The importance of the Cloud in these times of confinement

Protime-The importance of the Cloud

As far as the Cloud is concerned in Belgium, three figures summarise the situation perfectly: in just 2 years, the percentage of large companies present in the Cloud has risen from 44% to 72%. However, the figure for SMEs is lower, with only 40% in the Cloud today. These figures show that large companies have a strategic approach to the digital transformation while SMEs are more reluctant to take the plunge. In the meantime, the confinement that we are currently experiencing clearly demonstrates the importance of such a transformation.

How the Cloud makes it easier to work remotely

The health crisis has confined us all to our homes and we must work from home or adapt our services if our business allows it. Belgian companies, whatever their size, have been forced to quickly review their internal processes to facilitate remote working. This change process is not always easy, especially when a digital transformation strategy does not exist in the company.

The problems of managing a non-digitalized company

All levels of the company are affected when the traditional paper processes are no longer possible and a digital transformation has not been planned.

  • Administration  – How do you keep track of your accounts remotely if you usually send your invoices by post? The same applies for payroll: how do you pay your employees the right salary (taking into account the situation) if HR does not have access to personnel files from home?
  • Customer service – How do you carry out repairs or solve a problem if your only option is to visit the customer and this is no longer possible?
  • Sales – How do you continue to sell your products and services if your physical warehouse is currently closed and you don't have e-commerce set up?
  • Work organisation – How do you reorganise work when employees no longer have access to offices and team projects are done remotely?

The impact of the lack of digital processes on employees

Employees are faced with many problems if their company has not migrated to the Cloud and they have to work from home.

  • Access to files – When working from home it is essential that each employee has access to his or her emails and files. But how can you do this if everything is saved on the company's server and you don't have anything in the Cloud?
  • Days worked and special days – How do you inform HR on which days you are working from home so you receive the allowance or on which days you are temporarily unemployed? Companies that manage this over the phone are overwhelmed by the deluge of applications and the administrative follow-up; this results in delays in payments.
  • Holidays – Same as for working from home and unemployment days, how do you manage holidays remotely? The problem is all the more important because holidays are being cancelled or postponed in many companies. Employees are stuck at home and are not able to enjoy their vacation as they would have liked.
  • Fighting isolation, ensuring commitment and maintaining the corporate culture – How can you be sure that employees are always motivated and productive if we have no idea how they are progressing?

Beliefs and prejudices often (wrongly) associated with the Cloud

With the current crisis, SMEs now understand the benefits of digitising their processes in the Cloud but some are still not convinced. Let's consider some of the prejudices that we often hear.

1. Data security

"If I'm in the cloud, my data may be hacked." Fortunately this is not true. The leading Internet players are constantly adapting their security system to ensure maximum safety. Many of them even work with so-called  "ethical hackers" who try to hack their systems with the intention of finding and closing the loopholes.

In addition, many companies that offer Cloud services have their own server. The data of their clients are stored securely and not on an anonymous server.

2. Data access

"The Internet is unreliable and it's down all the time. I may lose all my data." In reality, the Cloud works with recurring data backups on multiple servers. The majority of Cloud providers manage to guarantee 99% access. The remaining one percent includes the very low risk of a problem and updates, which are performed quickly and usually at night, outside the normal working hours.

3. Costs

"The Cloud is expensive." If your company wants to grow it will have to go down the path of digitising its processes. In this case, the Cloud is an interesting solution in terms of the costs.

  • The total cost of ownership is less important since the Cloud does not require a substantial infrastructure (in particular, the server and its physical storage space).
  • This is also the case for the costs associated with the initial configuration.
  • Support costs are also lower because issues can be solved remotely, quickly and without labour and travel expenses.
  • This also applies to maintenance costs given that systems can be maintained remotely and preventive action can often be taken.
  • Most IT suppliers offer SaaS (software as a service) which means you always pay the right price: it corresponds exactly to what you use and evolves depending on your particular solution and the functionalities you need.

4. Everything's fine so why change?

This statement was true until the current crisis happened. Unfortunately, this is a situation that won't be going away soon. This unexpected challenge has made companies aware of the importance of digitalisation.

However, this is not the only reason why you should move certain tools to the Cloud; many more benefits exist, such as automatic updates and especially the availability of new features which are much more accessible in the Cloud.

Work in the Cloud with Protime

Protime adopted working in the Cloud a long time ago. In Belgium, we were pioneers in SaaS. For this reason, we decided to reduce the promotion of our other solutions two years ago, with the intention of discontinuing sales and support of these solutions from the end of 2020. The confinement and the crisis we are currently experiencing clearly demonstrates the importance of this decision.

Indeed, many of our clients had to adapt their solution to integrate a payroll code for temporary unemployment and allowances for working from home. We were able to offer webinars to show them how to do it on their own very easily. What's more, our support service was able to provide guidance remotely for those clients who couldn't manage. And last but not least, employees were able to register their homeworking days and schedule their holidays on our employee portal myProtime, which is available remotely on mobile devices or PCs for all employees. This allowed HR to access real-time information directly in the tool they use to prepare the payroll.