Transforming your global mobility operations

Global Expat Pay
Global Expat Pay


Global mobility teams are increasingly feeling the pressure as the population of internationally mobile employees starts to grow again and assignee experience expectations increase, but the resources and budgets are not. To learn more about how organisations can streamline data and payment management I spoke with my colleague, Mike Hibberd from ECA Group company Global Expat Pay.

AM: How does an organisation make the most of its mobility information

MH: While organisations have digitised many areas of business, Global Mobility has been left behind as the volume of assignments is relatively small as a percentage of total employees. This typically means that reliance is often placed on several vendors and specialists to deal with complex processes and ensure compliance. As a result, data points may be inaccurate, siloed and shared through manual processes. With assignment data and payments dispersed, costs are higher and unpredictable, combined with greater process inefficiencies.

If you look at this challenge through an assignment lifecycle lens, it is clearer how the operational processes link together and how important the correct data sets are to enabling this to work efficiently.

This pressure is exacerbated at certain times in the business calendar – such as year-end – when Global Mobility, HR and Finance teams are faced with early payment cut-offs and collecting and providing compensation summaries for tax compliance. It’s typically at this time of year when many of the errors come to light, creating compliance issues and adding even more time and cost pressure to an already busy period.

All of these complexities combined make it difficult for operational teams to establish a bigger picture view – a disproportionate amount of time and resource is invested in collating the data required to provide business insight, ensure compliance and assess the actual cost and ROI of a programme. Historically, business processes in the Global Mobility space have been focused on addressing a single specific outcome rather than looking at the operating model as a whole.

AM: Why is the bigger picture so important? 

MH: The business’ thirst for more insight from the global mobility programme makes it imperative that the function drives towards a more digitally integrated model. This releases time and budget to focus on forward looking initiatives and providing greater support to the business and the assignees, which is on the top of Global Mobility’s wish list.

This diagram illustrates a leading global mobility operating model and contrasts it with a lagging model.

AM: So how can organisations focus on the bigger picture with limited resources and budget?

MH: A solid foundation for data management is key, not only to removing inefficiencies, but also to increase the functions’ ability to react to internal and external factors. Whether that be something as unforeseen or extreme as a global pandemic or changes to international tax regimes.

Most time and cost challenges can be traced back to a data and business process challenge. So addressing these challenges starts to remove the root cause of the issues rather than continuing to treat the symptoms (for example – payroll is wrong).

Clear identification of data ownership, control of it throughout the data’s life cycle, not to mention security and tracking, are vital in maximising the usefulness of data and bringing down costs. By consolidating all data into one single source of truth, it will cut back the time commitment currently invested in data collection, payment accuracy and managing compliance, creating a more holistic approach and allowing Global Mobility teams to respond more rapidly to change.

By doing so, no longer is the gathering of data and its analysis such a massive undertaking, providing huge benefits for the Global Mobility team and the organisation. It allows mobility to shift from being considered a costly, labour-intensive operational role to one that is agile, helping deliver strategic business objectives while better supporting the assignee.

AM: How to get started?

MH: This free online diagnostic tool from Global Expat Pay is a great place to start– click here.

Anna Michielsen is ECA’s General Manager for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific and is based in Sydney. ECA provides Assignment Management Software, Assignment Calculators and Tools, Data, Consultancy and Training for organisations with globally mobile workforces. Anna can be found on LinkedIn or contacted at

Mike Hibberd is Global Expat Pay’s Founder and CEO and focuses on truly helping organisations make their Global Mobility operations work more effectively, solving problems and creating the opportunity to get control of these complex business processes to drive much needed insights. Contact Mike ( to explore further.