As organizations grow in revenue and people strength, a lot of data comes into existence that needs to be managed well for business success. With more people being onboarded, most HR teams struggle to manage all processes, especially where employee data is concerned.
Invariably, different HR tools and software or HRIS (Human Resources Information Software) get adopted to automate certain parts of the workflow.
Research shows that larger companies with over 500 employees often choose HRIS to consolidate systems.
With the increasing number of HR tools and overall use cases, organizations need to integrate these software with one another and their core application to ensure seamless flow of information. Here, HRIS integration plays a major role.
This article seeks to provide a complete understanding on HRIS API integration, focusing on different concepts, data models, use cases and how to achieve it in the most efficient and effective way.
Here are some of the key concepts or terminologies you should understand before moving onto more details on the applications, use cases, etc.
Directory platforms essentially are the single source of truth for all employees, especially the new joiners. It ensures that when an employee joins, they have access to all the resources, tools and software they need. Employees can leverage the Directory to familiarize themselves with different aspects of the organization.
Payroll refers to everything related to the compensation aspect for employees. It helps companies calculate the salary due to employees at the end of every month, taxes, benefits, etc. It ensures that employees are accurately compensated based on their agreements, while also complying with statutory laws and policies.
In most structured organizations, employees are entitled to additional benefits beyond the compensation. This includes health insurance, accidental insurance, retirement plans, provident fund (India), paid time off, etc. All these come under the benefits section of an employment contract and need to be carefully monitored.
Recruitment, retention and retirement
Any HRIS API that you come across will address all or some aspects of the employee lifecycle. Here, you should understand the basics of recruitment, which involves attracting and hiring the best talent for your open roles, retention, which focuses on ensuring that you are able to prevent attrition and turnover for your employees by facilitating the right culture, fair pay, etc. and finally, retirement or exit, either due to completion of tenure, age or any other reason.
Learning and development
Another concept that requires attention is learning and development. It caters to understanding the learning and training needs for your employees, both hard and soft skills and adequately providing the right upskilling opportunities for professional success.
HRIS Integration: Top Use Cases
Let’s quickly understand how HRIS integration across HR software and tools leads to an exemplary employee experience as well as facilitates operational efficiency for HR teams. Most of the use cases of HRIS integration follow the read and write HRIS APIs which ensure automatic syncing of data between the HRIS platforms and allied applications. Put simply, manually entry of data across applications and updates can be prone to human errors. However, even a single inaccuracy in updating data can lead to serious consequences, including faulty payroll creation, absence tracking, etc. Furthermore, manual data entry might lead to unauthorized data access, especially for sensitive employee information. Here’s a quick snapshot of how HRIS integration can be used across different scenarios.
HRIS integration for ATS tools
ATS or applicant tracking system can leverage HRIS integration to ensure that all important and relevant details about new employees, including name, contact information, demographic and educational backgrounds, etc. are automatically updated into the customer’s preferred HRIS tool without the need to manually entering data, which can lead to inaccuracies and is operationally taxing. ATS tools leverage the write HRIS API and provide data to the HR tools in use.
Examples: Greenhouse Software, Workable, BambooHR, Lever, Zoho
HRIS integration for payroll software
Payroll software plays an integral role in any company’s HR processes. It focuses on ensuring that everything related to payroll and compensation for employees is accurate and up to date. HRIS integration with payroll software enables the latter to get automated and real time access to employee data including time off, work schedule, shifts undertaken, payments made on behalf of the company, etc.
At the same time, it gets access to employee data on bank details, tax slabs, etc. Together, this enables the payroll software to deliver accurate payslips to its customers, regarding the latter’s employees. With automated integration, data sync can be prone to errors, which can lead to faulty compensation disbursal and many compliance challenges. HRIS integration, when done right, can alert the payroll software with any new addition to the employee database in real time to ensure setting up of their payroll immediately. At the same time, once payslips are made and salaries are disbursed, payroll software can leverage HRIS integration to write back this data into the HR software for records.
Examples: Gusto, RUN Powered by ADP, Paylocity, Rippling
HRIS integration for employee onboarding/ offboarding software
Employee onboarding software uses HRIS integration to ensure a smooth onboarding process, free of administrative challenges. Onboarding tools leverage the read HRIS APIs to get access to all the data for new employees to set up their accounts across different platforms, set up payroll, get access to bank details, benefits, etc. With HRIS integrations, employee onboarding software can provide their clients with automated onboarding support without the need to manually retrieve data for each new joiner to set up their systems and accounts. Furthermore, HRIS integration also ensures that when an employee leaves an organization, the update is automatically communicated to the onboarding software to push deprovisioning of the systems, and services. This also ensures that access to any tools, files, or any other confidential access is terminated. Manually deprovisioning access can lead to some manual errors, and even cause delays in exit formalities.
