Not only do today’s cloud solutions more closely align technology and business processes, they also offer access to the advanced capabilities that were once only available to large corporations. Going to the cloud is no longer considered risky thanks to tremendous advances in the security, scalability and reliability of cloud infrastructures. However, not all cloud partners bring the same experience, expertise and capabilities to the table.
Once you’ve decided that a cloud-based solution is right for your organization, selecting a key technology partner that provides “best-fit” cloud services is the next step. When you evaluate potential vendors for cloud office automation, ask the following questions to get a clearer understanding of their strengths and weaknesses:
Understand the pros and cons of the cloud solution
1. Is their cloud offering complete?
The technology market is flooded with large and small ECM (Enterprise Content Management) vendors that have built their on-premises products on IT architectures from the last decade. Today, many claim to provide cloud services, but only offer a highly restricted feature set. This is not cloud office automation software. Look for partners that provide a complete set of document management and workflow capabilities through the cloud, including distributed capture, configurable workflow, secure archive, and robust access and viewing.
2. Is the product usable out of the gate, or does its UI require a PhD to understand?
Cloud office automation is only as effective as the workers who use it. The user experience must balance high usability with high utility, providing a path to everyday productivity — not constant frustration. Complex interfaces, lagging performance and confusing functionality are the surest ways to stonewall adoption and waste your investment.
3. Is the underlying infrastructure a global backbone or a local liability?
Cloud services must be globally available, rapidly scalable, redundant, and fast. Look for products built on leading cloud infrastructures like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Cloud services delivered through localized data centers or managed services will simply never deliver the performance and reliability of those leveraging a premium platform.
4. Is security and data privacy a priority or swept under the rug?
Cloud office automation demands rigorous security to meet data privacy and information compliance mandates. Technology providers without strict separation between customer and system data, encryption along with additional security layers to protect against protocol downgrade attacks, and audit logging put your entire organization at risk—not to mention your customer relationships.
5. Is integration possible through industry standards or expensive, propriety methods?
Interoperability matters. Cloud office automation is only as good as the people, processes and systems it unites. Integration should be possible through REST-based APIs. Cloud services should be able to communicate effortlessly with other cloud services and with on-premises software if needed. Proprietary methods that require significant professional services are a red flag.
6. Is there a proven track record of success or only empty claims?
Look for cloud service providers with a proven track record of success. This matters more than most people think. Building robust cloud services is hard— much harder than developing on-premises software. Demonstrating years of customer success through case studies and customer references is evidence of their capabilities and competence.
Cloud-delivered solutions enable organizations to quickly automate paper-centric processes. While Accounts Payable & Human Resource departments are prime targets for the cloud platform, your needs may extend beyond securely centralizing and sharing documents related to invoice processing, staff recruiting, onboarding, performance reviews.
So, take the time to get a demo or free trial and confirm that your cloud-based solution has the complete feature set you need, an intuitive user interface and streamlined workflows. Make sure it is based on a robust cloud infrastructure. You’ll also want to know whether security and interoperability are a priority for the cloud services provider. Once these boxes are checked off, your organization can move to the cloud with confidence.
Automating HR processes doesn’t have to mean going through a lengthy implementation process. Find out about a comprehensive, preconfigured solution at the August 22 webinar, How to Run Your HR Department Better than Ever with Ready-to-Use Employee Management Software. Register now for a session at 9 a.m. 12 p.m. or 3 p.m. ET. Can’t make it? Register anyway and we’ll email you a recording.
Joan Honig is Marketing Content Manager at DocuWare.