Crafting a Global HR Tech Stack: Options for International Business Operations

As companies expand globally, a comprehensive HR tech stack is essential for managing international operations. Discover strategies for integrating HRIS, payroll, and EOR services to streamline processes, ensure compliance, and enhance talent management. Find the right adaptable global HR system on OutSail

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
June 30, 2024
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As companies expand their operations across borders, the importance of a comprehensive global HR tech stack becomes clear. In an age where workplaces are increasingly international, businesses need systems that streamline HR tasks and keep operations running smoothly. A well-built HR tech stack integrates various digital tools to seamlessly manage employee engagement, recruitment, and compliance.

Businesses must address several core needs to succeed globally. They require unified HR systems to handle a diverse workforce, efficient and compliant payroll processing tailored to different regions, and flexible employment solutions that adapt to local laws and practices. These elements are crucial to maintaining smooth and effective international operations.

The right HR tech stack empowers companies to overcome the challenges of managing a global workforce. By investing in robust and adaptable HR solutions, businesses can enhance their ability to attract and retain top talent while ensuring compliance and operational efficiency.

The Ideal: A Single Unified System

Integrating HR, payroll, and EOR functionalities into a single system is the ideal goal. A unified global HR tech stack offers streamlined processes, reduced errors, and improved efficiency.

Current Landscape

In today's market, having one unified system that seamlessly handles HR, payroll, and Employer of Record (EOR) services is both a goal and a challenge. While many companies seek Global HRIS solutions, there is still a gap between aspiration and availability.

Current HR tech stacks often mix various tools that might not always integrate smoothly. International payroll processing remains a complex task with multiple regulations across different countries. Despite the appeal of a single system, many organizations still rely on a combination of separate tools to manage their global operations.

Prospects and Challenges

Some companies, such as Rippling and Deel, are pioneering efforts to create comprehensive solutions that include HR, payroll, and EOR services in one platform. Rippling focuses on seamless app integrations while offering extensive global payroll capabilities. Deel excels in compliance and EOR services but may have limitations in broader HR functions.

One major challenge is the trade-off between the breadth and depth of services offered. A provider covering all bases might not excel in specialised areas like in-depth HR analytics or real-time reporting. Integration strategies remain critical as companies must decide whether to adopt an all-in-one solution or continue using specialised tools for specific tasks.

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Option One: A Two-Tiered System Combining Global EOR and HRIS

A two-tiered system combines a global HRIS and an EOR provider. This setup can streamline HR tasks and manage international compliance while enabling robust employee management.

System Overview

A two-tiered system in global HR tech involves integrating a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) with an Employer of Record (EOR) service provider. The HRIS handles the core HR functions such as recruitment, onboarding, and employee engagement. It serves as a central hub for HR activities and data management.

Conversely, the EOR addresses compliance in different countries, including tax and legal requirements. By acting as the legal employer, the EOR manages payroll and benefits, facilitating the employment of workers abroad without the need for a local entity.

Potential Combinations

Combining specific HRIS and EOR vendors can be key to getting the best results. HiBob, Factorial, and Darwinbox are notable HRIS options. They offer engaging user interfaces and comprehensive HR features.

Potential EOR partners like Papaya, Deel, or Remote can handle compliance and payroll challenges in multiple countries. Pairing HiBob with Remote, for example, can provide robust HR management alongside reliable international compliance.

Additionally, Factorial, combined with Deel, offers streamlined HR functions intertwined with a strong compliance framework, making it easier for companies to manage a global workforce seamlessly.

Advantages and Limitations

The primary advantage of a two-tiered system is its ability to leverage specialised expertise. HRIS vendors excel in HR functions, while EOR providers are adept at navigating international compliance and payroll challenges. This allows businesses to focus on their core operations without worrying about HR complexities.

However, integrating two different systems can present challenges. Differences in data formats and system interfaces may necessitate additional effort to achieve seamless operation. Furthermore, managing relationships with multiple vendors can be complex and requires careful coordination.

Proper planning and a clear strategy can mitigate these complexities, ensuring that the two-tiered system offers the flexibility and compliance needed for effective global workforce management.

