The Value Of Integrating Disparate HR Systems

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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Businesses implement workforce management software as they need it—or as they can afford it. These include Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), benefits management, payroll, talent acquisition, onboarding, and employee timekeeping. As the company grows over the years, it can end up with many disparate systems. Company mergers can add even more software complexity to the mix.

If you’ve worked in a company with siloed systems—and most of us have—you know it’s not ideal. The lack of cross-functional operation is inefficient and downright frustrating. Redundancy, difficulty in accessing and transferring records, and general confusion waste time and money.

But there are formidable barriers to creating a unified HR system from a patchwork of technology. You probably chose each application because it was the most capable at performing a specific function. Some software vendors specialize in a narrow HR niche, so you can’t get everything you need from one provider.

Another complication is that some of the data is used by several departments. For example, human resources, payroll, and accounting share payroll data. Other records are only used in recruitment and onboarding. Plus there is sensitive data that can only be accessed by a small group of authorized users.

Budget considerations always come into play. A unified system may seem too expensive. You’ve already invested a lot of money in your software so you don’t want to scrap it entirely.

Adopting a completely new system may slow down operations in many departments. This could bring productivity to a standstill during the transition. And it’s always a challenge to get everyone up to speed on new software.

Regardless of the obstacles, there are many benefits to creating a unified Human Resources system:

  • It saves everyone time and frustration
  • It improves data accuracy
  • It streamlines the acquisition of internal and external talent
  • It provides comprehensive analytics to guide decisions across departments
  • Employee self-service improves productivity, morale, and relieves the burden on administrators
  • It simplifies compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Affordable Care Act (ACA), and local workplace laws

If HR integration is your goal, how do you decide the best way to move forward? Here is a guide that can help you in your integration journey.

Define Your Vision

You first need to determine your goals for wfm integration. Don’t rush this process. Assemble a team with people from every department to design the ideal system. This means HR, of course, plus IT, and management at every level. Include rank-and-file employees to help with the employee self-service component. Incorporate department-specific goals along with company-wide objectives.

How To Justify An HR Overhaul To Decision Makers

To pitch a major software purchase to executives, you will need to demonstrate measurable ROI. Since HR is not a revenue generator, you will need to emphasize how much money it will save. Show how it will help other departments increase profitability. Businesses that adopt unified HR systems usually spend 25 percent less on HR admin per employee.

Explain how improving efficiency will allow your admin team to focus on recruitment, onboarding, and retention. It will allow managers to focus on increasing productivity.

Don’t forget to outline the labor law compliance benefits. Protecting your company from a hefty DOL fine is very persuasive.

Establish a Baseline

The next step is to assess the effectiveness of current systems to know where you stand. List all the gaps in functionality. Which processes are still manual? Where do workflows break down? Which departments duplicate operations?

Identify what an ideal system would include and how it would work. Next, create a plan to get from here to there.

Determine Which Systems Can Integrate Now

Most companies start by figuring out how to import time card data into payroll. This isn’t surprising because paychecks are a priority for every organization. Many businesses never move beyond connecting these two pieces.

If your company is using enterprise HR software, ask your software vendors if they have a cloud-based system. It may not cost more and your employees already know how to use it. Cloud computing expands integration possibilities.

Your software vendors might offer interfaces that allow their systems to work with other business software. They can also help you implement them.

There are several ways to integrate disparate HR systems. Here are some options. These are not exclusive. Your integration plan may use a combination of these methods.

  • Basic data integration: FTP-enabled data imports from one system to another
  • APIs (application programming interfaces)
  • Middleware
  • A new, unified Human Resources system

If none of these work for your software situation, it might be worth investing in a unified system. Comprehensive cloud-based systems are more affordable than older premise-based software. If you haven’t looked at the current generation, you may be surprised at how powerful and cost-effective they are.

Don’t Forget About Data Security

Whether you are using onsite or cloud-based HRIS, make data security a priority. If using a cloud-based system, verify the security protocols of your software providers. For premise-based software, have your IT security team train system users on security practices. Consider hiring a security consultant if your IT team is not up to the task.

New Companies Can Avoid Future Integration Problems

If you are a new business owner, you can start out right with a cloud-based unified HRIS. WorkforceHub is designed for small to mid-size businesses with hourly employees. WorkforceHub doesn’t require a large upfront cost and scales easily. It allows a very small HR team to easily manage a large workforce. To learn how a unified system can benefit your business, visit WorkforceHUB.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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