Hosted Services – Benefits, Challenges and Trends in HR, Finance and Payroll ‘Software as a Service’

By |2018-03-07T16:35:17+00:00April 6th, 2009|Categories: Research|Tags: , |

“From automation to business intelligence: the next generation of hosted services”

An analysis of the benefits, challenges and trends in HR, Finance and Payroll ‘Software as a Service’

Introduction

If you’d suggested at the the turn of the century that hosted services would be firmly established as a mainstream model for running business software, you’d have been greeted with derision. The model – also known as Software as a Service (SaaS) – got of to an inauspicious start, blighted by a combination of technology problems and the dot com colapse. Today, however, it’s an established form of outsourcing in a broad range of business disciplines, from customer management to people management. In a hosted services model the supplier runs the software on its own systems, while the customer accesses it over the internet and uses it in the same way as if it were accessing an in-house server. In concept, it’s similar to the long-established model of managed services, which has been relied on by sectors such as payrol for decades – except that in a managed services arrangement, the supplier also caries out processing on the customer’s behalf, whereas hosted services is purely about responsibility for the software.

There are a wide range of benefits in adopting the SaaS model – from reducing IT hassle to potential cash flow benefits – and inevitably, one or two challenges. The proof that hosted services is coming into its own can be seen in its widespread take-up.
Companies of all sizes have adopted the model, from small businesses taking advantage of free services supplied by the likes of Google, to large enterprises running mission-critical business functions. In a survey of HR directors and managers carried out earlier this year by Webster Buchanan Research, more than half of respondents (55%) said they would consider a hosted service when they purchase recruitment software in the future. As adoption levels grow, so the model is evolving. Software vendors are experimenting with different forms of pricing, for example, looking for more sophisticated models that better reflect the nuances of usage. More significantly, some vendors are now preparing to expand the kinds of services they offer, moving on from pure data processing to focus on areas such as business intelligence.

In some cases, vendors are starting to wrap consultancy services around the automated hosted services to help users get the most out of the data they generate. This approach, which brings a new level of value to the model, represents the next generation of hosted services – what Webster Buchanan and others call SaaS 2.0.

Part 1: The Evolution of Hosted Services 1.1 A maturing sector

Ever since the dawn of computers, users have held on to a dream of information technology as a utility. There’s something innately appealing about the notion of a disembodied agency out in the ether that takes care of technology, making it available whenever people need it for their jobs but taking away the worry about how it all works.

Throughout the first half-century of the computer age, however, reality fell far short of the dream. Every time people tried to take computing out of their customer’s premises and put it “into the cloud” – whether as outsourced bureau services in the mainframe age, or as application service providers (ASPs) offering a version of hosted services in the late 1990s – they encountered difficulties. Part of the problem was that their approach was always an adaptation of the previous generation of computing, and so was constrained by its legacy. They were never able to compete with the greater flexibility and choice becoming available with each new generation of departmental and desktop computing.

The advent of the Internet in the mid 1990’s brought the prospect of change – not least because this new generation of computing existed by its very nature in the cloud. But most of the ASPs that sprung up to deliver hosted applications to business customers found the challenge harder than they’d initially imagined, largely because their software still wasn’t fit for purpose. Those that had tried to adapt traditional on-premise software systems to the internet world struggled, because the software simply hadn’t been designed for remote delivery. And those that developed the first generation of Web-native software typically found that it lacked the sophistication business users demanded. It’s only been in the past couple of years that all the necessary elements have fallen into place to make Software as a Service (SaaS) a viable and often compelling alternative for business users. Five key ingredients have made this possible:

  • Broadband internet access is becoming ubiquitous among business users, offering faster access to hosted services
  • Standardisation of web services interfaces has made it far easier to access and interact with external service providers
  • It’s become easier for users to configure hosted applications to their own specific requirements, thanks in part to the adoption of a standards-based language, XML language, as the ‘lingua franca’ of the Web
  • A decade of Web browser development has led to the creation of rich, highly functional yet user-friendly browser-based interfaces
  • People have come to accept the Web as part of the way we live, sweeping away earlier distrust and uncertainty about the medium Empowered by these trends, the industry itself has matured and providers now offer reliable, sophisticated applications and services to cohorts of longstanding, referenceable customers.

The best known hosted services provider, Salesforce.com, is predicted to become a billion-dollar company by the end of the current financial year.

