Every day, more and more organizations are transitioning their professional services to the cloud. For payroll and HR professionals, the benefits of moving to the cloud means a reduction in workload, easier and faster access to data, and employee empowerment through self-service options.
We recently interviewed longtime Avanti client, Margaret Bailey, Assistant Manager and Systems & Applications Analyst at the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex (CASLM) about how she led her 370-person organization through an Avanti migration to the cloud.
A: Tell us a little bit about CASLM and your role in helping the organization fulfill its vision and mission?
MB: We are one of the larger Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario, with 370 employees and a significant catchment area that extends throughout the county and includes Indigenous services for three different bands.
Our mission is to work collaboratively with families and communities to promote the safe and healthy development of children and youth so we can fulfill our vision for all children and youth to thrive in their families, cultures, and communities.
My role is to ensure our frontline staff has reliable access to the systems and applications they need to do their jobs in a timely manner. This ranges from inputting case management data that is required by law, to submitting vacation requests through Avanti, so management can plan for adequate coverage across each team. This last point is key since any downtime adds an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging job.
A: How does CASLM currently use Avanti?
We’ve been with Avanti for a long time and greatly benefit from having an integrated payroll and human resources (HR) solution. Before Avanti, we had a separate payroll function, and many HR tasks were done manually. Avanti’s HR information system (HRIS) has enabled us to go digital and has driven significant operational efficiencies.
We’re avid users of the Self-Service Portal, which allows our employees to access their pay statements, view internal job postings, and request vacation time.
We also use the scheduling and health and safety functions and hope to tap into the onboarding capabilities and the mobile app soon. We currently direct our external applicant traffic to Career Connect via Avanti as well.
A: That's good to hear. In what other ways is technology—and specifically the cloud—helping the CASLM innovate and modernize?
MB: Technology has enabled the CASLM to remain nimble, especially through the pandemic. When lockdowns were in place, we deployed remote technology in less than two weeks so that staff members could access Avanti and other critical systems. The cloud made this a seamless experience.
With very few exceptions, our strategy is to migrate our on-premise technology to the cloud. It’s simply the way to go. It’s more cost-effective and efficient and frees up time for our team of four to manage proactively versus troubleshooting after the fact.
For example, we have around 500 laptops deployed in the field for various purposes. Now, we have the time to ensure they’re working and maintained for optimal performance. We can also focus on more strategic initiatives, such as how to support a hybrid work model that enables people to work from the location of their choice. This helps with our talent recruitment efforts.
And my personal favourite is not having to ever come in again the day after Christmas to do the year-end updates, since they’re all automated now.
“We’ve gained so much efficiency from an IT perspective. I would say, just do it.”
– Margaret Bailey, Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex
A: Speaking of Christmas, you began your cloud migration journey with Avanti in December. Can you tell us about the process and the timeline?
MB: Before joining CASLM, I worked for different software developers for many years. So I've done a lot of software migrations—and this was one of the most painless. It was, by and large, very smooth.
The expertise of the Avanti team really shone through. They prepared us well—from the documentation we received outlining the process, to answering very specific technical questions. As you can imagine, data protection is a critical consideration for an organization like ours. Our Avanti team was very knowledgeable about this and was able to demonstrate how Avanti would interact securely with our internal systems.
In total, it took about six weeks from the initial data migration and testing to our go-live date in January.
A: Do you have any words of wisdom for your peers who may be on the fence about the cloud?
MB: I would highly recommend it. In IT, we like to maintain control. But knowing that Avanti is being managed so well in the cloud environment enabled us to embrace the cloud with confidence. Aside from the initial change management—about three days of people asking how to sign in because of the single sign-on feature—we see fewer overall issues. As a result, we’ve gained so much efficiency from an IT perspective. So, I would say, ‘just do it.’
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Embrace the cloud with confidence
Without a doubt, migrating your payroll and HCM software to the cloud will improve the way you work. Less manual tasks, easier and faster access to your data, and employee self-service are just a few great reasons to “just do it”.