This is the first article in the “Guide to HR Technology” series.  The goal of the series is to provide information on the state of HR software in 2021 and how it can positively impact your organization.  This article will focus on software as a service (or SaaS).  Software as a Software has revolutionized business software, and by extension, HR software. 

What is Software as a Service?

In the recent past, software was distributed on physical media via compact or floppy disc.  The software would need to be installed on a computer and upon installation, a key would need to be entered to activate the software license.  This process would be repeated for every employee in the organization that needed to use the software.  If an employee’s computer stopped working, they would lose access to the software.  If the software provider updated the software with new features, the organization would have to repeat the process all over again.   Even for a small organization, this was an extraordinary undertaking. 

As internet infrastructure improved, physical media was phased out in favor of digital distribution.  Instead of creating millions of CDs, software providers could host the software on their website for their clients to download and install.  They could also distribute updates over the internet, eliminating the need for organizations to uninstall and reinstall the software.  This was an amazing improvement, but the software was still tied to a single computer.  If an employee’s computer stopped working, they would still lose access to the software.  Also, if the employee needed to work remotely, they would require a laptop or a computer that could be easily transported.

Through further advances in internet technology, it became possible for one computer to access software on another computer via a web browser.  The data transmission was so fast that a user in New York could operate a program on a computer in Los Angeles in almost real-time.  Using this technology, software providers could allow users to “log into” remote computers running their software.  To the end-user, the experience was comparable to having the software installed on their local computer.  This is the birth of cloud computing and software as a service.  Now, an organization could purchase licenses for the software and their employees could access the software from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or phone.  If an employee’s computer stopped working, they would not lose access to the software.  The employee could even use the software at home using their personal computer!

Today, many business software providers have adopted the software as a service model.  Popular software like Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, and Salesforce now have web-based applications and the list grows every day.

Advantages of Software as a Service

The main advantage of software as a service is the savings on infrastructure.  Software providers shoulder the cost of running and maintaining the application on remote servers.  Due to this, organizations can purchase cheaper computers for their employees.  Employees can also use their personal computers to access resource-intensive software.  It also removes the burden of hosting and securing databases, which are routinely required for the software to function.

Another advantage is information continuity.  For example, an HR manager can start onboarding a new employee using their desktop computer at the office.  They can leave the office, go home, log into the software on another computer and phone, and continue the onboarding.  The experience is seamless and the employee’s work is saved and synced in real-time.

Lastly, most software providers allow access to the software outside of normal business hours.  In these cases, the software is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  This kind of access provides organizations more flexibility with employee scheduling and location.  A remote workforce is not possible without cloud computing and software as a service.

At Cello, we provide cloud-based Human Capital Management software, using the software as a service model.  If you want to know how your organization can benefit from using HCM software, click the “Schedule an Introduction Meeting” button on the top of the page.