The three pillars of cloud computing

It may look like cloud, taste like cloud and sound like cloud, but three main factors should be considered before embarking on a cloud journey: security, jurisdiction and support.
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The cloud computing market is rapidly evolving and expanding. This comes as no surprise, as the benefits of cloud are vast and well-documented. Cloud can enable companies to deliver on their business outcomes and innovations far more quickly, securely and sustainably, with little to no capital outlay.

When considering payroll and HR, adopting cloud enables organisations to free up their IT budgets by up to 33% because the underlying costs of owning infrastructure will be passed on to the payroll and HR service provider.

Cloud technology also enables payroll and HR offices to be infinitely more agile. It allows companies to deliver projects faster thanks to the instant availability of the computing resources required, without lengthy procurement processes slowing them down.

The decision to move applications and services to the cloud means that uninterrupted service delivery is of paramount importance. Alongside this there are three main factors that should be considered before embarking on a cloud journey – security, jurisdiction and support.

Payroll and HR departments sometimes have several security concerns regarding the storing of data on the cloud. The truth is, data stored on-premises is often more at risk and less secure because there may be smaller budgets involved and fewer dedicated IT security personnel to keep an eye on it. Storing data in-house also risks unintentional data compromise because of gaps in security controls and possible human error.

Cloud technology enables payroll and HR offices to be infinitely more agile.

Adopting a cloud strategy for the payroll and HR office does not mean organisations should forget about information security, but rather adjust their current information security policies and procedures to be in line with their cloud strategy.

This is why, when choosing a cloud provider, it is critical to establish how sensitive the data in question is and what the necessary minimum security controls are; how critical the service is to the organisation, its third-party partners and its customers; whether the data is subject to regulations and if privacy restrictions will be applied.

Cloud storage has created a trend where data can be stored anywhere in the world. The location of a relevant data centre can have a major impact on an organisation’s ability to comply with national and international data privacy regulations.

When considering cloud providers, companies should do some investigation and get an understanding of where the data will be stored. Ask any potential provider how the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data are maintained, where the data is stored, and if stored off-shore, ask whether the additional legal implications and risks have been assessed and clearly understood.

Also, ask if the data can be encrypted in motion and at rest, and if yes, ask who generates, holds and distributes the encryption keys. It is critical to monitor and manage what happens to data over a diverse and often sprawled cloud supply chain.

It is also crucial to ensure a payroll and HR cloud service provider obtains consent before moving customers’ data anywhere. Data privacy laws can be complex and will vary according to the region where data will be stored.

While the cloud service provider should ensure compliance with these laws, it is important that organisations familiarise themselves with policies and procedures. Questions such as whether or not there is a secure destruction policy or process, what the data retention period is, and what would happen to data should consumers terminate their services with the service provider, are key, as these questions provide insights of a cloud platform’s compliance with data privacy laws.

Finally, cloud payroll providers should be able to provide high levels of payroll and HR product support on the application. Make sure any shortlisted solution includes legislative support to back the product provided.

Having full support on the solution ensures the organisation can still operate its payroll and HR office without interruptions.

Find a supplier that will provide a true cloud application. Speed issues may occur when legacy products are rewritten for the cloud. It may look like cloud, taste like cloud and sound like cloud, but once you start working on the product you may realise it is simply a hosted payroll and HR product on an off-site server.

Being mindful of these three factors will drive companies to be agile in times of uncertainty, and enable forward-thinking in the face of future-proofing their organisations.

Sandra Crous

MD of PaySpace

Sandra Crous was appointed as MD of PaySpace in April 2019, and has over 30 years’ experience in the payroll industry, which includes the role as vice-president for midmarket, Africa and the Middle East at Sage. Her commercial acumen, proven capabilities and a strong understanding of the payroll landscape further strengthen PaySpace’s commitment to drive digital transformation to empower organisations and individuals to achieve more. Crous’s mission is to accelerate the transition to global cloud payroll and HR into the African continent while ensuring PaySpace remains a people-focused, customer-centric business. 

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