Business software goes from on-premise to the Cloud
In the last two or three decades, business practices and processes have gone through a sea change due to the widespread use of software to perform financial, payroll, marketing and administrative tasks. On the other hand, certain processes haven’t changed a whole lot at many companies, such as time and attendance tracking, for example. At many companies, it’s still done manually with timesheets or spreadsheets.
Companies of all sizes today heavily rely on massive software solutions to perform an array of critical functions around the clock. ERP and CRM solutions were some of the earliest offerings to big businesses, but today, any size company can buy solutions for talent acquisition and management, as well as core HR Management systems to streamline processes around compensation, payroll, benefits, and time and attendance. For decades, such software used to be bought and run on-premise by IT staffers, but many solutions are now offered on the “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS) model, commonly referred to as the “Cloud.”
According to a Forrester Research report, “SaaS systems are replacing or complementing older on-premises HRM applications. Most enterprise-class organizations (companies with 1,000 or more employees) still run licensed core HRMS systems, but many are transitioning these systems to newer SaaS products…SaaS is now the de facto deployment model in HRM for most applications in new implementations and replacements.”
What companies need to look for
Organizations must look at what features they really need to streamline their time and attendance tracking, and choose vendors that provide them with the optimal solution backed by responsive customer service—at an attractive price to boot.
Forrester suggests that companies look into a range of variables while making the choice:
Functions and features: In-built functional capabilities are particularly useful for companies to observe location-specific compliance regulations around payroll and benefits, as well as international requirements like localizations and data formats. Companies should consider software usability from the perspective of frequent users in HR and payroll, as well as for every employee and manager using the system.
Flexibility: The system should be configurable to suit requirements. Companies want greater flexibility at the configuration layer, with less reliance on highly technical configuration resources. Some level of extensibility, such as having custom fields and objects, must be provided without affecting upgrades. Systems sold as SaaS that are deployed as client-specific (single-tenant) instances and allow code-level customization are more difficult and expensive to update compared with multi-tenant SaaS solutions like Replicon.
Update process: Cloud-based systems in general must offer easy vendor-managed upgrades multiples times a year to provide new functions and features, as well as compliance updates and patches. Buyers are advised to carefully look at how the system deployment architecture enables seamless updates.
Integration: Workforce management software must integrate with a variety of systems, including corporate systems, other HR applications, and third-party systems. An integration framework consisting of open APIs and integration tools should be part of the core platform to connect to other HR applications and payroll solutions, and enable rapid deployment and seamless integration.
Mobile: Companies should choose solutions that provide mobile applications for easy reporting and self-service access to employees. This can directly promote compliance and improve reporting accuracy.
Cost of ownership: The transparency and simplicity of ownership costs with a subscription-based Cloud model is one of the biggest advantages over traditional on-premise solutions. This allows for a fixed cost per employee per month, and the number of users can be easily increased to keep pace with growing head-counts. While acquisition and implementation costs are the primary focus while choosing on-premise solutions, Cloud-based solutions focus the buyer on costs of ownership over the life of the contract. The total cost of ownership should factor in the cost of deployment, as well as the benefits, flexibility, and upgrade costs over the years.
With all the choices that business and other organizations have available today, it can be a confusing experience to choose an effective workforce management system. The best solution is one that provides management with visibility into time, resource and project data, along with embedded reporting and real-time analytics to reduce compliance risk, keep costs down, and provide greater insight into business performance. Buyers would be well advised to go into the crucial details while making their decision.