by Anne Reily, Founder and CEO of PaycheckPlus
Many benefits of cloud technology are well documented. However, due to the sensitive data that a business payroll function contains, companies shouldn’t get swept away with the promises of efficiencies and cost savings etc. that the cloud offers without taking a more critical look first. To help ensure payroll security and to provide an alternative view I’ve written the below article which takes a more critical view of cloud technology in relation to businesses and their payroll.
Your data is on the public internet
This can be seen as a benefit as you can access your data on the move however this also increases the risk of cyberattacks. Cloud platform providers are on the forefront of IT security. Assuming that cloud provider systems are secure, and most are considered to be, hackers then see the easier target to be employees and their devices. Getting access to the secure platforms, in many cases, is easier done through employee accounts and employee devices. Therefore when considering moving to the cloud you should consider if your staff are trained and vigilant enough to identify and prevent security threats (e.g. phishing, password cracking, etc.).
Click here for our article to help you and your colleagues to avoid falling victim to email and SMS scams purporting to be from Revenue. Also read my 6 important steps to securing your company Wi-Fi.
Your data is not in your hands
This can be a good thing as IT security specialists may be more effective at keeping your data secure. However you should remember that cloud providers are in the business of making money – don’t just focus on the benefits of cloud tech, be pragmatic. Ask yourself if they’re looking after your best interests, will you be a priority for them if/when there’s an issue etc. Crucially, scrutinise the provider’s service level agreement, if it’s not suitable for your business then negotiate – remember that it’s your data and your business will be the most effected by an issue.
This is widely portrayed as a benefit for moving to cloud however there’s a less beneficial side to this. Interface and feature changes can take time to adjust to, a lack of control over the software can be concerning, security updates may have a significant impact when accessing the system and new processes or workflow adjustments may be required each time the system is updated. Some employees may find updates more difficult to adjust to than others.
In-house systems can continue to operate without access to the wider internet however this isn’t the case with cloud systems. If access to the internet isn’t available when using a cloud system then your payroll operations will come to a standstill. Your internet reliability will have to be considered when thinking about incorporating payroll cloud technology.
Cloud vendor outage
There are many cloud vendors available to choose from that have varied levels of claimed up-time however you’ll be hard pushed to find a vendor claiming and delivering 100% availability. You could potentially experience 100% uptime however you should consider developing an incident management plan in case of issues as even the largest and most secure cloud tech companies have experienced difficulties.
No turning back
Businesses that move their systems to the cloud may find it impossible or least difficult to return to in-house systems. Moving to the cloud can result in businesses offloading their equipment and even IT personnel with the aim of streamlining operations and generating cost savings. However, if the cloud system doesn’t function as expected then significant investment will be required to return to the previous in-house state.
Significant investment is required by businesses to ensure that their payroll data is secure. I understand that payroll and IT security is not a core function of many businesses so it can be difficult for many companies to justify the necessary expenditure, thus in-house systems may become vulnerable and payroll personnel can experience significant pressure.
Payroll outsource solutions are available that ensure compliance along with payroll security and confidentiality so clients can rest assured that their data is safe and that their payroll will be delivered on time, every time. This allows payroll teams, HR teams and businesses to operate more efficiently by focusing on their core responsibilities and profit making activities.