1.2 Expanding categories of service

Hosted services have become an established option across many different classes of applications. The best known segment is customer relationship management, in particular sales force automation, e-marketing and customer service management. But SaaS is now becoming equally well-established in the field of people management – especially in areas such as e-recruitment, performance management, compensation and benefits – and payroll. Closely related is the broad area of expense management, a category that encompasses travel and expense management, travel booking, e-procurement and vendor management. Other areas with significant SaaS options include web conferencing, project management and collaboration  web content management and ecommerce. Many of these business disciplines share characteristics that make the SaaS option more appealing.

Typically  they are not highly integrated with other business processes, which in turn reduces the need for complex software integration. Recruitment, for example, requires input from the wider organisation at the beginning of the process and generates output (in the form of a successful candidate) at the other end, but is largely a standalone service in-between. Likewise, they tend to be areas where organisations need to communicate more effectively over the web with their customers or to connect with external services. A growing volume of job applications come over the web today, for example, while benefits administration requires interactions with third-party health insurers or pension providers. Even internally, having employees update or review their own personnel information via a self-service system also usually works best via a web interface. Resource considerations are another factor. Many of the areas where SaaS is most likely to be adopted are those that have typically been back-of-the-queue for IT services. Opting for a SaaS approach bypasses this roadblock.

As we indicate in Part Two, because it requires less upfront investment and can be rolled out incrementally, it often seems less risky than the all-out commitment associated with a traditional on-premise IT project.

Part 2: Weighing up the Business Case

Now that the SaaS model is stable and proven for companies at all ends of the spectrum – from small businesses using hosted services such as Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets to larger organisations deploying multiple components of enterprise HR suites – many of the potential benefits that have long been touted are proven rather than theoretical. At the same time, of course, customers’ experiences have demonstrated the extent of the challenges. Both factors are assessed below.

2.1 Potential benefits (and caveats) Reduced IT hassle Installing, managing and upgrading software all represent a big drain on IT resource, and one that’s recognised both within the business and the IT function itself. In fact, removing this hassle was identified by HR directors and managers as the top benefit of hosted services in the survey carried out by Webster Buchanan Research earlier this year. From an implementation perspective, while software vendors have taken numerous steps over the last decade to reduce the cost and time eaten up by enterprise software, the cost of implementation can equal or in some cases dwarf the amount spent on an actual software licence.

Although the huge, sprawling enterprise software projects of the 1990’s have largely disappeared, it’s still possible on bigger projects for the implementation outlay to be two, three, four times or more the cost of the actual product. The implementation hassle isn’t completely removed with a hosted service, of course: customers still need to collect all of their data in one place and clean it, which, depending on the state of their existing systems and level of automation, can be a sizable task. In addition, some hosted services will need to be integrated with in-house software systems or other services. But there are some big differences between the SaaS and on-premise approach. Firstly, while a hosted service will still need to be configured for each organisation’s specific needs, users do not usually have the option of customising the software by amending the core underlying code.

Customisation often accounts for a large proportion of an on-premise implementation, and has a long legacy in that it tends to complicate future upgrades. While eliminating customisations reduces a customer’s scope to shape the software for its own unique business needs, in practice much can be achieved by configuration of screens, field and other higher-level changes. Even in the on-premise sector – and especially for cash-conscious mid-sized organisations – the trend is very much away from extensive customisation, especially in well-established sectors such as HR where vendors have accumulated years of experience to help them refine the ‘best practices’ that they build into their software. In addition, customers typically only pay for hosted services once they’re up and running – which means it’s in vendors’ best interests to make it as simple as possible to get going. It’s also in their interests to maximise customer usage of the system by making it easier to bring more users on board, since most pricing models are based on the volume of users.

Up-to-date software

One other important by-product of having software hosted by a third party is that the onus of installing legal updates and technical fixes passes to the service provider, as does the responsibility for upgrading the software whenever new versions are released. While most IT functions take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to legal updates and security fixes, it’s common for organisations to skip or delay major upgrades – some even have policies of implementing every other software upgrade in order to keep costs down. The net result is that users are unable to take advantage of the most up-to-date features and functionality. In a hosted environment, by contrast, new capability comes online for every user as soon as the provider releases it.

Cost and cash considerations

Traditional IT implementations carry large upfront costs, with customers required to invest in a software licence and pay all of the associated fees for implementing the system: they’re then subject to an annual maintenance fee that typically costs around 15-20 per cent of the licence fee. It’s not always easy to get approval for this kind of capital outlay, particularly in an economic downturn. In a hosted services set-up, however, companies typically pay a smaller implementation charge followed by periodic fees, ranging from monthly to annual. This helps to spread the outlay and from the finance function’s perspective, ensures that cash is used more effectively.

