Insight |

5 Essential steps for moving to cloud HR software

cloud software

5 Essential steps for moving to cloud HR software

Insight |

5 Essential steps for moving to cloud HR software

cloud software

Early adopters of cloud HR software sung the praises of its accessibility, cost savings, and freedom from dependence on IT. More recently, HR leaders have been realising the competitive advantages that HR software in the cloud can help achieve because of enhanced automation, innovation, scalability, and employee experiences. What’s more, advanced, real-time analytics have empowered HR leaders to make timely, data-driven decisions across recruitment, performance, diversity, training and strategic business initiatives.

But moving to the cloud isn’t as simple as choosing the HR tools and flipping a switch, so read on for advice on making it a success.

Link to new cloud-based tools for strategic HR article.

5 Tips for migrating to cloud HR software

  1. Start with a digital transformation strategy
  2. Choose best fit over features
  3. Develop a data migration plan
  4. Consider the tech support you need
  5. Have an effective change management plan

1. Start with a digital transformation strategy

A digital transformation strategy should cover the who, what, when, and why of any software acquisition, with the first step being the why.


Businesses often get caught up in the what – i.e., the physical payroll system or HR software they’re buying. But according to Simon Sinek, the “why” should be defined before starting any new business, project, or initiative and the how and what will flow from there. Sinek prioritises the why, because it’s ultimately the reason people buy from you (or in the case of transitioning to the cloud, why staff buy-in to the transformation (which is critical for change management and user adoption – see more in #5).

the golden circle

So, start by defining why your organisation, people, department, and HR team need digital transformation and cloud-based HR management software and how this aligns with the broader business strategy.

This will form the foundation for your business case, and help to define objectives with regard to:

  • growth
  • costs
  • engagement
  • retention

You can use these objectives to measure success once the HR tech is implemented.

From there, you’ll also want to identify who the important stakeholders are e.g.,

  • IT
  • Tech leaders
  • C-suite
  • Managers
  • Staff (end users)
  • Project lead

Gain feedback and input from them on current digital capabilities, processes, pain points, and inefficiencies. This will help to inform your list of requirements for the new system. 

Lastly, develop a timeline or roadmap by identifying milestones and deadlines (the “when”) for each stage of the project (e.g., needs identification, vendor selection, implementation, pilot testing, evaluation). 

2. Choose best fit over features

Next up is the assessment and selection process. 

Our biggest tip here, is not to search for the “best” cloud HR software, but to find the “best fit” for your organisation. Bearing in mind, your best fit is likely different from the Chief People Officer you met at the conference last week, or from your closest competitor.

Many HR leaders are now choosing multiple specialised (“best-of-breed”) systems to meet different capabilities (e.g., performance, payroll, recruitment), rather than one all-in-one system (which might have lots of features, often don’t fully solve your problems). 

For example, you can build a HR tech cloud ecosystem with intelliHR’s core HR, performance and engagement tools, which integrate seamlessly with a range of recruitment, payroll, contracting, L&D, and workforce management solutions. Read more about how to choose HR software.

Outside of features, it’s also important to find out:

  • The physical hardware requirements (if any).
  • Average up-time.
  • How and where data is stored. How personal information is encrypted? Have there been any cyber attacks and how were they handled?
  • What are the reporting capabilities? 
  • Ask for references from or to speak directly with customers. Scour review sites like G2 and Software Advice and look at both the bad and the good feedback. 
  • Is there a product roadmap and how quickly are features released? 

3. Develop a data migration plan 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and switching from on-premise, legacy systems to cloud-based HR software also won’t happen in a day, sorry to say. It’s a complex, technical process, which requires a solid data migration plan to successfully navigate.

A data migration plan should answer the following questions:

  • Where is the data currently, what format is it in, and what’s the sensitivity level?
  • What data will move across to the new system?
  • What format does the data need to be in?
  • Does the data need to be cleaned?
  • Where will backups be stored?
  • What data can be deleted? (in Australia, you’re legally required to keep some employment information for 7 years, after which time, consider if you really need it).
  • When will you move the data? Will you do it in one hit (the “big bang” migration), or take a phased approach? This will form part of your data migration roadmap – consider how long it will take, who needs to be involved, and what checks you’ll have in place to ensure success. Hot tip: build in buffer time for things that don’t go to plan!
  • How will we approach testing?

Note: ask your vendor if they provide data migration support (see #4).

4. Consider the tech support you need

One of the key benefits of HR SaaS products is the reduced dependence on IT for changes and tech support, but this also means you will now need to rely on vendor support for these things. Thus, it’s critical to explore what support each vendor offers. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How is the implementation process handled by the vendor? Is there a dedicated customer success manager? 
  • Do they support data migration? Do they have expertise in your legacy system? Have they migrated customers across from this system before? Ask for names.
  • Do they have data migration tools to streamline the migration process?
  • Is the system easy and intuitive to learn or will staff need extensive training? What training is offered? 
  • What level of post-implementation (ongoing) support is provided? (be aware that different pricing tiers may have varying levels of support access).
  • How knowledgeable are support agents in your field (e.g., intelliHR’s customer success team are experienced in HR, and thus can give advice on best-practice HR strategy, too).
  • How quickly are requests responded to and is there an SLA in place?

5. Have an effective change management plan

Last but not least, arguably, one of the most important metrics of success and survival of the changeover to cloud-based HR is if, and how, the end user uses the system.

A change management plan can help to engage staff early on to get their buy-in and throughout the process to maximise adoption.

  • Ensure key stakeholders are part of the planning/design process.
  • Use strategic comms to communicate the why and the benefits of the system for different roles. For example, access to team analytics and streamlined performance reviews for line managers, self-service for employees. 
  • Define clear responsibilities and lines of communication. Who is the project lead? Who can employees go to for questions, bugs, and issues?
  • Develop and document simple and comprehensive processes that are considerate of the user experience and are easily accessible.
  • Hold workshops covering the changes and above with relevant staff. 

intelliHR customer success managers are experienced in change management, and have helped hundreds of HR teams move to the cloud. Get in touch to find out more.


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