Why the hype on going global? Everyone wants to go global. This is more than just a trend; it's an intentioned way of doing business. So, what does it really take to go global?
“Every business is going to deal with going global,” says DATABASICS VP & Chief Technology Officer Marcel Syriani. “If an opportunity comes, companies will have to take advantage of that opportunity, especially since we’re already competing in a global market and there’s no barriers in communication around the world.”
So, everyone is already working within the same global market. But what does it mean to actually go global?
For your company, going global means new markets for your brilliant products and less dependency on current or seasonal markets. It also means growth and expansion due to new competition. But what are the requirements for going global in terms of time and expense reporting?
Don’t be fooled!
Going global means you’ll need more than only multilingual support. Just because a time and expense solution offers this feature, it doesn’t mean they’re a solution for a newly- or soon-to-be-global business. If you’re looking for something that’s actually global (and not just multilingual), what requirements should you be thinking about?
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Per diems: Per diems become much more complex once they need to work across borders. Differences in country regulations and in currency create the need for more robust per diem management.
Real-life example: Per diems are handled differently in Sweden. Part of the per diem is taxable, which means that a system needs to track that taxable income.
Multicurrency: Look for a reliable system with reliable currency rates. It shouldn’t be a big deal to accommodate the rates based on business units in different locations & frequencies of currencies.
Real-life example: A system should be configurable so that if you have an office in Paris and an office in Washington, D.C., you can translate currencies based on the exchange rate daily or as an average across a month.
Cash advance management with multi-currency support: A system should deftly manage cash advances based on the way business is done in a particular country.
Real-life example: Cash advances are not made alike across the globe. In India, companies use pre-paid cards and they get money back if not used.
Policy enforcement: A single policy needs to work across the globe. Approval workflows and compliance rules should be accommodated within a single system.
Real-life example: If you have offices in Shanghai, L.A., and Tokyo, you shouldn’t have to write three versions of the same policy. Instead, you should be able to write one policy and ask the system to present it in the user’s preferred language. This doesn’t come standard, but it’s a feature you should look for.
Alerts and notifications: This seems like a basic idea, but it can become a huge source of frustration for users if they’re receiving system alerts at odd times.
Real-life example: If you have an office in Berlin and an office in New York, your New York users don’t want to be woken up at 3 a.m. to a notification that they’ve forgotten to submit their time sheet.
Tax management: Don’t forget about VAT, GST, FBT, and HST. These also need management. Specifically, a partner with expertise on tax management like Meridian can make VAT recovery so much easier.
Real-life example: In the U.K., for example, handling VAT on mileage reimbursement is important because of the specificity of the policy: if a worker uses his or her own car for business over 10,000 miles, the rate decreases. Tracking each employee’s usage to ensure HMRC compliance can be pretty laborious without an automated system.
Mobility & flexibility: Not all countries have the same basic public services in terms of physical and digital roads. Software with flexibility like desktop AND mobile access might be a requirement.
Real-life example: Offices in China will have different connectivity needs than offices in Montreal. Users in China will benefit from being able to do business using their phones.
Business intelligence reporting and analytics: Graphs can synthesize the information you need into detailed or more digestible bites.
Real-life example: A company that has offices in Germany, India, and the United States should be able to quickly create reports that break down by currency, but also provide a full picture of time and expense across all three business units.
Support & implementation: Having a company who can provide you 24/7 support is essential, but you also need some autonomy. If you have a problem, it’s nice to know that someone is there. It’s also nice to be able to solve problems without waiting for the vendor to respond.
Real-life example: The L.A. office wakes up to an unexpected force-update on Monday morning, ruining productivity for the first half of the day. A system should not force you to run updates in order to run. Updates should be on your own schedule, giving you control over when you upgrade. It should also be easy to coordinate updates across different time zones.
Credit cards: Having a vendor upload multiple credit cards and handling the currency correctly is essential; the system should be able to support credit cards.
Real-life example: An accountant who works with credit cards wants to avoid manually coding credit card transactions, and rightly so. The manual process is a game of guess and check with the employee who used the credit card. Instead, that accountant should be able to directly connect to the credit card account and let the system automatically categorize transactions, applying past data to the same merchants for easy categorization.
Privacy: Before you choose a vendor, check out their security policy, looking specifically for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. They should follow the guidelines and prove their certification with the Privacy Shield framework to support your global rollout.
Real-life example: Let’s say that a company has offices in Houston and in Brussels. Their vendor needs to be able to guarantee what the Privacy Shield calls “adequate” privacy protection in order to transfer personal data out of Europe under the EU Data Protection Directive.
Multilingualism: Tying it all together is that original requirement that many other companies can guarantee.
Real-life example: A vendor might say that they are “global” because they can provide their services in many languages. That’s a pretty easy task, though, which is why so many vendors feature this service.
Building a global community is essential.
Beyond the technical specs you’ll need for your own internal infrastructure, you should also consider the changes you can expect within the company. Going global can create unintentional barriers among employees who now have co-workers across the world, causing a sense of disconnection.
One way to instill a sense of global community in your company culture might be to have video conferences that give your team members a chance to see other humans working on the same mission on the other side of the world.
Time zone differences might be an issue here, but if it’s a celebration of a company win, it might be worth it to make the sacrifice and come in early or stay late. It might be possible to just do your share of the work and then go home, but when humans can interact with other humans, they feel more connected to the larger company goal, plus they communicate more clearly and more efficiently.
The takeaway: Look for more.
Look for more when it comes to moving your company from local to global, especially in terms of your software partnerships, but also in terms of your company culture.
DATABASICS provides cloud-based, next generation Expense Reporting, P-Card Management, Timesheet & Leave Management, and Invoice Processing automation. Specializing in meeting the most rigorous requirements, DATABASICS offers the highest level of service to its customers around the world.
DATABASICS is relied upon by leading organizations representing all the major sectors of the global economy: financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, research, retail, engineering, non-profits/NGOs, technology, federal contractors, and other sectors.