Making the Transition to Software as a Service (SaaS)

By Pam Puetz, VP-HR Services, First American Financial Corporation

Pam Puetz, VP-HR Services, First American Financial Corporation

Consider including an analytics expert on your team–this is increasingly important with the advent of predictive analytics tools. Only about 4 percentof companies have achieved a mature model of predictive analytics, but analytics will provide HR professionals with greater ability to manage people practices critical to business success. Using predictive analytics could impact your decisions about how much historical data to convert.

Change Management

Your SaaS system offers functionality that may be unfamiliar to your workforce-employee/manager selfservice, social media, and mobile access. A change management team that understands the impact on your workforce is a critical success factor. Realistically, don’t expect the Excel spreadsheets to disappear entirely!

Internal Support

Obviously, the shift towards SaaS applications frees up technical talent, but SaaS applications still require internal support. Configuring your system requires HRMS expertise plus knowledge of your organization. Some companies have been hampered by a lack of internal staff to maintain configuration, generate reports, and work with end users. You may still need developers to code interfaces and help troubleshoot.



When you shift to a SaaS system, upgrades change significantly. Instead of spending 3-6 months every few years upgrading your system, you’ll upgrade three or four times every year. You’ll need test plans that can be used over and over again–and executed quickly in a few weeks. If you’ve resisted the temptation to customize, upgrades go more smoothly, but it still takes time to test. Upgrade changes may affect your configuration differently than that of other companies on the same instance. More communication may be required–both within your HRMS and Payroll teams and with your end users. Users may need training more often, so use videos, brief tutorials, social media and quick reference guides vs. more traditional training methods.

Expectations of Your Vendor

When you move to a SaaS system, you’ll notice significant differences in the customer experience.

The efficiency of SaaS service delivery depends on the shared instance feature, so this sometimes translates into lean vendor staffing. You’ll no longer have internal technical staff available to you 24/7. Although many vendors have on-call staff available in off hours, it’s not the same as having in-house resources.

Issues are managed using a customer relationship management system– support is ticket driven, using case/ ticket numbers. Have a documented and well-understood escalation process, in case your issue is impacting production.

You may have issues with browser versions, server load balancing, and response times. If users experience poor response times because servers are overloaded or browsers are incompatible with the application, it will negatively impact productivity, not to mention morale.

Security and privacy can be issues, although progress has been made in these areas in the last five years. Understand and evaluate your provider’s backup methodology and their various accreditations in data center security.

If your organization is global, you will have data security issues in countries that restrict how/where employee data can be stored. In-country payroll providers require interfaces that can be complex.

Moving to a SaaS system is an adjustment, but the benefits are significant-lower costs, improved cycle time, and greater flexibility. SaaS vendors will gladly step you through all the benefits realized by their clients, so I won’t spend time on that here. What really matters isn’t necessarily the enhanced functionality, but how companies can leverage capabilities to strengthen partnerships between HR and the business. What really matters is that these systems improve the employee/ manager experience–setting the bar for HR service delivery higher than ever before.

Weekly Brief