From home-made spreadsheet to specialist software

At what critical mass does your global mobility population need to be before you need (and can make a good case for purchasing) specialist GM management software?  I do not believe there is a definitive number of assignees.

Perhaps the more relevant question should be – what do you need to do?  What internal processes would benefit – do you need more than just record keeping, do you need to start delivering instantaneous cost estimates and running countless packages?  What level of reporting should you be providing to internal and external stakeholders?

A spreadsheet is perfectly adequate for many managers dealing with a small expat population – it can be utilised as a system of record, it can help track finished processes – and can also provide basic population reports.  Remuneration packages can be obtained directly from specialists and coupled with access to a generalist HR system the population can be well serviced.

In the “good old days”

When I first started managing expatriates (back in the 1990s) – we still had paper files on each person, kept in a fireproof filing cabinet.  Reminders (such as work permit expiry dates) were kept in a cardboard concertina file in date order and the ink from our quills stained our fingers daily.  Global mobility was generally excluded from the new HR Information systems being developed so stand-alone “home-made” solutions were the only option.

Not today, now some “mainstream” HR systems will include the globally mobile employees (to some extent), but further than that – there are systems dedicated purely to the management of assignments.  The gleam in any GM Manager’s eye can be detected when they first see the potential capabilities.  However, given costs and implementation time it is no mean undertaking.

Initial thoughts when looking at dedicated software

A couple of very basic up-front questions may set you on the right track to determining whether your programme needs specialist software – for example:

 What do you actually need from it?  It is so easy to get excited over a system which can manage the assignment end-to-end, with payroll feeds and direct links to other specialists.  But what does your programme actually require of a system, which “modules” of any system are relevant to you?  In simple terms – realistically what do you need it to do – not what can it do.

How customisable do I need it to be?  For every similarity there is a difference within the global mobility field – so how much can you have an “off-the-shelf” system – or how customised does it need to be?

By using this system, can I cut back on other costs?  Implementing a new system is definitely an investment in time and money.  Apart from streamlining your processes – how else might this software reduce your existing costs, for example in the provision of cost examples or reward packages?

There is no doubt that the development of specialist global mobility management tools means that should your international programme require assistance – there are plenty of options – from fully customisable goliaths to subscription based “bureau systems”.


If you would like further information on any of the services provided by HS Consulting Services please do not hesitate to contact me on or +44 (0)7786 443902.



One month in – time to take stock for 2018

Now that we are well and truly into 2018 – it’s time to take a look at our new year’s resolutions for Global Mobility – those aspirational ideas and projects for the year ahead.  Granted, some may have remained on the agenda from the last year, but the arrival of a new year always inspires us to tackle those challenges and to look for improvements within our GM programme.

An (extremely) loose straw poll resulted in the following suggested resolutions for GM Managers for the year ahead (all in no particular order):

Free up time for the critical projects

Everyone involved in moving employees around the world knows that it is an extremely time consuming business.  The daily management can take up an inordinate amount of time, whilst those value-added (or even critical) projects remain on the periphery of your working day.  From streamlining practices to outsourcing processes any welcome reduction in the daily grind may offer some opportunity to manage these important projects.

Prepare for the next set of compliance challenges

Preparation is key.  It is so easy to bury our heads in the hope that our processes or policies won’t be affected by the next compliance issue – laying us open to untold risk.  For example, in May 2018 the GDPR will come into effect and HR and IT teams within the EU are planning for the new regulations.  As a comparatively small population, the distinct needs of the expatriate community are often overlooked –  GM Managers need to be part of the planning team.

Re-engage with my specialists

No Global Mobility manager or team does this on their own.  So many elements of the assignment life cycle are managed by internal or external specialists, from the compliance management through to providing cultural advice (to name just two).  Often relationships (and contracts) meander through the years, so this resolution could be to review your “top 5” engagements.  Take time to re-connect with the team; to review the scope of services and build those all important relationships – which help to manage (the inevitable) issues as they arise in 2018.

Visit my key locations

Let’s face it, a world tour would be nice, but failing that it would be so beneficial to have an opportunity to get out to the main host locations.  To be able to meet Assignees, meet business and HR stakeholders, see the living conditions and try and get a better understanding of the challenges and the benefits of living and working in that country.  So much can be done remotely – but the “payback” from face-to-face discussions and the opportunity to build relationships cannot be underestimated.

Let’s hope that this time next year we can revisit our resolutions and look back with some satisfaction on a job well done!  Whatever your key resolutions (or whatever the business challenges may bring you) we hope that 2018 is your year to shine in Global Mobility.

If you would like further information on any of the services provided by HS Consulting Services please do not hesitate to contact me on or +44 (0)7786 443902.