India/ Bengaluru

Integrating Disparate Systems

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Growing businesses often employ a piecemeal strategy towards system integration; one that prioritizes the present over the future. The challenges of maintaining everyday operational efficiency, delivering to customers, building workable processes and practices; all while safeguarding data and other valuable assets, leaves companies with very little time for investing in a long-term, multi-pronged, IT strategy. A knee-jerk, event-driven IT strategy however, often becomes an albatross around the neck, when the business’s scalability, flexibility and agility are given short shrift. Integrating disparate, independently-designed applications and systems cohesively and seamlessly, is a challenge that many enterprises continually struggle to overcome.

System integration projects can be challenging for organizations, and can diminish their overall return on investment. Some of these challenges include a lack of trust, an unwillingness to share data with other entities, an unwillingness to outsource various operations to a third party, a lack of clear communications and responsibilities, disagreement amongst stakeholders on where functionality should reside, and lastly, high costs of integration. These challenges result in creating hurdles that often prevent or slow down business systems integration within and among companies. Clear communication and simplified information exchange are key elements in building long-term system integrations that can support business requirements.

Business enterprises need proven system integration capabilities -- more and more systems are designed to connect, with newly-designed systems, and to systems that are already deployed. Weaving disparate building blocks together to deliver increased efficiency, cost-savings and operational overheads, is the barometer of a well-designed and executed system integration effort. A common data format is an integration method designed to eschew the need for every adapter having to convert data to or from every other applications' formats. Enterprise application integration (EAI) systems usually stipulate an application-independent (or common) data format. The EAI approach also offers data transformation service to help convert data between application-specific and common formats. This requires a two-step approach -- the adapter converts information from the application's format to the pre-defined common format. Then, semantic transformations are applied on this, for instance, splitting or merging objects from one application into objects in the other applications and so on.

A client with multiple business entities and numerous HRMS and ERP applications struggled to integrate primary payroll information culled from disparate HRMS platforms and multiple data sources. Additionally, different instances of the same HRMS were being used by the client for various functional purposes, but payroll processing was a centralized effort. A silo-based, standalone application management strategy fell apart when the payroll processing team attempted to source data and inputs from multiple disparate systems which couldn’t talk to each other. Mismatched records, and latent inconsistency with data sourcing and integration, made the task of payroll processing akin to shooting darts in the dark. The existence of multiple inputs for the same record, the integration of retrospective attendance data, and the challenge of migrating employee data from the old legacy applications to a centralized payroll platform exacerbated the challenges facing the payroll function. Routine functions like arrear calculations for employee separations, and ratifying CTC break-up structures across the enterprise’s constituent entities, became an uphill, irksome process that the payroll team struggled to conquer.

AscentHR was called in when the magnitude of the challenge became intractable – we were tasked with crafting a cogent, cohesive system integration plan that would enable seamless data transfer, integration and processing. We proposed to stitch the disparate applications together into one unified, end-to-end solution that would capture all pertinent payroll information. Our system integration strategy had to integrate existing, disparate systems to ultimately deliver exponential value additions to by reducing operational costs and improving response time.

For legacy systems that did not have built-in data capturing functionalities, we proposed and created online data capturing mechanisms. The scope of data change, or the delta, was captured on a periodic basis for error-tracking. We used Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tools for retrieving the right data in the right format for payroll processing. We custom designed a secure integration interface built with AES-256 bit encryption for speedy, secure and reliable data transfer through web-based application programming interfaces (APIs). Complex data flows had to align with the movement of employees within the client’s subsidiary enterprises, while ensuring data sanctity and error-free transfers.

AscentHR customized a systems integration solution that reduced the total cost of ownership for the client, while incrementally increasing reuse and flexibility; simultaneously offering duplication and error-free data conversion. This augmented the client’s business readiness, and drastically cut time-to-market and fixed costs. A well-crafted systems integration strategy combines the existing functionalities and robustness of legacy systems, and turbo-charges them with increased process synergy, integration reliability and ease-of-use.