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5 Considerations for New HR Cloud Technology | Human Resource Management System

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Cloud Technology is growing.

For cloud our customers are choosing Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Citic Telecom CPC Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Tencent Cloud as well as other service providers based on their specific needs to create a single or multi cloud collaborative software deployment platform for overall business agility, governance, risk management and compliance purposes.

On-premise or hybrid options are also available including the leveraged use of hyper-converged infrastructures from such vendors like Nutanix. In other words there is full flexibility in selecting secure deployment options to meet any specific company requirement, whether driven locally or by HQ to fully enable a collaborative working environment.

All deployments can have the same operational outcomes with differences being seen in complexities associated with roll out and ongoing management ie a deployment option.

How Cloud transforms the HR operation.

BPO providers and remote corporate shared service centres can also be handled and all of the above human resource management system (HRMS) deployments are able to be deployed with high degrees of process automation.

HRMS encapsulates the essence of digital enablement as it touches all staff types in all locations across all functional areas. Core activities for individuals are managed with the secure handling of attachments throughout an employee’s life cycle, as well as giving them access more holistically to collaborative information sharing, via HR related portals + dashboards for improved execution and productivity.

Productivity and reporting is driven through the ability to have controlled system access @anytime @anywhere or through the use of Employee Self Service (ESS) applications via desktop or mobile. Service type scoping can iteratively be expanded for both qualitative and quantitative processes to drive further improvements ie leave, time and attendance, e-appraisal, recruitment, employee engagement, visa management, professional qualification management etc etc.

Multi-level comprehensive reporting with granular access control is available throughout ie within ESS processes for employees, more holistically with Manager Self Service (MSS) supporting grid type views across relevant employee groups, and in overall terms with higher level transformational data access for workforce planning and optimisations. Reporting is not confined to HRMS, nor restricted to specific data types, but can also leverage aggregated data across multiple applications as a powerful enabling tool for overall management purposes, and for the support of ESG reporting initiatives ie reporting across all aspects of HRMS + Financials + Budgets.

Security is always of the most concern in HR.

Deployments require vendor domain experience plus technical and systems integration capability. Essentially a team effort between the vendor and the end user is typical, as the protection of personally identifiable information (PII) requires encryption of data @rest and @transit and system interoperability. This is combined with granular access rules, as well as having comprehensive connectivity validation for any ESS remote access in order to reduce intrusion risk.

Data sovereignty laws have to be increasingly taken into account for PII data management within a country, as well as adherence in some cases to more pervasive regulations, like the European driven GDPR or the US Cloud Act which can drive the need for multi cloud deployments. As a result it is important to regularly review your data storage locations from a legal, logical and physical perspective.

Also start to undertake data type + data location classifications, as process complexity and interoperability continues to build. PII data cannot be protected unless you know where it is used, and stored, especially within those extended digital processes. Such actions also help to ring fence and identify specific data losses in any breach.

Complexity or Opportunity? Digital HRMS enablement continues to drive or enhance both new and existing roll outs, and encapsulates that today’s operational needs are more about controlled access to leverage data more easily across multiple systems, as well as the utilisation of more experienced HR staff across various entity locations.

Extending out from core applications to digital ecosystems is a further part of digital enablement that differentiates modern day systems from legacy ones to make them relevant in this age. This typically means leveraging capabilities from well-established external service partners using digital connectors called API’s that enrich processes seamlessly for greater efficiency i.e. employee onboarding, employee engagement, payroll treasury related cash management to name but a few.

Things HR elites should think through before transforming to digital.

Cloud computing is not familiar to everyone and can be confusing. Essentially it is not about your systems being installed on an office based machine or a corporate data centre, but more about moving them to a private or public cloud provider (some providers do both) to make the overall management of IT infrastructure easier.

Consider the following areas:-

Hardware and Operating System (OS). Cloud deployment comes with practical advantages but is a learning curve that can challenge existing budget structures. From a practical perspective for great agility, more or less compute, storage or other infrastructure components can be added immediately with higher costs incurred. Alternatively the reverse is true and costs can be reduced, with timings of $ reductions typically deferred to a new contractual billing period ie to right size your compute resourcing levels. From a positive practical perspective underlying software patches are applied by the cloud vendor in a timely manner, plus their ongoing modus operandi with operating system vendors ensures that you can only run on within lifecycle software systems. This means that underlying systems ie the OS are continually and proactively patched by the relevant cloud platform vendor reducing the threat attack surface and saving you time.

Typical deployment planning challenges? To give some context corporate budgets have in the past typically been made up of CAPEX and OPEX ie hardware, software, communications, and staff costs. Whilst hardware and software costs are generally relatively clear cut, the same might not be true for communications, staff costs and some aspects of cybersecurity, which are centralised and specifically unallocated per application which can complicate the thinking through of all associated costs.

Communication costs come down to the required data flows between data instances and regions, as charges are incurred typically in one direction. Managing latency, and ensuring controlled ESS internet access points may require further investment depending on corporate policies.

IT Resourcing. Certain staff costs are sometimes missed altogether. For example most cloud vendors partner with 3rd party management companies for the initial cloud set-up and ongoing management for which there can be fixed or variable monthly fees payable in addition to the base cloud costs (example of variable is bandwidth). As a result, proactive cloud management costs need to be factored into any cloud deployment, recognising that different cloud vendors, whilst having broadly similar offerings can be very different at an operational level with varying charging triggers, and billing terms and conditions. Conversely management costs are therefore also an opportunity for the optimization of ongoing cloud costs to fine tune actual cloud resource needs against those provisioned for that purpose ie underused prepaid resource limits and use in excess of any set limits that incurs charges.

Other considerations. Ensure that you have and understand your Incident Response Plan for your end-to-end backup and recovery strategy, including offline offsite backups in case of a ransomware attack. The last point seems slightly counter intuitive in today's digital world, but is a necessity.

Interoperability and connectivity between your applications and extended ecosystems for both quantitative and qualitative data drives productivity, gives agility and is required for digital enablement in order to provide deeper opportunities for value creation. As roll outs can be complex, all deployment decisions need to have pros + cons assessed and made as to whether a solution be deployed single / multi cloud, on-premise or hybrid, but regardless all aspects of security should be thought through and balanced on an end to end basis. Regardless core operational functionality is the same. A game changer!

Ashley Clarke, COO, FlexSystem Ltd



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