Mobility via Podcast

PODCAST

Episode 15: Vendor Alignment for Global Mobility Programs

Kshipra Thareja and Joe Gulino from the KPMG Global Mobility Services practice discuss the importance of vendor optimization and alignment for global mobility programs.

Joseph Gulino

Joseph Gulino

Managing Director, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 212-954-2443

Kshipra Thareja

Kshipra Thareja

Managing Director, Tax, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 973 912 4628

Podcast transcript

Kshipra: Welcome to our next episode of Mobility via Podcast.  My name is Kshipra Thareja and I’m a managing director in the KPMG Global Mobility Services Practice.  I’m joined here today with my colleague Joe Gulino, a managing director from our Global Mobility Services team as well.  Today, we will be discussing vendor alignment for global mobility programs.  Glad to have you with us, Joe.  Let’s get started. 

The new ways of remote working has really increased the need to operate seamlessly across geographies and time zones.  Their mobility was limited to a section of the population in the company earlier in a remote environment where everybody could be in a different location they were employed in, development of global mobility dramatically increases.  The companies were able to manage their employee population through basic functionality, they need to leverage organization-wide systems and processes to support the increased needs and scale. 

We’re finding that many companies are grappling with the issue of whether their systems and processes are geared to allow for the increased scalability.  And this is where they’re paying close attention to their current manager support network and how they interact with each other.  We’re hearing from a lot of clients that they have a number of vendors managing employee mobility in the mix.  And therefore, there are multiple touchpoints for employees, and they’re looking to simplify the process from initiation to the end of service. 

 So Joe, let me ask you here, what are you hearing and seeing from your clients as their top priorities to tackle right now?

Joe: Sure, Kshipra, I think you’ve kind of laid it out pretty well.  So, we’re obviously at a pretty interesting time right now.  There’s a lot of people moving cross-border, expected, unexpected, et cetera.  But I think some of the themes that we’ve been seeing remain the same, even before the COVID pandemic.  And the first one that we’ve seen a lot of clients focused on is employee experience. 

So, based on the work we’ve been doing with our clients, they’re really trying to find new ways to do things to make a better experience for their employees.  This is especially the case during the COVID period where you’ve got a lot of people in difficult situations around the world.  Since there are so many service providers in the mobility space, we tend to see a lot of our clients focusing on the various touchpoints between the different vendors and their employees so that they can try to centralize and streamline these touchpoints. 

So, one example is you might have a piece of information that’s required from six or seven different vendors, and it’s the same piece of information.  And you’ve got an individual who’s been displaced due to COVID or on assignment or just in a situation where they don’t want to have to give the same piece of information six or seven times.  And a lot of what we’ve been seeing our clients focus on is trying to reduce those touchpoints, maximize the employee experience so that when they think about the global mobility group that serves them and what their experience is like when they were working outside of their normal location, they can look fondly upon the services that they received. 

Another key word is cost optimization.  So as with any period you’ve got cost is always going to be front and center in people’s minds and I think in the COVID environment, especially with the way that a lot of businesses have had to deal with some pretty significant hardships, cost is central in the minds of companies in looking at coffers and really just trying to find ways to manage costs, reduce costs and manage their globally mobile employees appropriately.

So, one area we’ve tried to help our clients with maximizing the spend is by looking at the different interactions they have with their vendors, trying to figure out which vendors might have overlapping services or which vendors or company might have the ability to reduce the overall costs that they spend on a specific service by increasing the volume of service they’re providing to a vendor.  So really try to reduce the number of vendors providing the same type of service, increase the volume with the vendors that they are working with and overall reduce fees.  So, I think cost optimization is a key component and employee experience is one that we’ve been seeing in the market, especially as of late.

Kshipra: Yes.  And that’s true today, especially that companies are focused on cost.  But it’s always true, really.  That’s almost always the first thing companies want to focus on, and especially from a global mobility perspective we’ve seeing bringing that employee experience and kicking it up a notch has been a very key priority for many companies for long.  So that kind of still hits home and is so important to focus on.  Let me ask you one more question.  What are some of the best practices you’re seeing to address some of these issues?  How do companies really tackle this?

Joe: Yes, that’s a great question.  I think the first thing that a company needs to do is really try to evaluate themselves, and do the due diligence up front to figure out where their pain points are, where their weaknesses are, where their strengths are and how they can really look to figure out where their current state is and where they want to be and how they can go from Point A to Point B. 

So really start with a gap analysis, try to figure out where they are, where they’re going and how best to get there.  And one of the ways that we’ve assisted companies in dealing with it, and I think this works out really well, is that we’ve utilized a bunch of surveys really to interview different stakeholders, get feedback on a whole slew of different things between employee experience, cost, what their top priorities are, where they feel their technology solutions are, and where the employees themselves feels there’s the biggest area for improvement and what suggestions they might have. 

And I think by doing that analysis up front, it really gives you the baseline to drive really strong conversations with clients and really kind of build out where they are now and where they need to go or where they want to go.  But getting that baseline, getting those interviews done, gathering that information and really just diagnosing where they are currently is a pretty key component.  And I feel like when we have these meetings with our clients, that’s where we get the most success.

Kshipra: Thank you for sharing that.  Could you please talk or walk us through how companies really manage these issues?  

Joe: Sure.  I think it’s obviously going to depend on what a company’s need is.  But just a few examples, we’re working with a company where they found that their employees were going to six or seven or eight different portals every time they needed to get some sort of service from a vendor.  So, if they were going to relocation, they would go to the relocation vendor.  If they were going to book some travel, they would go to the travel vendor.  If they had taxes to do, they were going to log into their tax provider’s portal.  And what they found was that it was a really disjointed experience for their employees. 

 So, with one client, we ended up developing a KPMG-led site which really underlined and brought all of their vendors into one single sign-on program so that an employee goes in, they log into one specific portal, and now they have access to all of their different vendors that are serving them.  So, you’ve got a situation where they don’t have to have six different logins and different places to track information.  And by using that single portal, they were able to streamline data, streamline their login and streamline all the interactions they had with their various vendors.  And I think the feedback that they got from their employees was super positive.  So that was just one example. 

I think another one that we were looking at was from a cost perspective, it was really just taking a look at where the programs are spending their cash, where they felt that they can get the biggest bang for the buck and where they felt that they were able to reduce services in an area where it didn’t really add a good value to their employees.  So, it was really about realigning where they were spending their budget between the different vendors.  And in doing so, they were able to really put the money from a service or a provider that wasn’t really leaving the employee with a feeling that they were getting a ton of value for the spend and then reallocate those funds to an area where it really enriched the employees’ experiences. 

So those are a couple of examples of some of the work we’ve done with clients and the different ways that we’ve approached them.  So, I think it really does come down to what kind of services are clients looking for, where their pain points are and what they’re trying to accomplish.  But I do think doing a deep dive, evaluating where their pain points and issues are coming from and then really just sitting down with not only the client but their vendors as well, getting everybody in one room and having a meeting and just really working in really is a way for us to get that real traction and change in overall the way the program works.

Kshipra: So well said, Joe.  I cannot stress enough on the importance of that integrated operating model focused on employee experience and cost containment.  Those are themes that we continue to hear from our clients across the board.  Joe, thank you for joining me today to discuss the importance of vendor alignment for global mobility programs. 

In future episodes, we’ll continue to address the top-of-mind issues of interest to our listeners.  In the meantime, we would love to hear from you.  If you have thoughts on today’s episode or ideas for future episodes, please send us an email at us-taxwatch@kpmg.com.  And final thanks to our audience for listening in today.  Thank you.

                                

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