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Why HR's future lies in the cloud

Posted on by from KPMG

Only a fifth of organisations are experiencing 'transformational' results from their cloud implementation. Tim Payne, UK head of people at KPMG, breaks down how you can get the most out of your HR cloud applications.

Cloud technology is agile, scalable and user-friendly, which makes it a perfect partner for HR as the nature of work changes. But while investment in cloud HR applications is growing at an exponential rate, only a fifth of organisations in KPMG’s 2016 HR Transformation Survey felt they had achieved ‘transformational’ results.

Just a fifth of those polled said HR had become more evidence-based as a result of implementing cloud, while 23% said it had helped them to reconfigure the HR function. Almost two-thirds (63%) expected more from their investment, reporting more ‘tactical’ results such as an increase in employee or manager self-service. 

Start as you mean to go on

So why is there such a gap between expectations and reality and why aren’t more organisations getting results such as smarter decision-making or better use of data? 

Simply plugging in cloud technology will not guarantee its success. Deployments are invariably more successful where simple, streamlined processes are in place so the technology can perform at its best. To achieve this, organisations need both vision and strong change management. Be clear on where cloud HR fits into the wider context of what the business is trying to achieve. 

Define what a successful implementation looks like for your organisation. Is it driving bottom-line savings? Do you want to improve levels of collaboration between teams so the business can be more innovative? Communicate this at the very top of the organisation as executive-level buy-in for the benefits it can deliver will accelerate and broaden its impact.   

Challenge the way things are done now. For example, if outdated or over-complicated processes are slowing down core aspects of HR such as recruitment, can they be reconfigured and enhanced by cloud HR technology? Trying to accommodate over-complex, existing processes will compromise efficiency and prevent full exploitation of new cloud technology. 

Resist the urge to protect the status quo. Those organisations that simply apply cloud technology on top of inefficient processes risk replacing one system of record with another. 

A smooth transition

How HR manages change during the cloud implementation makes a significant difference to its impact. And this means more than cascading communications to managers and their teams about how the new system will work. 

Paint a picture of how it will make their interaction with HR quicker and easier, how it will offer access to data so they can gain insights on how they’re doing and how this all fits in with the overall goals of the business. Recruit ‘change champions’: these are networks of employees who are trained to use the new processes and tools and can feedback and share their skills with others.

Staying ahead of the cloud curve

Getting the most out of cloud through strong change management and an eye on the end goal puts HR in a solid position to deal with future changes to the workforce. Cloud HR providers are investing in a host of add-ons, such as sophisticated analytics tools, to core systems that can help HR gain deeper insights of their employees and serve the business better.

Simplifying and streamlining HR processes has benefits beyond the cloud, too. Employees expect a smooth user experience as they access elements of the HR function via mobile phones or remote devices, and as more tasks become automated, this is no place for complexity.   

Cloud is already delivering tactical benefits to business, but almost two-thirds of HR professionals in KPMG’s survey expected improved value-add from its implementation. Prepare the business for this change and you will secure a higher return on investment, prove that HR is not an outdated cost centre, and gain those sought-after strategic benefits that add true value to the business.   

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Join us and 750 of your peers for a day of thought-leadership and inspiration at The Royal Geographical Society in London on 30th March 2017.

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Tim Payne

By Tim Payne

Tim is the UK head of people and change at KPMG

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