accountant with over 25 years of experience working in corporate finance, industry, and commercial banking.
These days, CFOs wear many hats. As technology’s tentacles extend into every corner of an organization, it is now critical that CFOs prioritize the bottom line and understand the ramifications of a digitally transformed workplace.
As CFO, what are your payroll/workforce planning pain points?
From conversations with my colleagues and other CFOs, I know that there are four main pressure points. Number one, they want the ability to access information in real-time, and need reports, or at least the ability, to generate reports quickly. Now it is all about having or needing instant, actionable reporting that helps influence business decisions. Number two relates to the issue of standardization. The information presented to the CFO must be in a consistent format. Getting PDFs from one team and differing Excel spreadsheets from other groups is problematic and frustrating. In order to make decisions, the data needs to be presented in a consistent, standardized format, which allows the accurate comparison of apples to apples. Number three relates to uniformity. With employees in multiple countries, identifying the true costs of labor and the many variables is challenging. This involves dealing with numerous currencies as well as regions where employees have different pay elements. And finally, the fourth hurdle is being able to identify critical sensitivities and practice scenario testing.
What factors do you consider as critical when you review payroll strategy?
All. However, since we are currently actively hiring, I am looking at specifics around headcount. I’m doing a lot of work around workforce capacity and utilization and the length of time it takes to go from first deciding to hire, to recruiting, onboarding, and getting new employees productive as efficiently as possible. I am looking at where best to deploy resources and what areas need priority. In line with this, I am studying market costs, salary benchmarks, benefits packages, churn rates, and so forth. Given we are in hypergrowth at the moment, we need to be able to hire fast and get people productive quickly.
When working with a vendor- what criteria do you use to assess their product?
Regardless of the technology in question, I judge a product by two yardsticks: can it prove reliability and what sort of customer support package it provides.
In some organizations, there is a reluctance to invest in new technologies. Why do you think that is? What steps can companies take to overcome any unwillingness to change?
Historically, organizations tend to resist change. However, often it is the very ability to transform and evolve, which is the key to success. When considering new technologies, it is highly beneficial first to evaluate, identify, and quantify all the benefits it will bring. It is equally important to define a timeframe for the return on investment, prepare for its impact on in-house resources, and build a framework for how any disruption that accompanies it is minimized and managed. Recently we selected Salesforce as our sales solution, now all aspects of our customers and prospects are in there. This has taken a massive change in how we operate, but it has helped us standardize our process and provide consistent data, irrespective of country or salesperson.
What are your top priorities for 2020?
As I mentioned earlier, we are expanding our workforce, so I am exploring new and innovative ways to attract talent. We have used our referral bonus scheme to great success in the past, but I think we have probably exhausted that network. We are working with local universities and looking at using social media to highlight the Immedis brand as a great employer.
As part of the executive team, we are very focused on ensuring that our customers have a positive experience from onboarding right to the end of the payroll process, which involves multiple touchpoints and departments. We are focused on putting the customer at the center of our process and transforming it to give them the best experience.
On a more holistic level, we are looking at how we prioritize our resource investment to support sustainable growth.
How is COVID-19 impacting your workforce planning for 2020?
At first, it resulted in a temporary delay in decision making by prospective customers. Thankfully, that is now changing, and we are seeing an acceleration in activity.
As with other companies, many of our employees moved to the home offices, which was a period of adjustment for us all. We were suddenly faced with the prospect of having to transplant workflows and deal with the challenges such a relocation brings. The overarching concern for me and the executive team was our employees’ safety, not even COVID-related. We need to make sure that ergonomically they are safe. We are conducting a major survey in the next week to determine the technology and furniture needs for each person, and we will get that in place in September.
COVID has complicated the process of onboarding new employees. However, with a little imaginative thinking, these obstacles were overcome. We have offices in multiple locations, each with specific local circumstances. I have been delighted with how quickly our employees acclimatized, and our customers are experiencing no interruption of services. And from a personal perspective, it has been really nice to meet my co-workers in their home settings. I think this has made us all a little more human.
The new paradigm of WFH is making us rethink our premise requirements. We’ve made no adjustments yet, but we will revisit these plans in light of COVID-19.
When planning, what tools do you leverage to best capture the payroll and workforce planning models?
Over my many years, I have worked with various systems, and each had benefits and drawbacks. However, more recently, the move towards integrating payroll into the HCM system has transformed the whole process in a good way, and for a CFO, it offers a holistic, comprehensive view of an entire workforce, and can go as granular as required. It provides the data and insights a CFO needs to perform the job while simultaneously giving the company the analytics that leadership needs to improve performance and the employee experience.
Metrics and management reporting are the 2020 priorities of large and mid-sized company CFOs, Gartner Finance revealed in its survey, “2020 Top Priorities for Finance.” What analytics do you see as essential for financial planning? What reports are you currently not getting that you would like to receive?
I need to know what KPIs we are leveraging and how to access them. Again, as I mentioned earlier, today, it’s all about instant gratification – I want real-time numbers, real-time reports.
I am implementing a more streamlined and comprehensive “whole customer view” from signing the first contract to onboarding, ops, issuing invoices, and collection. I hope to have this journey as seamless as possible, with the customer at the very center.
How much does the issue of compliance and security feature in your plans or strategy?
All the time. Security concerns are constant – from ensuring adherence to GDPR, new tax legislation, to securing against data breaches. That’s why having a system that conforms to international standards such as ISO 27001 and a SOC audit process is so vital.
Payroll automation – what do you consider are the next steps in payroll automation?
I am excited about what we shall soon see as the norm – a completely touchless payroll process. I think Immedis is really close to this, and having payroll integrated with your HCM is paving the way. In the not too distant future, I believe we’ll see payments in real-time, and the practice that employees work for two weeks or a month before receiving a dime will be obsolete.