HR Happy Hour 503 – Meeting Global Payroll Challenges

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

HR Happy Hour Episode 503 – Meeting Global Payroll Challenges

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Guest: Nancy Estell Zoder, Vice President of Product Strategy, Oracle

Sponsored by: Oracle

This week, we spoke with Nancy Estell Zoder about how Oracle Payroll Core helps organizations meet global payroll challenges.

–  Challenges and opportunities of moving your organization global

– The culture of a company and how that plays a role in your team’s strategy around designing global tools

– How organizations can manage payroll requirements globally


To learn more, visit

Thank you Nancy, for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour wherever you get your podcasts.

Transcript follows:

Steve 0:23
Welcome to the HR Happy Hour Show with Steve and Trish. Today,Trish, we are going to be talking about global HCM, global payroll, a topic we probably have not spent enough time on. We’ll learn more about a new announcement from our friends at Oracle who are with us today. But first before we get into the question of the day. It’s getting close to Thanksgiving here in the US it is, believe it or not, what is your favorite food or dish or recipe for the Thanksgiving festival? What is your go to?

Trish 0:56
Oh my gosh, this is so easy. It’s the turkey!

Steve 1:01
Almost no one says turkey. Everybody says something else. You’re going with the turkey?

Trish 1:06
I want to give everyone the quick key to having great turkey because I am actually the most awesome turkey roaster ever. You have to start it breast down, no one does this. Like if you read the instructions and I think it goes way back to like Gordon Ramsay like a million years ago but yep, I watched some show where they said you you cook it breast down for like three hours, you don’t touch it. There’s no basting, you just rub it with oil and put all your spices on it, breast down for like three hours and the last hour flip it over. Okay, no no aluminum foil on top and it gets nice and crisp to perfection in four hours every single time.

Steve 1:45
That’s a good tip, maybe I’ll do that.

Trish 1:47
I will save it for our other podcast, Turkeys Today.

Steve 1:51
Thanksgiving Daily. Okay good stuff. Yeah, I’m probably going pumpkin pie even though that’s like not really a dinner dish it’s more because I only have it one day a year, probably on Thanksgiving. And it’s good right that’s it so it’s like the annual thing, but All right. Good stuff. Thanksgiving is soon, Trish, we’ve got to get ready.

Trish 2:09
Oh, I know. It will be great!

Steve 2:12
Before we start about Thanksgiving, it’s time to talk about global HCM, global payroll. We are very excited to welcome our special guest today Nancy Estelle Zoder, Vice President of Product Strategy at Oracle. Nancy is an experienced HCM professional with over 18 years experience implementing designing, developing and defining strategy for human capital management software applications. Her experience includes deep process and technology expertise, spanning strategic workforce planning, global human resources, business intelligence, security, as well as compliance including broad industry and country knowledge. Nancy, welcome to the show. How are you?

Nancy Estell Zoder 2:48
Thank you so much, excited to be here.

Steve 2:51
Nancy, I believe you’re in the USA. I’m pretty sure you are. I know you’ve got a global background. And we’re going to talk about global issues today. But is there a go to Thanksgiving food for you, Nancy, before we begin?

Nancy Estell Zoder 3:02
For sure. stuffing. Gotta have the stuffing right.

Trish 3:08
Now, Nancy, though, the big question. Do you put it in the bird? Or do you like make it more like dressing in a pan?

Nancy Estell Zoder 3:14
So, I must admit we do put it in the bird. But my preference is not to eat the stuff that goes on the bird.

Steve 3:20
I think you’re right on that. All right.

Nancy Estell Zoder 3:22
Gotta have that crust, right?

Trish 3:24
I love it.

Steve 3:25
Now we’re in the Thanksgiving mood. So Nancy, great to have you on the show. Maybe we’ll start I know, we want to dive into some of the recent announcements that Oracle’s got around on global payroll, and some of the solutions that can support organizations with really complex parallel requirements. But before we get into those details, maybe just give our listeners a little bit of a, maybe just a little perspective on the challenges and the opportunities between moving global, going global, you know, offers organizations and specifically around HCM technology and how that plays a key role in organizations global efforts.