In addition, customers can expect to enjoy some savings from the fact that they no longer have to run the hardware and associated infrastructure to support the outsourced service. While these benefits are attractive, the cost equation does need to be analysed with some care. If an organisation pays on a per-employee basis for a service such as payroll  for example, its costs could climb significantly as its business expands – and even allowing for discounts offered by suppliers for higher volumes, it may well reach a break point where the cumulative costs make it potentially more cost-effective to take the service back in-house.
Doing so would incur another set of licence, implementation and maintenance costs, of course, and cost alone is only one component of the business case for outsourcing – but this is something that needs to be monitored as the organisation’s needs evolve. Conversely, in an economic slowdown, per-user pricing may prove more cost-effective for an organisation that downsizes, compared to an on-premise set-up where in-house infrastructure costs will remain largely the same even as headcount falls.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the fees charged by the service provider may change. Services that were initially bundled in for free to win a customer’s business may attract a fee further down the line, for example. And while there is a general industry assumption that prices may fall as service providers win more customers and start to enjoy economies of scale, this is not always a safe bet – after all, outsourcer’s make hefty upfront investments in infrastructure that need to be recouped over the lifetime of their services.

The flip side of these concerns is that the hosted services model is becoming increasingly popular in areas such as HR and Payroll, and competitive pressures should help keep a cap on price increases, particularly in a challenging economic environment. Finally, it’s worth noting that pricing models are changing in the hosted services environment, as service providers start to experiment with new ways of charging. As an alternative to regular subscription fees, some providers are now offering ‘metered’ services, where fees are charged according to usage in the same way that consumers pay for electricity usage – a recruitment service may be charged per hire, for example, or a procurement service may be billed as a percentage of the value transacted. Some vendors are also experimenting with models based on agreed savings or an income target, basing their pricing on how well they perform against that metric.

For content-based applications, advertising can also be a source of revenue, although many providers are uncomfortable about unforeseen pitfalls arising from such indirect funding.

Flexibility

Another advantage of the hosted services model is that it provides a degree of flexibility that customers may not be accustomed to enjoying in traditional IT set-ups. Firstly, the hosted model makes location largely redundant. Traditional HR and payroll systems were designed from a functional perspective – the expectation was that they’d be used by a team working in the same location.
By contrast, because hosted services are accessed over the internet, authorised users can access them from any 
office or while working from home.
Secondly, from an IT perspective, some of the hassles of 
up scaling are removed. Because the outsourcer is geared up to handle multiple clients, it’s relatively straightforward to absorb increases in system capacity as the customer’s business grows.
Thirdly, the model makes it easier for organisations to work with specialist third party providers, particularly those focused on people management disciplines that are largely discrete processes, such as recruitment.
Finally, a hosted service is not a commitment for life: in theory, if a customer is unhappy with a service, it can simply stop paying the fee (depending on the terms of contract) and either move provider or bring the service back in-house. There are of course caveats here. As with any outsourced service, the transition to a new provider can be 
challenging – and anyone who’s rolled out a people management application and successfully won buy-in from employees, managers and their HR, Payroll and Finance teams will know that it’s not easy to switch suppliers overnight.

But for standalone services requiring minimal integration, the risk of experimenting may well be lower than in a traditional environment.

The holy grail: linking IT to business need

Finally, while many of the benefits of the SaaS model relate to IT, evidence suggests that there may be a more fundamental benefit inherent in the approach – one that moves the business software industry closer to realising its goal of delivering tangible business benefits. In a traditional on-premise software initiative, the project reaches a natural break once the initial implementation is complete and the new system is bedded down.

There’s often a sense of relief, particularly in larger projects, and it can be hard to regain the impetus to kick of the next planned phase. This is one reason why many organisations fail to take advantage of the full capability of their HR systems: they may have had best intentions at the outset, but in practice momentum often lags. By contrast, the hosted services model shifts the emphasis in the relationship between vendors and buyers, putting greater emphasis on the need to demonstrate ongoing business results. This is in part a consequence of the shift from an on-premise model built around one-of, upfront license payments to an all-in-one regular subscription. In the traditional on-premise model, the bulk of the cost is quickly sunk: when organisations pay a regular fee, they’re repeatedly reminded how much they are investing, and that tends to focus attention on the need to generate business-related rewards.

