Business transformation: revolutionising finance and payroll functions

Business transformation revolutionising finance and payroll functions Banner

Business transformation: revolutionising finance and payroll functions

Adapting to change is vital for the survival of any business, and if you’re exploring how to respond to the changing landscape in your market, you will have heard the term business transformation.

Business transformation describes the fundamental and significant changes that an organisation undergoes to improve its operational and financial performance, competitiveness and strategic position. It can involve transforming technology and digital applications, people, culture, organisational structure, processes and strategy.

Successful business transformation requires strong leadership, effective communication and the commitment of the entire organisation to embrace change; in short, it requires an effective change management strategy and execution.

A subset of business transformation is another industry buzz phrase; digital transformation. It is common knowledge that the effective use of technology improves business efficiency, reduces costs and ensures compliance. However, adjusting to the expectations of digital-savvy consumers can be a major challenge for businesses in Hong Kong.

This article discusses the imperatives of digital transformation in relation to payroll and finance functions for Hong Kong businesses and the challenges this entails. It also explores solutions, with advice for business leaders and entrepreneurs on how they can successfully embrace the transformation of these key functions for the future health of their businesses.

How digital transformation is revolutionising finance and payroll

Digital transformation in finance and payroll has become critical in the modern business world, where AI and automation are improving efficiency and transforming these functions into strategic decision-making departments.

Advanced data analytics in finance allows for more precise forecasting and informed decision-making. Machine learning, for example, can analyse market trends and customer data and reduce or prevent fraudulent activities. Forward-thinking industry leaders are also looking to digitalise processes using automation to transform manual finance functions in order to boost productivity.

In payroll, automation and cloud-based systems are reshaping employee compensation. Real-time processing ensures accuracy in payroll calculations and can adapt to various tax laws. Additionally, self-service payroll portals increase transparency and employee satisfaction by allowing individuals to manage their payroll information.

Payroll and digital transformation
Ken Wong, Managing Director Asia, Payroll at BoardRoom, shares his views on this digital transformation in relation to payroll.

“In the past, the process of paying employees has meant you’re calculating working hours, adding in the allowances, subtracting deductions, calculating the statutory contributions and then paying the employees at the end of the month. Often, a simple spreadsheet or off-the-shelf software has been used to manage all these calculations.”

But this process is time-consuming and prone to human error, says Ken. Payroll issues have become more complex, and staff and organisations want and need more convenient ways to manage payroll that comply with ever-changing regulations and offer real-time data. The complexity of managing payroll is also heightened for corporations operating across multiple countries with differing local regulations and cultural norms.

Among other forms of digital transformation, cloud computing and data analytics are becoming increasingly popular tools that Hong Kong businesses use. Cloud technology and automation are transforming payroll systems, leading to more integration and transparency and reducing the risk of human error.

“In short, the need for real-time data for instantaneous responses and requirements to stay abreast with regulations and changes means your simple spreadsheet or your off-the-shelf software does not cut it anymore,” Ken concludes.
Finance and digital transformation
Finance functions such as accounting are also rapidly evolving, says Yang Shuzhen, Accounting Director at BoardRoom. “Accounting generally is very paper-based, which creates a range of problems.”

Documents can get lost or misfiled over time, which may result in audit issues. Hard-copy documents and files are accessible only from one location, which makes them time-consuming and cumbersome to manage. “That has triggered the digitisation of accounting documents through technology such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Maintaining soft copies is so much easier and it means supporting documents are all saved with the transaction itself. It simplifies and consolidates files, which is also much more convenient for reviews and audit checks.” says Shuzhen.

The increased need for greater transparency, efficiency, productivity and accuracy is driving the digital transformation of processes, especially in accounting and payroll, functions that are traditionally resistant to digitisation, digitalisation and automation. The digital literacy of staff, external stakeholders and customers has also added to expectations that organisations and businesses will have cloud-based processes that make interactions instant, accurate and accessible.
Digital transformation

Overcoming legacy system challenges

There’s no doubt that digital transformation is key for businesses to succeed in the future, but there are barriers to success. The key challenges businesses face when attempting to update legacy systems and processes include:

Resistance to change
  • One of the most significant barriers to digital transformation in finance and payroll is overcoming the fear of change, particularly concerns about increased errors and a lack of control if processes are changed or automated.
  • There's also a tendency to stick to 'the way things have always been done’ without understanding why.
  • Educating staff about the benefits and rationale for change, including legal requirements and regulations changes, can help. For example, the belief that to be compliant, all employees must receive a physical payslip when, in fact, soft-copy payslips are perfectly acceptable.
Skills gaps and resource constraints
  • The skill gap presents a significant challenge in implementing digital strategies. Many companies struggle to find skilled personnel for digital transformation, especially when resources are already tied up in legacy systems.
  • Skills shortages are preventing many companies from realising their ambitions too. A 2022 survey on technology adoption found that while 73 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong said their organisation had a digital transformation strategy, 35 per cent could not find the staff to implement it.
  • Prioritising training and strategic investment in new technologies is key to overcoming skills gaps and short-term resource limitations.
Integrating automation into existing technology
  • Businesses often attempt to integrate new technology with old systems, which can be counterproductive.
  • A complete overhaul, rather than mere integration, is sometimes necessary and a simpler solution to truly harness the advantages of modern technology.
  • Despite these challenges, the benefits of embracing technology in finance and payroll are undeniable, with automation simplifying operations and enhancing accuracy and compliance. Reinforcing this is the fact that more than 90 per cent of survey respondents reported that their organisations would be adopting more technology by upgrading existing technology and increasing investment.

    Overcoming legacy system challenges

    Strategies for navigating digital transformation

    Organisations can overcome legacy pitfalls and enact meaningful change that leads to digital and business transformation by implementing appropriate strategies. Organisations can adopt a number of strategic changes.

