In the last 5-10 years, we’ve seen clear advances in the technology provided by HR Software Vendors, including applicant tracking systems, payroll management, benefits and retirement, and a multitude of other disciplines.
As part of the new standardized system of software development cycles, technology companies are choosing to create platforms that allow third party developers to create applications and tech. solutions that utilize the platform’s functions and systems. Basically, an ATS like Taleo, or Brassring Kenexa can create a set of on-the-web rules and techniques, under commonly accepted practices, to allow third party developers, like us, to develop an application that utilizes data from their packages. This system is commonly known as an API or an Application Interface Interchange, and every online service provider from ebay, to twitter, to Facebook has one that allows them to provide speedy access to their system to third part developers and programmers.
Integrating third party appplications for these mammoth platforms can have powerful applications, especially in the HR software space, and HR software vendors can see some exceptional returns on them, if the right conditions exist.
The issue is that not enough of the name brand HR software developers are taking advantage of the developer community and their ability to extend the functions of common solutions like applicant tracking systems. This is especially prevalent in the predictive analytics space – an area which we work in on a regular basis. In fact, many of the business intelligence, and predictive analytics solutions that are designed for HR professionals do not make full use of existing APIs, and when they do, there is usually nothing to be used effectively. To improvise, a sizable portion of analytics solutions do not integrate well with HR software, which in our experience reduces the likelihood that HR professionals would be willing to adopt more advanced decision making method in operational procedures. Instead, they try to do everything themselves – that means data collections, analysis, and reporting – and often times would have to end up re-inventing the wheel or designing a brand new standard HR solution that attaches to their analytics tools. This adds tremendous cost to the development life cycle, and makes predictive analytics unattainable to small and medium firms.
When we looked at the major HR software providers to determine if they have an API, we found that more than half of them do have some skeletal platform for third party developers, but also that documentation was lacking. In addition, because third party developers have been unable to take full advantage of existing APIs, we found that there was no market of any mention for third party tools. If developers can’t generate revenue in some standard market for HR software, then there is no real incentive to design, publish and promote an application to begin with. We consider this a major loss for end users.
Perhaps, as the main stream HR software publishers begin to open their system to third parties more and more, this market will organically take shape, but as of right now we do not see that happening in the immediate future.
Joe Sheen contributed to this article.