2.2 Challenges, perceived and realIT control and accountability

The most difficult challenge for any company adopting an externally sourced SaaS application for the first time is the potential loss of control and accountability. This risk is most keenly felt by the IT department, which in most organisations will have designed and bedded in standards and processes over the years for managing its own infrastructure.

It’s inevitable that the SaaS provider will have its own standards and processes, and some friction is likely to ensue wherever the two meet. Typically, this has to be resolved through negotiation, with both sides giving some ground. This issue is not always appreciated outside the IT function. In Webster Buchanan’s survey of HR directors and managers, among the list of barriers to adoption highlighted by respondents there was relatively little concern about potential resistance from their in-house IT team – in fact, 60% of respondents in companies with 1000-5000 employees saw it as no barrier at all. It is a real concern, however, and should be factored into any decision-making from the outset.

Security and privacy

By contrast to their views about IT resistance, respondents to Webster Buchanan’s survey listed privacy and data security as their top two concerns. Both are significant factors in any outsourcing arrangement  of course. But the SaaS model seems to generate an additional level of perceived risk because of its unconventional structure, with the software run in one location and used in another. The reality, however, is that most SaaS providers operate higher security standards than most of their customers, largely out of self-interest – any major security breach would irreparably harm their business.

There’s also a ‘wisdom of crowds’ factor that comes into play – with every new customer that checks out a provider’s security and finds a potential flaw, the cumulative safety increases. That said, it’s still important to find out what the service provider’s security measures are. Ideally, a provider should have either SAS 70 Type II certification (in the US) or the UK equivalent AAF 01/06, issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Privacy concerns do need to be addressed, particularly if data is going to be stored outside Europe. In addition, for some types of personal data (for example health data), there may be rules that prevent it being kept in a database shared by other organisations. The provider will disclose whether it uses a shared or isolated database architecture, but it’s up to the customer to understand the privacy rules that pertain to its business. Intriguingly, there’s an argument that hosted services actually offer better privacy from an HR perspective than on-premise systems. In a traditional software environment, members of the IT team have access to HR information that relates to colleagues they personally know, and the temptation to take an unauthorised look at salary and other personal data is much higher than it would be for a third-party technician working with data about unknown individuals.

Availability and quality of service

While the US and European media has repeatedly exposed service downtime’s at a number of high-profile SaaS providers, most leading hosted services providers have strong track records in terms of service availability – and in many cases, the downtime will actually be significantly lower than organisations might experience with their own in-house systems. This message also seems to be getting through to prospective customers: in Webster Buchanan’s survey, concerns about service availability or up time were relatively low among the whole respondent base. What’s more surprising is that many SaaS providers do not yet provide service level agreements (SLAs) for their customers, denying them a reference point and a degree of accountability in the event of a failure.

It’s important that service level commitments are documented, along with the procedures that will be followed in the event of a failure and the comeback open to customers. It’s particularly important to ensure that there is a mechanism in place to keep customers informed of problems, even when the service provider’s main website has failed. In addition, customers should ensure that their SLA puts an obligation on the provider to investigate and resolve intermittent glitches: it’s debilitating to have a minority of users confused and upset about a recurring problem that a provider isn’t incentivised to investigate. Finally, customers should also have a recovery plan in place in case the unthinkable happens, including a means of extracting their data (and ideally their process maps and workflows) so that it can be transferred to another provider.

Integration

With any form of hosted service, some degree of integration will be required, either with the customer’s in-house systems or with other hosted services providers. The integration issue has been steadily climbing up the agenda within the SaaS market, and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed whether organisations are outsourcing a discrete process or running their entire HR and payroll function via a hosted service. Organisations are advised to ensure their SaaS provider offers application programming interfaces (APIs) based on Web services standards, and they should expect a high degree of customisability of the user interface and application processes via self-service configuration. It’s also important to keep in mind that the more providers a customer interacts with, the more benefit it will gain from API standardisation.