    • Start to shape a growth mindset by incorporating small changes such as transitioning from paper-based to digital record keeping. Small, successful changes lead to bigger mindset shifts among team members over time.
    • Rethink the allocation of budget and invest in future-focused systems rather than trying to maintain or update expensive legacy systems.
    • Empower leaders with clear visions and goals who can communicate those goals to their teams and provide regular updates on progress, challenges and successes in team meetings via staff newsletters or internal web portals.
    • Engage with professional service providers such as BoardRoom, who can assist organisations to adopt and administer more efficient payroll and accounting systems and accelerate their digital transformation journey.

    Advanced analytics and business intelligence in action

    Adopting advanced analytics and reporting tools through a business transformation process is a fundamental shift towards strategic decision-making. Digital technologies enable organisations to unearth actionable insights, leading to better planning for future needs as well as cost savings.

    Shuzhen advises businesses that if they can upgrade their systems, even gradually, they can start creating comprehensive data sets. Advanced analytics and reporting tools will then transform their accounting and payroll functions.

    For companies entrenched in legacy systems, the journey towards digital transformation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Small yet impactful steps can be taken by transforming a single process or function with advanced analytics.

    Aligning business transformation goals with core business functions ensures that digital transformations are cohesive and effective. When businesses are capturing data, they need to understand why they are capturing it, what they want to analyse and why. This is where external advice is crucial for businesses as they navigate the digital transformation process.

    Advanced analytics and business intelligence

    The future of digital transformation starts here

    As the Hong Kong business environment continues to evolve, leaders and entrepreneurs will need to embrace digital transformation in their payroll and accounting functions to stay competitive and compliant. Such transformations can be challenging, but the rewards of increased productivity, transparency, cost savings and compliance are well worth the investment.

    BoardRoom has partnered with businesses of all sizes in Hong Kong to help guide them through their digital transformations, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition in line with their broader business transformation goals. Offering well-planned strategies that overcome legacy issues and drive business success, the BoardRoom team of payroll and accounting experts are ready to talk to you today to help you achieve your business goals.

    Related Business Insights

    Strengthen your workforce compliance with expert payroll services in Hong Kong

    Strengthen your workforce compliance with expert payroll services in Hong Kong Article Banner

    Strengthen your workforce compliance with expert payroll services in Hong Kong

    The increasing importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in corporate Hong Kong has directed attention towards the payroll function, with many leadership teams now prioritising payroll compliance as part of their planning.

    Today, the benefits of robust payroll systems are plentiful; beyond supporting regulatory compliance, they bolster your organisation’s reputation and foster a positive work culture internally.

    In this article, Ken Wong, Managing Director for Payroll for Asia, and Miles Ng, Associate Director, Business Development, explain the significance of payroll compliance for contemporary business leaders and provide advice for engaging quality payroll services in Hong Kong.

    Statutory requirements for payroll in Hong Kong

    In Hong Kong, the Employment (Amendment) Ordinance – known as the 713 Ordinance – sets out the rules by which businesses must calculate the statutory entitlements of employees. The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure employees of all types are appropriately compensated for their work.

    The eight key statutory entitlements identified in legislation are:

    • holiday pay;
    • annual leave pay;
    • sickness allowance;
    • maternity leave pay;
    • paternity leave pay;
    • end-of-year payment;
    • payment in lieu of notice; and
    • amounts to remedy unreasonable and unlawful dismissal.

    “Employers should comply with the 713 Ordinance and calculate statutory entitlements on a 12-month average wage basis,” Miles says.

    Correct calculation of wages for individual staff members is crucial to avoid incorrect statutory entitlement figures.

    Changes to payroll law

    The legislative landscape in Hong Kong is unique and constantly changing. A significant amendment was made on 1 May 2023, when the region’s statutory minimum wage rate increased by 6.7% to HKD40 per hour.

    Changes to payroll legislation can be very technical and may only impact a few employees in select industries. For example, in April 2023, the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed the Occupational Safety and Occupational Health Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2022 (“the Bill”). This Bill amended the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59), the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509), and their subsidiary legislation. The Bill seeks to increase the overall maximum penalties for occupational safety and health (“OSH”) offences to enhance their deterrent.

    To maintain ongoing compliance with payroll regulations, businesses must be proactive about staying up to date with changes and adjusting internal processes accordingly.

    Payroll Law

    Why regulatory compliance is important

    One way the Hong Kong government drives a high standard of good governance in the corporate sector is by enforcing penalties for non-compliance.

    “Companies who fail to adhere to payroll legislation can face legal scrutiny and potential litigation,” Miles says. “For example, if an employer wilfully and without reasonable excuse fails to pay wages to an employee when it becomes due, they are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of HKD350,000 and to imprisonment for three years.”

    The government is also encouraging employees to report unfair dismissals or unfair employers, and recent high-profile underpayment cases have put the wider public on high alert for malpractice.

    With all this in mind, businesses must take compliance seriously if they are to maintain the trust of key stakeholder groups, protect their reputation and minimise their risk of penalisation.

    Regulatory Compliance

    How to ensure regulatory compliance

    The frequency and complexity of changes to commercial law can make payroll compliance challenging.

    “It’s not always easy to interpret legislative changes and how they might impact an employee,” Ken explains.

    Ensuring compliance can be especially difficult for large organisations that need to keep track of legislative developments in several jurisdictions.

    One way business leaders can support compliance is by engaging a reputable payroll services firm.

    “Having a specialist team on hand gives you confidence that you’re taking the right steps to adapt to any and all legislative changes impacting employees,” Ken says. “Being able to lean on their experience helps ensure your business stays compliant and safe from penalisation or reputational harm.”

