Why HR should care about integrating business systems

September 26, 2018

Why HR should care about integrating business systems

It’s easy to see why IT would care about integrating business systems. After all, IT is all about efficiency, right? And integrating business systems is certainly a great way to streamline your processes. But is this something HR should really care about? After all, HR deals with people, not computers.

Well actually, the average business uses more than 1,000 different cloud applications. Drill down further, and it turns out that the HR department alone uses, on average, 90 different software systems. And according to the same dataset, the IT department only uses around 25.

So if anything, HR probably has a greater need of integrating business systems than any other department. And it’s not always possible to find a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

It’s not always right to consolidate everything into one single system

When you hear the phrase “HR software” you probably think of an all-inclusive HRMS (Human Resources Management System). However, just because something like this takes care of many core HR tasks, you will inevitably find that you’re still using other applications to cover things that your HRMS may not be able to. For example, not all HR systems deal with things like payroll or time tracking.

It’s often the case that several systems are necessary” says Melissa Morris, a business operations consultant who helps companies to scale more effectively. “So many of my clients are in search of a unicorn software that is going to instantly get their business running efficiently. But their frustration usually lies not in the software itself, but in their inability to make systems talk to each other effectively

Melissa’s advice extends beyond HR, and applies to many levels of business. For example, as well as integrating your employee database with your payroll tools, why not consider how integrating your accounting software with your CRM could help you put a price on outstanding proposals?

Focus on integrating business systems which rely on the same data

One big reason HR should pay attention to which of their systems talk to each other, is because so many HR tools rely on the same data sets.

Many systems rely on the same data” says Faith Kubicki, from IntelliChief – an Oracle® Gold Partner. “It can save time to integrate all of these systems and share the data across platforms. Employees don’t have to manually type everything in – instead, software programs can recognise and automatically update crucial information behind the scenes.

Faith says that doing this is one great way HR can seriously contribute to boosting their company’s ROI. She advises integrating any solution that contributes to an employee’s file – everything from PTO requests and tuition reimbursements, to performance reviews and benefit forms.

HR is still relying on outdated manual go-betweens

I spoke to Kevin Griggs, Director of Solutions at Cask, and detected a sense of frustration at how HR often fails to take advantage of integrations, despite living in an interconnected and interdependent world.

HR provides the business with the human capital it needs through Human Capital Management (HCM) systems, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and Vendor Management Systems (VMS)” he tells me. “But these systems are seldom connected to the processes that bring in new workers, or the systems needed to on-board those workers, or the Performance Management Systems that gauge the success or failure of those workers in the environment.

Kevin says that modern systems are all integration ready. But he says that HR – and other departments – still rely on email hand-offs between tasks or a phone call to “get the next step rolling”, when HR tools could be stitched together into end-to-end workflows that allow for better, faster, and certainly more manageable processes.

Three great ways to integrate your different HR systems

If most modern systems are, as Kevin says, “integration ready” – then how do you do it? How do you stitch your different HR systems together to create end-to-end workflows?

Well, that depends on the software you’re using, and which systems you’re trying to integrate. But here are three approaches that you could consider:

  1. An open API. An open API is a technical instruction sheet, published by a software vendor, which lets you write your own custom integrations between their system and other systems. This is the most flexible method, but is also a fairly technical method, so you may need help from your IT department. You can learn more about securely using an API for a system integration, by reading our earlier blog post here.
  2. A 3rd party workflow service. Services such as Zapier act as a technical go-between, and help you to build integrations between systems, without needing much technical expertise. You essentially select the two systems you wish to integrate, and then build workflows that say “when this system does X, trigger Y with my other system”.
  3. In-built plugins. Some business systems will already have integrations built into their fabric by design. For example, People HR recently updated its library of plugins that customers can access from directly within the software, to do things like import payslips from Sage, into employee records within the HRMS.

Ultimately, the better your systems work together, the more efficient your HR function will be. This helps you reduce operating costs, and focus your attention on the parts of HR that make a bigger difference to your business – such as cutting employee turnover to boost engagement, and save £100,000.

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