Wales and the Candy Crush generation

Wales is a part of the UK where people ‘tell it how it is’. You may find little clusters of upmarket wine bars in the Vale of Glamorgan, but in the main, pretentiousness has never crept in.  This applies to businesses in Wales too. We don’t use terms like ‘return on investment’ or ‘adding value’. We talk about ‘making life easier’ and ‘saving money’.

However, the current HR software market is full of jargon, with expressions like ‘cloud-based software’, ‘SaaS’ and ‘in the cloud’. It can sound daunting for HR professionals because, like the welsh, they’re people-oriented. They don’t engage in ‘geek-speak’ and find the latest IT lingo exclusive and threatening.

In reality, there’s nothing scary about the cloud, and we IT geeks just need to find a better way of explaining the benefits. People of all ages are quietly using cloud-based software, from Twitter to Facebook and Gmail, even if they are unaware they are ‘in the cloud’.   

If something is ‘cloud-based’, it’s simply accessed and run over the internet, rather than physically stored on your computer. Just like Facebook, whether you log on via your smartphone, PC or tablet, you can access the same information. Facebook is ‘in the cloud’, and cloud-based software works in the same way, without any complicated installation required.

Old-style software installations required lengthy rollout projects, with people physically installing software on every machine, or buying new hardware with the capability to run your new software. These processes were expensive, resource-intensive and often led to lengthy delays.

Cloud-based software runs via your web browser, so once an application is configured to your business, it’s ready for use, often without a supplier even needing to visit your premises. For HR people, this means just adding employee information (which takes days, sometimes even hours), and receiving some software training and you’re ready to go – this is why the SaaS model is taking the HR world by storm.  

Another buzzword – aaaargghh! Let me explain – ‘SaaS’ stands for ‘software as a service.’

This means you don’t own the software – you pay for the right to use it online. Just like you don’t own Candy Crush – you just access and play it via Facebook or your phone.  

Modern SaaS applications don’t just transform the way you play game. They transform the way you do business, and they’re especially applicable to HR teams because of the speed of installation for the business. The benefits are:

  1. Data is held securely off site
  2. It’s usually future proof because software updates and technical support are almost always included in the fee  
  3. It’s very scalable and flexible, and will work equally if you have one or thousands of users.

Any goals that need to be met by a new software installation using the SaaS model can be achieved quickly because there’s no huge installation cost to offset. Where cost benefits are a goal, they’re often achieved within the first year rather than over a long term project.

While software and hardware sales in general have slumped, SaaS products and cloud-computing solutions are growing at two to three times the rate. Recent research from Deloitte highlighted that 84% of UK businesses are seeking to change the way they handle HR functions, and the UK has seen a massive growth is the use of SaaS in the HR field.

Deloitte identified the two main motivators for change as being cost savings (85%) and greater effectiveness (75%) – SaaS is often the fastest, most efficient route to meeting these objectives, hence the rapid growth in its deployment.

When we first developed our Activ module-based HR software about 10 years ago, our SaaS model was quite evolutionary – now it’s the way everything is going. We’re definitely still at the top of our game and constantly improving our software to cement that reputation, but demand (and competition) is growing by the day.  

The reason for this is that the spreadsheets and paper-based systems of the past have too many flaws. They’re expensive and resource-intensive for HRs to use, and they have the potential for mistakes to creep in. Also, there’s a greater need for more effective reporting as we operate in a more litigious society. The world of HR is moving to SaaS en masse – because it can’t afford not to.

However, our straight-talking Welsh staff have a far better way of explaining it – I overheard my colleague saying to a client the other day: “Yes, it’s a bit like Candy Crush. You can use it on your phone or your laptop, it manages your staff and it saves you time and money”. I love being welsh!

Adrian Lewis is the commercial director for welsh software developers Codel Software and has been advising businesses on how software can best manage HR challenges for more than 10 years. 

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