• Sam Colyer

Life in the Cloud

Congratulations! You made it through the implementation of your shiny new SAAS (software as a service) product and you are officially in the ‘Cloud’.....now what? Were you ready for it? Did you know what to expect? Were you prepared for it?

The world of cloud offers huge potential. Gone are the days of:

  • lengthy implementation times

  • ensuring that systems are continually developed to cope with the changing face of business

  • costly overheads of hardware

  • the responsibility of having to run and manage hardware

Of course you could bespoke a system to within an an inch of its life, but this could result in a less than optimal business process which slowly becomes intertwined within an organisation and then inevitably becomes difficult to let go of.

but that’s the way it’s always been done….”

A phrase I’m sure many of us have heard all too often, but we must continue to challenge it time and time again.

A Challenge For HR? Or Technology HR can finally call it’s own..

Implementing HR technology often meant being left behind in the pickings where finance or sales functions took priority. HR had to rely on the IT department for insight on what was possible, and the enablers which could make a difference to the HR teams and employees alike.

But now we have vendors focussing on the following,

  • standardised processes

  • clearer roadmaps

  • people centred design

  • business focused ownership now being prioritised by cloud vendors

This means that HR can finally take control of its future and lead from the front. But with this new opportunity HR teams need to be prepared to evolve with the skills, mindset and awareness to make the most of this potential.

A lot of focus is made on the the implementation and go-live phases, but typically a business is in a post go-live phase for far longer than any of these other phases, so it is especially critical to focus attention here for three reasons:

  • Continual change is the new norm; the change doesn’t stop at go-live.

  • Adopt or miss out; are you ready for the continuous cycle of technology change.

  • Partner with the vendor, this is a relationship worth continued investment

This is one of the biggest benefits of being in a SAAS world but also the one that people struggle with the most, mainly because it is a change in mindset. HR technology is continually evolving, and, if chosen well, the vendor you partner with will provide enough new functionality to support your business ambitions well into the future.

But this is only possible if you can pivot to a position of being able to complete sprints of deployment throughout the year. Do you have the foundations needed to support this though? I’m talking about the necessary infrastructure and resource, as well as the alignment of business process to the ‘best practice’ prescribed by the vendor. If not it will be a struggle, but it really doesn’t need to be.

Without the necessary foundations, large proportions of the product are often unused and switched off, which is sadly seen in too many businesses. This in turn impacts the value and return to: financial owners, HR practitioners, and importantly, the employees. Focus has to be on the processes and infrastructure which can better align to a SAAS model.

Adopt or miss out;

Adoption of HR technology is happening at two levels.

  • Within your user base

  • Within HR as a business function.

The risk of not being in a position to support the business through the changes that a SAAS product offers is going to be felt most acutely by both HR and employee users. This is one of the most crucial points often overlooked; if people aren’t using the product because it’s confusing, cumbersome or not keeping pace with ever demanding needs and user expectations, then the product will become shelf-ware and your investment will be wasted.

Equally if your support teams or SME HRIS teams cannot absorb the changes then you may need to switch off functionality. Consequently you aren’t using something you have paid for…..hardly a good investment is it?

Here’s a quick overview of additional elements you might want to consider:

  • Spend some time considering routes that giving people support at the “point of need” ensuring the they don’t navigate away from the task in hand, or even worse, give up entirely. The unintended impact here is the need for additional support which can be costly and easily avoided.

  • Also look for opportunities to gather feedback on the experience users have and critically listen and respond. Use this insight to work with the vendors.

  • Ensure HRIS teams are regularly looking at opportunities to use the new functionality and assess whether it’s fit for purpose. This will take time and potentially new skill sets for your teams. But incorporating this into to your operation will pay dividends.

  • Don’t underestimate a carefully placed talking head or brief message from a sponsor of the programmes to help reaffirm and support the change as well as offering a clear direction.

Partner with the vendor

This is definitely a relationship worth the continued ongoing investment of time and attention, if not you will likely fail to reap the full benefits and value of the product, and miss opportunities to influence the roadmap. If managed well, this relationship could help you to influence the product which will be key to giving your employees the experience and enablers they deserve.

This influence happens at two levels:

  • The longer term direction of the product - understanding the roadmap of a vendor can provide a foundation to base your processes and core operations around. It will give you the opportunities in future to innovate and differentiate within the market.

  • Incremental change and support - smaller enhancements and upgrades are being driven by ‘people power’, so if demand is high enough, changes can be included. You can and should feedback into this roadmap to raise the needs of your users and business priorities. The bottom line? Make sure you are heard, or risk missing out.

And what now?

The world of Cloud and SAAS is very much here to stay. We are in a period of change and adapting to a new paradigm of how we implement and manage the services we need in order to run a business. But there are some key areas of focus which, if you can manage effectively will help make the most of the potential for, productivity, employee experience and the best value for money.

So, if you take anything away from this discussion, let it be the following:

Continual change is the new norm. Upgrades and new releases means the implementation doesn’t stop at go-live, you are in a continual opportunity to change and the more prepared your organisation is, the better.

Adopt or miss out. Be ready to take advantage of a continued cycle of technology change. Communication is key and support is vital at the point of need. If you forget this, you risk not making the most your investment

Partner with the vendor. This is a relationship worth continued investment, just ensure that you are an active participant in the relationship and you’ll find it will yield dividends.

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