Careful planning and communication can help your organization avoid some of the common problems with HCM cloud integration.

If your organization has moved some HCM operations into the cloud or is thinking about doing HCM cloud integration, you're in good company. PwC reports that 73 percent of businesses have at least one HR process in the cloud. HR leaders at your organization like such cloud-based solutions because they tend to engage employees more and free up time previously spent bogged down in paperwork and repetitive tasks.

Anecdotal evidence of successful HCM cloud integration, combined with an overall cloud migration at the corporate level, is prompting many organizations to migrate more and more of their human capital operations into the cloud. Before you take the plunge, though, here are five things to consider.

1. Lack of Corporate Buy-In Can Boost Costs

Lack of sign-off from other stakeholders can cripple a cloud migration plan. "The biggest financial risk we encountered was additional costs charged because our project went much longer than it was supposed to due to the lack of buy-in globally," says Anne Dyer, Senior Payroll Manager at International Automotive Components. "Some locations really fought the process, and this added to the length of the project."

2. Cloud Integration Could Take Longer Than You Expect and Things May Go Wrong

In addition to communicating effectively, a project leader needs to be realistic about how long the project will take and the strong likelihood that things will go wrong. According to TechRepublic, 73 percent of cloud integration projects are taking a year or longer to complete. If there is a dedicated team completing the integration, things will go a lot quicker than if existing employees are expected to work on a big project and still perform their regular duties.

In addition, bumps along the way are inevitable. "No matter how thorough you think your testing has been, you will find something that was missed or doesn't work exactly as expected," says Dyer.

3. Inventory is Key for a Comprehensive Cloud Integration

The rest of the C-suite thinks in terms of business results. You can't fully communicate the benefits of a change without looking at your current capabilities and what kind of ROI and increased productivity could occur after the change.

"It is extremely important to have a complete inventory and the current costs in order to build a business case and then to show any cost savings after completion," says Dyer.

4. A Lack of Transparency Can Hurt You

Transparency isn't just an added benefit. "Be very open and transparent with the project," says Dyer. When implementing a project like this, the more workers that can get involved and take ownership, the better. There are also regulatory hurdles to consider. In some countries, you may need approval from workers' councils, and that's not always easy.

5. There Are Ways to Show ROI Over the Long Term

Though the ROI case for new technologies can be tricky to prove in HR, there are numerous places to find such data. You could point to more accurate data that drives decision-making, potential headcount reduction or redeployment since you no longer need employees taking reports from different systems, among other data points. "An HCM integration can be costly, however, so to see any real ROI may take some time," Dyer says.

The common thread among these points is that cloud integration is subject to many points of failure. While fluid communications can improve your odds of success, one shouldn't discount the influence of Murphy's Law and the constant need to show the results of your efforts. But, in most cases, cloud integration could be the right move. Just be prepared for the realities that you're likely to face along the way.

Keen to know more about the benefits of cloud HCM integration? Take a tour of 10 ways that integrating your company's people systems could help overcome the ongoing struggle to comply with global labor laws.

Tags: human capital management technology big data