HR and the Cloud: What You Need to Know

According to the 2015 Annual HR Technology Survey, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers US (PwC US) in partnership with Oxford Economics, the great shift of HR applications to the cloud continues—with 44 percent of respondents currently using the cloud for HR. Another 30 percent describe plans to move to the cloud within three years.

Josh Bersin describes the move away from traditional licensed HR software toward modern, cloud-based systems as accelerating with more than 150 million employees using cloud-based HR systems around the world today.

Is your HR department moving to the cloud yet? Or are you still considering your options?

Moving to the cloud will help your organization fix long-standing inefficiencies, compete in the talent war, and keep up with employee expectations. It’s time. It’s here.

Here are some things you need to know as you begin to plan the switch to cloud-based HR applications.

Four Factors You Need to Know

Cloud-based technology provides more fluid communication, simpler information tracking and access, and secure data storage. Software as a service (SaaS) is scalable, cost effective, and easy to manage. However, as with most new technology, the cloud isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are several things you need to consider before you make the move.

  1. Your Information Is Secure

Many wonder about the security of the cloud and whether your organization’s information is more secure on-premises. HR is an information-heavy department that demands sensitivity and privacy; exposure isn’t an option.

The caution is understandable: One major benefit of the cloud is anytime/anywhere access to information, by a variety of users across multiple channels and devices. However, it can leave you feeling like your data is exposed.

The reality is that, while there are no guarantees, digital storage can be even more secure than the filing cabinet in the corner—if you make sure are in place. These include:

  • Asking how your information is secured in the cloud.
  • Getting details about where your data will be physically stored, and how that space is kept secure.
  • Ask about security-related certifications, like that offered by the Cloud Security Alliance.

Having the right internal processes is critical, too. Cloud-based applications allow you to limit access to any of your data to the people who specifically “need to know.” 

  1. The Cloud Is Scalable, but Not Always Customizable

Cloud solutions are scalable and less expensive than dedicated servers. However, you may find that standard out-of-the-box features may not be enough.

PwC refers to this as a “SaaS mindset”: The recognition that while cloud-based services are inherently flexible, “there will be limitations, especially if your organization has many unique requirements.”

Therein lies a second major consideration: Should you move everything to the cloud, or specific processes?

Keeping things simple with fewer vendors means better integration, a more consistent user experience, and less training. However, working with multiple vendors allows you to pick the best solution for your particular needed.

Research how individual SaaS providers maintain data and how easily it can be integrated with other systems. The significant growth in HR technology means there are always new options to consider.

  1. The Cloud Gives You More Talent Management Options

As the PwC survey found, moving core HR functions to the cloud are the top priority for HR, followed closely by recruiting, time reporting, onboarding, performance, and payroll. You can use these solutions to help attract, develop, and retain excellent employees—critical supports in a competitive talent landscape.

Moving talent management to the cloud lets you:

  • Analyze large amounts of information
  • Use automation to streamline different processes
  • Provide employees with better access to their information
  • Improve performance management metrics for more rapid feedback and greater transparency.

Make sure you know how data is collected and stored so you know how much flexibility you’ll have.

  1. Ease of Use Needs to Be a Priority

The average company uses three or four different HR applications. That said, one of the biggest hesitations with HR cloud services is that people won’t use them—and without the right support, that assumption is often right.

All technology comes with a learning curve, and the truth is that early cloud solutions were somewhat cumbersome and not user-friendly. Applications are getting better all the time and, if you’re switching, there are many well-designed options available.

The number of vendors you use will influence your learning curve and will also impact how easy it is to track information across different processes. However, many interfaces are built to be intuitive and easy to learn. Don’t let mobile fall by the wayside, either: Any solution should include an integrated mobile app.

Moving HR to the cloud can be efficient, cost-effective, and provide powerful sources of information. As antiquated HR systems are slowly phased out, and cloud technology becomes the new norm—HR needs to be ready to get on board.

Are you ready now?

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