Virtualisation versus multi-tenancy

Any organisation entering into an outsourcing agreement – whether its SaaS, a managed service or full-blown business process outsourcing – is advised to work with their technical team to understand the underlying infrastructure that their service is based on. In the SaaS world, not all providers are created equal from an architectural perspective, and their approach can have a bearing on the quality of service. The purist approach to SaaS provision is based on a ‘multi-tenant architecture’ where one system serves everyone and customers share a single database that’s partitioned for data security purposes by assigning a unique customer key to every individual record. (A variation on this approach is to assign a separate database to each individual customer, but still run them through the same system). Although not directly visible to the customer, there are a number of behind-the-scenes performance and cost advantages with these ‘hard-line’ multi-tenant architectures, which reduce the overhead associated with monitoring, managing and upgrading the infrastructure. However, many vendors today are taking a softer approach, using ‘virtualisation’ technology to enable them to run separate dedicated software systems on a shared server infrastructure. While this approach loses some of the benefits of the purist multi-tenant model, it has its upside.

The design is much closer to a traditional IT architecture, and as a result, it’s much easier with this kind of hybrid model to switch between the hosted model and a conventional on-premise implementation.

Part 3: The Next Generation of Software as a Service

Software as a service continues to evolve as a delivery model, rapidly catching up with the capabilities of conventional on-premise computing, and in some cases surpassing them. As it does, several key trends are emerging. Firstly, businesses tend to approach hosted services with a strong dose of pragmatism. Although debates about concepts such as ‘multi-tenant’ architectures continue to occupy the minds of the purists, for many customers hosted services offer a very practical solution to specific problems. Because the model lends itself both to individual business disciplines such as recruitment and all-encompassing HR or payroll functional management, it can be adopted in a ‘mix and match’ way.

Organisations have the flexibility to adopt best-of-breed specialist software such as expense management through a hosted set-up, for example, without compromising their investment in their core financial system. It’s also entirely reasonable to run entire business functions such as HR on a SaaS model, while standardising elsewhere in the organisation on an on-premise business software platform. Secondly, one of the most important characteristics of software delivered via the web is that it can be bundled up with other remote resources – including people. In doing so, the software simply becomes part of a broader outsourcing service, combining automated processes with simplified access to professionals or administrators that can provide associated services.

This is the direction in which the SaaS world is now heading. Hosted services have traditionally been seen as a software-specific offering – the whole point, after all, is for a provider to run the software on its client’s behalf. But the next generation of SaaS wil see this software-based service wrapped in a second layer of people-related services. HR Business Intelligence is a good example. Over the last decade, new generations of software tools have emerged that enable organisations to carry out far more sophisticated people-based reporting and analysis.

While the HR profession has long relied on operational and function-specific metrics such as ‘days to hire’ or days lost to absence, it’s now possible to interrogate data in ways that have more value for the wider business. This means moving from simply measuring efficiency ( ‘How fast are you recruiting?’), to looking at effectiveness (‘Are you recruiting the best quality people?’) and business impact (‘Which vacancies are hitting our business hardest?’). The analytical potential is extremely broad, ranging from cost and employee value assessments to ad hoc ‘what if?’ analysis and strategic workforce planning. While the tools that support this kind of analysis have becoming increasingly easy to use, however, adoption levels in HR lag the use of similar tools in other business functions. In part this is down to the changing nature of the HR profession and the speed with which traditionalists have been able to adapt to a broader people management agenda. But it’s also down to the practicalities of reporting and analysis.

Easy-to-use software tools are one part of the armory – but customers also need to have an analytical mindset and a degree of experience in data analysis to maximise the potential. Not every HR professional has that – and in next-generation SaaS, this is where the service provider might step in. The business intelligence software is provided as a service – and in turn, the provider wraps consulting services around it, using business analysts with a track record in data analysis to interrogate the customer’s data on its behalf.
This next generation of service, which Webster Buchanan and others refer to as Saas 2, is not restricted to knowledge gaps. In the expense management field, for example, it might be more about cost. Hosted expense management systems enable organisations to automate the collection and management of expense data and carry out analysis: next generation services would bring in a people element, perhaps to enter data from expense receipts or vet expenses claims. To an extent, this approach takes hosted services closer to a traditional managed services set-up, where the outsourcer provides the technology platform for a business function and also executes the associated tasks.

The important difference is in the granularity and flexibility. Many managed services are built on traditional IT infrastructures that are still largely closed of to the customer – client access is usually limited to upfront data entry and basic post-event reporting, but core processing is carried out behind closed doors. In the hosted environment, by contrast, the customer controls the processing, and it’s therefore easier to hive of specific activities where specialist skills are required. It’s quite possible, for example, for a customer to manage its own HR processing and standard reporting via a hosted service, but to hand over responsibility for more sophisticated data analysis to the service provider.

