A four part series of common solution architectures for an organisations HR Technology landscape.
In Part 1 we looked at using an “all in one” platform.
In Part 2 we described a dual platform layout and why some organisations have evolved into this.
This article talks about a best of breed approach – using smaller, discrete apps to create your landscape.
This practice of using a patchwork of point solutions to deliver HR functionality can be said to be a “best of breed” approach.
Best of breed solutions tend to have deep functional capability in their domain, offering businesses flexibility and convenience to match their requirements.
Of course, the downside of a best of breed approach is integration and reporting – pieces that need to span the whole puzzle.
Why best of breed?
Like the dual platform approach, best of breed architectures tend to evolve over time as HR’s needs change.
Typically, the payroll/HRIS system is the master system of record and hard to move off, so its easier for HR to purchase additional products to improve the delivery of HR.
Best of breed (or point solutions, if you like) deliver quick wins, give you high levels of functionality and ensure you’re not locked to one single vendor.
As specialised smaller apps, these vendors usually have deep domain knowledge, are keen for your business, and want to keep you happy for the long term.
What are the pitfalls?
On the negative side, best of breed solutions give you more vendors to manage. There may be a risk with smaller vendors over financial stability or being an acquisition target from larger players.
From a systems perspective, the two major issues are integration and holistic reporting of your HR information. Both can be solved, but there is additional costs and management involved.
Patching together a raft of point solutions requires some planning – solutions that speak web services and an integration approach like SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).
Integration will be necessary so the disparate solutions feed your data warehouse, giving you consolidated reporting. Effort will be required to align data models from the different systems.
Where do you find this approach?
Like in our dual platform scenario, you can fall into a best of breed approach through mergers, management/staff changes or vendors acquisitions.
Currently, not many larger organisations willingly choose this approach to their HR Tech landscape – the complexity and management is too high.
This may change in the future as cloud solutions mature, offering “plug-n-play” integration with other like minded apps.
You can already see this emerging in the SME space, with the ability to tie a Xero (finance and payroll) to BambooHR (core HRIS) and to Deputy (timesheets) – with no vendor intervention required. In the enterprise space, larger vendors like SAP and Saba are offering app stores to build against their API platforms.
As this plug-n-play world emerges, HR may be able to develop their own “all in one” through a bundle of best of breed solutions.