Examples: Deel, Savvy, Sappling
Ease of communication and announcements
With the right HRIS integration, HR teams can integrate all relevant data and send out communication and key announcements in a centralized manner. HRIS integrations ensure that the announcements reach all employees on the correct contact information without the need for HR teams to individually communicate the needful.
HRIS integration for LMS tools
LMS tools leverage both the read and write HRIS APIs. On the one hand, they read or get access to all relevant employee data including roles, organizational structure, skills demand, competencies, etc. from the HRIS tool being used. Based on this data, they curate personalized learning and training modules for employees for effective upskilling. Once the training is administered, the LMS tools again leverage HRIS integrations to write data back into the HRIS platform with the status of the training, including whether or not the employee has completed the same, how did they perform, updating new certifications, etc. Such integration ensures that all learning modules align well with employee data and profiles, as well as all training are captured to enhance the employee’s portfolio.
Example: TalentLMS, 360Learning, Docebo, Google Classroom
HRIS integration for workforce management and scheduling tools
Similar to LMS, workforce management and scheduling tools utilize both read and write HRIS APIs. The consolidated data and employee profile, detailing their competencies and training undertaken can help workforce management tools suggest the best delegation of work for companies, leading to resource optimization. On the other hand, scheduling tools can feed data automatically with HRIS integration into HR tools about the number of hours employees have worked, their time off, free bandwidth for allocation, shift schedules etc. HRIS integration can help easily sync employee work schedules and roster data to get a clear picture of each employee’s schedule and contribution.
Examples: QuickBooks Time, When I Work
HRIS integration for benefits administration tools
HRIS integration for benefits administration tools ensures that employees are provided with the benefits accurately, customized to their contribution and set parameters in the organization. Benefits administration tools can automatically connect with the employee data and records of their customers to understand the benefits they are eligible for based on the organizational structure, employment type, etc. They can read employee data to determine the benefits that employees are entitled to. Furthermore, based on employee data, they feed relevant information back into the HR software, which can further be leveraged by payroll software used by the customers to ensure accurate payslip creation.
Examples: TriNet Zenefits, Rippling, PeopleKeep, Ceridian Dayforce
HRIS integration for workforce planning tools
Workforce planning tools essentially help companies identify the gap in their talent pipeline to create strategic recruitment plans. They help understand the current capabilities to determine future hiring needs. HRIS integration with such tools can help automatically sync the current employee data, with a focus on organizational structure, key competencies, training offered, etc. Such insights can help workforce planning tools accurately manage talent demands for any organization. At the same time, real time sync with data from HR tools ensures that workforce planning can be updated in real time.
Examples: ClearCompany, Deel, ActivTrak
HRIS API Data Models
The different HRIS tools you use are bound to come with different data models or fields which will capture data for exchange between applications. It is important for HR professionals and those building and managing these integrations to understand these data models, especially to ensure normalization and transformation of data when it moves from one application to another.
Employees/ Employee Profiles
This includes details of all employees whether full time or contractual, including first and last name, contact details, date of birth, email ID, etc. At the same time, it covers other details on demographics and employment history including status, start date, marital status, gender, etc. In case of a former employee, this field also captures termination date.
Employee Contact Details
This includes personal details of the employee, including personal phone number, address, etc. which can be used to contact employees beyond work contact information.
Employee Profile Picture
Employee profile picture object or data model captures the profile picture of the employees that can be used across employee records and purposes.
The next data model in discussion focuses on the type or the nature of employment. An organization can hire full time employees, contractual workers, gig workers, volunteers, etc. This distinction in employment type helps differentiate between payroll specifications, taxation rules, benefits, etc.
Location object or data model refers to the geographical area for the employee. Here, both the work location as well as the residential or native/ home location of the employee is captured. This field captures address, country, zip code, etc.
Leave request data model focuses on capturing all the time off or leave of absence entries made by the employee. It includes detailing the nature of leave, time period, status, reason, etc.
Each employee, based on their nature of employment, is entitled to certain time off in a year. The leave balance object helps organizations keep a track of the remaining balance of leave of absence left with the employee. With this, organizations can ensure accurate payroll, benefits and compensation.
This data model captures the attendance of employees, including fields like time in, time out, number of working hours, shift timing, status, break time, etc.
Each organization has a hierarchical structure or layers which depict an employee’s position in the whole scheme of things. The organizational structure object helps understand an employee’s designation, department, manager (s), direct reportees, etc.
This data model focuses on capturing the bank details of the employee, along with other financial details like a linked account for transfer of salary and other benefits that the employee is entitled to. In addition, it captures routing information like Swift Code, IFSC Code, Branch Code, etc.
Dependents object focuses on the family members of an employee or individuals who the employee has confirmed as dependents for purposes of insurance, family details, etc. This also includes details of employees’ dependents including their date of birth, relation to the employee, among others.
This includes the background verification and other details about an employee with some identification proof and KYC (know your customer) documents. This is essential for companies to ensure their employees are well meaning citizens of the country meeting all compliances to work in that location. It captures details like Aadhar Number, PAN Number or unique identification number for the KYC document.
