Cloud Based HRIS: An Overview

published on 13 February 2024

Most organizations would agree that managing HR processes with legacy systems can be inefficient and costly.

By adopting a cloud-based HRIS, companies can streamline core HR functions, access real-time data, and scale cost-effectively as they grow.

In this post, we'll provide an overview of cloud-based HRIS systems, their key capabilities, and the tangible benefits they offer to organizations of all sizes looking to transform HR operations in the digital age.

Introduction to Cloud-Based HRIS

A cloud-based human resource information system (HRIS) provides a centralized platform to manage key HR functions and streamline operations. By adopting a cloud-based system, organizations can improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance data security, and gain real-time analytics.

Defining Cloud-Based HRIS

A cloud-based HRIS is a web-based software platform that manages employee data, automates routine tasks, and provides reporting. Key features run on remote servers and integrate with existing systems through APIs. Rather than maintaining on-premises servers, data and applications are hosted in the cloud. This allows access from any device via the internet.

Common capabilities include:

  • Cloud payroll
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Attendance tracking
  • Performance management
  • Learning management
  • Recruiting and onboarding

Consolidating these functions through cloud-based HR software provides a unified view of all HR data on a single dashboard.

Core HRIS Modules

Typical modules within a cloud-based HRIS system include:

  • Payroll: Calculates paychecks, withholds taxes, and generates payments. Integrates with time tracking.
  • Benefits: Manages open enrollment, changes, and administrative tasks.
  • Time & attendance: Tracks hours worked, schedules, paid time off accruals.
  • Talent management: Recruiting, onboarding, performance reviews, goals.
  • Reporting and analytics: Real-time metrics on all data. Custom reports.

Core HR modules are centralized on one platform for consistency and ease-of-use. The system syncs data across modules to prevent duplication of work.

Benefits of Adoption

Migrating HR systems to the cloud provides many advantages, including:

  • Increased efficiency: Automation eliminates manual processes and repetitive administrative tasks.
  • Cost savings: No need to maintain expensive on-site servers and hardware.
  • Enhanced security: Cloud platforms leverage advanced security protocols to protect sensitive employee data.
  • Real-time analytics: Make data-driven decisions with instant access to interactive reports.
  • Accessibility: Manage HR tasks anytime, anywhere, on any device.

With a cloud-based HRIS, organizations can optimize HR operations, reduce overhead costs, and empower data-driven decision making. The system serves as a central hub for managing the employee lifecycle.

What is a cloud-based HRIS?

A cloud-based HRIS (human resource information system) allows organizations to store employee data in a centralized, secure online system that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.

Some key features of cloud-based HRIS systems include:

  • Centralized data storage: All employee information like payroll, benefits, attendance, performance reviews, etc. is stored in a single cloud database that authorized users can access instantly from anywhere. This eliminates siloed data and manual data consolidation.
  • Increased accessibility: With the cloud HRIS, users can access employee information on the go from any device like phones, tablets, laptops rather than being restricted to on-premise servers. This enables real-time decision making.
  • Enhanced data security: Data on cloud servers is encrypted and backed up regularly. Cloud providers implement robust security protocols like frequent software updates, access controls, network security, etc.
  • Scalability: Cloud-based systems easily scale up or down to match changing business needs. Organizations can adjust storage, users, features etc. on demand without expensive upgrades.
  • Integrations: Cloud HRIS can integrate with existing finance, payroll, benefits, and other systems through APIs. This creates a unified platform for managing the employee lifecycle.

With easier information access and sharing, cloud-based HRIS improves HR processes like recruiting, onboarding, payroll, and performance management. The systems provide real-time analytics into workforce metrics too. Small businesses can benefit from enterprise-level capabilities without large investments.

According to, over 50% of organizations currently use cloud-based HRIS. The systems provide anytime access, data security, savings on IT infrastructure, and workforce analytics - key reasons driving rapid adoption.

What is cloud-based HR technology?

Cloud-based HR systems refer to software solutions designed to manage key human resource functions that are hosted on remote servers and accessed via the internet. This allows organizations to streamline various HR processes through a centralized platform that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.

