Interview: Redefining Excellence

Despite being consistently recognised as one of the most innovative and admired companies in the payroll and HCM space, ADP doesn't rest on its laurels. Instead, it continues to scale new frontiers.

In an exclusive interaction with Human Capital, Kylie Baullo, VP Client Services for ADP Asia Pacific, shares how the organisation is going above and beyond to simplify clients' lives and why a combination of global capability and local expertise makes them stand out as a leader in the HR tech industry. She also discusses how ADP is uniquely positioned as a technology company providing great service for clients in these uncertain times.

Question: You have been associated with ADP for more than 30 years. Could you share some enriching experiences you’ve had that made you stick with ADP all these years? What makes you passionate about what you do?

Every time ADP breaks a new frontier, I feel proud of being part of that process. For example, when we started ADP GlobalView, our global payroll solution offering, I was heavily involved in defining it, and that was the first time that global payroll was being done. ADP is at the leading edge so often that we define solutions that bring the most value to the market. I’ve seen that in many situations throughout my career at ADP.

Working on projects and delivering new products and services—born from our close collaboration with clients— demonstrates time and again that we are the leader in the HCM space, and of course, I want to work for number one.

Right now, we are laser-focused on simplifying the day-to-day lives of our clients. We are a technology company providing great service, and I see our digital transformation in everything we do.

Finally, every day, I count my blessings to be part of an organisation that is a global champion for diversity and inclusion. ADP fosters many programs and networks across the world that are dedicated to empowering women in leadership, women in STEM and supporting other minority groups to ensure our leaders truly reflect the diversity of the markets in which we do business.

 

Question: ADP has a 70-year history of innovation—from changing the way payroll operates to shaping the future of work through next-gen HCM solutions. Having worked with large Indian clients and MNCs across APAC and EMEA, how have you seen ADP evolve to build differentiated capabilities?

The services that we provided to Indian companies in the early days have come a long way from the 1990s when we provided teams of payroll and product specialists with ‘processing services’ or ‘admin services’.

What we see now is an evolution to automate more back-office processes by using robotic process automation (RPA) and leveraging different technologies, enabling our associates to focus on creating more value and data-driven insight for our clients.

From the client perspective, the tools they can access now are far more self-serviceable. We provide self-service applications for applied practitioners and portal-enabled apps for their employees. In short, we’re now putting the solution at the fingertips of our clients for their easy use.

 

Question: The pandemic has threatened the sustainability of many organisations, and leaders are focusing on cost-containment measures to offset declining revenues. In such a scenario, the “nice-to-have” HR tech products meant for a growth economy have been put on a back burner as companies look to adopt “must-have” solutions to improve digital resilience. In what ways is ADP helping to solve the fundamental and urgent problems that businesses face today?

ADP has built business continuity deep within its DNA. Everything we do is about ensuring consistent and predictable service delivery. Right now, our clients are telling us that our partnership with them and our priority to get their employees paid accurately and on time helped them focus on guiding their people and business through these uncertain times.

When I say business continuity is built in everything we do, I mean that we have standards and controls in place that have been developed over many years of delivering payroll globally and across the Asia Pacific region. Even though our clients may be experiencing difficulties—such as an inability to access data due to a sudden shift to remote working or banking process issues—ADP is able to step in and support them.

We have tools that monitor the delivery of outstanding processes for our clients around the world, which ensures the degree of standardisation quality that you can expect in service delivery, whether it is during a pandemic or not.

 

Question: In light of the gig economy becoming increasingly relevant in the present-day scenario and organisations offering various options for remote work to the workforce, what is your take on making businesses secure from data privacy and regulatory perspective?

There’s absolutely a trend we’ve witnessed in which many people are now working on multiple jobs for multiple companies. There is also a large volume of hourly paid employees, which creates additional work for our clients in terms of payroll management. I’m proud to say that ADP has a lot of experience in this field and that our clients can use our tools and processes to cope with this variation.

At ADP, when we develop a new system or a new tool for our clients, we design it with privacy built-in, whether it is a mobile app or a new self-service tool. Our focus is on storing and processing personal information, not only in accordance with the law but also with very high levels of business control and operating guidelines.