    In addition to the many advantages of outsourcing your payroll, such as cost-effectiveness and time savings, there are several other ways in which it can strengthen your overall compliance strategy. By entrusting your payroll processes to a reputable outsourcing provider, you not only ensure accuracy and efficiency, but you also gain access to additional benefits that can fortify your compliance efforts by:

    • staying up to date with changes to regulations;
    • undertaking regular audits;
    • educating employees on the value of compliance; and
    • leveraging digital technology for better accuracy.
    Payroll technology

    How to choose the right payroll partner

    As payroll is a primary business function, your choice of service provider can significantly influence the short- and long-term success of your business.

    “Good outsourced payroll providers offer a valuable hands-on business partnership in which you are fully supported to maintain compliance,” Ken explains. “They are there to provide expert advice on any payroll matter – including details such as the wording of employment contracts – and to help neutralise potential problems before they arise.”

    When seeking payroll services in Hong Kong, we recommend taking the following steps for the best outcome.

    The benefits of appointing a company secretary with strong tax knowledge

    If you engage a company secretary whose expertise is limited to company incorporation, you may fail to capture all the valuable growth opportunities available. Company secretaries with robust tax knowledge, or work side by side with an in-house tax expert, can add more value to your new business venture by:

    • explaining the different legal vehicles you can incorporate as, including how they work and their suitability for your situation;
    • developing a tax-efficient corporate structure based on your wider operating model and supply chain arrangement, ensuring your business group pays the lowest fair share of tax while extracting maximum profit;
    • determining your eligibility for available tax incentives; and
    • liaising with executive staff and regulatory bodies to develop a group-wide governance framework that incorporates beneficial, fully compliant tax and transfer pricing strategies.

    If you are branching into Singapore and your existing company has a large, complicated structure, these value-add opportunities can help minimise confusion during the incorporation process while also ensuring a bright, prosperous future for your new entity and wider corporation.

    Company Secretary

    1. Consider your current and future needs

    Your service provider should be ready and able to take care of immediate issues and capture opportunities to futureproof your internal systems.

    • Therefore, starting by developing an in-depth understanding of your business’s current and future payroll requirements is important. In today’s dynamic business landscape, organisations are increasingly asking themselves a series of crucial questions when considering service partners such as: Are we looking at expanding quickly?
    • Do we need to consider both a local workforce and different geographies?
    • Are we looking at implementing employee share plans?
    • Are we adopting a model of FTEs or are they leaning more towards leveraging on the GIG economy?

    You can then use this knowledge to search for a team equipped to meet all your needs.

    2. Assess the provider’s competencies

    Once you have a shortlist, it is time to check each provider’s ability to assist you. Seek a provider that specialises in:

    • establishing robust data security solutions;
    • delivering responsive customer support; and
    • providing sophisticated human resources management system solutions.

    Ideally, they will have a track record of servicing organisations similar to yours (in size, complexity and location), and the ability to adapt to evolving demands as your company grows.

    Provider Expertise

    3. Investigate the provider’s expertise and accuracy

    Next, be sure to investigate potential partners’ experience level and service history.

    “Fundamentally, payroll is about making sure people are paid the correct amount in a timely manner, so check that the provider has a track record of doing that consistently,” Ken says.

    Experienced providers take an exploratory, deep-dive approach to their service delivery. This approach allows them to uncover the specific challenges an organisation is facing and design robust solutions to meet current and forecasted needs.

    A wealth of experience also makes payroll teams better at targeting the root cause of problems, resulting in an effective and efficient service experience.

    4. Check the provider’s geographical footprint

    To support seamless payroll administration and cut costs, multinational organisations should consider engaging a globally minded firm with extensive experience navigating the cultural and regulatory complexities of cross-border payroll.

    Ken points out that language barriers can also pose a challenge.

    “Business leaders sometimes fail to realise this will be an issue until they become familiar with the tasks required to manage their payroll,” he says. “You will need to submit regular forms to governments and agencies, and someone will need to interpret what you’re signing off.”

    How to prepare for the future of payroll

    Companies wanting to succeed in an increasingly competitive and complicated Hong Kong market must take swift action to futureproof their payroll systems.

    According to Ken, C-suite executives can enhance the adaptability and effectiveness of their payroll function by embracing new technologies.

    “Technology evolves very fast and will evolve further, bringing improvements in speed, efficiency and accuracy to the payroll process – which was historically very clunky to manage,” he says.

    The benefits of modern payroll systems are numerous, with the latest cloud-based human resource management systems (HRMS) enabling leaders to:

    Process enormous data sets in record time, resulting in faster payroll management and unparalleled reporting capability
    Leverage automation to increase efficiency and minimise errors
    Streamline cross-border payroll administration and compliance by consolidating multiple platforms into one (which also removes the need to train teams in multiple platforms)
    Easily generate consistent group-wide payroll data, which can be used to strengthen other primary business functions and make informed decisions to drive business growth
    Integrate your payroll with other internal platforms (e.g. human resources and finance) to improve the accessibility of valuable real-time data and simplify the task of adjusting platforms as regulatory requirements evolve

    Discover premium payroll services in Hong Kong

    BoardRoom has been helping businesses thrive for more than 50 years. Our experienced teams are known for their ability to handle complex problems with speed, professionalism and skill, as well as their attention to detail and dedication to exceptional customer care.

    These qualities, along with our innovative HRMS offering, Ignite, have helped make BoardRoom one of the most highly sought-after payroll firms in the Asia-Pacific region.

    With local offices in five different geographies, and a strong global network of trusted business partners, we possess the knowledge and resources to expertly manage the payroll of organisations of all sizes, from growing SMEs to sprawling multi-country corporations.

