Guess what? The rumor on the street is that HR leads the industry in using the Software As A Service (SaaS) delivery model. Surveys say that customers still prefer best-of-breed solutions over integrated solutions so that means more HR applications instead of less. Guess what also is true about many of these SaaS applications? They still use flat files as the main vehicle to shuttle information into and out of the application. In this model the customer is still required to develop an interface to the SaaS vendor. Wait, what? As a customer you still have to do custom development even though you are using a SaaS application.
There are several other more state of the art options such as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) or SOAP messaging. I don’t know about you but when an employee gets hired into my core HR system, I would love to have the employee information zip over to my SaaS based Learning Management System within a couple seconds instead of sometime that evening when the flat file interface gets run. When I push the button to fill a requisition in my recruiting application, wouldn’t it be great to have the new hire in my core HR system right away. Sorry SaaS Recruiting vendor, sending me XML files via FTP multiple times a day doesn’t count.
All is not lost fortunately. The HR SaaS application vendors are starting to incorporate messaging or ESBs into their offering. The most prominent example of this is Workday purchasing ESB vendor Cape Clear back in February of 2008. Since then Workday has embedded Cape Clear into their application to allow end users to create their own real-time inbound and outbound interfaces.
For those other SaaS vendors who are still stuck in the flat file interface, you better get it together soon. We are wising up and will be requiring state of the art real-time interfaces in our vendor selection criteria.