UK: The SaaS Support Model: The Shift From Your Traditional Support Approach

Last Updated: 24 November 2015
Article by Claire Woodbury

The move from traditional on-premises HR solutions to software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based HR applications has resulted in changes to the way these solutions are hosted and implemented. The way the new cloud HR applications are supported has also evolved.

So what is it exactly that has changed?

Firstly, there is a greater reliance on the vendor, not just for statutory and maintenance patches as has previously been the case.  As the application is hosted externally, the vendor absorbs the majority of the technical responsibility and maintenance.  Gone are the days where HR teams could simply walk over to their technical teams sat in the same office as them. The vendor support team could now be located on the other side of world but still support and access the system as if they were in the same building.  Also, data fix scripts (for those 'oops' moments) cannot simply be run by the on-site team; there is no database access for the on-site team, so any requests have to be routed through the vendor support process. All of this takes extra time and planning.

Secondly, as SaaS offers regular patches and upgrades, clients receive updated functionality more frequently than in the days of on-premises systems.  There is a requirement to understand what is contained in each new release and what new functionality is being introduced, which typically happen twice a year. Regression testing should be carried out for these updates to make sure they don't impact any of the configuration, so an on-site testing team is likely to have a greater role in the new HR application.  In addition, HR teams may find themselves needing to update user guides and training materials more frequently to reflect the improved and new functionality provided by these upgrades. While this can be time consuming for these teams, they will of course gain the benefit from receiving whizzy new features from the vendors when the upgrades come.

Thirdly, clients may choose to have a support contract with an external provider, who can take responsibility for investigating complex issues and working with the vendor on any queries or fixes, leaving the HR teams with more time to work on more operational issues.  Although this might not be new (clients may have had external support for on-premises solutions), the nature and structure of the support team for SaaS applications is likely to be more functionally focused.

Having worked with a number of companies on implementing, upgrading and supporting traditional ERP and new SaaS applications, I have noticed a shift in the structure of the support teams that clients use in the movement to a SaaS based HR application. The most noticeable change has been with support teams made of more functional SMEs who work closely with the vendor, moving away from technical individuals who traditionally supported on-premises systems.  In addition, companies can manage updates in-house, using the support team to track and test updates received from vendors.

In the adoption of a SaaS based HR application, companies have also taken the opportunity to review their service model and offering, giving them the chance to rethink their approach to systems hosted and maintained externally, as well as considering the best ways to support their customers – the employees.

So, have you thought about what the right SaaS support model could be for your organisation?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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