Why Boston Medical Center transitioned to cloud computing for HR functions

As the demand for cost reductions, actionable insight, and information security increases, hospitals and health systems are looking for a cost-effective approach to streamline their human resources and payroll processes and quickly adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. Many are finding the solution in cloud-based computing.

During a webinar sponsored by cloud software vendor Workday and hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Boston Medical Center's Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Lisa Kelly-Croswell shared her experience and a few of lessons she learned as the medical center's human resources department made the switch from siloed processes and manual documentation to a single cloud solution for human resources, recruiting and payroll.

Ms. Kelly-Croswell said the medical center faced many challenges prior to implementing the Workday solution. She said the biggest challenge was the organization's "conservative nature." Ms. Kelly-Croswell shared one of the biggest obstacles to overcome was the organization's reluctance to install a new system because prior methods of manual documentation had become the accepted norm. However, this "self-imposed challenge" actually hindered the process in a variety of ways, including poor workforce visibility, manual and inaccurate reporting, inadequate compliance with risk mitigation and a heavy reliance on paper and manual processes.

"[Most human resources processes] were done manually. Nearly 400 sheets of paper would come through the office per week," said Ms. Kelly-Croswell.

While Boston Medical Center met with three other vendors to potentially assist with the transition, Ms. Kelly-Croswell said the organization settled on Workday because its capabilities fell directly in line with the HR department's priorities. Ms. Kelly-Croswell said Workday's software constituted the best solution to successfully save the human resources department from having to manually enter employees' records and, instead, electronically transition all records into the cloud.

The ease with which physicians and clinicians could navigate the software was also a driving force behind the medical center's decision to join forces with Workday. It wasn't until the medical center was in the midst of the transition did Ms. Kelly-Croswell discover one-third to half of BMC employees — those in the housekeeping, transport and food service departments, among others — did not have access email.  Ms. Kelly-Croswell said Workday's mobile-accessible software solved the issue of engaging with employees who did not have access to email and created a way for her team to engage with those employees and help them build their skill set using a form of technology they were already familiar with.

In addition to being relatively easy to use, Ms. Kelly-Croswell said the software "[takes] self-service to the next level," allowing the medical center to provide high quality HR analytics for internal and external use and transparency with regulatory authorities. Because of its easy-to-use capabilities, BMC was able to go live with Workday Human Capital Management, Workday Payroll and Workday Recruiting within a six month timeframe.

Cloud computing has created an environment for organizations to thoroughly scrutinize their business processes and to consider abandoning practices that only exist as a testament to an organization's conservative nature, according to Ms. Kelly-Croswell. Because of the software's fluidity and easy-to-use features, operational leads can focus on deploying the system to the best of their ability and go back into the system later to make additional improvements.

"Migrating to the cloud and Workday allowed us to rebalance our time and reframe the question from, 'What's the best technology to achieve our organizational priorities?' to, 'How will our key organizational priorities [specific to the HR department] be achieved leveraging the best technology?' That ability to reframe the question has been a gift."

Listen to the webinar recording here and view the webinar slides here.

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