How APIs Are Powering HR Technology Success

Laptop API

by Jigesh Saheba
Vice President of Product Development, ADP Marketplace

Today’s HR technology landscape offers HR leaders countless tools to modernize their way of working—but it can also create hurdles like disparate data flowing across many HR systems, unfriendly user platforms and ineffective business processes.

As a result, employers get stuck with siloed applications that cause unnecessary, unproductive burdens on HR administrators and front-line managers, as well as stressed-out employees and costly data errors. The list goes on.

Naturally, those employers want to reduce or eliminate ineffective, isolated applications and the negative impact they have across all levels of the organization.

Expanded use of APIs proves how they can build a positive, streamlined experience for both employers and employees, says @ADP's Jigesh Saheba. Click To Tweet

Today, while the “consumerization” of enterprise applications and the concept of HR application marketplaces may still be new to most, there already exists an e-commerce storefront of best-of-breed applications that can help businesses make their HR processes as effective and agile as possible.

That’s important because being able to quickly adapt and implement new HR tech tools as the world changes not only helps boost the bottom line, but can potentially ensure a business’s survival.

Introducing the API-Based Solution

Enter application programming interface, or API, technology. Expanded use of APIs is proving how they can help build a positive, streamlined experience for employers and employees alike. Clearly, an employer that wants to be at its competitive best should consider an API-fueled tech strategy.

At its most basic level, an API is a type of software that allows two or more applications to easily and effectively communicate with each other. In real-world terms, every time you send a message through a mobile social media app, an API makes it happen.

API Advantage #1: the Connected Enterprise

With an integrated API-driven solution, HR administrators can enjoy better visibility into their talent. For example, they can better manage processes such as employee onboarding and offboarding. In short, APIs power a much more “connected” solution and enable a smart way to deploy an effective, efficient people management strategy.

On the technical side, developers use APIs to build integrations that can reduce the burden of duplicate data entry and allow employers to orchestrate complex business processes that span disparate systems. For example, it’s now possible for businesses to construct a human capital management (HCM) portfolio by choosing best-fit apps and data connectors built by developers.

These are ready-to-go solutions: All the labor-intensive programming work has been done. Developers build solutions allowing the customer to buy off the shelf, much like they would shop as online consumers. There’s no need to hire a costly developer or depend on internal IT resources.

API Advantage #2: Ease of Use

Building on the consumer buying analogy, API-enabled solutions focus on connectivity, interoperability and freedom of choice. Granted, online shopping isn’t new in the retail world. But for employers, it’s an emerging concept, and APIs offer real opportunities based on ease of use. Does your business need customized workflows that can span multiple vendor systems? You can avoid that complexity with an HR ecosystem that uses APIs.

Standardized APIs also enable freedom of choice. Startup companies can take early steps with simple solutions targeted to business clients. Then, as they grow, they can scale up or add new, easily integrated solutions and features. APIs offer a “pay for what you need, add later” approach.

Plus, as solution vendors utilize standardized APIs to integrate with core HR and payroll systems, application changes are much less disruptive to business.

That agility through APIs allows systems to keep in tune with one another and react in real time to significant events, including new hires, terminations, payroll administration, life events and many more critical people-related processes.

The proof of concept exists: Digital ecosystem platforms that feature APIs fuel business growth, with value creation and sustainability emerging as key benefits.

APIs’ Response to HR Tech Challenges

As an example of how this can work, we at ADP are using APIs to create a simple, modern HR experience for both employers and employees.

For example, we originally focused on multifaceted API functionality and made ongoing investments in endeavors like ADP Marketplace, our digital HR storefront that allows ADP clients to customize their HCM ecosystems. Powered by APIs, the platform is designed to deliver connectivity and interoperability between ADP and hundreds of partner systems.

As noted above, APIs greatly facilitate the ability to pull or push data quickly and smoothly. With that in mind, the ADP Mobile Solutions app, for example, uses APIs to pull pay statement data from the payroll application, push timesheet data into a time application and initiate benefits changes by reporting qualifying data to the benefits application.

The digital ecosystem concept outlined above has been the ADP Marketplace hallmark since its inception five years ago. Basically, we give developers access to our APIs so they can easily build and connect their solutions to ADP. When true connectivity is possible, the outcome can be exponential. The more the connectivity, the more the possibilities.

Where to Go From Here?

With APIs driving such dramatic change, a spectrum of possibilities exists for businesses of all sizes to have instant access to solutions that can quickly expand their capabilities while bypassing unnecessary internal costs.

For example, small or medium-sized businesses with limited IT resources and budget no longer need to be at a technological disadvantage when competing with larger companies. Using an API-based marketplace, they can find, try, buy and implement a variety of HR solutions to build their competitive edge.

For larger enterprises, there is the ability to leverage APIs to build a custom integration, or save time and money by using pre-built apps that connect payroll data to other popular HR products like Oracle HCM, Taleo Business Edition, NetSuite and more. In most cases, implementations are done quickly after comparing, buying and activating chosen solutions.

At ADP, we believe that by offering an API-driven strategy we can continue our goal to “design for people.” That’s the evolution of ADP Marketplace, and since its launch we’ve proven time and again that it can offer an innovative, successful people management technology strategy that’s thriving now and will continue to in the years to come.

Jigesh Saheba, the Distinguished Engineer and VP of Product Development for ADP Marketplace, pioneered ADP Marketplace, which is the cornerstone of ADP’s open ecosystem strategy.

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