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We increasingly hear that the future is in the cloud. At this point, only those who’ve been living under a rock with no WiFi or mobile signal disagree with this statement. While some embrace the opportunities presented by moving selected or all processes on the cloud, others remain skeptical or hesitant, primarily due to such concerns as data security and implementation costs.

oLIVER kASPERWhile in most instances moving HR operations on the cloud are more complex and time-consuming for larger organisations, the benefits from standardisation, increased collaboration and flexibility are exponentially higher as well. We had a chat with the Head of HR Systems Program at Swarovski Corporation AG, Oliver Kasper, about the company’s on-going journey of moving its core HR processes to the cloud, and the strategy it has selected to ensure the success of the implementation project. This case could be used as a best practice study for organisations struggling with devising a strategy to move business operations to the cloud.

Preparation Stage

This stage is in many ways the most crucial one. It can make or break future implementation as it sets the pace of internal cooperation, project management capabilities and decision-making strategy. While initially Swarovski was planning to only move payroll outsourcing and talent management processes on the cloud, the cost/benefit analysis at the preparation stage revealed that it would be more productive to move all HR processes. The main three reasons were:

  • Costs
  • Time to implement
  • End-user engagement

In order to avoid unexpected challenges and costly delays at the implementation stage, Swarovski had involved team members from a range of departments – legal & compliance, IT, procurement, IT, HR, corporate project management and operations. A steering committee was selected and weekly meetings and key tasks agreed on. The goal was to find a solution and implementation partner that would cater to the needs and demands of each of these departments, thus, avoiding potential friction, security breaches or non-compliance down the road.

Vendor Selection

The next step is to select a vendor. With the HR tech market growing at an exponential rate, it may be hard to cut through the sales noise and select a vendor that is right for your company. Oliver Kasper advices to set specific objectives when at this stage. What is your business strategy? What do you want to achieve through implementation? Does HR strategy align with the overall business strategy? These and other questions must be addressed before the selection process begins.

Many companies design a Request for Proposal (RFP) forms as a way to evaluate potential solution providers. Swarovski did exactly that. The RFP formed was a collaboration project between various departments listed earlier to make sure each department’s priorities were incorporated. Organisations may find HR and IT to be the most difficult departments to harmonise in terms of priorities. HR’s goal is to find a solution that will best support business objectives. IT, on the other hand, prioritises solutions that from a purely technical point of view are the best solutions to manage later on. Therefore, it is essential that every department involved submits a list of priorities when producing an RfP form.

Data Security

Cybersecurity is one of the trending topics of 2014 and, surely, will remain such in 2015. It comes as a shock to some that a large number of employees remain dismissive about the procedures and policies on BYOD, password protection and other issues that can threaten the privacy of data. While undeniably data protection is and should be one of the top priorities for organisations, it should not preclude them from making plans to move to the cloud.

Swarovski has a dedicate Data Security Officer, who devises procedures and policies that need to be put in place and applied to everybody in the company. The Data Security Officer takes part in the implementation process and ensures that employees are made aware of certain rules even at this stage. Having a dedicated person to oversee data security allows Swarovski to identify potential threats and take preventative measures.

Having a Chief Data Security Officer should be complemented by regular employee trainings. While technical information should be communicated, it is engagement and understanding of the importance of certain rules and procedures that will make your staff be more responsible in terms of cybersecurity.


Depending on the size of your organisation and the number/level of complexity of the business processes moved to the cloud, the timeline will, of course, vary. Swarovski is a large corporation with 42 countries and approximately 20,000 employees affected by the implementation. The preparation and vendor selection phases took around 6 months. Its next deadline is to negotiate the final contract as well as select an implementation partner, which is plans to do by the end of Q1. Global Business Process Standardisation workshop across all countries is planned for Q2, following which a region-by-region roll-out will begin and continue for the next 3 years. The company will need to ensure absolute compliance with local regulations and specifications, which is why the timeframe of 3 years has been set.


Expert Advice

Oliver is a highly skilled professional in the area of HRIS with many successful projects behind him. Here is some of the advice he gives our audience with further expansion on the subject at HR Tech Europe 2015 in March.

Preparation and Implementation: While creating a team of professionals from various departments is integral to ensuring priorities of each are addressed, to move forward you need to appoint a person in charge of deciding on which direction to go in the end

Cutting through the noise on the HR tech market: look for a provider that can fulfil as many of your requirements as possible. Try to limit the number of vendors you work with. Furthermore, start as simple as possible in defining your department’s needs. Less complexity, less technology – simplify as much as possible when you start as complexities will pile on at a later stage.

Don’t miss his presentation at HR Tech Europe 2015, 24-25 March, ExCeL London