Cloud computing

Martin Odgen, CIO at global oil and gas management company Expro Group, has warned that he faced resistance from his IT departments when choosing to rollout SAP's cloud-based human capital management tool, SuccessFactors.

He said that IT is fearful that job roles will be made redundant if everything begins to move to the cloud. However, Odgen believes that it is in fact an opportunity for IT departments to add more value to an organisation.

Expro Group operates in nearly 50 countries across the world and has approximately 5,000 employees. However, its staff numbers are growing at over ten percent per year, which prompted the need for a centralised HR management tool.

"As you can imagine, it's not easy to make sure that people working in different countries are all working to the same standards," said Odgen.

"So what we are doing with SAP's SuccessFactors is standardising our processes - standardising our on-boarding, our appraisals, our goals, our objectives. Historically our Algerian business, for example, would have no idea what our Egyptian business is doing. One of the hopes is that this will also make it easier to transfer staff between regions and locations."

He added: "It has made a big difference. Now all processes are completely transparent, I can log on to SuccessFactors, I can look at goals, objectives, recruitment, and see exactly where we are in the process. Whilst it's difficult to quantify what the business benefit is, everybody knows what is going on. To put a cost or value on that would be very difficult, but everybody is now aware of where we are in the process."

Odgen explained that the deployment of SuccessFactors had very little impact on the IT department, apart from some work on the databases to migrate the data out of existing systems. However, the project was largely delivered by HR, rather than IT.

He also said that going forward Expro Group will be looking at public cloud first for any new or replacement technology, followed by managed services hosted off-site, and finally on premise technology - but that will only be considered as a last resort. However, this has prompted concern from the IT department.

"Whether we will get to the point where absolutely everything will be in the cloud, we could probably debate that all day, but that's the approach we are going for at the moment," said Odgen.

"[This] has actually scared IT because they don't know what it means for their job - so I'm actually getting resistance from within the IT departments. But what it allows me to do is take those reasonably well paid, highly skilled members of staff and actually get them to do something useful for the organisation."

He added: "Traditionally we have had people looking after back-up systems, but does it add any shareholder value to the organisation? Not unless something goes horribly wrong. We don't need to do that with cloud anymore, so the guys that were on that can go and do something more useful like deploying a new solution."