2016 reflections and 2017 predictions from Cascade HR

news article

Dec 20 2016

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It’s that time of year when businesses look back on achievements and learnings from the past 12 months, before looking forward to what lies ahead. So, in-keeping with what has become an annual tradition, Cascade HR’s CEO Oliver Shaw reflects on some key 2016 highlights, before sharing his thoughts and predictions for 2017.

“As I look back on another great year for Cascade HR, there have been a number of milestones that merit a mention in my end of year review.”

Cascade 2016 highlights

Our acquisition of Octopus HR cemented Cascade as a comprehensive human capital management systems provider for the whole of the market. With Cascade and the newly-branded CascadeGo, we now have an intuitive HR and payroll software solution for organisations of one to several thousand employees. The move was well documented throughout our industry, and celebrated at key events including the CIPD’s HR Software Show at Olympia London and the CIPD’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester last month.

The acquisition also led to the formation of IRIS Human Capital Management, a powerful division which now sees our 410-strong team support more than 40,000 clients. From our customers’ perspective, this development means they can now benefit from an extended portfolio of products, supported by the excellent levels of service they have come to expect. And from our point of view, as a growing business, IRIS Software Group is better equipped to realise its strategic vision to connect accountants, businesses and their employees. The result? Enabling organisations of all sizes to achieve success through the efficient management of their financial, compliance and human capital resources.

It’s perhaps no surprise that we’ve continued to grow throughout 2016. 45 new people have joined the Cascade team alone, and we’ve congratulated 90 members of existing staff on their career progression within the company. Training and development has also continued apace, showcasing our commitment to continually investing in our people, as well as our product.

Our client services saw greater investment too. We launched free introductory system training workshops for our customers’ HR and payroll new starters; a programme of free monthly webinars; and module-specific resources to maximise the value clients can extract from the functionality we offer.

All in all, that investment is undoubtedly paying off. We secured our largest ever deal this year – watch this space for a client announcement in 2017! And, hot off the press, we’ve secured an ISO accreditation double whammy for information security (ISO27001) and quality management (ISO9001).

What’s next for Cascade?

As we look ahead to next year, we will continue to focus on the evolving needs of our growing customer base, ensuring that we offer a compelling, effective solution that addresses bottom-line business needs. Ongoing investment in the product therefore goes without saying, as does the recruitment of more experienced team members to join Cascade and the wider IRIS HCM division.

This will enable us to leverage our combined position as a best-in class provider of HR and payroll software. We will continue to encourage departments to work closer together, improve their efficiencies and enhance the strategic impact of their work. That’s why we don’t just sell software – we offer ongoing thought leadership commentary and advice-led sessions in industry journals and at profession-led conferences too.

Feedback from our clients and prospective customers has been that this practical, advice-led content goes on to help HR and payroll teams to unlock the data they hold in their HRIS. The release of a new Cascade dashboard and reporting pack will make this process even more powerful in 2017.

How is the industry faring?

It would be easy for the result of the EU referendum to dominate our reflection on 2016. However, HR and payroll professionals have remained positive, robust and focused in their work. As such, I don’t think Brexit deserves to steal the limelight. To date, little has changed, and the ‘temperature’ of the industry at present, suggests unswerving resilience.

So, what should get a ‘shout-out’ as we look back on the industry’s key moments from this year?

We’re starting to see increased debate about the intelligent use of employee data – not least as a mechanism to manage change – and better still, that debate is already being translated into action. The demand for our insight illustrates the appetite for HR to do more. It is not sitting back and accepting the misconception that it is a transactional function. It is sitting up and being heard in the boardroom. I expect this momentum to continue and magnify, into 2017.

The quandary of accounting for human capital on the balance sheet has remained at the forefront of many HR professionals’ minds and, whilst there isn’t necessarily a ‘one size fits all’ solution for every business, the industry is addressing the need to understand, measure and safeguard the value of people, particularly from an intellectual property perspective.

Of course, businesses will continue to face wider people-orientated challenges as 2017 unfolds. Organisations are expected to be more flexible than ever in terms of how employees work, where they work, and the tools they use to do their job. This underpins the need to have a technological infrastructure in place to facilitate this flexibility, so that it brings only opportunities rather than threats.

The list of information that central government seems to want the right to access, may prove tricky for some firms to uncover. The gender pay gap, differences in executive pay, and the ethnicity/background of staff have created new transparency demands for management to report on. In fact, I authored a blog for HR News on this very topic. With a comprehensive HRIS in place, this needn’t be tough. Without it, however, it could feel like a data minefield. But the equality and social mobility agenda is not going to go away.

Overall, I’d say the industry’s prospects are very bright. Challenges and change are commonplace, but when is this ever not the case? I wish everyone the very best for a prosperous 2017.”


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Cascade HR is a well-established, award-winning provider of fully-integrated HR and payroll software. The company is renowned as much for its quality of project management and ongoing customer service levels, as it is its dynamic technology. Over