For those of us working in HR in an SME, it’s good news! There is increasing recognition from senior management and business leaders that investment in good people management is critical to the long-term organisation growth and performance.

Just because SMEs are smaller organisations, it doesn’t mean the people management issues are any less complex than larger organisations. Small-to-medium sized organisations have a tricky people management challenge. There’s a need to drive organisational growth, and maintain employee engagement. This can difficult. You want to maintain all the positive aspects of being a small company, for example, the way your employees feel connected to the original company vision and values, yet you need to be implementing structures and processes to manage the future growth.

In terms of technology available to support HR processes and data, there is now an alternative to spreadsheets and clunky, old-fashioned basic HR software – this is Cloud-based HR software, also called ‘software-as-a-service’.

All customers are on the latest and greatest version, all benefiting immediately from new features and functionality. You are never behind or out-of-date. You only pay for what you use. No high upfront cost to get started. You’re not locked-in to a long-term contract. The supplier takes care of all the software back-ups and maintenance. It’s installed and ready to use within 48 hours of signing the contract. You and your whole organisation can access data securely through the internet – so wherever you are, you can be connected.

All of us are already using the Cloud in lots of ways. And it’s great that this type of software delivery is coming in to our working lives too, and enabling us to connect to HR data and processes.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect from the Cloud, which I would like to run through with you, giving you some relevant client case studies where they are already benefiting from these deliverables.

Before the Cloud, many SMEs had to put up with spreadsheets for holding information, as buying an HR system was not an option with the size of budget they had. Cut-down versions of systems were offered at lower prices, but were little better than the spreadsheets.

The Cloud can offer simplicity, in terms of IT support, and ease of use in terms of data extract. Cloud solutions are multi-tenanted, and therefore all clients are on the same version of the system. Upgrades just happen as far as the end user is concerned, usually out of hours, such as over the weekend.

The Cloud offers you simply access through the internet to your HR system. You can add the data at you leisure, and if you want to be up and running within a few days, this is possible – it’s just about getting the data in to the system, either by data entry or data upload.

Think of your employee information held in your own container on a ship. All containers are using the same ship and facilities (the SaaS platform), but the contents of each container are held securely and separately – just as your data is a SaaS-based solution.

Here also are a couple of checks you can make to help ensure your chosen application is true SaaS. Firstly, is all the functionality available online to you through browsers, i.e. in the Cloud? And secondly, are all users and clients always on the latest release, with seamless updates?

A UK-based supplier is often a good idea, especially if UK requirements are likely to be your main focus. Also, a UK-based support team will be able to be providing you with support within your own time frame and speed of response.

Also check for international capabilities. SMEs may only have small numbers, but potentially a multi-country presence. Check at least to make sure that the application provides you with multi-currency capabilities. And does it also cater for different country holidays?

Check how your supplier will help you get started with the system. Is on-boarding assistance provided at no additional cost? Will they provide you with access to ‘getting started’ guides and videos? Do they provide classroom or remote training options?

Look for transparent pricing on both system and services. As an SME, you’re employee numbers are likely to move up and possibly down over time – and pricing should match rather than be for a fixed employee count. There should also be no long term tie-in. A short term renewable contract of no more than a year should be possible. Overall, check to make sure there are no hidden costs.

We will not misuse your personal data – please read our Privacy Statement for full details.