Heading For The Clouds: Why Is Online HR Software Taking Off?

Cloud HR

It’s clear that Cloud HR systems have reached the tipping point, and are being adopted more widely than ever before. According to Sierra-Cedar, more than 50% of the businesses had opted for the Cloud for their core HR online solutions in 2015. Oracle estimates that over 150 million employees are already interacting with online HR software. HR software has been around for decades, so why are companies of every size, and across every business sector, taking their HR systems to the Cloud?

Lower Costs: Optimised For Cloud Computing

In the HR software market, perhaps more than with any other business application, suppliers have been quick to adopt innovative pricing approaches that reflect the new way of delivering software and the cost savings associated with Cloud computing. Instead of the expensive upfront licence fees and multi-year contracts, today’s Cloud HR systems are ‘subscribed’ to, on a pay as you go basis, from as little as a few pounds per employee per month. Contracts are shorter, and subscription fees more responsive, reflecting the actual number of employees under management. That means there’s no need to pay for capacity that’s not required and, should you outgrow your system, it’s simpler to change.

Faster Deployments: Just Add Data

Since the vendor is responsible for the IT infrastructure, and has their HR software already installed in the Cloud, the system is virtually ready to use. Companies can be up and running – and benefiting from their new HR solution – much faster than in the past. Uploading data, and configuring the system to fit around individual company processes, is generally simpler too. Many of the HR solutions designed for SMEs are purposely built to be set up by the customer, with tools available to help with data upload and other ‘getting started’ activities.

Pain-Free Updates: Never Left Behind

In the past, updating software was time-consuming and expensive. With Cloud solutions, that no longer needs to be true. The key is not that the system is delivered in the Cloud: as Forrester warns in their paper, Beware the SaaS trap, anyone that hosts a system can claim that. But that it is built to enable zero-cost updates, usually making use of multi-tenanted architecture. With this approach, customers share the same code base, but have the freedom to configure the system to fit their specific requirements. Since suppliers only have one ‘version’ of their software to maintain, they can manage the updates for their clients seamlessly, so all customer are one the latest release. And, as vendors can focus all of their efforts on improving the core code, updates are generally more frequent.

Universal Access: Available On Any Device

With a focus on intuitive self-service, mobile apps, responsive design and HTML5 interfaces, the more modern HR systems are designed to be used by all employees, from virtually any device – PC, Mac, Tablet or smart phone – that’s connected to the internet, regardless of operating system, browser or screen size. Rather than HR policing processes and acting as the conduit for information in and out of the system, workflow automates the flow of activities and data is available on demand. Policy documents can be stored centrally and accessed at any time; and frequently requested information, like “how many days holiday have I got left?”, “what’s our headcount?” or “who’s been off sick this month?” is available instantly.  Duplicated data entry is avoided, activities don’t get overlooked and everyone save time.

Changing Expectations: Engaging Employees

Most of us expect to connect with our information – and with each other – whenever we want. It’s not just the younger generation that are hooked on their mobiles and tablets. As an article in The Guardian points out, it’s the over 50s that are responsible for much of the modern technologies that we take for-granted. So, while allowing employees to fill in their time sheet on a tablet, or request a holiday from their mobile phone may have met with some resistance just a few years ago, today there is more likely to be push back if they can’t!

Platform For Growth: Building The Right Foundations

In a recent report, industry analysts, IDC, referred to Cloud solutions as the new secret growth weapon for smaller businesses. Cloud-native HR software not only replaces time-wasting data entry and paper-based processes, but provides the foundation for successful growth across a host of different people-related activities. Recruitment is more cost-effective to manage, performance reviews simpler to complete and learn from, development needs easier to identify, and legislative compliance more straight-forward. HR has more time to focus on value-added activities, line managers can make decisions based on relevant, up-to-date information, and employees are able to connect and engage with their information and their colleagues across the business.

Online HR software has come of age: providing SMEs with access to computing resources and HR management capabilities that were once out of reach. Today’s agile, connected systems are breaking down barriers to communication and collaboration and helping to put people at the heart of business success.

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Sue Lingard

Sue Lingard is Marketing Director for Cezanne HR, a fast-growing supplier of SaaS HR solutions for mid-sized and growing local and international businesses. Having studied HR as a post-graduate at the London School of Economics, Sue’s career has covered HR, technology, sales and marketing.