Some of the major benefits of using a cloud-based HRIS platform include:

  • Accessibility - Data and applications can be accessed from anywhere at any time on any internet-enabled device. This allows for remote work capabilities and real-time information sharing.
  • Cost efficiency - Cloud systems remove the need to maintain on-premise hardware and IT infrastructure, leading to lower overhead costs. Pricing is often subscription-based as well.
  • Scalability - Cloud platforms easily scale up or down to accommodate business growth and fluctuations in HR needs. This level of flexibility would be difficult to achieve with on-site systems.
  • Enhanced collaboration - Data is stored centrally so all team members can securely access and update information from one source of truth. This leads to streamlined workflows and cross-departmental transparency.
  • Increased security - Reputable cloud HR providers invest heavily in the latest security protocols and infrastructure to protect sensitive employee data. Regular updates and backups also minimize potential data loss risks.
  • Integrations - Many cloud HR platforms offer integration support with existing software solutions for payroll, accounting, communication tools and more. This consolidates systems into a single dashboard.

With the right provider, cloud-based HRIS offers a way for both large enterprises and small businesses to optimize HR processes through automation, simplify record-keeping, enable remote accessibility, while also reducing IT and maintenance costs over time.

What are the benefits of cloud-based HR?

Cloud-based HRIS solutions offer numerous advantages for modern businesses looking to streamline HR processes. Here are some of the key benefits:

Enhanced Accessibility and Collaboration

  • Cloud-based systems can be accessed anytime, anywhere via the internet. This facilitates remote work and collaboration across teams and locations.
  • Data and updates are accessible in real-time by authorized HR staff and employees. This keeps everyone on the same page.

Cost Savings

  • No large upfront investments in on-premise servers and infrastructure. Usage-based pricing models can optimize costs.
  • Reduced IT overhead since the cloud provider manages infrastructure and uptime.

Robust Security

  • Reputable cloud HR providers invest heavily in the latest security protocols and data encryption methods to protect sensitive employee data.
  • Regular software updates and backups further minimize risk.

Process Automation

  • Cloud platforms enable easy configuration of automated workflows for tasks like onboarding, benefits enrollment, time-off requests, etc.
  • This eliminates manual processes and reduces administrative workload.

Analytics and Reporting

  • Built-in analytics and custom reports provide actionable insights into workforce metrics.
  • Key trends like turnover, compensation analysis, diversity stats, and engagement can be monitored to inform strategic decisions.

In conclusion, cloud-based HR software offers various benefits, including enhanced accessibility, cost savings, robust security, automation, analytics, and reporting. Businesses can improve operational efficiency and derive valuable insights by leveraging cloud-based HR software.

What is the difference between cloud and on premise HRIS?

The main differences between cloud-based and on-premise HRIS systems relate to:

Location of Data Storage and Software Access

  • Cloud HRIS: Data and software accessed online via web browser from remote servers. Reduced on-site IT infrastructure needed.
  • On-premise HRIS: Data and software stored on local servers and accessed on-site. Requires internal IT staff for maintenance and upgrades.

System Management and Maintenance

  • Cloud HRIS: Managed by vendor with automatic updates. Frees up client IT resources.
  • On-premise HRIS: Managed in-house requiring IT staff for operation and upgrades. Provides more customization control.

Flexibility and Scalability

  • Cloud HRIS: Scales up/down easily as needs change. Flexible access from anywhere. Supports remote workforce.
  • On-premise HRIS: Scalability requires on-site infrastructure changes. Access limited by on-site availability. Less flexibility for remote workers.

Costs and Expenses

  • Cloud HRIS: Pay-as-you-go subscription model. Lower upfront costs.
  • On-premise HRIS: Large upfront capital investment. But may have lower long term TCO.

Data Security

  • Cloud HRIS: Physical and digital security managed by vendor.
  • On-premise HRIS: Tighter in-house control and customization of cybersecurity protocols.

In summary, cloud-based systems offer more flexibility whereas on-premise systems provide tighter custom controls. Companies should weigh factors like business needs, budgets, and IT resources when deciding between the two HRIS deployment options.


Exploring Cloud-Based HR Management

Cloud-based human resource information systems (HRIS) offer a range of tools and capabilities to streamline HR management processes. By moving these systems to the cloud, businesses can benefit from automated workflows, data analytics, and easy accessibility across devices.

