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What is HR Data Integration?

Data integration and automation represent the next wave in improving HR efficiency and productivity.

HR data integration defined

Data integration, in the context of HR apps, shares job, candidate, and employee data automatically between HR apps or centralizes data in one database from various sources.

Data integration and automation represent the next wave in improving HR efficiency and productivity. With data integration, HR professionals can focus on strategic issues that grow a company—instead of wasting time on manual double-data entry between HR apps. Here’s what you need to know about how HR data integration can help your business.

Data integration solves the big problem with HR apps: disconnected silos

HR professionals love their apps. To manage and grow businesses, HR departments need apps for sourcing candidates, handling recruiting, managing employees, and paying employees. The number of apps magnifies each year as companies replace legacy systems, merge with different entities, and operate in different countries. “On average, large HR departments now have 11 systems of record” writes Josh Bersin for Human Resource Executive.

While HR software improves productivity, the main problem with the SaaS model is that data resides in disconnected silos in the cloud. Siloing means that employee data has to be manually re-entered from program to program every time a new hire is added. That presents a serious drag on efficiency. Further, employee data must be updated in multiple programs when something as simple as a change in home address occurs. Comprehensive reports are also impossible unless an organization can see the entire picture.

HR data integration solves the data silo problem by automatically sharing data between apps.

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Why HR data integration?

Check out Flexspring’s corporate profile, “Why HR Data Integration?” featuring a client data integration case study with Don Oleski, IT Director of MAPEI Americas.

How data integration for HR apps works

With HR data integration, the most common scenarios involve sharing data from one program to another. Any workflow where your team currently passes papers between desks or manually re-enters data from screen to screen in HR apps can be streamlined with automatic data sharing. As soon as employee data is entered or updated in one program, that employee data automatically appears in each connected app, giving you continuity of data throughout your HR workflow.

There are always at least two sides to any data integration. You have to pull data from a source app and push that data to a target app. Sounds easy enough, right?

The challenge is that no two software apps name their database fields the same way, and no two software APIs handle data the same. Source data frequently has to be transformed and mapped to meet the unique data requirements of a target app. For example, when integrating new hires from Greenhouse to ADP for payroll, it’s crucial to know that data in the “” field in Greenhouse should map to the “Job Title” field in ADP and that “SSN” maps to “Tax ID.”

Now add the complexity that nearly every HR app—as a feature—has given HR professionals the ability to create custom fields unique to their business and you can understand why nearly every integration requires some degree of customization.

Years ago, data integration required an internal IT team or external team of integration consultants to write custom scripts to pull data out of an app and write custom scripts to push the data into the other app. This was time and resource-intensive. Indeed, data integration used to be a slow, painful process. And when the API is updated or someone changed a custom field in the database, integration scripts would break.

To make HR data integration easier, the experts at Flexspring added a middleware solution to handle the complex data mapping. Now, prebuilt connectors pull data from the source app and the middleware platform maps and transforms the data using unlimited business rules. Then, a prebuilt connector pushes the data into the target app.

Flexspring’s integration platform as a service solution (iPaaS), Flexspring, was designed exclusively to meet the complex requirements of HR software and speed integration. With prebuilt connectors and the Flexspring iPaaS, data integrations that used to take six months now routinely complete in six weeks.

Flexspring has pioneered a data integration approach that provides both turnkey and custom connectors. Turnkey connectors work right out of the box for a standard set of fields. Custom connectors can be modified to meet a business’ unique needs and incorporate custom fields.

7 Benefits of HR Data Integration

1. Eliminates time-wasting, manual double-data entry between HR apps

Any workflow where your team currently passes papers between desks or manually re-enters data from screen to screen in HR apps can be streamlined with automatic data sharing.

Data integration automatically shares data from a source app with a target app. For example, as soon as a hiring manager presses the hire button in your ATS, all employee data needed to process payroll can be sent to your payroll app. Onboarding new employees can become instant instead of requiring hours of manual double-data entry.