Nancy Estell Zoder 4:01
Yeah, and I think there’s a couple of really key points to keep in mind when we’re thinking about going global, because going global today means something very different from what going global meant just two years ago, right? And it’s really about focusing in on the unique workforce for which you’re managing in all of those various regions, locations, or wherever they’re getting their work done. And so one of the key things that we’re seeing, especially for those organizations that are managing those global workforces, it’s not really so much just about trying to identify what are those localization requirements for an individual country because the operations that you have to manage, but really understanding what those work that workforce requires in order to support them in their success and doing their job in each of those areas. And so what that ultimately means is the ability to handle payroll, legislative requirements, localized requirements and HR requirements is definitely a priority. But that experience is actually that much more of a priority. And we’re seeing a need to kind of reimagine what those expectations are going forward.

Trish 5:10
You know, I have a question about that, Nancy, because as you’re talking, it kind of took me back to being an HR professional myself. And I know I’ve worked in global organizations, and we always tried to talk about what you’re saying, kind of that balance between having the localizations, and the technology supporting that, but also understanding culturally, what people’s backgrounds are. Can you maybe just talk a little bit about what what do you all think about when you’re designing these global solutions? And how big of a role does maybe the country’s culture or just the way that the employment works in those countries? How does that impact your, your on your team strategy around designing these tools,

Nancy Estell Zoder 5:49
That’s probably one of the largest components. So, it’s interesting that you say that primarily because especially as we’re looking at localized requirements, and again, that even items that are in fact, dictated by legislative bodies, there are some interpretations of those requirements by different organizations and different industries. And so when we’re doing an assessment of what is truly required, and how we want to optimize that experience for our customers in each of those areas, as well as the workforce in which they need to manage to make them successful, we’re looking at the cultural expectations of experience, we’re also looking at what are some of those? What are some of those key capabilities that will truly promote creativity in order to support those workers? And so really looking at that piece of it from an experience standpoint, as well as from that payroll perspective, which is what and why we’ve actually reimagined our payables strategy, which I’m really excited to share with you today.

Steve 6:52
Yeah, Nancy, thank you. It’s so interesting, because this really going global, whether you mentioned some of the, you know, the legislative requirements, compliance requirements, and every country has got their own rules, etc. and Trish kind of alluded to the cultures are different, right as you move around the world. And to me, that kind of highlights one of the big challenges, but also opportunities for organizations to say, Hey, we’re still one organization, right? Like, we’re a big multinational global company, with maybe hundreds of 1000s of employees all over the world, we’re still one company yet we’re operating in all these different places that have their own unique cultures, and also have their own record challenging requirements, right, for just compliance. I wonder if some of the conversations you have about really needing to partner, if you’re one of those organizations or aspiring to become one or maybe you become one through M&A or, you know, just expansion, you really need to partner with with a provider that’s got that global experience and perspective, too. I’d love for you to comment a little bit about that. Because I can imagine having hundreds of systems potentially right, if I were really true big company, and what what kind of a nightmare that would be.

Nancy Estell Zoder 8:05
So, it’s interesting that you asked that question, primarily because that is definitely the approach that we take when we’re giving guidance to our customers, right, we want to ensure that we’re providing you with the options that you need to support paying your workforce paying your workforce around the world with the options that they require in order to support their specific payroll needs, which is why we actually made this recent announcement with this new product offering. But this also means that they may prefer to manage payroll out, you know, they may prefer to outsource their payroll requirements within one country versus another as well and making those strategic decisions are going to be key. And it has nothing to do with you know, and in most cases doesn’t have anything to do with the technology, it really has to do with the payroll staff they require in order to effectively manage. And so we provide solutions for all of those options. We had, you know, with with our Oracle Cloud HCM product, we provide solutions to pay their workforce worldwide, there are a variety of options for them to choose, right, they could choose a native payroll, managing their payroll requirements in house, they have the option to use something like Payroll Connect, which enables us to provide certified integrations to select partners. We have options like Payroll Core, which is our recent announcement, which I’m really excited about, is providing options for specific types of workers that have unique requirements for managing pay. So there are a variety of options for which they can take based on their unique needs of their workforce. And we provide those options to them with our cloud offering.

