New employee onboarding is a conversion process: a candidate is converted into an employee. Usually, anyway (sometimes a candidate is turned into a contractor – yes, even contractors need to be onboarded). While it’s a sliver of a process that sits between the recruiting and employee life cycle processes, it’s a process that’s sensitive to risk, as I’ve written and blogged about before. It’s also a process that’s rife for earning business efficiencies, and probably the best way those efficiencies are gained is in eliminating keying and re-keying of data into other systems. Integrations, in other words.
The HR technology market is fertile ground for best-of-breed approach to products, for good reason: the HR market is huge and complex. No single vendor is going to have all products that are possible and useful, and no single vendor is going to have integrations to all other products it would be helpful to have integrations with. In this blog I wanted to summarize the kind of integrations an onboarding system will likely need to integrate with and I wanted to make some observations about how vendors should go about evaluating onboarding integrations. So here are the integrations I’ve found most common and most valuable:
The Recruiting System Integration: The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) integrates with the onboarding system to pass all known data on a candidate to the onboarding system so the onboarding process–including collection of the myriad of new hire forms–can continue. The interface typically happens at the time of “disposition” of the candidate, i.e. when they are hired and no longer considered a candidate in the recruiting system.
The HRMS and Payroll System Integrations: The onboarding system, following completion of the transactional onboarding process, passes the data package into the HRMS system, or payroll system, or both if they are separate systems. All HRMS systems are capable of representing the new employee’s data in relational recordsets, and some may allow for attachmnt of the forms (W4s, I9s, etc.) to the employee master record (if not, the forms may be passed to a document management system).
Background and Drug Testing Vendors: During the course of the onboarding process, or immediately afterwards, depending on business rules and requirements, certain of the new employee’s data may be passed to a third party vendor to facilitate a background and/or drug test. The results of the tests may be subsequently re-integrated back to the onboarding process.
Tax Credit and New Hire Reporting: Also during the course of the onboarding process or immediately afterwards, certain of the new employee’s data may be passed to a third party or a tax department within the organization to evaluate and process potential tax credits (the IRS’ Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC, for example) and to report new hire events to local and state governments, usually a requirement of state departments of labor.
Operational and Information Systems: as a candidate completes transactional onboarding, it’s common for the onboarding system to pass information on the new employee to operational systems (such as point of sales systems, time and billing management systems, help desk systems, training and learning management systems, etc.) as well as to IT systems (to request network access, email accounts, and the like).
Benefits Partners: a new employee’s information, particularly enrollments if the onboarding system is tasked with automating enrollment, may be passed to benefits partners, including benefits outsourcers and carrier/providers.
Outsourced HR Partners: in many enteprise HR environments there are a cadre of partners and vendors that handle any number of specialized HR functions, from federal and state unemployment taxes to independent employee appraisals to human resources compliance auditing. Each of these vendor/partners will require notification of some of the new employee’s data.
In some environments, complete automation of the onboarding process could entail a dozen integrations. No HRMS vendor, and not even a best-of-breed onboarding vendor, is going to have all of the desired integrations off-the-shelf. Even if the onboarding vendor embraces HR-XML, many vendors won’t. So what’s an HR department wishing to automate onboarding to do?
Your onboarding vendor doesn’t need to have a shelf full of shrink-wrapped integrations. What they should have, instead, is an integration strategy, like SOA (services oriented architecture), and lots of integration experience. Ask for integration references. Have your HRIS and IT people interview your vendors. Ask to see some working integrations. Talk to the partners who they’ve integrated with. In short, do your homework and ask lots of questions; your best onboarding vendor partners are going to enjoy taking the time to answer your questions.