27 Jun 2022
Taking the integrated approach
When purchasing business systems, there are many options to consider, but what is important is the structure of the solution under review. There will always be debate about what represents the best solution for business software and the choice is always the same: do you buy a single solution from a single vendor or a combination of best-of-breed software? For buyers of payroll and HR solutions, the same challenge applies so Michael Howard, the Founder and Managing Director of Frontier Software shares his thoughts.
Some vendors combine different pieces of software to create a solution, whereas others provide fully integrated single products. Sometimes, vendors even promote third-party software solutions as their own – a process known as white-labelling. But how can you tell the difference, and which is the best approach? Solutions comprising disparate software combinations risk information being scattered across multiple databases. Often, changes don’t update everywhere leading to conflicting versions of data with no way to know what is true. Correcting such errors is time-consuming and disruptive. Organisations using multiple software solutions must determine how to enact data changes across all their software. They must determine a source of truth for their data and implement their interfacing to enable this. Where data structures change or pieces of software are replaced, organisations must reconfigure their interfaces.
System security ensures that the right users have access to the right data. For multiple vendor solutions, buyers will need multiple security credentials for authorised users. They must ensure that users can access only the data they have permission to access within each piece of software. As software access controls will vary, this may prove challenging. Fully integrated solutions have one security profile per user. Buyers can ensure separation of duties and users access only permitted data. Audit controls will capture every transaction for easy reporting. Fully integrated software solutions have one database to update. They have one source of truth. Their auditing capability will report across every functional area and consistently present a complete picture of ‘before’ and ‘after’ data. Michael understands the importance of audit, “relevant stakeholders must share data, and their actions on that data must be captured. So, when businesses decide to adopt a new solution or change providers, security and auditing should be among the key considerations…disparate software may capture and present audit data inconsistently”.
For Michael, there is only one choice. Integrated software works as a single solution. It has one database and need not share data as all modules form part of the whole. Data changes are universal and do not need mapping, eliminating the risk of data duplication or other errors. The system updates new codes or changes to codes everywhere in real-time. “The big advantage of seeking an integrated solution is commonality,” says Michael, “Integrated solutions will have common interfaces, reporting tools, menu structures and security access methodology.”
Michael has only touched on a very broad subject, so provides his reasons to choose a fully integrated single product solution for payroll and HR.
- Cost-efficient and time-efficient
- Minimise data issues relating to data mapping, warehousing or interfacing
- Comprehensive and configurable security protocols
- Complete, system-wide audit capability
- One contract and one relationship
- Access to specialist consultants who understand how your entire product configuration works
- Comprehensive reporting across the entire eco-system
- Better user adoption via consistent user interface and experience
- IT department buy-in to a single application provider
- Senior management buy-in due to reduced risk perception
Article originally published on Public Sector Focus June 2022.