Steve 9:41
Nancy, before we get into the release, and some of the really kind of interesting new developments. I had one more question related to the last question, which is around reporting and analytics, right? So again, thinking about it, as we’re still one company? And there’s a CHRO, a CEO, somewhere in this company who really wants to see, you know, detailed workforce reporting reports, analytics, spending reports, etc? What are some of the ways organizations can kind of manage that are those requirements in this world, as he said, where we’re paying people in different ways in different countries, maybe with some outsource providers, etc? What are some of the ways that you can help organizations pull all that data together, right? Because the oldest thing in HCM we’ve always said is Oh, company XYZ has no idea what their headcount is on a given day, right? So how can you guys kind of help? Trish is raising her hand!

Nancy Estell Zoder 10:35
It’s interesting, I think that’s been an issue that a lot of organizations have been faced with probably for the past 20 years, right. I still remember early in my consulting career, where I would speak with customers. And they would say that it would take them six months to come up with a headcount report for the worldwide organization, right? And you probably are the same, we don’t see those challenges as much anymore, for sure. And there are a variety of options for which we provide with our cloud offering, including our Fusion Analytics Warehouse, as well as various other reporting options based on what they specifically require. You know, some organizations can actually effectively manage that within the HCM within our cloud HCM solution, others will require that warehouse depending on the extent in which they require additional data sources to be brought in. But we provide a variety of options again, and we can provide guidance based on their specific industries, their specific geography, their specific footprint, to make those recommendations for how they can optimize that visibility in order to in fact act, right because that analytics is great, but you need to know what to do with it. Right? And we want to be able to provide those recommendations through our cloud offering.

Steve 11:51
Yeah, yeah. Nancy, thank you for that. The last thing I’ll say and I’ll let this go. That’s when you really need that advisory, right organizations need that advisory both from their providers, but as well as like, they need some governance, right? Because the decision in I don’t know Belgium, right to outsource payroll in a certain way. Because it works out really nicely for the folks in Belgium, well, that’s great. But if that presents some significant challenges to do higher level reporting, consolidated reporting, and provide the insight that managers outside of Belgium, right might need, those are the trade offs in those decisions. But having a partner, right, that’s been through this with other customers, that’s really key, I think.

Nancy Estell Zoder 12:29
And really balancing what the needs are of the organization, as well as some of the legislative requirements, right? We all know, and live and breathe the data privacy requirements around the world, and that need to respect those requirements around the world. And this is where culture does also come into play, right? And understanding what those requirements are, and how we can respect that also comes into that guidance. And we work really closely with our local partners, industry partners as well, in order to ensure we provide that proper guidance.

Steve 12:57

Trish 12:58
You know, I think that’s really important. And I’m glad you mentioned that, because I think back to being a practitioner, you try to stay on top of so many things, especially related to compliance and GDPR. And just it changes and things are constantly just moving in different countries. And so I think having Oracle being able to sort of manage that for you, right, you have experts that are doing this every day, right? So you’re getting literally the most current approach to compliance for your organization, which I think is really valuable and just shouldn’t be overlooked.

Nancy Estell Zoder 13:31
And just to that point, you know, we actually engage our customers very frequently in having those discussions, right, because this is a great example of where interpretation comes into play, there isn’t going to be one way to execute on a specific requirement, right. And so ensuring that we work with the customers across geographies, across industries, various sizes, enables us to identify the interpretation that’s best required to support in product and then of course, provide that guidance back to our customers.

Steve 14:03
It’s so important to have that experienced advisory capability from the partner. It’s important here just in the US, right, trying to manage a complex workforce across multiple states, but it’s even more important around the world, Nancy. So yeah, thank you for sharing some insights and perspective kind of more generally. Now, we do want to talk a little bit more specifically about the most recent global payroll capability announcements that Oracle has announced about a month or so ago. Nancy, I’d love to you to share a little bit about what specifically you guys are doing to sort of help your organizations manage the complexities of operating globally?

Nancy Estell Zoder 14:38
Well, as it relates specifically to this announcement, I must say this is a very targeted announcement, we announced the expansion of our global payroll offering to help a very specific market the inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies to really support some of their complex payrolls and policies to effectively pay their employees anywhere. When we think about traditional payroll, you know, traditional payrolls, about meetings, specific country requirements, right? We always typically talk about payroll from a legislative paid payrolls by jurisdiction perspective. But we in you know, what we’ve seen in the marketplace is that they typically neglect to recognize the needs of the International worker, where jurisdiction doesn’t actually apply. They’re typically either outsourcing those those legislative requirements, or they have agreements in place where those legislative requirements actually legislative requirements don’t actually apply to them. And so with that, they don’t have the flexibility to manage those international payrolls to pay those international workers. So just to give you a quick example, because I think the example is really what solidifies the value of this solution.

