HR is not a 'on-size-fits-all' business

Making the case for best-of-breed apps and easy data integrations.
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Even though nowadays a lot of people & culture processes are digitalised (more or less…), most HR teams still face a lot of the same daily battles. They are running a manual payroll load with the same errors to be dealt with every single month. Onboarding new employees is still an administrative nightmare. Performance reviews are a yearly static cycle with zero engagement of employees. And evenly frustrating; management constantly askes for ad-hoc reports that take way too much time to put together by pulling bits and pieces of data together from different systems and then struggle in Excel for a day or two.

HR can and should run so much smoother. Smarter automation of repetitive, low-value tasks is the way forward obviously. But of course, budget is limited, HR typically doesn’t have a lot of IT-expertise available and most importantly; for some HR processes tools are already in place. Tools that users are very well adopted and which are running smoothly.

Then there is the huge arena of HR solution vendors. Most of them promise to ‘do it all’ (but really don’t…) and are supposedly a walk in the park to implement (but really aren’t…) Also, when you thoroughly look at what is really needed, it is most likely not even that complex. You do not need this over-sized Swiss army knife offering tons of features and requires a heavy expensive implementation project for which you have to hire a team of consultants for a year or more. You want to address specific bottlenecks in your HR services and get the best possible solution in place. A product that offers the best functionality for your specific challenge whether it is recruiting, learning, feedback, or a simple global HR core platform. And obviously your users have high standards around ease of use and expect systems to ‘talk’ to each other instead of making them enter data twice or more.

So why not leave systems that do a good job in place, select a solution that offers the best for your specific need and integrate this solution to tools you already use offering a unified HR experience to your organisation. All you need to do is ignore the promise of big full-suite ERP vendors and start looking at your people processes as an ecosystem of purpose build apps.

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Choosing so-called point solutions for specific HR topics make you get the best of each. Simply because these vendors focus all their time, money and expertise in a smaller niche giving you the most innovation within HR expertise domains like Learning, Talent Acquisition, Employee Engagement, etc. Not only do these companies offer better and more innovative features like social collaboration features, AI, skills management, etc., they also always offer deeper expertise within their specific domain. After all payroll is a very different cookie than candidate sourcing and matching. Absence management doesn’t have a lot in common with learning & development. Also in HR goes; doing everything means specialising in nothing.

If you look at your HR as a tailored combination of apps, you do need to integrate those to make HR run smoothly and facilitate a fluent user journey. Nobody wants to waste their valuable time hammering in the same data twice in separate systems.

This subject of integrating systems used to raise the spectre of complex, long IT-projects, big budgets, and heavy maintenance. However, thanks to API’s, webhooks and wide availability of tons of standard integrations, piecing together your own suite of HR applications isn’t as hard as it used to be. Easy to use low-tech connectors are offered everywhere and can be deployed without deep IT-expertise. Just follow the logic; specialised HR solutions cannot stand alone and must be able to integrate well to survive. They are focussed on offering very specific functionality combined with easy integrations with other HR platforms. This gives you more flexibility, more choice, and less vendor lock-in. After all, it is easier to switch off tools when one piece isn't working as it should. Your business won’t grind to a halt if you decide to switch to a different software vendor. 

Obviously, there are some things to consider when integrating your HR apps. You need to take a thorough look at your system architecture and decide what to prioritize. Think about what application you regard as the ‘source of truth’ for all your people data, and how to make data flow logically from and to each connected app? Like in any project; start small by putting the most vital parts like single-sign-on and availability of basic employee data in place first and build from there.

There are numerous options for organisations to easily link systems together to save time, effort, and frustration. And with some basic preparation ahead, software integration doesn’t have to be a hassle. Ultimately, integrating your people data won’t only bring your apps closer together, but also your team.