Managing Director and Co-Founder LACE Partners
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Cloud strategy
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Making the business case and strategy to become cloud ready

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As more organisations are fast-forwarding their digital transformation, the quick operational fixes put in place to digitally support businesses and their employees during the pandemic just aren't going to cut it. Here are some pointers on making sure your team is ready to embrace the cloud.

17th Sep 2021
Managing Director and Co-Founder LACE Partners
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Organisations that don’t provide effective systems to operate efficiently wherever their people work run the risk of losing existing and future talent and impacting productivity. This means, increasingly, workforce technologies sit squarely in HR’s domain.

Delivering services via the internet - or cloud systems - are the obvious solution for long-term business operations and hybrid working as they deliver increased innovation, flexibility, and cost efficiency.

But their strategies are complex, with both technology transformation and cloud readiness often misunderstood. While moving to the cloud is deemed necessary, implementing a system isn’t necessarily easy, so it’s important to be clear about usage and benefits.

So, what does HR need to know to make a cloud-ready business case and strategy?

Having a strong strategy, roadmap and business case is essential

What is cloud readiness?

Cloud readiness is defined by activities you take from your first discussion, all the way to the system integration partner arriving for implementation. In essence, it’s the view and preparation of whether and how your business systems can be moved to the cloud efficiently. 

As such, Cloud readiness is a broad set of activities, and no two organisations are starting from the same position or have the same mechanisms for approving spend. That’s why having a strong strategy, roadmap and business case is essential - so that a cloud strategy is clear and can be bought in to by senior stakeholders.

Defining the business case

While it may seem apparent that the future of remote and hybrid working demands a cloud strategy, it’s still vital to show how a proposed cloud investment will support people and business operations.

There are several elements to consider: 

  1. Explain the full costs of a proposed cloud system
  2. Elaborate on how it will reduce operating costs for example; potentially increasing workforce performance; or by helping to create an efficient and productive culture
  3. Define how organisational benefits will be measured and set targets
  4. Review current systems and contracts to consider exit clauses 
  5. Outline transformation to the cloud 
  6. Build in anticipated growth plans. 

Creating a conceptual design

Next up, businesses must create a conceptual design. This is the blueprint of your solution, building on your business, people and HR strategy to plan what your cloud system should look like. 

The conceptual design for your cloud strategy should include several factors which are explained below. These are: experience and high-level process requirements, key functional and non-functional design decisions, a cloud support model, and an implementation plan including sourcing strategy and partner selection.

Here’s a rundown of each.

Experience and high-level process requirements

Experience and high-level process requirements build the bridge between the experiences you want to create for your employees and the actual systems that will work towards achieving this. Here you identify the processes and requirements needed from your cloud system to support your workforce. 

For example, after looking into the employee experience journey, look to define outcomes, expectations and how to measure success. This process allows you to translate needs into new requirements. 

Key functional and non-functional design decisions

These decisions underpin the future of the platform. For example, they outline whether to use position management or case management (the first being the process within HR technology to manage an organisation’s workforce by role position, the second is the use of tools to manage employee needs, tracking day-to-day queries).

Having clear design requirements reduces the risk of missed opportunities and re-work, bearing in mind that the cloud can be configured in multiple ways.

Design requirements also provide clarity on where you want work to be done, setting up data architecture to enable needed insights, integrating architecture, and how your new system works with the broader enterprise landscape. 

Cloud support model

A good cloud support model should enable ongoing, rapid adoption of relevant cloud updates - a critical process for implementation success and ongoing support. 

All cloud systems are remotely hosted and regularly updated with new functionality - in some instances, this can occur three or four times a year. This means there is a need to ensure that the model, processes, roles and ways of working can adjust to manage the applications and wider infrastructure.

Implementation plan, sourcing strategy and partner selection

A conceptual design informs an implementation plan and phasing, the scope of products required, which types of implementation partner to consider and what you should look for.

This step is the blueprint informing exactly what is needed from a new HR cloud platform and how it will be actioned. For example, modules purchased determine the scope, costs and timescales to implement. 

Having clear design requirements reduces the risk of missed opportunities and re-work

Pitfalls to avoid when creating your cloud strategy and roadmap

Since every Cloud strategy and implementation process is unique, the process can be daunting. However, there are some mistakes that can be easily avoided with a clear roadmap and conceptual design.

Forgetting to consider the data

Commonly, data, analytics and insights are treated as an afterthought in Cloud strategy and implementation. However, a strong strategy that keeps data in mind will help you to avoid replicating any current data challenges and ensure it can be used for vital business decisions and people strategies.

It can be achieved by understanding and aligning data to the reporting and analytics needed. Doing this bolsters data capabilities - helping anywhere from standard job architecture, using position management, and alignment of finance and HR hierarchies. 

Lack understanding of how the cloud fits into your landscape

No technology is an island. A HR strategy should partly involve understanding how a new cloud platform fits within the enterprise landscape to avoid capability gaps, process complexity and integration difficulties.

Paying for unused licence fees

A well-defined strategy needs to have a coherent approach to archiving, decommissioning and licence release as this avoids paying for two sets of licences - an outcome which heavily damages business cases.

The HR essentials

As cloud transformation is a process that covers people, data, process and technology, its challenges should not be underestimated. 

Since every business is different, and there is no standard route to become cloud ready, the importance of creating a clearly defined strategy, business case and conceptual design is essential. Building a step-by-step plan to help processes will bring clarity and understanding of process and efficiencies that can be gained.

For HR, not only will this ease immediate struggles, but it helps avoid pitfalls, rework and costs later. 

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