5 essential steps to move from on-premise to cloud HR

Grainne Shaughnessy
Published on 23rd October 2019
4 min read

The days of depending on clunky on-premise software solutions are over. With so many cloud-based options available for managing HR processes, the case for migrating to the cloud is stronger than ever.

Cloud spending is growing at almost 40% per year, and there’s no end in sight for this year-on-year growth.

This reflects the rapid shift from on-premise to cloud solutions. In fact, over 73% of HR and People teams have moved at least one HR process to cloud. Companies which haven’t switched yet are falling behind the curve.

Why cloud?

The biggest difference between cloud HR and on-premise is how they’re implemented. Cloud software solutions are accessed via a web browser of choice, instead of having it installed and maintained through company hard drives.

Your chosen cloud HR provider manages access to the application, which includes regular updates and improvements to performance, maintenance and security. Cloud’s revolutionizing the traditional HR function, freeing HR and People teams from laborious admin, enabling them to become people-focused.

A modern global cloud HR and People system enables companies to design better workforce experiences for employees. It’s secure, flexible, and can be used across the world, as well as on mobile and on-demand.

Cloud HR technology means reports can be generated at the touch of a button. Automation eliminates the likelihood of human error.

Most of all, the best technology frees up HR and People leaders’ time to concentrate on what’s important – delivering great workforce experiences for their people.

Getting started

For those who haven’t made the swap yet, the transition is far easier than many HR and People leaders expect.

No matter which cloud-based solution you decide is right for your organization, there are some essential steps you must follow if you are to successfully make this significant change.

IBM recommends five essential steps to every organization undergoing a cloud migration. Here are the stages adapted to apply specifically to HR and People teams.

1. Determine a cloud strategy

In this stage you must set out the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will look to achieve through a cloud migration. Knowing these indicators will help you to determine if your integration has been successful.

Some KPIs you may want to consider are:

  • Can data be fully stored without the need for a physical server on the premises?
  • Is your People data stored securely? Is the organization protected from cyber-attack?
  • Is it quick to upload and download, access and change employee data?
  • Is it easier for employees to access, change and remove their own data?
  • Is your cloud storage system compliant with GDPR?

It will be useful during this initial stage to appoint a project overseer. This person will be responsible for giving sign-off to each stage as it is completed.

If you are a small company, this should ideally be the HR and People leader. But in a large organization, you may wish to appoint someone who specializes in technology, such as the Chief Technology Officer.

2. Determine what you need to migrate

It’s not always possible or advisable to lift and shift your on-premise HR applications and processes into the cloud. Also, not all your current HR applications will need to be migrated. So, it’s important to determine ahead of time which systems will move and which will not.

As a business and HR function, you’ll need to collectively think about the following questions: Why is there a need to migrate a HR service to the cloud? What cloud HR solutions are available? How do we manage HR processes and services in the cloud environment?

The best starting point to explore these questions is to complete an analysis of your current HR systems and applications. This can help determine what makes sense to migrate.

3. Create a data migration roadmap

This is perhaps the most essential planning stage. By developing a well-planned roadmap before starting the migration process, you can ensure key milestones are achieved while foreseeable roadblocks are avoided during the migration process.

Make sure every dataset is considered from this point of view. What needs to be moved? What needs to be changed? What needs to stay the same? What could go wrong? How will you know when you’ve been successful?

4. Secure a cloud provider

Once you know what needs to be migrated, it’s time to choose a provider.

First and foremost, you will want to choose a cloud provider who has plenty of experience managing cloud migrations for companies of a similar size to yours. If they have specific experience migrating data for HR and People purposes, all the better. Ask to see each providers’ case studies and ask how many projects they have managed before.

You should also look to make sure:

  • They are able to provide a close level of support during the migration process
  • They are able to break down and explain any complexities and offer you a suitable level of control even as the project moves forward
  • That they offer tools to make the process easier

Remember, if you’re migrating from an old system that uses out-of-date technology, you’ll need to find a supplier who has expertize in that system.

5. Get started!

The final – and of course, the scariest step, is to start the project. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on the strategy you devised in stage one and tick off items on a checklist as you complete them.

Don’t forget to run tests on each application as it’s migrated to the cloud before switching over your on-premise traffic.

This is also a good opportunity to start working out a communications strategy, to help employees in your company hit the ground running. Remember, different departments will want different things from your new HR system, so you may look to communicate with each department individually to help them get the most out of it.

Summary: Your do’s and don’ts for migrating to cloud

DO build out functionality gradually

Trying to do too much too soon adds unnecessary risk to a project and often impacts adoption. A phased deployment will allow you to get early value, whilst ensuring a smooth user journey for employees and your team.

DO prime the organization

Make sure that you have a communications plan ready early. One of the main success criteria for any HR software pilot is adoption. Upfront communication is very powerful and not to be underestimated.

DO know your stakeholders

Even as you begin to think about new HR technology, identify the teams for, firstly, the selection process; secondly, the implementation phase; and thirdly, business as usual. Different people will have different roles. Identify them early to avoid complications and confusion later down the line.

DO know your data

Before even speaking with providers ahead of starting a pilot, start to look at your data. Be clear about what you currently have, what gaps there are, whether the data is clean, and what you want it to do for you.

DON’T rush an implementation or pilot

Make sure the team have the time to make it successful. This is a significant investment and your internal project team must be able to dedicate adequate time for requirements setting and testing.

DON’T start a pilot without clear roles and responsibilities

Play to everyone’s strengths, and make sure everyone is clear what’s expected and what’s not.

DON’T let your imagination be constrained

Let your technology be its best self; be open to changing some of your processes to take advantage of what the new technology has to offer.

Thinking about migrating to the cloud?

Implementing a migration is one thing but convincing your organization to improve its HR and People processes to a fast, modern, cloud-based interface is something else entirely.

If you’re struggling to convince key stakeholders to approve new technology for your HR and People department, our free eBook, “How to build a compelling case for HR tech investment’ can help. Download it now.

 

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