PODCAST

Episode 6: ROI Transformation: How do we change the conversation?

Katherine Avery, a Principal in our Global Mobility Consulting Services practice, and Robert Smith, a Senior Manager in our Global Mobility technology practice, discuss how the transition to a talent management focus is changing the ROI discussion.

Katherine Avery

Katherine Avery

Principal, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 408-367-2237

Robert Smith

Robert Smith

Senior Manager, Tax, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 408-367-2787

Podcast transcript

Robert:

Hello, and welcome to Mobility via Podcast KPMG’s podcast series focused on maximizing the impact of global mobility. I’m Robert Smith, with KPMG’s global mobility technology practice based in Santa Clara, California.

As we all know, the pace of change – in business, in technology, in HR – continues to accelerate and that’s true for Global Mobility as well. Recently, we have seen programs becoming more ingrained as part of their company’s broader talent management initiatives, and for those who haven’t, they aspire to be…which brings new challenges and new ways of measuring the effectiveness of a company’s overall investment in their mobile workforce and mobility program.

Today, I’m joined by Katherine Avery, who co-leads our Mobility Consulting Services practice and is here to discuss mobility’s return on investment and how the transition to a talent management focus is changing the ROI discussion.

Katherine, thank you for joining me today and sharing your insight with us.

Katherine:

Thank you, it’s good to be here.

Robert:

So Katherine, as a newer member of the KPMG family, I thought it might be good to cover a bit of your background as it surely has helped shape your feelings and insight into the idea of global mobility’s return on investment.

Katherine:

It has Robert. I have been with KPMG for 2 years, but prior to that I spent my career with Cisco. I’ve had a variety of roles across operations and HR. In HR, I was an HR Business Partner (HRBP) to members of the C-Suite, but I also led many of the centers of excellence groups as well, including Global Mobility. I also did an international assignment in Singapore for 3 years where I ran customer operations for the region. What I can tell you about how these varying experiences shaped my perspective on the ROI of Mobility is that EVERYONE is seeking to define the ROI for their respective areas. Talent Acquisition, Comp & Ben, even HR itself. So Global Mobility isn’t alone in trying to articulate the value it brings to support a company and its transformation. It’s an important question to ask: “are we doing enough – of the right things - to have the desired outcomes our business stakeholders need” and then to be able to answer this question with compelling data and insights.

Robert:

That’s a really interesting point about everyone seeking to define ROI.  It seems that it is sometimes viewed very myopically but it sounds like it’s something every level of business is invested in.  So, now that we’ve talked about ROI broadly, what are the key concepts in understanding ROI for mobility?

Katherine:

First let me start off by saying what it is NOT. It is not a formula like ROI, NPV, or IRR. These obviously serve a purpose, but for Global Mobility, I would propose we take a very pragmatic approach and de-mystify ROI. The first step is to do everything you can to get your arms around you data and ensure the veracity of your data so that it’s reliable. The second step is to understand your all up cost or investment in mobility. This means understanding what are your costs for tax (can be up to 50% of your overall costs), what are benefit related costs (like relocation allowances, housing & utilities, shipment of household goods, temp living, transportation, education), immigration costs, your vendor fees (5%), investments in technology, and your internal costs – and understanding your costs all up including a GLOBAL view and for all move types (domestic, LTIA, STIA, Business Travelers, etc.). Once you start to understand your costs, the third step involves taking small pieces of your strategy and measuring it. For example, if you are trying to make improvements on your open TEQ cases, measure the aging of cases, which employees owe, and how much you’re collecting. This is a very pointed way to demonstrate specifics wins and value. The fourth step is to connect your data to the business groups and geographies you serve – this means being able to provide demographic and cost information to business leaders at your company that are specific to their organization. What this does for you is set the stage to be a lead in a meeting with a business leader, their HRBP and finance controller. “Here is the current footprint of your mobile workforce, here is how much you’re paying for it. This person is set to come home 8 months, do we have a role for this person and who will fill the role when they move home (succession planning). How does this footprint support where your business is going? Are there new locations on the horizon?”. So hopefully you can see how these steps are moving up the talent management stack. And the final step is to expand the conversation to organizational objectives, not business line-centric elements.  It’s really the pinnacle of GM ROI and maximizes GM visibility and value.

Robert:

So it sounds like ROI to you takes on several important forms within the organization: data, cost, talent and insight - there are obviously multiple layers to the ROI story.

