Is there a talent shortage of SAP Payroll Officers?

Posted on August 2014 By Matthew Leak
Speller International Blog Is There A Talent Shortage Of Sap Payroll Officers 1140x445

Recruiting in the SAP Corporate Services sector is extremely diverse and (in my opinion!) interesting. It offers the opportunity to work across a multitude of disciplines and candidate skillsets, securing our clients SAP users to manage and execute their business-critical operations.

During the last 8 years I have worked and successfully recruited, first in the UK and for the last 2.5 years in Australia; and there appears to be a constant theme – clients always want the best talent available at your disposal. This is not a ground breaking discovery, as most clients naturally would want the best talent for their business. And in my current world of Corporate Services, there seems to be a significant skill shortage in Payroll, and more to the point, in SAP Payroll Officers.

So I decided to dig a little deeper. Is there an SAP Payroll Officer talent shortage in the current market?
I have met many exceptional SAP Payroll Officers in Australia; and Speller International has an extremely strong network of SAP Payroll Officers. So what is the problem? The problem it seems is two fold.

Firstly, companies in our world of SAP understand the absolute importance of accurate, efficient payroll functions. Employees demand the correct salary paid on time, in full, no excuses. Businesses in the current market want to ensure that their staff are happy, and minimising errors in their pay packets is one area that can be controlled by attracting, and even more importantly, retaining top quality Payroll Officers.

Secondly, it seems that given the ‘revolving door’ of the candidate market these days, Payroll Managers are finding ways to improve the skill levels of some of their payroll team members, giving them more responsibility and upskilling them in new areas. While it was once the norm to conduct a ’split’ payroll position, the last few years has seen the rise of ‘full function’ roles.
What exactly does this mean?

I decided to ask a number of our clients and contacts that actually work in SAP Payroll teams for their input to understand if my thoughts were accurate:

Jacques Antoinette, Payroll Manager at Village Roadshow in Melbourne, offered his thoughts on the marketplace for SAP Payroll Officers. From his point of view, he can see three different types of SAP Payroll Officer candidates. The first type is all of the split function roles, doing either input payroll, termination, output payroll or finance payroll. The second type is the ‘end to end full function’ payroll candidates that perform all of the split functions; the third type performs the full function role along with payroll projects.
Jacques comments, “The talent shortages are around the second and third type of candidates, they are really hard to come by and the ones with these experiences usually are fiercely retained by their current employers.”

Jacques continues and suggests the solution that many clients appear to be undertaking, “the answer is obviously to up skill the big pool of split role candidates by introducing SAP access role security to allow those candidates to perform an end to end role and still comply with SOD, SOXA & GRC. What this means from an employers’ perspective is a motivated workforce, employees performing more interesting and rewarding roles, and a reduced headcount which naturally leads to higher retention.”

This suggests that maybe there is not a shortage of SAP talent in the marketplace, but a shortage of strong full function end-to-end SAP Payroll Officers. So is this the issue?
Another Payroll Manager that I spoke with says “If you find an end-to-end SAP Payroll Officer that has the skills and fits the culture of our business, send them through immediately. We have had many problems in the past in recruiting this level of experience and expertise.”

The last few years have seen the global financial crisis hit, and a slow rebuilding process of the economy has ensued since, albeit at a slow rate. This uncertainty in the economy has led to many candidates that I have dealt with deciding to ‘sit tight’ in their roles and hopefully retain employment with their company; again a contributing factor when it comes to finding top talented SAP Payroll Officers for our clients.

Whilst this is only a snapshot of the market, it appears that there may be a problem for employers in attracting the full skillset in SAP Payroll Officers. As Jacques commented earlier, companies are likely to continue investment in people development and training of their existing teams to ensure top talent is within the business
The answer may well be than that there is not a shortage of SAP Payroll Officer talent in the marketplace at all, but there may well be a shortage of ‘full function end-to-end’ SAP Payroll Officers looking for new roles at this time.