    Contact BoardRoom today to find out how we can help your company maintain strict payroll compliance as it expands.

    Contact BoardRoom for more information:

    Ken wong

    Ken Wong

    Managing Director for Payroll for Asia

    E: [email protected]

    T: +852-2598 5234

    Related Business Insights

    5 advantages of outsourcing payroll services in Hong Kong

    advantages of outsourcing payroll services

    5 advantages of outsourcing payroll services in Hong Kong

    5 advantages of outsourcing payroll services in Hong Kong

    Delivering a critical business function like payroll in-house can be challenging. There’s no room for error. Employees must be paid accurately and on-time. The company must remain compliant. All in all, it can be a very time-consuming process to manage payroll in-house.

    As companies grow, managing payroll can become even more of a challenge. In-house HR teams may be stretched and not have enough capacity to stay up-to-date with compliance.  This is especially relevant in Hong Kong and the APAC region, where payroll regulations are complex and ever-changing.

    The benefits of outsourcing payroll services add up significantly when you consider the costs involved in managing it in-house. After all, time is money. Increased efficiency makes a substantial difference to the bottom line.

    While time and cost savings are key advantages of outsourcing payroll services, your company also stands to gain five other considerable benefits from outsourcing payroll.

    Here are those advantages:

    01 Continuity in payroll expertise

    Professional payroll outsourcing vendors have extensive experience in processing payroll across a wide range of industries, and for companies of all sizes. This means that even if your company is growing rapidly or expanding into new countries, the accuracy of your pay runs will never be in jeopardy, and they will always be fully compliant with local labour regulations.

    An expert payroll services provider will remove the need to waste time hiring and training a new payroll administrator every time your company experiences growth, or if one of your team members resigns. Instead, you can gain peace of mind from knowing that your employees will be paid on time, every time, by a consistent and dedicated team.

    02 Access to unparalleled reporting capabilities

    Comprehensive payroll reporting can make a real difference to an organisation. Having greater visibility into resource planning information, such as annual leave trends and overtime reporting, can be a game-changer for business planning.

    In addition to having a platform capable of producing comprehensive reporting, a good payroll outsourcing vendor will provide regular reports and valuable insights for your business.

    how to outsource payroll

    03 Enhanced data security and protection

    The personal data stored in payroll systems is highly sensitive. Keeping this data secure and compliant with local personal data protection laws requires a significant investment, not only in infrastructure, but also in cybersecurity and personal data protection training for staff. Reliable payroll outsourcing service providers store their data on highly secure cloud-based servers to deliver maximum data security and protection. At BoardRoom, we look to operationalise, not just tick boxes when it comes to securing and protecting your data. It’s why:

    • our team members participate in regular cybersecurity training sessions, as well as data protection training sessions every year;
    • our data centres have achieved ISO27001; and
    • our cloud hosting was awarded SOC 2 certification.

    04 Minimised compliance and regulatory risks

    In Hong Kong and throughout the APAC Region, HR teams need to factor in a multitude of compliance and regulatory risks when processing payroll. This complexity goes beyond calculating gross net salary correctly, extending to whether or not your company meets specific statutory deductions.

    Complexity, coupled with intricate reporting standards, makes it challenging for even the most experienced in-house team to stay compliant. Payroll needs to be done on time and error-free every time to avoid time-consuming audits and costly penalties. A professional payroll outsourcing provider minimises your exposure to these compliance and regulatory risks.

    05 Expert advice at your fingertips

    One of the key advantages of outsourcing payroll services is gaining access to a team of highly trained payroll professionals. They can answer any questions you have and provide proactive solutions to any potential issues – all without the price tag of maintaining this level of service in-house.

    Your company can also benefit from working with a payroll outsourcing vendor that offers a variety of integrated, value-add corporate services, including:

    outsource your payroll

    Gain the advantage: partner with an established payroll provider

    At BoardRoom, we are experts at helping companies to gain an advantage through efficient, accurate and compliant outsourced payroll services. Letting us manage these services enables you to focus on what matters most in your company: growth and profitability.

    Whether you are a large multinational corporation or a fast-growing SME, our team makes processing your payroll in Hong Kong easy. From local payroll services handling to managing substantial payroll obligations across the Asia-Pacific Region, we ensure your company remains compliant and that employees are paid on time, every time.

    Speak to our payroll experts today about how to outsource payroll services for your company.

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    Does your business survival depend on sustainable cost-cutting strategies?

    cost-cutting strategies

    Does your business survival depend on sustainable cost-cutting strategies?

    Which costs to cut to secure your business’ future

    Key insights

    • Cost-cuttingdemands strategies that adopt a sustainable approach to operational efficiency and employee wellbeing
    • Efficient management of working capital supports a renewed focus onthe immediate, medium, and long-term impact
    • Smart outsourcing with trusted partners sharpens expertise across critical operations


    After experiencing a slowdown in recent years, both the US and European economies have had an impact on the Asian export market, contributing to its export decline in 2023. This is the type of economic downturn that traditionally results in retrenching employees as an immediate cost-cutting measure.

    However, the global trend has driven a people-first approach to managing through this unprecedented downturn; every business has customers and stakeholders watching how they respond to market challenges to balance people and profit.

    Leaders ready to do things differently can look to sustainable cost-cutting strategies for guiding their companies through change with reduced risk in 2024:

    1. Smart management of working capital
    2. Outsourcing payroll or improving processes
    3. Outsourcing finance, tax,and accounting services
    4. Administering Employee stock option plans
    5. Leverage industry grants and economic stimulus

    By prioritising what drives value for your organisation in the long-term, sustainable cost-cutting strategies focus on positioning the company to survive now and thrive through an economic recovery.

