Successfully switch HR to the cloud with CTO buy-in

Hannah Wright
Published on 14th September 2017
4 min read

Is your HR software holding your company back?

The nature of workplace technology and people are both changing. Just as Personnel changed to HR in the 1980s, HR is now evolving into a people function. Likewise, successful businesses need to move away from out-dated systems like mainframe HR processing tools, to modern cloud technology systems that meet the demands of today’s workforce.

Cloud computing has been revolutionizing HR for the last few years but you know it won’t be easy to get sign-off for investing in new software.

Even if management do go for it, once they run it past the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), he or she is likely to put up some blockers. They’re wary of storing people data in the cloud, and they like to be in control of all IT infrastructure.

But what if the HR and IT teams could work together on implementing a cloud-based HR and people system that will benefit the whole company? What if HR applied the same diligence to data privacy and security as IT professionals do?

There are a number of common issues that both HR managers and CTOs have a vested interest in addressing, many of which can be resolved by cloud computing.

Here’s our guide for getting the buy-in of the CTO and successfully transitioning your HR to the cloud:

Involve your CTO from the start
Make it clear that you are bringing the CTO in at the start of the journey. Explain that you want the HR team and IT team to work together on this project; a new cloud HR and People setup is not solely an HR or IT task so a joint effort is essential for success.

Choose your timing carefully to broach the subject with the CTO. IT departments have a myriad of requests coming at them from all areas of the business so make sure you’re not hitting the CTO with your grand idea of switching over to the cloud when he and his team are eye-ball deep with other big infrastructure projects.

Involving the CTO in the tender process for a preferred cloud partner is also a smart move. Invite him to any meetings you arrange with prospective suppliers. If you’ve already gone ahead and selected a preferred cloud vendor the CTO may feel it’s not an equal partnership, so bring him in at the start of the conversation. If he can’t attend the meetings, ask him for his key requirements or top three questions he wants a preferred vendor to be able to answer.

Data security and privacy is paramount
The protection and security of data is essential to HR and IT, especially with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018.

The most personal information an organization holds about its staff is held within the HR function. Bank details, home addresses, salary details, even medical information.

So you’ll need to vet potential cloud service providers carefully to ensure they adhere to a strict set of company policies and data security legislations, and can safeguard your employee data with the necessary encryption and protection methods.

Initial questions to ask include the following: Where is the data stored? What disaster recovery processes are in place? Is your people data anonymized? Is it encrypted securely?

Access controls are essential in ensuring data is protected. At Sage People we support multiple types of access control including Safe Harbor, SSAE-16, SOC 1 and SOC 2; each of which tightly control access to highly confidential HR data whilst giving maximum access for data that needs to be shared.

In the self-service age it’s important that employees have access to their records but it still needs to be safe from prying eyes. Sage People’s solution securely provides multi-country or multi-business unit visibility of data for local HR teams, in addition to reporting line, and user profile controls for individual access.

Consider the integration with other business systems
Both HR and IT need a cloud system that will easily integrate with other systems, such as payroll, accounting, and financials.

Listen to and understand the CTO’s concerns about how the new HR software will be integrated and work through the challenges together.

It may be necessary to do a phased implementation but it’s important to ensure that any existing/future systems will easily integrate so that you can work towards the holy grail of a single version of the truth.

The power of having a single employee record will streamline HR processes. Cloud-based systems  like Sage People, draw information from that one employee record for performing all HR tasks, ultimately automating a lot of repetitive data-inputting, and providing one data source for reporting and actionable insights.

Look for a system that isn’t IT resource-heavy
If you can find a cloud solution that is quick to implement and deploy, and easy to configure and maintain, the CTO will be a happy camper.

Complex systems that require a lot of hard coding and customization will be a pain for both HR – (as they’ll need to learn technical skills that detract from their day job) – and IT – (as it will drain more of their resource time).

A switch to a subscription-based cloud solution will also avoid future maintenance by the IT team of the old on-premises system. It will negate the need for the IT team to oversee any future updates to the software as this will all be handled by the cloud provider. Furthermore, a modern cloud solution will be quick to set up through simple user-configuration and implementation. Through ease of use, you can also expect rapid user adoption, which will help you and the CTO deliver quicker time to benefit.

Focus on end-users, not just HR
A system just to help make HR’s life easier will not get CTO buy-in, but something with mass user adoption by the entire workforce will.

A switch to the cloud will enable automation of processes and workflows to achieve productivity and efficiency gains on a much greater scale for both HR and IT by giving employees that control and visibility via self-service.

A good cloud HR system will enable managers to manage the employee appraisal and review process electronically and iteratively, managing milestones, goal setting, progress review and more. It should facilitate two-way discussions between managers and team members.

It will also allow individual team members to manage their own profiles, allowing them to electronically update any personal details online themselves such as change of address or submit a holiday or sickness form electronically. Simple things that can create better engagement with staff.

In our always-on culture the cloud also provides a mobile and on-demand experience which assists with providing great workforce experiences for employees. This is essential for accommodating the modern world of work that operates 24/7 across disparate global and remote locations.

Ultimately cloud computing automates many traditional HR tasks, freeing up the HR team to focus on people management and creating great workforce experiences, which can boost staff engagement. And more engaged people result in a happier workplace and a productive workforce. What CTO wouldn’t want to play a part in making that happen!

Sage People enables mid-size, multinational companies to manage modern workforces through its global cloud HRMS, transforming how organizations acquire, engage, manage and develop their people.

To find out more click here.

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Cloud HR Strategy