Today, the HR software market is dominated by two types of HR system. Those that have been “Cloud-enabled” or “migrated” to the Cloud, and those that were developed for it. Described variously as web-based, cloud-based, delivered online, in the Cloud or as Software as a Service, they share a common characteristic. Instead of being installed on your own equipment – and managed by your IT team – the software is hosted by your supplier in a cloud-computing environment and is accessed online using the internet.
Cloud-native HR v Cloud-enabled
Why it is important to know the difference
Like Cezanne HR, most Cloud HR systems are designed to cover a wide range of human resources management processes, from core HR administration, recruitment and employee onboarding, through to absence and performance or talent management.
However, not all Cloud HR systems are the same. More than a decade after the advent of the first Cloud-native solutions, too many HR suppliers are still offering systems based on old technology platforms with online functionality bolted on. These systems work, but lack many of the advantages of ‘Cloud native’ HR systems designed from the very start to take full advantage of modern Cloud computing and mobile apps.
Best Cloud HR benefits
A more agile, cost-effective and accessible way to connect your workforce
HR systems that have been developed from the ground up to take full advantage of modern Cloud-computing environments often look superficially the same as older HR applications. They offer the same functionality, address the same HR processes, are delivered online and are backed by a team of experts. However, look under the bonnet, at the underlying technology platform, and you’ll find that Cloud native HR applications deliver much more for much less.
With SaaS, there’s no need to purchase extra hardware or software, or have IT staff on hand to set it up and manage it. Everything that’s required to keep your HR system secure and running smoothly - from data back up to firewall maintenance - is managed by the vendor.
With nothing to buy or install, getting started is much simpler. SaaS HR vendors can normally give you a log in to your own ‘instance’ in just a couple of hours. Like Cezanne HR, they may also provide tools or assistance to help with data import and other set up activities. Read about support.
With no software or hardware requirements and a quicker implementation process, payback is nearly always faster than for in-house or hosted HR systems. In fact, since SaaS vendors typically add new features every month or so, the value you get from your system is likely to increase rather than decrease over time. See SaaS HR pricing.
As SaaS solutions are designed to be used online, employee self-service is built in from the very start. Most should have robust roles-based security and approval workflow, so that HR processes are handled effectively, and sensitive data kept safe. Some, like Cezanne HR, also have global capabilities at their core.
SaaS providers automatically roll out new features to all of their customers as soon as they are released. Releases are more frequent too, since SaaS applications are easier to extend. You'll never be left on an out-of-date system.
Managing and updating software can be a huge distraction – for you as well as your colleagues in IT. With SaaS, the vendor take care of the system, including applying the latest updates, so you can concentrate on doing what matters most.
With SaaS, it’s easier to flex the system to meet your needs. You’ll be able to add – or remove – employees or users whenever you need to, or roll out the system to new countries. Your supplier's infrastructure will have been set up to scale with you.
Most SaaS systems are hosted in state-of-the-art data centres, with processes in place to automatically protect your system should something go wrong, at any time of the day or night. At Cezanne HR, we have an impressive record of 100% availability.
Five key questions to ask your HR supplier
What you need to know
The popularity of online HR solutions, and the ease with which web interfaces can be developed for older systems means that almost every HR software supplier can say their HR software is delivered as Software as a Service or is Cloud based. However, simply developing a web interface for an old application and moving it from in-house servers to a Cloud infrastructure platform, does not mean these systems offer the same benefits as the best HR systems that have been developed from the ground up to take advantage of the latest cost and performance optimised SaaS and Cloud technologies.
Fortunately, true Cloud-native SaaS HR solutions have a number of common characteristics, which should help you differentiate the Cloud pretenders from those suppliers that have invested time and money in making their solutions truly Cloud native.
1. Is your system multi-tenanted?
With this approach, all customers share the same core code base, but have their own instance. Think of it as renting an apartment. You have your own secure space, but share the common parts. If the landlord upgrades the lift, re-carpets the stairway or adds a roof terrace, all the tenants benefit. However, unlike a landlord, SaaS suppliers shouldn’t hike your service charge just for enhancing a feature you already have!
The multi-tenanted approach allows software developers to keep costs down, and improvements up. With only one code based to maintain, all of their efforts can go on improving a single system, and optimising it for the specific secure environment in which it’s deployed.
We’ve noticed that some folk aren’t entirely open (or perhaps a little Cloudy) when it comes to explaining their product architecture. If they haven’t invested in making the move to a multi-tenanted product architecture, they may try to justify their approach by saying that multi-tenanted solutions aren’t as secure, and don’t perform as well, as single-tenant alternatives. Assuming you pick the right provider, that’s really not true. Ask them to justify their response.
2. Will you customise the system just for me?
The answer should be “no, but we can look at including the new feature you want in a future release, so everyone can benefit from it”. The key to the success of SaaS is that all customers share the same code, which means suppliers can manage all of their resources efficiently and you benefit from lower costs and more frequent product enhancements. The best SaaS systems incorporate a lot of flexibility for configuration, so you can set up the system to work the way you need it to. That doesn’t mean the system functionality is fixed, on the contrary with true SaaS solutions, new enhancements are released on a regular basis, sometimes even monthly. If you’ve got a great idea, tell your supplier. If other customers want it too, it’s likely to get added.
3. Can I opt out of updates?
If you can, that means that your supplier will be managing multiple copies of their software, rather than a single, easier to manage, and cost-optimised code base. It may feel like you are more in control if you take updates when it suits you, but in reality SaaS vendors go out of their way to minimise disruption, and let you ‘switch on’ new features as they become available. So, the choice becomes whether you want to stay up to date, and find ways of taking advantage of the new features that are available to you, or risk being left behind.
4. How quickly can you give me access to my HR system?
Systems developed for a multi-tenanted approach are already up and running in the Cloud. It should take the supplier just a few minutes to set up your ‘instance’ of their HR system, and give you your login. Naturally, while you can log on, and start to explore the features of your new HR system, you’ll still need to upload your data, and configure the system to work the way you want it to. Some companies, like Cezanne HR, provide a helping hand so that this can be accomplished pretty quickly too.
5. Can I install the HR software in-house, on my own servers?
If the answer is yes, it’s unlikely that you are buying into a system that’s been optimised for the Cloud. It’s just too difficult to develop and maintain systems that work as well on in-house servers as they do in Cloud-computing environments.
Too many vendors today are simply rebranding older deployment models as SaaS, on-demand or cloud. These solutions inevitable fail to live up to customer expectations for agility, standardisation and efficiency. Technology buyers should know what differentiates SaaS from other on-demand models cloud-washed with the SaaS term.