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“Revolution in the Clouds” – Streamlining the Process of Delivering Software Upgrades

Many of the arguments in favour of cloud have already been won in this sector. The initial cost of investing in cloud-based payroll and then implementing and maintaining it – is typically lower than if opting for an on-premises system.

There are a raft of other benefits that moving payroll into the cloud also brings of course. One of the principal gains is enhanced scalability or elasticity. If, for example, you acquired a new company and all its employees, and needed to expand your data capacity to hold this new information, using a cloud-based system would give you the flexibility to increase capacity on a server almost instantly without any resource from your internal IT team.

Greater accessibility is another key benefit. As long as users have internet access, they can work from anywhere to access a cloud-based solution. With the increasing use of mobile devices and applications to perform HR-related tasks such as viewing payslips or requesting holidays, a cloud-based solution is invaluable. And it can be mission-critical during bad weather. With employees struggling to reach the office during winter snow and ice, for example, the ability for the payroll team to access the network from home – securely using the right password and authentication, for example, is invaluable.

Slashing Bureaucracy and Driving Innovation

Many of the above arguments are well-worn, of course. However, one of the less heralded consequences of migrating to cloud payroll is bringing vendors and end customers benefits that are arguably just as significant and far-reaching.

The move to the cloud has freed vendors from the complexity of having to deliver multiple upgrades of their on-premise payroll software solutions and having to support multiple different versions of the software all at the same time. That’s been a huge benefit – both for customers who get upgrades seamlessly and easily and for vendors who are released from the burden of having to run large numbers of customer roll-outs concurrently.

Vendors who are tied to a predominantly on-premise approach invariably have multiple instances of their software in place and often even within a single customer implementation. It is not unknown for vendors to have more than ten different versions of the same software solution out there in the field at any one time. This can be a major headache – especially when changes in government legislation like the recent introduction of real time information (RTI) for PAYE, force upgrades to be made to the software quickly.

In such instances, vendors can be confronted with the need to suddenly go out to visit multiple different clients and start updating multiple different versions of their software installed on site with new functionality required by the legislative change. They need to consider also how is all of this is going to be commissioned and tested. The latter, in particular, is a protracted process, incorporating everything from design, execution and closure to user acceptance. If the vendor concerned has hundreds or even thousands of different clients, it is easy to see how the bureaucracy and complexity of managing these systems can quickly consume all of an IT department’s time.

It’s all in the cloud…

For cloud-based providers, in contrast, it’s much simpler. They have one version of their payroll sitting in the cloud, so when legislative change is announced, they only need to make that change and apply it once, and all of their customers reap the rewards. Still more critical, it frees up vendors to innovate with payroll systems development. Suddenly, they no longer have to worry about all the bureaucracy and administrative effort that running a complex estate brings, and they can develop new functionality that drives major benefits for their customer base.

Freeing up this kind of headroom can be a huge differentiator for vendors in this space. Often restricted by tight R&D budgets and limited resource, this additional space to think can be a major benefit for these kinds of organisations.

The simplicity of cloud in this context can also extend to ease of integration. Vendors are now beginning to develop application programmable interfaces (APIs) that effectively ‘wire together’ HR and payroll, in a standardised manner. It’s an approach that is particularly suited to the streamlined world of cloud integration, where vendors are able to concentrate more closely on driving through user benefits rather than being distracted by all the administrative demands of payroll systems implementation in the on-premise world.

Cloud-based payroll has many benefits of course, as this article has demonstrated. Its ability to facilitate rapid speed of update and integration is perhaps one of the least heralded but as we look to the future and cloud becomes ever more pervasive, it’s likely to become one of the most important for vendors and end customers alike.