Depending on the amount of candidate data and employee records your company handles, data integrations can save several days of work per month or even several full-time employees worth of effort.

Further, in a coronavirus-challenged world, the last thing your HR professionals have time for is manual double-data entry.

2. Increases productivity and efficiency

Data integration frees HR professionals to concentrate on strategic work that grows your business.

Real-time data integration also creates data continuity throughout your organization. Your HR team no longer has to wait for records to be entered, or check with others to see if they can run reports on updated data sets.

With HR data integration, your HR team can stay focused on the tasks that matter most.

"The Greenhouse to Predictive Index integration from Flexspring is a game-changer for us. It’s taken what was previously a 10-20 minute process and reduced it to one minute. With this integration, we’re easily saving 10 hours a week on candidate review.

Now, we can collect more information, broaden our pool of candidates, and increase the amount of positions we can focus on filling each week. Already, we’re seeing our time to fill a position decrease.

Simply, if you’re sending more than 10 candidates a week to Predictive Index, you’ll notice it. If you’re sending more than 20 PI’s a week, you’ll be annoyed if you don’t have this integration."

3. Reduces manual errors

Tediously re-entering dozens of data fields from one app to another generally leads to typos and manual data-entry errors. Data integration greatly reduces manual errors.

And in cases where an error has occurred, making a change in one system can cascade the updated correction to other HR apps, so there’s no longer a need to hunt through all your systems to check for errors.

4. Improves morale

HR people would rather work on strategic things that grow a company than manual data entry. Everyone is happy to give up the drudge work. Young workers, in particular, are quickest to ask, “Can’t the computer do this for us?”

With data integration, they’re right.

“Flexspring's Taleo Enterprise to Oracle HCM Integration is saving us 20-40 hours per week—essentially a full-time employee. We're getting great and very positive feedback from recruiters and from operations. They don't have to touch the records anymore or juggle paper forms for manual re-entry. Folks are happy to give up the drudge work. There's a feeling that this integration really makes a difference here.”

5. Increases security

Data integration reduces the creation of unnecessary user accounts, duplicate employee profiles, and people involved with manual data entry.

With data integration, fewer people need to touch employee records and fewer people are exposed to confidential employee data, thus increasing security.

Further data integrations from Flexspring do not store employee data. They simply pass the packets of information along secure connections. In fact, Flexspring is certified as SOC 2 compliant by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) for securely handling data.

6. Improves business continuity

Data integrations never take a vacation or need a sick day. Once enabled, data integrations and automations work around the clock.

With so many people working remotely from home, data integration ensures that workers always have access to the most recent data and don’t have to second guess reports, the status of a candidate, or a job posting.

7. Makes comprehensive reporting possible

Due to acquisitions, different locations, and legacy systems, many organizations rely on multiple HR apps to do similar jobs. It can be impossible for leaders to see the whole picture of their organization without comprehensive reporting from a unified data set.

Data integration allows multiple apps to contribute to a unified data warehouse within a company, so that comprehensive reporting tools can provide live, accurate reports.

How HR apps connect

Most HR app data integration is done using API-to-API integration via the cloud, which allows for near real-time data sharing. API connections are fast and reliable.

However, not all HR apps have APIs. Or, underdeveloped APIs currently cannot handle all the data fields inside an app. In these cases, scheduled file transfers export and import data.

HR data integration focuses on use cases

Because HR apps are so complex and often use multiple APIs to pull various data sets, modern data integration focuses on use cases. For example, bringing Payroll Data from ADP to NetSuite General Ledger involves very different data than Employee Updates from ADP to NetSuite that might include changes of address.

Some data integrations may involve as little as 14 fields. Others, 192 fields. In each case, data mapping and automatic data sharing save HR professionals the time and worry of manually re-typing data in another app.

Flexspring has created a white paper of the 60 Most Popular Use Cases for Data Integration that HR departments use to streamline HR processes. This white paper also delineates the most popular use cases by software apps. You can see actual use cases of how different companies use data integration to increase productivity and efficiency.

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