Katherine:

Yes, and these layers are not mutually exclusive, rather they are building blocks as a company’s ability to plan the global mobility ROI picture evolves. With this kind of approach, global mobility programs are actually connecting to the Business, to HRBP, Talent Acquisition, and Finance in more meaningful ways than ever before. Going after the global mobility ROI in this way moves global mobility up the value chain in a big way.

Robert:

Why don’t we dig into the different areas of ROI and how they can assist in driving that value by talking a bit about data.  We’ve already covered quite a bit on costs and what needs to be brought together to understanding total cost so let’s talk data. How important is data in determining ROI and what type of data is needed to help tell the ROI story?

Katherine:

Not surprising, but there’s a reason that data is Step 1 in our approach. Getting our arms around the data and ensuring the veracity of the data is key. You really can’t jump to having conversations with business leaders and talking talent with HRBP’s if you don’t have the data in order. And you might be surprised and just how much data is available in a global mobility program. So for the types of data needed, things like: basic demographic data is a must (how many mobile workers, by policy type, by location, by grade level, by organization, cost data obviously, exception costs and types, policy benchmarking data, info on extensions, status tax equalization recovery, even operational data such as case numbers, cycle times, and aging.

Robert:

I can certainly see how this amount of data, along with total costs help to drive a compelling story for the business’s bottom line but how does talent management and talent effectiveness factor into the discussion, especially if the conversation is normally cost driven?

Katherine:

Here is fact: Global mobility is both the most expensive and most emotional employee service that a company provides to their employees. So it is an investment in the employee’s development and it an investment in the success of the business b/c the employee is presumably moving to enable that success. Global mobility is so much more than transactions and making sure we are compliant. One thing I want to point out – many GM programs are continuously under cost pressure. That is a red flag that the value of global mobility is not clear. Yes, many companies and departments are looking at how to drive cost out, I get that. But to successfully demonstrate the ROI of global mobility, we have to shift the conversation from cost to talent. The only way to move up the value chain from cost and transactions to talent is connect to the business and connect the global mobility program to its impact on employees and the business.

Robert:

Lastly Katherine, taking these key insights into account, how do we bring this information together to drive specific objectives and show progress? What is our end goal?

Katherine:

  1. We’ve discussed, but get your data in order.
  2. Identify your global mobility strategy and if that too much, pick 2-3 areas you want to drive and show progress on these. Demonstrate the global mobility ROI, tell the story.
  3. Stakeholders: engage with your stakeholders (biz, hr, fin). What do they need from mobility? How can global mobility help solve their issues, move their agenda forward?
  4. What we’re truly working toward is being able to analyze the data, including quantifiable talent metrics on a global scale. This involves looking at your full mobile population and total spend, then correlating this to various “talent” metrics. For example, take your LTIA population, perhaps just slice it at one level (VP) and seek to answer “does being on an Intl. Assignment help, hinder or have no impact on their career”? So compare LTIIA VP’s to the rest of the VP population – Attrition, Performance ratings, Promotional velocity, salary increase (how much), equity (how much). If you LTIA VP population is outperforming the rest of their peer population you can begin to understand if you are selecting the right talent, providing proper career opportunities, and nurturing your investment appropriately or not. This exercise works for any move type – domestic, IT, etc. 

Robert:

So that question sparked one more. For those who are going currently going through this journey, what is your one piece of advice you would give them?

Katherine:

Oh, that’s a hard one… but I’d say if you’re going thru this journey or about to – jump right on in. This is exactly what your stakeholders are looking for you to do. What we’ve been talking about is running global mobility like a business. So 2 pieces of advice: the first is you are going to want someone (internal or vendor partner) who is good at garnering the kinds of business insights we’ve been discussing and you’re going to want to ultimately look at digitizing mobility – so having this data reside somewhere. Lastly, I promise you that this work is awesome and fun and can have a positive impact on the global mobility brand internally and on the personal brand of those who make this shift.

Robert:

Thank you for your joining me today Katherine. [Katherine: Thank you for having me.] Robert: I really appreciate you spending the time with us to talk about the importance of mobility’s return on investment but also how that view is changing. 

Join us for future podcasts where we’ll spend more time discussing top-of-mind issues, digitization, changing business models, and the overall impact of global mobility.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. If you have thoughts on today’s episode or ideas for future episodes, feel free to send us an email at us-taxwatch@kpmg.com. And remember, you can find more information about KPMG’s Global Mobility Services practice online at www.kpmg.com.

Thanks for listening!

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