Payroll Data Integration: Part 2

workday_rising_proud_sponsor-silver1How to Integrate your Global Payroll Data

HR and Payroll Data Integration is not about the most advanced technology, the fastest communication methods or even the ability to automate. No, HR and Payroll Data Integration is about identifying and implementing the most pragmatic method of retrieving and transferring data in any  given situation.

A payroll company may have the most technically advanced Data Transformation tools, Web Services, or APIs (Application Programming Interfaces); but what do the clients have?

It may be that the client has an HRIS system that also has the most advanced interface technologies; but do the clients know how to set it up, use it or even know that it exists?

Priorities and Comfort Blankets

Some of the clients I work with currently are at the forefront of advances, using cutting edge technologies and are quite savvy, from a technical perspective. Some have sophisticated systems, employ the latest technology and invest in their IT systems. However, that does not necessarily mean that the HR data comes top of the list for enhanced communications when the business case does not make financial sense, and in some cases, the HR department want to maintain a sense of control and verification of the data.

This means that they may utilize the established tool of the trade and the most “lived in” application of all Payroll professionals; Microsoft Excel!

Time, Cost and Complexity

There are many things that need to be considered when embarking on the implementation of data integration; various systems of record, country requirements, security, payroll schedules, audit/compliance and much more.

Is it cost effective to create automated interfaces between an HR and Payroll system when operating in multiple countries that have multiple pay frequencies? Yes, there are various levels of automation – from timed extracts and transfer to fully integrated communication of data – but remember legislations change and systems evolve, and integrations needs to be maintained, updated and managed to keep up with changes to an organization’s data eco-system. And that doesn’t even include exception handling, notifications and audit reporting.

There is a fine balancing act between the benefits of more complex and technical integrations over data reports/extracts.

Utopia, the “Art of the Possible” and Today’s Reality

In an ideal world, all data would be seamlessly passed between systems without manual intervention automatically with no drop in connections, no countries would change their requirements, no errors would arise and all data would be entered correctly the first time and every time in one system through automated interfaces where every conceivable error scenario had been explored and catered for, up front.  Ah, utopia.

HR and payroll professionals can protect against many of the issues mentioned “tongue in cheek” above. Integration systems can  re-establish connections, build in workflows to flag changes to requirements and provide notifications  of any errors and produce audit reports. There are lots of technical options.

And then there is today’s reality. The costs involved and the complexity and time to deliver the above may not sit well with the project plan or budget. And that brings this back to pragmatism. What are the REAL requirements, what offers the best value for money and the best results? After all, these are business issues and commercial decision making will prevail.

A One-Stop Shop?

Is there truly a one stop shop? Can all the data required for payroll be held in one system of record? The answer is yes! But the reality is no!

In my experience, 80-90% of data required for payroll is usually held in a company’s HR system. However, the other information – bonus, benefits, time tracking, stocks, etc. may be held in other systems or even those legacy spread sheets. Integrating all this information in one go can add to the complexity.

So how do you get all your payroll related data to your payroll provider in an efficient, cost effective manner?

Configurable Integration

SafeGuard World International (SGWI) offers a range of data integration methods to suit the client abilities, wishes and even budget. However in our experience, due to the challenge that customers have in data extraction, budget constraints, functionality constraints or just even internal appetite for change, we have taken a different approach to make the HR integration approach easier for customers.

We’ve developed a data transformation engine to solve some of the key challenges customers have. We’re able to take data in a variety of formats and transform them into formats which are more suited to quick, efficient and controlled data loading processes. Acceptable formats include:

  • Delimited files (CVS, TXT, DAT)
  • Excel spread sheets (XLS, XLSX)
  • Extensible Mark-up Language files (XML)

Not only can our system accept different formats, but it can also compile multiple input files into one upload for the relevant pay period. Therefore, it can handle employee data from an HR system along with data from other sources such as bonus runs, stocks etc. The result for some of our clients is that they continue to use existing tried and tested data input files, but SGWI manages the more “painful” part of the process; data loading, validation and error handling.

The client simply has to transport these files to the SGWI secure server. This enables to client to implement any automation on their side to extract and send the data to SGWI for processing via the integration system.

This fully configurable integration system means that a client can send data to SGWI from their HR system and other systems of record in a method that suits their business processes, data schema and technical abilities. Data can be transformed, mapped, compiled and conditional logic applied via the integration system.

International Integration – Local Logic

With the utilisation of our configurable integration system, clients can submit their global HR data from various sources, in various formats, at various times/pay periods but still maintain the legislation and business rules, as well as country specific data elements and configurations. The result is all data seamlessly interfaced to our technology platform ready for onward processing.