This data model captures all details related to compensation for an employee, including total compensation/ cost to company, compensation split, salary in hand, etc. It also includes details on fixed compensation, variable pay as well as stock options. Compensation object also captures the frequency of salary payment, pay period, etc.
Unified HRIS API Integration: Get Started
By now, it would be clear to you that there are several HRIS tools in the market today that companies use and need to integrate with one another to ensure smooth exchange of data and consistency in records across platforms. However, manually implementing integrations between APIs of individual platforms can be extremely time consuming and resource intensive. In such a case, you can rely on a unified API like Knit, which gives you a single HRIS API to integrate with. Once you integrate with the HRIS API, you automatically get integrated with all the HR platforms you use.
Before moving on to the best practices to choose the right Unified HRIS API integration platform, here are some quick reasons why you should choose one:
- Requires integration with a common unified API to connect with a plethora of HRIS software used by different customers
- Supports common integration logic, endpoints, pagination which is easy to understand
- Normalizes and transforms data into a unified data model with possibility of having custom fields for smooth data sync
- Can facilitate real time data sync between the application offered and HRIS software with instant alerts
- Tales care of integration maintenance and management with logging and error detection
- Significantly lower cost and time requirements, ability to integrate with multiple HRIS platforms within days to a few weeks
- Common documentation and need to understand only one API than toggling between documentation of all HRIS APIs
- Need to deal with only one form of authentication, rate limits, pagination, etc.
Here are some points that you should always consider while choosing the right unified HRIS API for your company:
Understand the documentation
Start by gauging whether or not the unified API provides comprehensive and easy to understand documentation for integration. One of the key reasons to choose a unified API is to prevent the effort of navigating through individual documentation for each integration you need. Therefore, getting the right documentation, which covers everything you need is important. The documentation will also help you understand the integration logic being followed, including REST vs SOAP, and end points like GET, POST, and PATCH, provision of free sandbox, etc.
Which authentication model is followed?
Next, understand the authentication model that the unified API provides. Essentially, there are a few major types of authentication, including,
- Basic Auth that requires an API key or password for access
- OAuth 2.0 which relies on token exchanges
- Username-password based authentication
The right authentication and authorization is important since it will directly impact the privacy and security of the data you exchange between integrations.
What are the rate limits?
Rate limits are simply the number of API requests that can be made in a defined period of time. They are generally set to prevent cyber attacks like DDoS attacks which come in the form of exponential unleashing of API requests. Having a lower threshold of rate limit, but with expected high rate of requests can lead to unexpected unified API behavior. Ensure that your unified API provider can customize rate limits to address your and your customer needs.
Do you get post integration support?
HRIS API integration doesn’t end with building the integrations. There is a lot which goes on once the integrations are under use. There can be errors in data transformation, zombie APIs, API keys breaking or expiring, bad data being returned, long running syncs, troubleshooting challenges, and more. Your unified API needs to provide you with exceptional maintenance and management support, taking care of any challenge that comes along. At the same time, the error messages should be easy to decipher for your customer success team to ultimately address the queries.
How secure are the integrations?
Undoubtedly, security of your HRIS API integration is critical to your business operations. Thus, choose a unified API provider which is security-first. Gauge the level of encryption it offers, We have already talked about authentication. Don’t forget to check for security protocols, certifications and compliances which are adhered by the unified API for maximum resilience.
Knit: Unified HRIS API
Knit is a unified HRIS API provider that enables companies to implement native HRIS integrations to streamline and optimize HR processes. When you integrate with Knit, you get:
- One unified API to connect with all HRIS tools you need
- Single unified data model for seamless data normalization and exchange
- Compliance to the highest security standards like SOC2, GDPR, ISO27001, HIPAA
- Option to authenticate the way you want, including, OAuth, API key or a username-password based authentication
- 100% webhooks architecture that send out notification whenever updated data is available
- Guaranteed scalability and delivery of HR data irrespective of data load
- High level of security as Knit doesn’t store a copy of your data
- Option to read and write data from any app from any HRIS category
- Option to limit data sync and API calls to only what you need
- Double encryption when in transit and when at rest with addition PII layer
- Detailed Logs, Issues, Integrated Accounts and Syncs page to easily monitor HRIS integrations
- Custom fields to manage any non-standard HRIS data
Knit, as a unified HRIS API ensures a high ROI for companies which seek to integrate their diverse HRIS applications to make their HR processes effective, without sinking their organizational budgets.
Wrapping up: TL:DR
To conclude, it is quite evident that HRIS integration is a must have for any growing HR team which is looking to work with several HR tools to manage different parts of the process. However, building and managing integrations in-house can be quite intensive in terms of investments and engineering team involvement. Fortunately, with a unified HRIS API, companies only need to integrate once with a unified API key and connect with all HRIS applications, with high levels of security, guaranteed scalability, seamless data normalization, integration management and real time sync.