Globally, we’ve worked extensively to transition away from the use of email because although it has its convenience, it can be vulnerable to interception or misdelivery.

When GDPR came into effect in Europe in 2018, ADP was ready with an established, deep culture of security and privacy. While GDPR formalised the individual’s right to protect their own personal data, ADP built solutions with privacy at the core – we call it Privacy by Design. This encompasses the technology, the process we follow and the way our people interact with clients. We invite external auditors to review our day-to-day service delivery and share results of those audits transparently with our clients.

India and countries in the Asia Pacific region are bringing in their own data privacy laws that will impact how organisations use employee data. 

"HR leaders play an important role in examining their organisations’ privacy capabilities, including whether they have the processes and talent that will help them navigate those changes, and how their business partners are prepared as well."

 

Question: Organisations of all sizes are dealing with unprecedented and rapidly changing legislative and compliance challenges since the COVID-19 outbreak. On this front, how is ADP helping businesses to respond and adapt quickly?

You’re absolutely correct. In April alone this year, ADP processed nearly 500 regulatory changes globally related to the COVID-19 outbreak, while that number would normally be around 40 to 50.

Our teams have been working closely with government departments not only to implement the changes but also to help our clients understand their obligations, through webinars and quick guides. Close cooperation between our product development teams and services teams helped us respond in an agile manner.

At the executive level, our senior contacts have leaned on our expertise and research insights to understand the strategic impact of these changes and the workplace trends that ADP is starting to see as a result of COVID.

 

Question: Are there any new projects in the pipeline for ADP that you’re excited about?

Yes, we’re about to launch NextGeneration Service Experience in the region. The aim is to bring a new level of simplification to the entire payroll process through a range of self-service tools.

Our clients will be able to access processing schedules, authorisation, payroll reporting and SLA information all through a single portal on a one-stop shop, which aims to streamline the process and reduce the work for them.

 

Question: What is so refreshingly different about ADP that makes it stands out as a payroll and HR solutions provider of choice?

I think it is the combination of local expertise and global technology capability that makes us stand out. ADP brings very deep domain expertise and knowledge to the market, and not just at the country level. We’re also able to aggregate that knowledge into a global offering. In addition to the strong skill set on the ground within each country, we also have a great combination of tools that enable us to globalise.

Service is also one of our advantages. As I mentioned, we position ourselves as a technology company that provides outstanding services. This refers to how we approach service delivery and compliance based on our years of experience and domain expertise.

Lastly, in my view, we have incredible talent today in ADP in every domain, from HR, payroll and technology to in-country knowledge. We are an Employer of Choice, so we have great talent working here.

 

Question: What is something outstanding ADP has achieved during this period of extraordinary challenge?

One thing that I’m extremely proud of is that we have achieved outstanding NPS (Net Promoter Score) results. As a global organisation, the years of work and preparation that we put into our business continuity planning paid off when we transitioned 55,000 associates to remote working in a single week and didn’t miss a payroll.

At ADP, we have implemented NPS to hear the voice of our clients, and we’ve seen an increase in our client satisfaction and frequency with which our clients are willing to refer ADP. I think it is not only because clients have seen our value during this difficult time but also because, on many occasions, we have gone above and beyond. I have seen elevated service delivered to our clients, making them very delighted.

 

Question: What’s one of your best learning experiences from the past few months? Also, what’s something new you are doing in 2020 that you’ve never done before?

This year, I’ve been able to hold multiple executive forums through the use of video technology, during which we brought different organisations together to share what it’s like to lead in this challenging time. There is a more human dimension in this format of communication, as people “come to my home” over video. It has provided a real opportunity to become closer to our clients as we share the challenges that each of us face and learn from one another in terms of what works and what does not.

I used to travel a lot, as I work with multinational clients, and, of course, that meant being away from my family. On a personal note, as a mother of two boys, this pandemic has given me the chance to work with clients and teams while being able to stay at home for dinner in the evening.

I think the pandemic has brought us a lot of challenges, but for women like myself, it has also provided an opportunity to merge the two parts of our lives – family and work – in a nice way. I’ve also never homeschooled my children before, and luckily, they don’t want me to do it again (laughs).