Software as a Service (SaaS) will revolutionise the management of the workforce in retail. A bold statement and perhaps one you would expect coming from the CEO of a workforce management software company. But to support this I would like to share with you an example of a project I have been involved in.

A major US retailer recently completed the rapid deployment of a schedule and attendance management system to over 4,000 stores and over 20,000 employees, in less than 3 months. This is the fastest deployment of a workforce management system to a company of this size and it was made possible because it is based upon on the SaaS model.

SaaS allows the retailers to concentrate on the application of best practice workforce management, whilst removing much of the complexity associated with the running of IT infrastructure. The SaaS provider delivers the solution over the internet in a secure, scalable and managed environment. Also by utilising a shared IT environment the client continually benefits from the savings generated through the associated economies of scale.

The key to any business investment are the benefits and the return; for workforce management these include reduction in labour costs through better attendance management, improved sales and service through better allocation of resource and improved visibility of labour throughout the retail organisation.

The SaaS workforce management model adds another dimension to this by delivering these returns faster than the traditional on-premise version. This is achieved in part because there are no upfront capital licence fees to be paid and there is no hardware infrastructure to buy, plus there is no ongoing internal IT software, hardware and people support costs. The business application is charged pay as you go on a per user per week/month basis.

With the current economic climate when capital budgets are tight and there may be a number of competing priorities within the company, it is an even more attractive proposition. And if SaaS is adopted not just for workforce management, but to address other organisational projects, budgets can be leveraged to address many more business priorities than would be possible using traditional onsite technology.

With SaaS, businesses are more willing to instigate proofs of concept or pilots to judge and build the business cases because the approach is quick and low risk. In fact organisations are now often avoiding the costly and time consuming ITT/RFP process as the SaaS pilot makes it unnecessary. With a full deployment taking months rather than years, businesses are realising returns in a significantly quicker timescale. For these reasons we are finding more and more businesses are opting and benefiting from SaaS.