Cloud Payroll Processing

One of the most popular modules within a cloud-based HRIS is cloud payroll. This automates the entire payroll process, including:

  • Calculating paychecks and tax withholdings
  • Direct deposit distribution
  • Tax form preparation (W-2s)
  • Compliance with payroll laws and regulations

Cloud payroll simplifies payroll management through reporting dashboards and data integrations. It eliminates manual calculations, ensures accuracy, and provides transparency for both employers and employees.

Leave Management Systems

Leave management is another common module found in cloud-based HR systems. This automates tracking of:

  • Vacation days
  • Sick leaves
  • Personal time off (PTO)
  • Short-term disability
  • Other absences

Leave management systems provide centralized visibility into time-off requests, approvals, and balances. Features like calendar integrations, notifications, and policy management create an efficient workflow.

Time Tracking Software Integration

Many HRIS solutions allow integration with time tracking software like TSheets, Harvest, or Hubstaff. This captures employee hours worked, tasks completed, and locations.

Benefits of integrated time tracking include:

  • Accurate overtime calculations
  • Project costing based on hours worked
  • Activity monitoring to reduce time theft
  • Data to inform scheduling decisions

Performance Management Software

Performance management modules facilitate employee evaluation cycles. Key features include:

  • Competency assessment
  • 360° feedback collection
  • Goal tracking
  • Automated review reminders

Integrated with the cloud-based HRIS, this performance data can inform compensation, benefits, and professional development programs.

PEO Services

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) provides outsourced HR administration. Cloud-based HRIS systems can integrate with PEOs to enable:

  • Payroll processing
  • Benefits management
  • Compliance assurance
  • Employee onboarding
  • Performance tracking

This allows small businesses to leverage large-scale HR infrastructure and expertise through the cloud HRIS.

In summary, cloud-based HRIS delivers tools to simplify payroll, leaves, time tracking, performance reviews, and PEO integrations. This streamlines processes for managers while providing transparency and mobility for the workforce.

Benefits of Cloud-Based HR Systems

Cloud-based human resource information systems (HRIS) offer numerous benefits that enable organizations to streamline HR processes and gain valuable insights. Here are some of the key advantages:

Cost Savings and Scalability

Cloud-based HR systems eliminate the need for costly on-premises IT infrastructure. Organizations can scale usage up or down as needed without significant capital investment. Cloud HR also converts predictable operating costs into flexible monthly subscriptions. This allows businesses to accommodate growth and seasonal demands without overspending on HR technology.

According to research, cloud-based HR systems reduce costs by 25-45% compared to legacy on-premises systems. Small and mid-sized businesses can level the playing field by accessing enterprise-grade capabilities that were previously unaffordable.

Enhanced Data Security and Compliance

Reputable cloud HR providers invest heavily in data security and compliance. They leverage redundancies across multiple data centers, advanced encryption, rigorous access controls and more. This exceeds the data protection capabilities of most on-premises HR systems.

Cloud platforms also readily comply with regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, and country-specific employment laws. The burden of compliance shifts from the customer to the cloud provider.

Real-Time Data Access and HR Analytics Software

With cloud-based HR systems, data is available in real-time across the organization. Dashboards and self-service analytics empower managers to slice data on the fly without involving IT or HR analysts.

Platforms like Visier use machine learning to surface insights from HR data. This transforms metrics into prescriptive recommendations to guide decision-making. Analytics uncovers trends around talent acquisition, learning needs, flight risks, diversity concerns, and more.

Streamlining HR Processes

Core HR functions like applicant tracking, onboarding, payroll, and performance management are unified under a single cloud platform. This eliminates data siloes and manual processes which hamper productivity.

Workflows are configurable to match an organization's policies and procedures. Features like self-service and mobile access further accelerate HR transactions. Studies show cloud-based HR systems can yield over 30% faster turnaround times.

Increased Employee Engagement

Cloud-based HR portals and mobile apps empower employees with self-service access to data like pay stubs, time-off accruals, benefits information and more. This promotes engagement, transparency, and ownership of personal data.

User-friendly cloud platforms also facilitate collaboration around goals, performance reviews, and learning. This connects employees to business objectives while meeting growing expectations for technology experiences that match consumer apps.

Cloud-Based HRIS Examples and Case Studies

Cloud-based human resource information systems (HRIS) offer organizations of all sizes greater efficiency, insights, and cost savings for their HR operations. Real-world examples showcase the tangible benefits across diverse industries and use cases.

