The growth in enterprise HR SaaS apps is a great thing for organisations – specialised vendors playing in once unheard of niches providing real value for people management.
These are the next generation of HR apps – offering a great user experience, rich functionality and all at price points that make the legacy vendors squirm.
But no app is an island, and to truly add value, the information captured in your “oh so cool” app needs to be shared. It needs to be passed to a source of truth or combined with other information to give rich insights via big data.
“To remain competitive against the suite solutions the best of breed apps must have integration in their DNA – or risk death by isolation.”
Integration – Integrate or Die
Integration is a major challenge for us at HROnboard, our onboarding platform sits and sends information between recruitment systems (requisition and candidate info) and Payroll/HRIS (new hire details). To solve the integration problems, we’ve worked hard on three different methods of pushing and pulling information.
1. User Integration – The Lowest Common Denominator
Primitive but often the most likely to happen – give your users the ability to simply import/export CSV files.
Want to extract candidate information from a legacy recruitment system? Here’s a CSV!
Want to upload time sheet information information into your on premise payroll system? CSV please!
Until the market matures and a more sophisticated means of integration appears (see next point), allowing CSV import/ export is great to get the job done – albeit a bit 1980’s.
2. Web Services/APIs – Build It And They Will Come
Nearly ‘table stakes’ for any self-respecting SaaS app, APIs are the programmatic doorways into your app, allowing developers the ability to write programs to interact with your app – i.e create a job offer, extract performance ratings etc.
But APIs don’t complete the puzzle, particularly in the enterprise SaaS world. This is because there is not a rush of independent developers just waiting to build a widget to get your app to talk to theirs.
Despite my enthusiasm, HR aren’t usually jumping for joy when I mention APIs. This is because APIs don’t really solve the ‘how can my app talk to another vendor’s app’ problem – someone with technical knowledge still needs to write the ‘glue’ to join the two. In the SME market services like Zapier are that ‘glue’.
3. Connectors & Direct Integration – Seamless, Out Of The Box
This where your app has an out-of-the-box connection to another app that requires little or no configuration (i.e. a regular user should be able to connect the two).
In the SME space, connectors between apps abound, but it becomes rarer in the enterprise space as fewer vendors make their APIs available or encourage market places for connectors to be promoted. Full suite vendors in particular aren’t very open to best-of-breed apps replacing them in a functional area.
The other challenge blocking the development of connectors is commercial. It’s hard to justify the precious development dollars you have on building integration, unless there are deals on the table looking for the solution.
As the HR cloud enterprise market matures so will integration options. You only have to look at the booming SME cloud space to see the thriving ecosystems of Xero and other successful providers.
Beware the vendors who don’t give you options for integration, as they will be the first to fail in the increasingly more connected world.