Part 4: Case Study

Many organisations see HR system upgrades as an opportunity to adapt the way they work, using the transition to streamline their internal processes, increase the level of automation and reduce their administrative overhead. But upgrading is also a useful time to ask more fundamental questions about the way you run your IT function – and in particular, to weigh up the option of moving to outsourced services. This was the route taken by Livability, a charity focused on bringing opportunities to disabled people, which was formed by the recent merger of two not-for-profit organisations, the Shaftesbury Society and John Grooms. Prior to the merger, Shaftesbury had been using Computers in Personnel’s Compel for Windows system for almost a decade, and in early 2006 was looking for a replacement. In particular, says HR manager Debbie Kiberd, it was looking for simplicity, primarily in the shape of a system that would need minimal change.

The Compel for Windows system had been heavily customised when it was first installed in 1997 to cater for the specialist nature of Shaftesbury’s work and its diverse employee base, which combines case workers, occupational therapists, lecturers and teachers. But heavy customisation tends to make future upgrades complicated, since custom changes have to be carried forward into any new version of the software, and as a result, the charity had chosen to carry out only essential upgrades to the core system. That meant it had missed out on multiple new features and functionality released in the years following its initial implementation. After looking at all the options, Shaftesbury decided to extend its existing  relationship with Computers in Personnel and upgrade to its Ciphr system. As well as the breadth of functionality available in a more modern system, Kiberd was interested in rolling out Ciphr Net, Computers in Personnel’s self-service system, which allows managers and employees to access and update data in the HR system. But it was also interested in changing the way it used the software, abandoning the traditional approach of buying software and running it in-house in favour of a hosted services set-up.

  • While some customers are initially nervous about a shift to a hosted model, Kiberd says the business case for making the move was compelling for the charity, and included:
  • Greater system uptime. “We would know for sure that we would always have access to the system,” says Kiberd. “Our
    [in-house] IT service sometimes wasn’t as good as you’d like it to be.”
  • Improved support. Kiberd argues that because the service provider runs and maintains the system for Livability, it’s easier for it to log in and analyse any problems

Reduced IT and data management overhead. Maintaining data accuracy in a relatively complex 1700-employee environment is time-consuming in its own right, so offloading tasks such as system maintenance removes part of the overall workload Computers in Personnel managed the transition to Ciphr, carrying out preparation work for several weeks prior to taking control of Shaftebury’s existing system to do a five-day data migration. It also made some minor customisations to meet Livability’s specialist needs, such as managing term-time teacher pay, and has built direct integration links with the charity’s payroll system.

Additional system development work was temporarily put on hold when the merger with John Grooms took place, and the decision was subsequently taken to consolidate the newly-named Livability’s HR systems on Ciphr. For Kiberd’s team, this has presented another set of challenges. John Grooms used a payroll application with limited HR functionality, and a lot of information – including basic data such as job titles and salary levels – has had to be cleaned up. With the data cleansing operation nearing completion, however, Livability now plans to push ahead with its original system plans.

After going live with the payroll integration, it then expects to roll out manager self-service on a pilot basis in schools and colleges through Ciphr Net, allowing managers to see all relevant information about their employees such as salaries and training details. Once a level of comfort has been established, it will extend the rollout to employees, who will be able to access and change data such as their home address and bank details, as well as see their basic salary details. Now back on track with the system rollout, Kiberd is also starting to look to the long-term, where self-service capability could be further extended to allow managers to carry out a range of additional tasks such as booking employees onto courses.

End NotesAbout this Article’s Authors

Keith Rodgers is co-founder of Webster Buchanan Research, a market research company specialising in business management and the supporting role of technology. Webster Buchanan’s primary focus is on People Management, Multi-country Payroll, Customer Relationship Management, and Financial Management. The company is based in London, San Francisco, and Hong Kong, with an office opening in Singapore in January 2009. Phil Wainewright has spent more than a decade tracking the evolution of software as a service and other advances in the use of the Web for better business automation. He is principal of Proculux Ventures, a strategic consultancy advising SaaS providers on marketing and best practice.

About the Sponsor

Computers in Personnel is a leading provider of software and services for people and data management. Recognising that effective people and data management are critical drivers to organisational success, it provides a broad range of software, outsourcing services, data management capability and knowledge-based services. Ciphr is a richly-functional web-enabled HR management system that helps organisations manage all aspects of people management, from recruiting and training to people data analysis. Ciphr Decisions, its HR business inteligence tool, uses sophisticated data warehousing and Microsoft analysis services, alowing you to mine and manipulate people-related information.

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