Small Business Implementations

Small businesses can leverage cloud HRIS platforms like BambooHR and Gusto to streamline onboarding, payroll, compliance, and analytics with minimal IT infrastructure. For example, a 10-person consulting firm used BambooHR to consolidate HR data and track employee satisfaction, reducing HR administration by 20 hours per month. Similarly, a retail startup implemented Gusto to automate payroll taxes and manage PTO accrual in a single dashboard. The cloud-based system scaled flexibly with rapid hiring growth.

Enterprise-Level Adoption

Large enterprises like Starbucks have adopted cloud-based HRIS to connect over 200,000 employees across retail locations worldwide. Custom HRIS integrations with scheduling, learning, and communications systems provide real-time workforce insights to site managers. Cloud HRIS allows rapid deployment of new HR capabilities to enable corporate growth. Another example is Coca-Cola, which uses Workday HCM to consolidate HR data across business units in 13 countries for more aligned talent development.

Non-Profit Sector Solutions

Non-profits like CharityWater use cloud-based HRIS to centralize volunteer and employee information in a secure, scalable platform. Tracking employee certifications, automating onboarding, and accessing global org charts help coordinate their mission. Human Rights Watch manages remote teams across 90 countries in Workday, enabling real-time headcount reporting by department or region for better budget decisions.

Global Companies and Localization

Multinational companies use cloud-based HRIS platforms that support localized compliance needs. For example, Schneider Electric manages payroll across 100+ countries in Workday, while adapting to unique in-country payment rules. Cloud HRIS allows configuring different data privacy rules and labor regulations by region. Similarly, Sodexo uses a unified dataset across global operations to benchmark employee retention and satisfaction by geography.

Transition Success Stories

Many organizations have successfully migrated from legacy on-premises HR systems to cloud-based HRIS for greater functionality. Within 18 months, Cardinal Health moved over 34,000 employees onto Workday HCM for streamlined talent acquisition and development processes, increasing productivity by 10%. Quantifiable impacts like these demonstrate the long-term advantages of investing in cloud HRIS.

Competitive Landscape

Leading Platforms

Popular cloud HRIS platforms catering to businesses of all sizes include BambooHR, Gusto, Oracle HCM Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors, UKG Pro, and Workday. Each platform takes a somewhat different approach when it comes to features and functionality.

BambooHR and Gusto focus primarily on core HR, payroll, and benefits administration for small and medium-sized businesses. They provide an intuitive user interface for employees and managers to access personnel information.

Meanwhile, Oracle HCM Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors, UKG Pro, and Workday offer more robust capabilities including talent management, learning, compensation planning, and workforce analytics. These enterprise-grade solutions enable large organizations to unify HR processes company-wide.

When evaluating options, it's important to match the platform capabilities to the size and needs of your organization. Larger corporations require advanced features while smaller companies can benefit from straightforward cloud HRIS systems to manage the essentials.

Side-by-Side Comparisons

While individual organizational needs vary, comparing leading cloud HRIS platforms across standard criteria can inform software selection. Relevant evaluation aspects include:

  • Supported HR Modules: Core HR, payroll, talent management (recruiting, performance, learning), workforce analytics, etc.
  • Customization: Ability to tailor workflows, fields, reports, and integrations to meet unique needs.
  • Mobile Access: Native apps for managers and employees to access HR data and complete tasks on-the-go.
  • Ease of Use: Intuitive, user-friendly interface for admin, managers, and employees. Quick to get started.
  • Data Security: Encryption, access controls, SOC 2 compliance, data centers, backups and disaster recovery.
  • Customer Support: Phone, email, chat, online knowledge base, training resources and implementation assistance.

Mapping solutions to key requirements ensures you choose the system best aligned to your priorities, budget, and resources.

Vendor Evaluation Checklist

In addition to weighing feature sets, those evaluating cloud HRIS vendors should thoroughly assess qualifications across implementation factors including:

  • Uptime Guarantee: Service level agreement (SLA) ensuring reliable 24/7 system access without excessive downtime.
  • Data Security: Encryption protocols, access controls, third-party audits, and security standards compliance.
  • Training Resources: User guides, videos, live/virtual training sessions, knowledge base, and ongoing support.
  • Integration Capabilities: Ability to connect with existing finance, payroll, benefits, recruiting, and other business systems via APIs.
  • Customer Service: Quality of account management, technical troubleshooting assistance, and overall support experience.

