With this being the first Blog Post in our new forum and website, I think it is important to explain why Moulton & Hardin, Inc. / M&H OneSource's (M&H) HCM platform is so powerful, what we have providing our customers and clients for many years, and the important role our platform plays in today's business compliance and efficiency initiatives.
As someone who has been marketing software for the past nine years, I've learned how carelessly vendors tend to phrase how their solutions are "integrated" with each other or with other vendors. The way it's marketed can look fantastic on a piece of collateral or on a website, but when it comes down to actually using the solution, it can be different.
I started thinking about this... if you ask five different people what integration means, you'll likely get five different answers. Instead of trying to come up with a single definition of what integration means, I'll help you navigate through the marketing fluff and show you two of the ways you can expect yoru solutions to work with each other.
Single Platform - This is the most ideal scenario for your company. A single platform for multiple applications SHOULD mean that this is a platform built from the ground up on one database. In saying this, there would be only one database for the data based within all these applications.
What does that mean and why does that matter to you?
This kind of solution enables you to have a single record for:
- An employee in case of workforce management or human capital management - i.e. recruitment, applicant tracking, payroll, time management, scheduling, human resources, benefits management, benefits enrollment, and ACA compliance, ACA Management, and 1094 & 1095 filings.
- A prospect in a case of sales and marketing, or more specifically CRM and marketing automation
- A customer in the case of a support platform and CRM
All of these would result in only one field throughout all your solutions for a last name, address, or other input value. The biggest benefit to this is really that there is no exchange of data that needs to take place - essentially all these solutions can act as a single application. This kind of solution essentially goes beyond any formal definition of integration where separate applications or software solutions are connected together. More recently, the significance of "single platform" is really evident in ACA compliance and reporting. For most companies, ACA reporting data for employees, benefits, enrollment, payroll, timekeeing, and HR all resides in many platforms. We will go into detail on ACA compliance on our next blog and other posts to come.
Beware, though! Vendors using this phrase of "single-platform" may be talking about an integrated platform...
Integrated Platform - An integrated platform may be branded as a "single platform" or vice versa, but these are usually yesterdays' applications cobbled together with a common or similar interface that makes it seem like a single platform. You have heard this referred to as "lipstick on a pig". One way to uncover this is by asking whether or not all these solutions were built on a single database from the ground up. If they were developed separately, that should be a red flag, as what you're evaluating is likely just an integrated platform.
It's not necessarily a bad a solution... but it's not the best. And with all the consumer software technology we use today, we expect the best. There has to be an exchange of data with an integrated platform between applications. The main difference this and the single platform mentioned above is that all the changes made in one application likely won't follow over to the other application simultaneously, or in 'real time'.
What does this mean and why does this matter to you?
Without a single database:
- There are multiple employee, prospect or customer records that need to be maintained. And as a result, this could mean having to enter the same data more than once.
- Additionally, with these separate records, this would require separate implementations, and therefore, a longer time before you're actually up and running with your solution.
- Reporting can be painstaking by having to pull multiple reports from different databases and then tying them back together via advanced excel formula techniques.
- Also, if data isn't exchanged in real-time, it impacts the integrity of the data and you may not necessarily be able to make your decisions in real-time because you're waiting for a scheduled data exchange between Application A and Application B.
- Data can be inconsistent from one database to another resulting in decisions being made with incorrect data or worst yet, compliance issues in case of an audit.
Integration can be overwhelming when we start uncovering the level at which the integration takes place, whether it's simply a single sign-on or a tighter, more seamless integration, a one way integration vs. a two way integration, etc.
What does this all mean?
Your best bet is to just find a single platform of applications that all reside on a single database. It's what we've all come to expect from software. For Human Capital Management solutions, our M&H OneSource Platform is just the answer.