Why it's time to move workforce management to the cloud

Can be of chief concern to SMEs

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Neil Pickering, director at workfroce management software firm Kronos, explains why more and more businesses are moving workforce management to the cloud.

TechRadar Pro: What are the biggest pain points for SMEs when it comes to managing their workforce?

Neil Pickering: Staffing and people management issues are very often the central and chief concern of small to medium businesses (SMEs), be it managing talent and giving staff the right opportunities, attracting and retaining the right staff, or simply the day-to-day issues of keeping staff productive and engaged.

The problem is that often SMEs lack the time, resources and expertise to dedicate to workforce management. With a lack of management experience and expertise that can be found in larger enterprises, SMEs either don't think they have an issue with managing their workforce (because they don't have visibility of any problems) and therefore do nothing about it, or think they may have an issue but do not have the time, money or resource to monitor and resolve them.

TRP: How can technology like workforce management systems help to address these issues?

NP: For the SME leader looking to drive the business forward, workforce management technology can remove many of the headaches of day-to-day staff administration and deliver the reporting and analytics needed to support decision-making.

For example, a workforce management solution that captures employee hours in real time and automatically feeds them directly into payroll will reduce administrative time, remove payroll errors, ensure employees work their proper hours and control other labour costs such as absence and overtime. Such technology will also improve employee engagement as employees will be paid accurately and have access to self-service options, including viewing work schedules, shift swapping, balance enquiries and holiday bookings.

TRP: How has workforce management evolved over the past ten years?

NP: Over the last ten years, the world of workforce management has fundamentally changed. It's moved from standalone PC/Server installed products connected, to a few clocking terminals, to now centralised and often cloud-based solutions that have much greater depth of functionality and multiple means of data collection and access, such as web browser, mobile, tablet and telephone. In fact, for us at Kronos, the Kronos Cloud has become the fastest growing part of the business with cloud revenue increasing 56 per cent over the last quarter and over 11,000 companies using our cloud solutions.

At the same time, technology developments such as biometric terminals and now wearable technology are shifting the way that organisations collect and use information to manage their workforce. We now have access to more functionality, at greater speed and accuracy, in products that are far more intuitive and easy to use. This makes it possible for far more organisations to control labour costs, minimise compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity.

TRP: Why are more businesses moving their workforce management systems to the cloud?

NP: With a limited HR and IT budget, SMEs are well-placed to realise the scalability and ease of use promised by cloud solutions. Organisations are able to rent workforce management solutions that have enterprise-grade infrastructure just as easily as their larger competitors, and there is little up front capital investment required. The latest generation of workforce management systems now easy to purchase (pay per employee, per month, with no length contract) and simple to set-up, so offer little risk to the buyers and huge return on investment potential.

By moving workforce management functions such as labour planning, staff scheduling and absence management to cloud-based solutions the SMEs can focus on delivering their products and services, whilst at the same time controlling costs, improving productivity and maintaining margin.

TRP: What are the main differences between cloud-based workforce management and traditional work force management?