No business runs smoothly without proper management. That involves being aware of how efficient your staff is and whether or not you’re meeting your objectives as an organization. Knowing how many people to schedule, when and for which tasks is a big job with many moving parts. It’s time to face the music. All of the little tasks involved with running your business add up to be one big, time-consuming mess. What if there was a solution that would make that dizzying mess a bit easier? Workforce management software is the solution, and WFM integration will take your software to the next level.
There’s a good chance you’ve already recognized these challenges and addressed them. Perhaps you have payroll software that takes care of all of your payroll needs, or employee scheduling software that seems like a dream come true. If you already have software that you love, then why would you ever want to trade it in for new software? You might not have to. The good news is that there’s a solution to your problem that doesn’t mean throwing all your software overboard. Integrating your software systems allows you to conveniently utilize the data you need from different software without having to input it into another solution manually.
Understanding all the ins and outs of workforce management can be a bit overwhelming. There are plenty of tasks to account for under the umbrella of workforce management. We’ll break it all down for you so you can easily understand what systems you’ll need to integrate, what integration is and how to implement it for your business.
What Is Workforce Management?
The overall goal of workforce management is to optimize basic business functions. From employee scheduling to tracking employee performance, workforce management software aims to ensure everything runs as smoothly and effectively as possible. Some businesses use different software for each function. More commonly, businesses use software that’s able to do more than just a handful of tasks.
Some of the most tedious tasks that workforce management software helps with are scheduling and record management. There’s a lot to keep track of for the purposes of record keeping, and improper record management can result in hefty penalties. Workforce management integration can help to eliminate the burden of those time-consuming tasks by helping to generate schedules and keep records of business affairs with little effort on your part.
Some of the more complex tasks include things like forecasting and performance management. Forecasting capabilities calculate predicted demand using previous data in order to determine what your future needs will be. Many systems also assist in workforce analysis to help you see a clear picture of employee preferences and productivity. While all of that is truly wonderful, the best part is that most of these systems give you the ability to do it all conveniently from your smartphone. That’s quite the perk.
You have software that automatically prepares your tax documents, creates stellar schedules, speeds up your recruiting process, or any other array of HR tasks. Honestly, your software rocks and saves you tons of time and stress. Loving those benefits of your workforce management software is the reason you need to consider integration.
What Is Integration?
Isn’t work easier when everyone does their job efficiently and communicates it effectively to the rest of the team? That’s exactly how your software should work. When you integrate your software systems, all the software can communicate with one another and share data seamlessly. For example, your scheduling software will be able to tell your payroll software how many hours Sally worked to determine how much she should get paid for the week. That’s the benefit of integration.
Imagine you’re throwing a party. You want your party to be the biggest of the year. You’ve invited all of your best friends. The VIP list includes everyone from your favorite recruiting software to your best performance management solution. There’s no way your party could fail, right? Turns out none of your VIP guests know each other, and no one is talking. It sounds like a pretty lame party.
This is where software integration comes in. Integration is the liquid courage your party guests need to start talking to the other attendees. Once your VIP guests start talking and making new friends, it will truly be the event of the year. It sounds a lot better than a party where everyone’s by themselves, doesn’t it?
While pouring tequila shots for your payroll software won’t help you integrate, middleware will. Middleware serves as the bridge between your different software systems. Middleware allows your various software to communicate with one another and share data. There are several different kinds of middleware available for varying software needs. When you decide it’s time to integrate, you’ll want to explore those options to be sure you’re using the one that fits your needs.
Benefits of WFM Integration
So far it all sounds pretty good. On the surface, integration means that all of your software will be able to share data, making everything easier for you. Sadly, connecting all of this software through the integration process is no walk in the park. It involves various types of technology that quite frankly can be confusing just to understand before even using it. Will integration truly be worth it? Let’s talk specifics about what sort of benefits you’ll really be getting from integration.
Keeping accurate records is more than simply a matter of a job well done. In many cases, organizations also have a legal obligation to keep accurate employee records. While it’s likely the software you use does an excellent job of keeping records, there’s still room for mistakes if you aren’t using an integrated system.