Nancy Estell Zoder 15:54
When we think of some of those legislative requirements, we’re talking about taxes, we’re talking about overtime, we’re talking about potentially minimum wage requirements. But they have to adhere to other paid practices. And these are international paid practices, like perhaps related to duty management, or post management and how that actually works in relation to how they’re getting paid. As well as things like the ability to have multi currency payouts. So to give you a quick example, when we think of like a French paid worker, who is in the Sudan, they require their pay in Euros to be deposited into a French bank account, but they also require Sudanese pounds to be deposited into a local bank account to ensure that timely access to funds, you know, this is an this is where I’m most excited, because I feel like you know, we’re able to provide them with solutions in order to support them to do that important work that they do. They they’re working on eradicating poverty and promoting equality and providing life saving health care. And so us being able to ensure that their payroll is right, and they get it in a timely fashion, is what excites me to be in this space, right, and to be able to provide solutions like this.

Trish 17:11
Thank you for sharing those examples. Because sometimes I think what we do in human resources is we’re not able to think about how it directly ties to people and helping a certain person. And so I think thinking about payroll in that way, where some people might be like, oh, payroll is boring, or, you know, it’s just an unnecessary evil, right? Everybody has to get paid. I think when you start really bringing it down to that personal level and talking about some of those challenges, I mean, that’s a great example. Are you getting feedback yet from some of your customers who are starting to make these changes with Oracle, they’re using the tools? And are starting to collect more of those stories? Or is it is it still a little too early on that to have those.

Nancy Estell Zoder 17:56
So, we are working directly with our customers, right now, we are building those stories as we speak. Just because they are I mean, working with our customers, of course, we’ve got identifying all these various use cases in order to better support their specific work or to your point, that human aspect of how this in fact, that how that impact applies to them, and the value in which they’re providing. And where we actually, in fact, see a unique opportunity is in recognizing that, you know, in our ability to pay these employees in the way that they need to be paid, we’re now finding additional opportunities to expand the unique value proposition for this unique type of worker by providing experiences for that unique workforce to better ensure to better ensure their ability to support all of these important initiatives that they’re working on. And this means that, you know, giving them the guidance that they need in order to effectively access their pay and the information that they need in order to support them doing that. But it also means getting them access when and where they need it. Right. accessibility to this information is also key. And sometimes it’s not always going to be through a web browser. And so we needed to look beyond payroll to understand what the unique needs are of this particular workforce, to ensure that they’ve got that modern experience that not only do they expect, right, we see that today in the world today, people expect it, but they require it in order for them to successfully do their job. And I’m just glad to be a part of it.

Steve 19:36
Nancy, I think we’ll probably sort of wrap with this. Organizations are getting back to normal, right? It’s taking longer than we thought but we are going to see probably organizations looking to expand maybe kickstarting plans to broaden their footprint. Maybe that has been on hold maybe for a couple of years now. For reasons that are pretty obvious to all of us. What would be just one or two things you would advise say to an HR leader, people leader in a US based company, which is probably the majority of our listeners. We’re gonna start looking into kickstarting these expansion plans to Europe or to Asia to Africa can be anywhere, really? And I don’t mean, Nancy to tell us okay, if you’re gonna go to Mozambique, you got to do this. That’s not really the question. But just, we’re going to start thinking about going global, going bigger. What are a couple things I should be thinking about?

Nancy Estell Zoder 20:35
I think probably the primary thing to be thinking about is what it is that workforce requires to successfully get their job done. What is it that they require guidance on in order for them to be effective in their growth professionally, as well as personally, because that’s an expectation that the workforce now has, and, you know, payroll is a key component of that, right? But payroll is one of those areas where I’m sure you probably know, when it’s successful. Nobody celebrates it, right? It’s not it’s not a celebration, but everybody hears about it when it’s not, um, but things like experience and ensuring that they’re getting the guidance that they need an understanding what that workforce requires in order to be effectively paid, have visibility and how they’re getting paid, is going to be critical. And so I think when we’re looking at the expansion globally, it’s not just about identifying whether or not you’ve got the ability to administer taxes in a particular country, it’s really about reimagining what that payroll experience needs to look like for not just the employee, but also for that payroll administrator to give them the guidance to be successful.