Checking these boxes ensures you select a vendor capable of securely deploying the system, training your staff, integrating with other solutions, and providing ongoing assistance post-implementation.

Implementation Guide

Successfully rolling out a new cloud based HRIS requires stakeholder alignment, data migration, training, and post go-live refinements. This section provides best practices for the transition.

Defining Goals and Requirements

Begin by consulting with leadership and department heads to define needs, objectives, and necessary capabilities. This informs software selection and configuration.

  • Hold stakeholder meetings to gather input on current HR pain points and desired improvements
  • Document key HR processes that need streamlining through automation
  • Prioritize required features like self-service, reporting, compliance, etc. based on business goals
  • Evaluate leading cloud based HRIS systems that align to objectives and budget

Data Migration Planning

Work with the vendor to strategically clean and consolidate data from previous systems and import into the new cloud HRIS. Validate accuracy post-migration.

  • Analyze existing HR data and consolidate into standardized formats
  • Develop data migration plan detailing staging, validation checks, and go-live steps
  • Utilize cloud based HRIS migration tools and templates to accelerate rollout
  • Confirm employee data, payroll information, compliance docs post cloud transition

User Training and Support

Conduct both virtual and on-demand training to upskill employees. Provide job aids, quick start guides, and chat/email support during the adoption phase.

  • Create training guides, videos, and knowledge base tailored to user roles
  • Schedule live virtual training sessions with cloud based HRIS experts pre and post launch
  • Activate chatbots and ticketed support for transitional inquiries and issue tracking
  • Monitor adoption analytics and continue refresher courses as needed

Ongoing Enhancements

Continually gather user feedback, monitor adoption metrics, and work with the provider to optimize system configuration. Uncover new use cases over time.

  • Survey users on desired improvements to cloud based HRIS implementation
  • Work with vendor to enhance workflows and reporting as needs evolve
  • Track usage data to address underutilized features through training
  • Budget for annual platform review and upgrades to support growth

The Future of HRIS

Cloud-based HRIS solutions will continue advancing through cutting-edge capabilities like predictive analytics, AI-enabled tools, expanded modular platforms, and deeper ecosystem integrations.

Predictive Workforce Analytics

Cloud-based HRIS platforms are integrating predictive analytics capabilities to uncover actionable insights from workforce data. These systems can forecast retention risk by analyzing factors like employee satisfaction, career progression, and manager quality. Machine learning algorithms also enable more accurate modeling of future hiring needs based on historical hiring patterns.

Other key features gaining traction include predicting high performers during the recruitment process through analysis of previous top talent, and projecting the impacts of compensation changes on retention. As predictive analytics continues maturing, HR teams gain an invaluable asset for data-driven planning and optimization.

AI-Powered Capabilities

Artificial intelligence promises to enhance the HR experience through conversational interfaces and intelligent automation. Chatbots leverage natural language processing to resolve common employee inquiries, while voice-enabled assistants handle tasks like scheduling meetings and managing calendars.

Additionally, AI empowers smarter job board aggregation by curating openings optimized for each candidate profile. It can also enable personalized recommendations for learning courses and career development opportunities. As AI capabilities grow more robust, expect leading HRIS platforms to integrate solutions that simplify workflows and empower employee self-service.

Expanded Platforms

The HR technology landscape continues consolidating into end-to-end HCM suites spanning recruitment, payroll, benefits administration, performance management, and more. As adoption increases, vendors are enhancing native modules, exploring lateral expansion, and pursuing added functionality through acquisitions.

Workday, SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle HCM Cloud, and other leaders exemplify this through recent investments in learning, compensation management, and workforce planning capabilities. The result is integrated HRIS platforms that help HR teams manage the entire employee lifecycle.

Ecosystem Integrations

Finally, expanded interoperability between HRIS systems and complementary point solutions is improving data flow and accessibility. APIs enable embedded tools within an HRIS for seamless access, while single sign-on streamlines navigation across platforms.

As a result, data and insights surface across the HR technology stack to inform decision-making - from talent acquisition to learning to total rewards. This interconnectivity promises to shape the next phase of HRIS advancement.

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