Cloud HRIS: Why Limit Your Company to the Kiddie Pool?

By Mike Ellis, Synchrony Global CCO

Having worked in the HR industry for the past 17 years and witnessed the evolution of what has become the HRIS industry today from on-premise to cloud HRIS (and every stage in between), the common denominator until very recently is that HR tech, other than basic payroll management, has traditionally been limited to large enterprise and multinationals.

The pioneers of HR in the cloud, SAP SuccessFactors and Workday, have forged the way for the future of HR. Quarter by quarter these tools continually innovate across the entire employee lifecycle. But as these solutions grow, they are becoming more and more limited to being consumed by large enterprises, largely due to the cost of the services required to get the kit ticking. 

Times are changing. Over the past few years, a number of great HR tools have become commonplace, such as BambooHR, Namely and Zenefits to name a few. Whilst none of these tools are the leader in one specific area or process, they all provide cross module functionality that ticks enough number of boxes to get a company started on their HR journey. These tools enable companies to easily setup their solution, import their data and deploy out in a relatively self-sufficient manner.

I like using an analogy of learning to swim when looking at these tools. These are great tools to help you learn to swim, typically in a kiddie pool or purpose built safe-for-toddlers pool. What happens when your company grows beyond the functionality that your tool of choice offers? You effectively run a search for new kit (often at great expense of yourself and various vendors) and re-implement your requirements in the shiny new tool (again at great expense). It's basically getting out of the kiddie pool, walking over (no running around pools please!) to the Olympic-sized pool and diving in to do laps.

What if you could learn to swim in the shallow end of the Olympic-sized pool, with a fenced approach that ensures you don't wander into the deep end before you need or are able to do it safely. As you grow more competent at swimming, the fence gradually moves further out until you find yourself expertly doing laps up and down the full length of the pool like Michael Phelps.

This is what Synchrony is trying to achieve with the latest iteration of our SME solution SyncExpressHR. Our approach effectively has enabled the functionality and innovation of the leading cloud based HR solution, SAP SuccessFactors, to now be available for the SME market. Our belief is that no matter how small or large an enterprise is, that organisation is built on people, that managing people shouldn't only be limited to large organisations.

The previous versions of SyncExpressHR focused on implementing SAP SuccessFactors in an accelerated manner through using a preconfigured solution, but still required consultants to be involved. We got to a point where we were enabling companies from around 250 employees upwards in size to utilise the solution and still make sense business case wise.

Today, our clients can self-administer and configure the solution out of the box through an innovative GPS-like tool we have named SyncPilot, essentially it is your personal navigator through the clouds.  We believe that this allows our clients to take advantage of the SuccessFactors solution by utilising the SyncExpressHR preconfigured environment, with the ability to quickly add company specific details such as legal entity / branch structures through a wizard-based self-configuration approach. Data is uploaded through easy to use templates, and within the space of days as opposed to months a company are up and running on the leading cloud HR solution in the industry, SuccessFactors.

Key benefits SyncExpressHR enables:

  • Out-of-the box support for the entire attract to hire to retire process of HR regardless of size of company;
  • Pre-packaged processes that match the solution configuration that can allow a business to adopt the solution and deploy quickly;
  • The ability to flexibly add modules as you grow, e.g. starting with a package of Core HR, Performance & Goals, and Recruitment, and when you're ready or have a need for Learning being able to easily switch this on as an option;
  • Built-in training guides to encourage user adoption and engagement without a huge investment in change management, again utilising SyncPilot;
  • The ability to continually take advantage of previous investments made in the management of your people without the headache of migrating data to maintain a historical view of your company;
  • Minimisation of procurement costs and investment in costly consulting services,  when you implement the solution as an SME your time to live is minimised and as your HRIS grows with you, you no longer need to invest in expensive implementations, allowing you to focus that hard-earned capital back into your core business;
  • As the solution is based on SuccessFactors, you will have the ability to expand geographically and across industries without being limited by the functionality of your system.

I'm excited about this for a lot of reasons. Having gone from working for a number of large multinationals throughout my entire career to being a founding member of a startup for the first time in my life, I recognise the importance of people management regardless of the size of a company. Synchrony implemented SuccessFactors when we were 50 people and one country. We have grown considerably and having the ability to manage a diverse organisation across five countries has been key to our success. All our leaders have access to their teams wherever they are.  Collaboration is highly encouraged and alignment to our goals as an organisation has been instilled in each of our associates. They all share my passion when it comes to the vision we have as an organisation.

If we had limited ourselves to the kiddie pool, we would not have doubled our organisation in a year, would not have added 46 new brands to our portfolio of clients last year, would not have attracted some of the leading individuals in the HR space to come join our family, and ultimately would not be able to deliver what I see today as the next leap in the HR evolution – SyncExpressHR.

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