Trish 21:45
Yeah Nancy, that last sentence, you said, I think that’s just in a nutshell, right? It really is, I think, in what you’ve shared with us today, has taken us beyond just what you need to be thinking about, you know, by country, which is sort of, you know, someone who’s done it, that’s how we’re sort of raised up as we’re learning through our career. So you’re right, reimagining payroll, and we’ve been talking about that for a long time and human resources, right, how to make payroll more strategic? Well, that’s one example of how to do that. So I’m so glad you shared that with us. And I think the listeners will be able to kind of take that back and really put that to good use in their organization. So thank you for that.

Steve 22:22
And just when you actually, when you were talking about the specifics of the new release, and, you know, paying out in euros and paying out in local currency, you know, Sadat, I’m thinking, wow, like, I’ve been around a lot of payroll systems in my life, you know, and thinking, I don’t think any system I ever was touched or near could do that. Like, I’d never heard of that before. Maybe someone else out there, I don’t know. But like, I think that’s pretty cool, just in itself to get we’re getting very geeky into payroll technology, I just find that’s really neat, by the way.

Nancy Estell Zoder 22:50
It really is. And I think that’s why I’m so excited about it, because nobody’s really been talking about, you know, the ability to have that level of flexibility in a solution to effectively pay how that worker needs to be paid. And that’s really the approach that we’ve taken as we’ve reimagined payroll, it’s not about you know, can I pay in the Philippines and in Singapore, and in Hong Kong? It’s really about, can I pay my workers to be productive and creative? And how am I going to do that? Well, my worker in the ideal NGO space, if they’re working at a duty station, they need to get their pay in a variety of ways. It’s not just in their home country, or perhaps, in their country of which they’re working, in which cases it could be five or six different countries in a given year. there this is a huge opportunity to ensure that we’re addressing that experience for this end user, this specific type of workforce so we’re really excited to be in this space.

Steve 23:45
No, and I think it’s going to grow because there’s the nature of the world kind of reopening up and there’s going to be more complexity more challenges more opportunity. So having that kind of flexibility in a payroll system is going to be very, very important I think and and also just very cool. I you know, maybe I don’t know what’s next, Nancy crypto is next like you’ll pay in?

Nancy Estell Zoder 24:08
That’s exactly what we need to look at, what those employees require and how they require to be paid. And so really looking at the workforces needs, not again, just that specifically the legislative needs, that’s one component but really understanding what that workforce needs to be productive, to be satisfied to feel engaged and loyal to the brand. Pay is a huge part of that. Right and ensuring that accurate pay is a huge part of that so that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Steve 24:40
Well Nancy, if you do deliver the you know the cryptocurrency payroll solution just please come on the show and talk to us about it first. Okay?

Nancy Estell Zoder 24:50
So not quite yet, but but definitely!

Steve 24:53
Awesome. Well, this has been super fun,Nancy, really great to catch up. We were talking before the show we met like ages ago. Seeing you in person a long time, we see you virtually doing some presentations at some of the virtual Oracle events this past year, but great to have a chance to talk to you. Thanks so much for doing this.

Nancy Estell Zoder 25:09
Absolutely. Thank you and great to see you and I look forward to the next one.

Steve 25:14
Awesome. We’ll put some links in the show notes to both the specific announcement that we discussed today and then just which is a really great resource, not just a product information, but also just resources, white papers, everything right? They, do a great job over there on that website with with materials and resources for HR folks. So great stuff. Thanks again to Nancy and our friends at Oracle. Trish, good stuff, loved it. I know your payroll. I know you love payroll.

Trish 25:42
I do love payroll and but you know what, I think Nancy made such good points as to why it’s more than just a compliance function that you just have to do because you have to do it. So you know, talking about everything that she included today. I think it just shows you can actually care and put care into payroll, right. And that’s really that’s really what they’re doing or they’re really putting the human aspect into something that’s not really thought of until something goes wrong. So yeah, great. Okay.

Steve 26:15
We will wrap it there for our guest, Nancy Estell Zoder, for Trish McFarlane. My name is Steve Boese, thank you so much for listening to the HR Happy Hour Show. You can get all the show archives at And remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and if you like the show, if you’re a global payroll geek like me, leave us a review as well. That’d be awesome. So until next time, this has been the Happy Hour Show. Bye for now.

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