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To Cloud or Not to Cloud: Make the leap of faith logically!

HCM and HRIT functions are veering towards adoption of cloud applications to effectively address the trends such as mobile workforce, uptake of digital platforms and emphasis on user experience. While the decision to move to cloud seems a no brainer, the shape and velocity of this adoption requires a more involved approach. CXOs have to contend with balancing their current operations, assessing the readiness of the organizations as well as resistance to change internally when making this decision. The blog examines the dimensions in an enterprise's decision mix enabling them to choose the right path to HCM cloud solutions.

 What is the trend?

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 The HR function and practice continues to evolve rapidly in response to the business world as well as to the societal changes from where it derives its capital from. The evolution is also getting influenced by technology.  

In organizations, the focus of HCM and HRIT functions has been on meeting operational requirements including compliance and administration while integrating with rest of the organizational business systems.

However, with the advent of millennials, trends such as mobile workforce, attitudinal changes such as increased desire for collaboration, uptake of digital platforms and emphasis on user experience have come to the fore.

These underlying trends are causing a rapid shift of HR role from transactional to tactical to strategic. This, in turn, is creating a demand for technology platforms that enable this shift. Foremost among these enablers and shapers are cloud-based HCM applications that offer sophisticated functionalities.

Is the Trend your Friend?

Moving to Cloud-based systems at first glance appears to be quite logical and an easy choice to make. Well, as many CHROs, CIOs and CTOs experience, it may not be an easy decision to make. Intrigued?

Imagine you are the CTO of a retail organization with around 30,000 employees. You will most probably have an enterprise-wide HRMS system based on a leading package such as PSFT or Oracle HRMS. To manage your needs in recruitment, temp staffing, time clocking & tracking the system landscape would include other applications. It is also quite likely that for the core functions you might have customized (bolt-ons etc) the enterprise HRMS system to meet your unique needs. With a view to getting richer functionalities and potential infrastructure cost savings, you understand that Cloud Applications may be the way to go.

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Then out tumbles some nagging but very pertinent concerns: does it offer the same amount of functionalities to meet my needs, will my business stakeholders be fine with what is offered, can the cloud handle the integrations, what about the customizations, what about my existing infrastructure investments...The list goes on...


 Is that all?

The initial set of problems that come to mind mostly deal with the ease of moving to Cloud. But was there a problem in your current HR applications that was constraining the HR functions to begin with? Is there a need for moving to cloud or doing anything at all? If there is a need, how pressing is it? Determination of the need is vital not only to make a business case from a technology or business standpoint, but also to prioritize the areas where you want to focus on.

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Need could be an expressedly Felt Need or an unstated Underlying Need. A Felt Need usually comes in the form of specific instance of users & stakeholders regarding the state of affairs of the application or function whereas Underlying Need is typically a desire for better functioning/functionalities or general opinion of the application or process. The stronger the Need, the higher the drive or support for the remedial action. The action proposed should deal with what specific functionalities and processes to be moved to Cloud, the sequence of adoption clearly articulating how these would address the Need dimension.

 Ease, Need and then...

One of the aspects, though known, that is underestimated, more often than not, is gauging whether the organization is ready for cloud adoption. It is important to recognize that the change management process begins even before the decision to move to cloud is made. The Adoption Readiness of key stakeholders from the HR organization as well as IT organization needs to be assessed. Readiness to adopt cloud can be considered in two parts -(a) Is there Awareness of the capabilities of Cloud Applications? (b) Do key stakeholders show sufficient Intent to move to Cloud? An analysis in these terms can help CXOs decide what actions to take to increase Adoption Readiness. If Awareness is found out to be low, then knowledge sessions on Cloud may be undertaken; in case of low Intent, workshops to understand the underlying concerns may be considered.

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Understanding Adoption Readiness across groups is also important. It is quite possible that the IT stakeholders are gung-ho about the movement whereas the business stakeholders may not be mentally ready. This insight will help CXOs/ sponsors in getting an advance view of which group to work on for buy-in and in the process unearth not-so-evident issues in the Cloud Adoption journey.

 What next?

After collecting data pertaining to these dimensions in preparation for cloud adoption, it is necessary that a sum total analysis be performed. It is imperative that the interplay of these dimensions and the state of the organization be clearly understood to chart out the path, roadmap if you will, that your organization's cloud journey will undertake. A well-thought out plan based on the inputs as mentioned above, will dramatically increase the chances of a cohesive, right-paced and successful Cloud Adoption.


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