For example, if your payroll software and benefits software aren’t sharing data, you’re leaving yourself and your employees vulnerable to inaccurate payroll. If an employee changes their benefit preferences, receives a raise or gets a bonus, it will affect their pay. You’ll want that to be reflected in their paychecks as soon as possible. If an employee adds a dependent to their plan, it will affect their benefits package. Unless your benefit software can communicate that information to your payroll software, then the withholdings from that employee’s paycheck will be inaccurately calculated. On the flip side, with an integrated system, your software can update everything automatically.
Keeping track of all of your employee and financial data is a big task that can take countless hours of work. If your company is large enough, keeping track of all of these records could be a full-time job. Even if you do have a full-time employee dedicated to data management, there is still room for error. In fact, Forbes recently ranked poor data management as one of the most costly HR mistakes. Not being able to locate the proper data in response to a complaint or an inquiry can easily lead to bigger problems.
Fortunately, most individual software systems will have some form of a record-keeping feature. Unfortunately, combing through these individual records in order to ensure your organization is in compliance with state and federal legislation is still a hassle. Many integrated systems can analyze this data for you, quickly ensuring your business is in compliance. What’s even better is that most of them can automatically check for new compliance legislation and update your records accordingly.
Allowing all of your systems to communicate and share data streamlines all of your data needs, eliminating extra work on your part. Some systems can allow employees to access their information and make changes remotely. This capability eliminates the need for individual employees to spend time talking to your HR department any time they need to make changes to their benefits plan or update their address.
While an automated system will still require some oversight to ensure it’s functioning properly, it will free up HR administrators to focus on other work, boosting the overall efficiency of the department. You may discover that you no longer need as many employees working in that department now that your software is doing much of the heavy lifting. If this is the case, you may be able to cut costs by reassigning employees to other tasks.
What Technology Should I Use?
There a handful of different types of technology that can help with workforce management software integration. For someone just exploring the idea of integration, the numerous software options can be overwhelming. If you’re beginning your research on how to implement your integration plan, these types of software will be a good starting point:
- Application Programming Interface (API): API integration might be a good option to consider if you have cloud-based software. An API works to send and receive messages between different servers.
- Enterprise Application Integration (EAI): This type of integration is a common solution for CRM and SCM software systems. EAI can work well with systems that already use some form of middleware because it is able to specify rules for integration and communicate them to existing middleware.
- Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS): IPaaS can help if you have both cloud and on-premise applications. This solution is able to communicate with software in different environments by providing the necessary server, data and middleware to bridge the gap between the two different environments.
Things to Consider Before Integration
How your software runs is a reflection of your business. If your software runs smoothly, your operations will run smoothly — that’s good business. What that well-oiled machine looks like is different for every company. As such, the integration process will be different for every business. Before you begin any integration process, it will be important to come up with a strategy for integration. Integration is assured to benefit your organization, but nothing good comes for free. Integration can be a lot of work. Having an overview of your priorities and end goals will help make the integration process easier. Consider these questions before moving forward with an integration plan.
Why Am I Integrating?
There are plenty of reasons you might be choosing to integrate. One reason might be a need for a multi-functional automated system. You may be looking to merge an old system with a newer system. Your reason for integrating may influence the type of integration software you choose to use or which systems you choose to integrate.
What Applications Do I Need To Integrate?
If you have a cloud-based payroll system that you want to integrate with an on-premise scheduling system you’ll need to consider how those two systems will communicate with each other. You’ll also want to be aware of the data that the applications will be sharing and for what purpose. For example, you might want your employee scheduling software to share data about absences with your payroll software. Based on this you’ll be able to prioritize which integrations are most important, which will help when the time comes to implement the integration.
How Will My Software Connect?
If you’ve determined that the software you want to integrate will need some form of middleware to communicate with each other, then a part of your integration process will include finding the right middleware. You might also find that the software you’re connecting already uses some form of middleware, in which case you’ll want to ensure the middleware is compatible with all the software you use.
The Wrap Up
In the end, the decision to integrate your workforce management software will be based on the needs of your business. In today’s age of cloud-based technology, it seems that more and more organizations are opting to streamline their software to maximize their benefits. While the integration process may take a few extra steps, the long term benefits are certainly worth the effort.
What software systems will you be integrating? Let us know by leaving a comment below.