Compare the top global HRIS platforms on OutSail's marketplace

Option Two: U.S. HCM Vendor with a Global Payroll Partner

Choosing a U.S. Human Capital Management (HCM) vendor and integrating it with a global payroll partner can streamline operations. This approach leverages the robust capabilities of U.S. HCM systems and enhances them with global payroll services.

System Structure

U.S. HCM vendors like UKG, Dayforce, Paylocity, ADP, and Workday offer a solid foundation for managing HR operations domestically. These platforms excel in handling U.S. HR needs, providing comprehensive tools for payroll, benefits administration, and compliance.

In this model, the U.S. HCM system acts as the core platform. A separate global payroll provider integrates with the HCM system to handle international payroll, ensuring seamless payroll processing across different countries. This method allows companies to benefit from the strengths of both systems.

Integration and Localization

The effectiveness of integrating a U.S. HCM system with a global payroll partner depends heavily on the integration process. These integrations must be smooth to avoid disruptions in payroll delivery. Popular vendors have established partnerships with global payroll providers to facilitate this.

Localisation is another critical aspect. Global payroll partners must ensure their systems can handle country-specific regulations, tax laws, and employment rules. Without proper localisation, payroll processing can become inaccurate and non-compliant. However, integrating U.S. HCM systems with global partners often lacks employer-of-record (EOR) services, which can be a limitation for some businesses.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Robust Features for U.S. Employees: U.S.-centric HCM systems are well-equipped with features tailored for American workers. These include detailed compliance tools, benefits management, and advanced payroll functionalities.
  • Specialised Global Payroll Integration: Companies partner with dedicated global payroll providers to ensure that their international employees are paid accurately and on time.

Cons:

  • Limited Global Customization: U.S. HCM systems may not offer the same level of customisation for international operations. This means they might not fully support employees' unique needs in different countries.
  • Absence of EOR Services: Without EOR, companies may face challenges in managing employment contracts and legal liabilities in foreign markets. This adds complexity for businesses expanding their international footprint.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Model

Selecting the right HR tech stack model for international operations involves evaluating specific business needs, comparing costs and benefits, and planning for future scalability.

Business Needs and Scale

Businesses must first assess their specific HR requirements, company size, and the complexity of global operations. A small company may need only basic tools, while a larger enterprise with operations in multiple countries likely requires a comprehensive Global HRIS solution.

Organisations with a diverse global workforce need systems that manage everything from local compliance to global employee engagement. Solutions should cater to functions such as payroll, performance management, and employee development, meeting local and international requirements.

Cost vs. Benefit Analysis

Weighing the costs against the benefits of a potential HR tech stack is crucial. Implementing a Global HRIS can be expensive, but its efficiencies and effectiveness might outweigh the upfront costs.

Businesses should consider the long-term savings from reduced manual work and error rates. Creating a detailed cost-benefit analysis helps make an informed decision, clearly understanding the return on investment from automating and optimising HR operations.

Future Scalability

It is important to consider the company's growth trajectory for future scalability. The selected HR tech stack should easily accommodate new countries and manage growing compliance requirements.

Flexible and scalable solutions ensure that the HR system evolves without significant overhauls as the company expands. This includes the ability to integrate new tools or modules, respond dynamically to new business needs, and respond to regulatory changes in different jurisdictions.

Conclusion

Building a global HR tech stack involves integrating digital tools to streamline HR processes. The choice of strategy depends on the company's size, budget, and specific needs.

One effective approach is leveraging Employer of Record services. This can simplify hiring and managing a global workforce and ensure legal and regulatory compliance across different countries.

Another strategy is investing in an all-in-one HR management system. These platforms offer comprehensive solutions that cover recruitment, onboarding, employee engagement, and payroll.

Connecting existing tools through APIs can help ensure seamless data flow for companies. This allows businesses to keep current tools while integrating new functionalities.

Being informed and adaptable is crucial. The global HR tech landscape continuously evolves, introducing new tools regularly. Staying updated ensures that the HR tech stack remains efficient and effective.

Flexibility is key to addressing changing business needs and technological advancements. As companies grow and expand into new regions, they may need to adjust their systems or adopt new ones to maintain optimal HR operations. Continual assessment and adjustments based on feedback and performance metrics will help maintain an efficient HR tech stack.

These strategies provide a solid foundation for businesses aiming to build a robust global HR tech stack tailored to their unique requirements.

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Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.

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