    01 Smart management of working capital

    Cash flow is critical in a crisis, and minimising investment in working capital — what we spend to get the job done and keep the business running — is vital.

    In 2023, there has been a shift in focus towards operational efficiencies, and effective working capital management. Growth and development may be temporarily on the back burner, but this is the time to get the business-critical functions of your organisation right. Containing costs to minimise reliance on lenders will position your business to recover strongly as economic conditions bounce back from a slowdown in 2023.

    A renewed interest in working capital demands a critical assessment of the entire sales pipeline; inventory levels, distribution points, and product viability are all on the table.

    Smart leaders are looking at strategies for cost-cutting, including:

    • Proactive Invoicing — offering customer incentives like early payment discounts
    • Cash Management — paying suppliers when they’re due, not before
    • Inventory — lowering stock thresholds to reduce risk butmaintain agreed customer service levels
    • Reducing overheads by outsourcing backend services

    Next steps: Assess your working capital costs and financial forecasts to confirm what you can bring inhouse and which backend services are smarter to outsource.

    02 Outsource your payroll or improve your processes

    Outsourcing backend services like payroll has a poor reputation as being the inevitable result of retrenchment or a sign of instability. However, payroll processes are crucial to managing through an economic downturn or slowdown. Having a smooth payroll process drives employee satisfaction, increases employee morale and reduces the risks of payroll legislative penalties,

    There are two ways to outsource payroll to streamline operations:

    • Completely outsourcing the payroll function and services to an external provider
    • Using a cloud-based SaaS HR management system (“HRMS”) — this freesup HR from administrative tasks by empowering automatic and self-service tasks.

    Outsourcing your full payroll function reduces HR management intervention, granting flexibility for other in-house duties such as growing the team and business. It is especially advantageous for global expansion, ensuring lean and effective payroll operations team that is in compliance with local regulations.

    As payroll requires numerous tasks relating to the calculation and processing of employee salaries, benefits and deductions, having a cloud-based SaaS HR system further enhances the efficiency of payroll outsourcing. Your payroll tasks can now be executed remotely while your service provider handles the maintenance, technical support, and data backup. Additionally, outsourcing your payroll with a SaaS HR management system can often be more cost-effective compared to employing a dedicated HR professional to handle the same tasks.

    Overall, these two approaches can also unlock unexpected benefits and expose the significant opportunity cost of not outsourcing key functions, boosting visibility, streamlining internal processes, and staying compliant across multi-country payroll and tax conditions.

    Each model can benefit their corporate objectives while managing costs, cross-border functionality, and the personal data privacy of employees.

    Next steps: Find Boardroom’s payroll outsourcing services or SAAS solutions to streamline your payroll management according to your business needs.

    03 Outsource backend financial support across accounting and tax planning

    In an economic downturn, every organisation focuses on the very core of the business: the what and the why. It’s never been more important to have experts aligning your financial processes and procedures with your organisational goals. One core consideration in cost reduction is to consider outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping services to ensure the business runs smoothly, while internal staff focuses on business survival and generating revenue.

    By choosing a financial services partner equipped to manage your operational and strategic finances and accounting, businesses bring external expertise and new perspectives on long-term accounting and tax planning.

    Support for accounting functions may include:

    • Ensuring your bookkeeping and accounting comply with local standards in Hong Kong
    • Providing detailed insight into your business by performing thorough analysis on your P&L (Profit and Loss), EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation) ratios
    • Streamlining your operations by sorting accounting reports, consolidating group accounts, and offering payment support facilities for correct fund distribution and administration

    Support for tax planning may include:

    • Location planning for tax offset maximisation
    • Streamlining cross-border transactions to simplify complex deals
    • Minimising and deferring payments while staying fully compliant
    • Strategic planning to leverage falling asset values

    An additional unexpected benefit of external support across accounting, tax, and financial reporting is the establishment of effective data reporting, analysis, and forecasting. This data helps to inform planning, working capital decisions, and support for your enterprise to apply for eligible economic grants and stimulus packages and ensure the governance is in place to stay compliant with funding conditions.

    Next steps: Put all your financial operations on the table for expert review. Focus internal skills on long-term planning and get external support for tax, accounting and reporting.

    04 Empower the team with employee stock option plans for talent retention

    The business landscape of Hong Kong is highly competitive with intense demand for talented individuals. To thrive in this environment and achieve sustainable growth in a business, attracting and retaining talent have become the key. However, traditional methods of employee compensation may not always be feasible, especially when your cash flow is limited. If you don’t have cash on hand but want to reward and retain employees, consider an Employee Stock Options Plans (“ESOPs”).

    As companies like Slack and Atlassian have led the way in remote-first workforces, competition for skilled employees demands a different way of approaching the employee experience. Unlocking benefits of employee equity plans have been increasingly popular in recent years as companies look for a different approach to boost employee engagement and maintain productivity.

    Create a purpose-built plan to fit your organisation’s and employee’s needs and create a sense of ownership to keep the best and brightest employed in the long term. Your new stock plan — or updates to your current plan should:

    • Keep liquidity by creating long-term incentives to replace short-term cash bonusesor salary increase expectations
    • Reward high-performance and employees who increase operational efficiency during an economic downturn
    • Use performance metrics relevant to your organisation — look at total shareholder returns (“TSR”), client retention, and return on equity (“ROE”) and adapt goals to conditions
    • Drive growth by incentivising staff towards a common business goal

    Next steps: Contact BoardRoom to help you manage your Hong Kong-based or global ESOP and keep the workforce focused on revenue-generating initiatives.

