When you’re speaking to vendors about their products, it’s often the highly visible and cool features that get the noise and limelight. After all, these are the features that your line managers and employees will be using most of the time.
While I love to see features improving functionality and user experience, what really piqued my interest is how easily apps can share information and integrate to other systems.
Traditionally, integrating systems is very time consuming and expensive to setup and maintain, as most IT departments can testify to.
But a new wave of thinking about integration as witnessed by trends like Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), Platform as a Service and application market places are making moving information between systems easier.
Often ignored by organisations when selecting HR systems, the availability of a solid suite of integration tools underpinned by an integration framework is critical in any HR solution.
Here’s why vendors should be putting integration first:
No HR system is an island
Unless you’re running a big ERP from Oracle or SAP, chances are you’ll have dozens of systems you need to pass people information in and out of.
If you’re a HR Payroll system, you’re the source of truth and there will be dozens of systems you need to feed. In you’re a niche or best of breed HR Solution, odds are you need some data to keep you going.
No HR System is an island and demand for integrated business processes between disparate systems will only increase and beware the vendors who ignore this.
Stairway to Heaven (well your hosted “cloud” solution)
It’s common practice for traditional on-premise HR vendors to offer a hosted “cloud” version of their solution.
Integrating on-premise solutions has traditionally been the domain of the IT department where direct access to the server and database makes it easy to schedule jobs that SFTP files around or make direct database connections to pull data out.
In a hosted environment, customers don’t have access to the server or database making it difficult to use traditional integration methods.
If your vendor doesn’t have a robust integration framework, any connectors to the system can only be developed and maintained at the request of the vendor, a cost sometimes not considered.
Quick and easy integration
At Navigo we had a problem; our account managers wanted to see outstanding support tickets for a customer before they called them. The account managers use Sugar CRM to record calls and activities against customers, and the support tickets are held in our ZenDesk Support system which they didn’t have or need logins to.
The solution, Zendesk integration for SugarCRM, took all of five minutes to setup, was free and immediately solved the problem.
A lot of the newer HR and Social platform vendors have dedicated market places and developer sites including Jive, LinkedIn and Workday.
In order for traditional HR Vendors to compete in the new cloud world they will require more packaged integrations and a well documented Developer SDK.
Our research shows nearly 60% of HRIS solutions in Australia are older then five years and that means a lot of organisations will be looking to replace their current HR Solutions.
Most organisations have done the hard work of implementing systems for major business functions, and have dealt with spaghetti interfaces between in-house systems. IT departments are now focused on how to move information and improve business processes between disparate systems using middleware software and the least amount of interface code.
Vendors can expect more scrutiny and demands of their application integration frameworks as organisations become more sophisticated about their integration requirements.
About the author
Peter Forbes is the managing director of Navigo, a HR technology consulting firm, which he co founded in 2002. Navigo's Research and Advisory arm provides advisory, strategy and market intelligence on the Australian HR Technology scene and can be found at HRTechReport.com.au