Why Does a Cloud-based Workforce Management System Make Sense?

Many companies look to set up a Workforce Management System (WFMS) to increase their productivity. There are a lot of considerations which go into deciding on a WFMS such as adaptability to the business, flexibility, cost, ease of use, and so on. With the advent of cloud computing, another important decision which organizations need to take is to choose between a cloud-based WFMS or an on-premise solution.

According to http://www.softwareadvice.com/buyerview/deployment-preference-report-2014/ a 2014 research by Software Advice, there has been a paradigm shift in customer preference of a cloud vis-a-vis an on-premise software solution. In 2008, 88% of the interviewed companies opted for an on-premise installation. This number has seen a radical shift in 2014, where 87% customers now prefer cloud solutions.

Proponents of on-premise software trust in the additional control, customization, and data security which traditional WFMS offer. However, it is quite paradoxical if a WFMS, which is implemented to improve productivity, adds cost and time overhead of installation, maintenance, and lack of flexibility, thus reducing a company's efficiency. Thus, the benefits of a cloud-based WFMS outweigh the disadvantages by quite a margin.

Costs and Maintenance

The cost of setting up and maintaining a WFMS in terms of monetary investments as well as man-hours throughout the entire business lifecycle is an important consideration. On comparing some of the solutions, the cost of a setup for a cloud-based solution is significantly lower compared to an on-premise system. The cloud solutions usually require a periodic subscription which means much lesser money and do not necessitate the huge upfront capital expenditure of setting up the system on the company's intranet.

An on-premise system demands a commitment to setting up and maintaining the required infrastructure. A cloud-based solution, however, can be implemented much more easily and at times even in a plug-and-play mode with some pre-defined templates. The onus of upgrading and maintaining the software is passed from the customer to the vendor and promises considerable saving. This is especially beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses to alleviate their operating cost overheads. Thus, the cloud WFMS guarantees faster uptimes and lesser service issues. This ensures that customers do not need to worry about infrastructure installation and maintenance.

Scalability And Flexibility

As businesses grow, there is a need to upscale the WFMS - for example, add more features, get more detailed KPI reports, support more users, etc. Most cloud solutions trump their on-premise counterparts in this area, as scaling up simply might mean switching to another plan from the vendor. Traditionally, this would have involved updating the infrastructure and the installed software, configuring new features, re-assigning or adding new roles, and the like. Cloud solutions provide a cleaner and cost-effective way to upscale. All the top cloud-based WFMS solutions have plans which provide incremental users, projects, space, features, etc. Many vendors even provide the functionality to buy add-on features to existing services as and when required. Depending on the size and scale of the company, a suitable cloud WFMS plan can be implemented and discarded as needed without any additional infrastructure investment.

Collaboration

The ability to let users access the WFMS from anywhere and allow cross-team collaboration is what cloud computing supporters rely on. For an on-premise software, users need to be connected to the intranet to work on the projects. For a cloud WFMS, simply any regular web browser works to allow users to access, update, and collaborate on the projects. For companies with multiple locations or even global teams, this can be a crucial factor to improve productivity. Also, with the proper rights assigned, cloud solutions help to get everyone on the same page. For example, many times administrative workflow processes can be the same across business units. Cloud solutions let you replicate these processes without having to ensure that all teams are on the same intranet infrastructure and have the necessary rights and permissions.

Fine Print

Every time a cloud solution is mentioned the on-premise software exponents raise a hue and cry over data security since cloud solutions store customer's confidential data on a third party server. Most cloud-based WFMS, however, have a non-disclosure agreement as part of their terms and service. Before deciding on a solution, it is a good idea to ensure that the acceptable terms are present in the contract with the vendor. This should mitigate any risk of data security. Also, it would be worth remembering that cloud WFMS offer secure encrypted connections to ensure data confidentiality.

With the entire software ecosystem gravitating towards cloud-based solutions, it makes sense to have a Workforce Management System which sits within the cloud. This will not only help businesses reduce costs of installation and maintenance but also improve productivity significantly owing to the flexibility offered by the cloud WFMS. Companies can then focus on their business rather than worrying about maintaining an efficient Workforce Management System.