    05 Access government and industry grants and economic stimulus

    Going through the economic slowdown in 2023, Asian markets have seen a new range of government and industry grants and other economic stimulus packages. These initiatives include the Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which provides entrepreneurial support and incubation programmes to young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, along with capital subsidies. Additionally, the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme enables smaller-sized enterprises to secure financing from lenders to meet their business requirements, while the Information Technology Development Matching Fund Scheme supports travel agents in implementing upgrades within the sector.

    If your organisation operates across borders or is open to funding to expand operations, you may be eligible for funding support.

    Support from government or industry grants demands stringent corporate governance; you may need a guide to accessing, implementing, and leveraging new opportunities across borders.

    Next steps: Get expert help to find Hong Kong support for enterprise and cross-border funding opportunities, apply for funding, and stay compliant across jurisdictions.

    How sustainable is your cost-cutting in 2024?

    Cost-cutting strategies to manage through an economic slowdown look different today from the Global Financial Crisis or the crash; leaders must balance short-term needs with long-term business survival.

    It is no longer enough to rely on reducing headcounts, freezing salaries, and scrambling to maintain productivity to achieve cost-cutting goals. Smart organisations are taking new strategies and approaches to old problems: keeping employees committed with stock options over pay rises, looking for market and industry support, and getting smarter about the benefits of outsourcing.

    The right outsourcing partnerships are key; who you choose to support your business can define your organisation and your leadership. Look for providers that support your workforce with administrative and financial expertise that drives business recovery.

    Talk to BoardRoom about support for sustainable cost-cutting strategies.

    Related Business Insights

    Is Outsourcing Payroll or Cloud Based SaaS Payroll More Suitable for my Business?

    Is outsourcing payroll or cloud-based SaaS payroll more suitable for my business

    Is Outsourcing Payroll or Cloud Based SaaS Payroll More Suitable for my Business?

    Is Outsourcing Payroll or Cloud-based SaaS Payroll More Suitable for my Business?

    Payroll is the machinery that keeps a company’s human capital running effectively. Studies indicate that a timely pay-check is a vital requirement for staff satisfaction. In addition, flawed payment systems can lead to employees questioning the financial stability of the organisation which induces low employee morale and in severe cases, can land the company in legal trouble.

    Despite the important role that payroll plays in a company, many businesses are still unclear on what solutions are available and how to evaluate them in order to determine the best fit for their needs.

    In this article we cover two popular solutions, Outsourcing Payroll and the implementation of an all-in-one human resources management system (HRMS) software as a service (SaaS) solution, and the key consideration factors for making the most appropriate selection for your company to administer Payroll.

    What is Outsourcing Payroll? How does payroll outsourcing work?

    Outsourcing Payroll involves hiring a specialist payroll company to handle some, or all, of your payroll functions. An outsourced payroll provider offers a wide range of services, that allow businesses to select an option that best suits their specific needs. A full list of the various services a Payroll Outsourcing provider should offer are detailed below:

    Outsourcing these administrative business activities has proven to streamline operations and create efficiencies for businesses, enabling a shift in resource allocation to revenue generating activities.

    However, the choice to outsource your payroll will depend very much on your organisational requirements and what you want from a HR management system.

    Key considerations for Payroll Outsourcing

    • Time-savingPayroll is one of the core HR functions, yet also is a resource-intensive administrative function. Outsourcing it frees more time for your internal teams administering payroll to focus on other activities. If you are currently experiencing resourcing issues, payroll outsourcing could be a more effective solution for your HR processes and talent management than hiring new staff.
    • Enhanced SecurityIn a world rife with data security fears, reputable Outsourcing Payroll providers will offer multiple servers, backups, and other security systems and processes that protect employee personal data to grant employers peace of mind. In addition, they will have robust internal processes that adhere to best practice personal data protection rules.
    • Guaranteed Regulatory ComplianceBetween countries and even within states of a large country, various regulatory compliance changes can be challenging for in-house HR teams to keep up with, leaving room for compliance risks. By outsourcing your payroll to a reputable vendor, you need not worry about ever being non-compliant to changing local regulations.
    • Visibility over costsOne of the major benefits of outsourcing is that your costs don’t fluctuate significantly. You have complete visibility over how much you will be spending each month, and any additional hires will come at a pre-determined rate, meaning hiring costs can be more easily planned.
    • Possible Inaccuracies in DataOutsourcing payroll requires transfer & hosting of data off-site, which can result in errors if the correct systems are not in place. No system or process (no matter how technologically advanced) is 100% perfect, meaning when mistakes occur during data transfer it can take extra time to rectify and correct. To mitigate it, we recommend engaging a credible Payroll Outsourcing provider with an experienced team, robust processes and a consistent track record.
    • Limits of Data AccessIf cases such as sudden terminations or placement of staff on gardening leave occur frequently, businesses should be aware that the ability to immediately process information could be delayed even with automatic Cloud Connection systems between the payroll vendor and their client.

    These are just some of the things you need to consider when thinking about payroll outsourcing. Ultimately, you will need to find the solution which best aligns to your business needs and processes.

    Businesses Most Suitable for Outsourcing Payroll

    A general trend of companies that tend to adopt this service are organisations that exhibit the following characteristics:

    • Non-complex Pay RunsStandard payroll calculations for companies mostly consisting of full-time monthly salaried staff or casual labour typically find outsourcing payroll to be immensely beneficial as costs tend to be lower than having a full time equivalent (“FTE”).
    • Expanding BusinessesFor businesses like technology start-ups or food & beverage chains where growth can be exponential, good Outsourcing Payroll services and providers can keep up with dynamic and fast changes in staff numbers.
    • Multi-JurisdictionThese companies benefit from outsourced payroll as they can redirect the resources of the HR team into other business generating activities when they spend lesser time ensuring that they are familiar with the different laws across several countries/states.
    • Compliance WorriesCompanies that operate in markets with complex labour laws and regulations such as Malaysia and China might have a lack of access to expert knowledge necessary for them to operate with a peace of mind. Outsourcing payroll to a reliable vendor can help lift the burden of worrying about fines or potential lawsuits resulting from a misunderstanding of the complicated payroll requirements.

    Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and there are exceptions. As every business is unique, an excellent Payroll Outsourcing Service provider should have the ability to customise and advise you on the best solution to meet your needs.

    What is a cloud based Software as a Service (“SaaS”) Human Resource Management System (“HRMS”)?

    Another common method of processing payroll is with an all-in-one HRMS payroll SaaS solution which allows a company to retain control of processing payroll internally, with the efficiency of having all the core systems in one ecosystem.

    Most frequently adopted by small businesses, the cloud based payroll software vendor will take responsibility for data backup and managing software upgrades, whilst the business manages its employee database and payroll processing. The pricing models vary, but mostly the software vendor licenses the customer through a subscription in a ‘pay as you go’ model.

    Many businesses choose an all-in-one HRMS SaaS solution because of the convenience and flexibility that this HR software option provides, and there are many human resource management systems on the market that may be equipped to do specific things your business needs.

    As with outsourcing your payroll, your decision to select a SaaS HRMS solution should take into consideration your payroll complexity, business objectives and processes.

    Key considerations for adopting an all-in-one HRMS SaaS solution

    • Adaptability to Existing SystemsFor companies using their own proprietary software it can be challenging to find a human resources management systems solution that integrates with their current software. If keeping your internal system is important, it’s critical you find an HRMS SaaS solution that adopts an open API framework.
    • Data ProtectionReputable HRMS SaaS vendors often have strong measures in place to ensure that their clients’ personal data remains private. In countries like Hong Kong where data protection laws are strict, HRMS SaaS providers will ensure that their requirements fit with local regulations such as the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance (“PDPO”) to avoid hefty fines. It’s important any vendor you’re evaluating can demonstrate robust systems, policies and processes to ensure your employee data remains protected.
    • User-FriendlyTechnology has advanced at such a rate that any reputable cloud based payroll HRMS SaaS solution will offer a seamless user experience and user interface. They will also cater to changing habits of employees such as needing to access the HRMS on the go or from a mobile app, essentially offering employee self service.
    • Automation of ProcessesIf your main business goals are efficiency and costs, a HRMS SaaS solution will help to save time and resources as manual processes are now done automatically via the platform which can greatly reduce the propensity for human error, whilst also improving human capital management.
    • Strong Vendor ReputationNew platforms are everywhere as businesses hop onto the trend of HRMS SaaS solutions. With so many new entrants, credibility must not be overlooked for other attractive factors such as cost of implementation. Less reputable vendors can lead to wasted labour hours and potentially cause downtime which might impact the bottom line, resulting in greater long-term costs.
    • Ability to Act Swiftly on Disruptions to NetworkCan the company’s in-house staff react to downtime in its payroll system swiftly enough before it escalates? A HRMS SaaS provider often has its own dedicated team for quick response to downtime that not every business has in place which can reduce time needed for correcting any issues.
    • Internal HR team Well-versed in ComplianceAs companies will be handling Payroll internally, they will need to have a strong HR department that are highly responsible and aware of labour regulations. Whether a company is willing to gamble with that risk is often a deciding factor when choosing between payroll outsourcing which can manage compliance or engaging in a HRMS SaaS solution.

    Businesses Most Suitable for an all-in-one HRMS SaaS Solution

    There is no one size fits all workforce management solution when it comes to Payroll, however, we often see companies that exhibit the following characteristics benefiting most from the adoption of an all-in-one human resource management system SaaS solution.

    • Start-ups – A HRMS SaaS model can provide a no-frills solution to process payroll for growing companies. An all-in-one HRMS SaaS solution can also offer efficiencies for busy companies, automating and connecting many of the key modules needed to administer payroll such as leave, claims, and benefits administration, as well as performance management. Modern HRMS SaaS solutions such as a human resource management software will also cater to the mobile nature of our world and offer a mobile app and the ability to access the system anywhere, anytime.
    • Companies using Offline Administration Methods – A HRMS SaaS model can help alleviate administrative burden for HR teams running manual payroll processing, especially ensuring data accuracy and calculations as the system will do this automatically.
    • Companies with Complex Legacy Systems – Usually companies seek a HRMS SaaS solution when they have a legacy system that is unable to retrieve real-time data efficiently. Modern HRMS SaaS models provide real-time reporting capabilities, ensuring that businesses can leave behind clunky legacy systems and streamline to a more efficient mode of payroll reporting.
    • Businesses with Complex Payroll Processes – The adaptability of a HRMS SaaS software ensures that even the most complicated and complex pay runs can obtain a customised solution, should they select the appropriate vendor.


    There is a wealth of options for processing payroll. The correct solution will boil down to what is most suitable for your business. Your companies’ size, growth strategies, compliance requirements, existing HR management systems, and operating model will all influence the path you choose. Whatever your choice, whether a human resource management system software or other payroll outsourcing provider, always ensure that your solutions are in line with your objectives.

    BoardRoom – Regional All-in-One Payroll Outsourcing Services & HRMS SaaS Solution Provider

    Our regional presence with offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Australia and experience in dealing with various regional and international clients makes us one of the trusted Payroll Outsourcing partners in the APAC area. Contact our Payroll experts to see which payroll solution best suits your business.

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    6 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Payroll

    6 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Payroll

    6 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Payroll

    6 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Payroll

    Whether you are running a business or leading a team it seems there are more challenges than ever to ensure staff time and resources are being spent on core functions that drive business growth and not back-end administration.

    This is why approximately 47% of companies choose to outsource their payroll. Payroll is a critical business function; however, it can also be also time-consuming, complex, and largely administrative in nature. You add to this the fact that complexities and risk associated with payroll compliance increase as your business expands. This is especially true across the Asia Pacific region where there are constant nuances in Payroll Legislation. Yet employees are more mobile than ever and demand the same experience irrespective of where they are in the world.

    In this article, we explore 6 key benefits of outsourcing payroll and how it can be an effective solution for your business.

    Benefits of Payroll Outsourcing

    01 Saves time, cost, and resources to focus on business growth

    Payroll is a largely administrative function that requires a high level of attention to detail. In short, it is a time-consuming business requirement, regardless of your company size be it 50 employees or 5,000, processing payroll is a constant that can quickly drain HR resources. When you outsource your payroll processing you allow your HR teams to focus on core business activities that drive performance and growth, fundamentally saving the business time.

    Wherever there are time savings, there are typically cost savings, and outsourcing payroll is no exception. It is a common misconception that payroll outsourcing is more expensive than having an in-house team. The truth is, it really depends on your business needs, however, as a general rule you can expect payroll outsourcing to be a cost-efficient solution if you have standard pay runs.

    If you require a more complex solution, payroll outsourcing could still be the answer. By outsourcing your payroll, you have a dedicated team at your fingertips who has an array of experience across a diverse range of business needs and challenges. You do not need to worry about hiring and training staff to manage your complex needs – allowing you to shift these finances towards profitable activities.

    02 Optimised reporting capabilities and expert advice at your fingertips

    There is no one size fits all solution for running payroll. Each business has a unique set of requirements that a professional payroll outsourcing firm will not only cater to but recommend best practices processes and systems. Multi-country payroll processing, especially across Asia Pacific can be a daunting task to manage in-house. However, a payroll outsourcing firm will have a multitude of experience across a wide range of industries and will conduct multi-country payroll processing daily, meaning your business will benefit from their years of experience.

    Comprehensive payroll reporting can make a real difference to an organisation, from visibility over annual leave trends for resource planning or assessing overtime reports, payroll reporting can play an important role in business planning. A good payroll outsourcing provider will not only have the platform in place that caters to comprehensive reporting they will also provide regular reporting and insights for your business.

    By choosing your HRMS wisely, you guarantee peace of mind for your HR department and free-up resources to focus on other functions such as improving processes and securing a strong talent pipeline. In the words of Elbert Hubbard, let your extraordinary people do extraordinary work and leave the machine to do the ordinary work.

    By choosing your HRMS wisely, you guarantee peace of mind for your HR department and free-up resources to focus on other functions such as improving processes and securing a strong talent pipeline. In the words of Elbert Hubbard, let your extraordinary people do extraordinary work and leave the machine to do the ordinary work.

    03 Information security & confidentiality safeguards

    Personal data protection has never been more important than when in the context of processing payroll. The personal data stored for payroll is highly sensitive and requires a significant investment, not just in infrastructure but also in staff training to ensure companies remain in compliance with local personal data protection laws.

    By engaging a credible payroll outsourcing company, the investment and risk associated with compliance failure by your internal teams are mitigated. The payroll outsourcing company will have extensive systems and best practice processes in place to ensure there are no data breaches, and also keep all your data backed up regularly with top-quality encryption.

    04 Ensure payroll compliance with changing local laws and Government regulations

    Running payroll, especially across Asia, brings with it a multitude of local country statutory regulations and standards that need to be met. This goes beyond accurate computations of gross to net salary and moves into the specific statutory deductions required in the country you’re operating.

    The intricacies of these reporting standards need to be timely and mistake-free to avoid potential time-consuming audits and penalties. A professional payroll outsourcing company will ensure you always remain a compliant employer, due to their team’s expansive knowledge.

    A professional payroll outsourcing provider will also have had a variety of experience processing payroll for companies of all shapes and sizes that may have expanded to other places in Asia Pacific or across the globe. This is a direct benefit to your business because it means that irrespective of how you grow or where you grow into, you can rest assured that your company stays compliant in numerous jurisdictions.

    05 Access to payroll knowledge experts

    A key benefit of outsourcing is direct access to a team of highly trained professionals well-versed in payroll and other areas of business compliance. Each individual is dedicated to answering any payroll questions you have, whilst pre-empting and providing proactive solutions to any potential issues that may arise. The team at BoardRoom has multiple years of experience offering outsourced payroll services to companies of all sizes from cities across APAC, which means their local and regional knowledge will offer you the best business advice. You will also have a team that is ready for action, with no need to train them.

    06 Exposure to complementary corporate services

    Many payroll outsourcing companies provide complementary services which can be integrated into your business flows, streamlining your operations. BoardRoom is a good example, where the company’s team of professionals across Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia offer comprehensive services such as Corporate Secretarial, Accounting, and Taxation.

    This is a benefit to your business as you can tap into a team of experts that cater to all your back-end business requirements, ensuring you remain compliant across the board. By working closely with one vendor on multiple administrative functions, you can also experience smoother processes and greater efficiency, with less room for misunderstandings or errors.

    Experience the Benefits of Outsourcing Payroll with BoardRoom

    At Boardroom, we are experts in helping all sorts of companies, from corporations to fast-growing SMEs, with their payroll, allowing them to focus on what matters – growth and profitability.

    From local payroll services handling for Hong Kong businesses to managing substantial payroll obligations for bigger organisations spread across Asia-Pacific, we help companies comply with local statutory regulations while ensuring your most valuable asset, your employees, are paid on time, correctly and compliantly.

    Contact us today and empower your organisation with greater freedom through our payroll services and solutions.

    You can also learn more about our payroll solutions here.

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