HR Microservices

HR Microservices


Robotic Component Selection for HR Technology

11 Sep 2017

For more than 30 years the method used to specify and select HR software products has not changed. The method collects functional and process requirements using an RFP (Request For Proposal) document and sends it to a short list of product suppliers.  Although that method is still persevered with today it is entirely unsuitable and is the main reason most projects fail to satisfy company management.  Now HR software is changing and systems are no longer monolithic by design. New microservices technology has enabled products to be built and deployed using micro building blocks or components. The new way of building HR systems requires a new way of specifying requirements selecting solutions. 

It is estimated that by 2020 the current generation of monolithic HR systems will be phased out as companies seek a new digital solution based on new open and flexible development platforms. That means that almost every company in the world currently using an HR software system will need to replace it over the next three years. The HR software market will be turned upside down as the current product suppliers will have to[1]micro-size their products in order to stay in the market. The scope for consulting assistance to help select solutions is massive and not limited to Australia. No HR technology consulting organisation in the world today has the necessary resources or skills to fill the void. There must be consulting staff augmentation and new technology to meet market demands. That is where robotics comes into play.

The Online Specification and Selection “Partial” Solution

Competitive Edge Technology (CET) saw this coming and developed a new and unique online application in 2008 to collect information at the micro-level and identify the specific building blocks (or components) needed to construct a system. The intention was to start with the 3,000+ components in the CET database that represented the micro decomposition of a typical HR systems and then obtain specifications by asking questions using a three-layered approach (Function, Process and Data). After eliminating some functions and processes the number of questions could be reduced but the average number of questions still exceeded 1,000. The objective was to then give clients a working prototype on a digital platform to be used for further review before finalising requirements.  The main problems with the new online application approach was:

  • An onsite consultant was too costly and time consuming, there was always difficulty in getting the right people (decision makers) in the same room at the same time.  
  • Unless there was face-to-face collaboration the result was contradiction on specific requirements and changes to scope at a later stage
  • The online system interface was too clinical and stifled important discussion around the merit of different choices.
  • To have multiple project team members looking at the same screen on their devices meant multiple user licenses, and that was too costly.

On the positive side, the prototyping approach has been proven to be the right decision. New Low Code products and development platforms has enabled Citizen Developers (or the business community) to take ownership of the early stages of product definition and even solve short term application needs. But, to be successful there needs to be a supporting ecosystem in place and that is why CET has been building the microservices business ecosystem for the last five years that includes a standardised framework for component application development, a metadata repository aligned to the standard structure, a working prototype on the Low Code platform, an HR Apps Store, an HR Code Store, and a citizen developer advisory service for custom development.

There is still a missing link in the final solution and that relates to finding an efficient method of collecting client system requirements at the micro level, processing a large amount of information and applying intelligence, based on data, to arrive at a list of suitable components for a client to use to assemble their HR technology solution.

Why Robots will be the “Process” Solution

Online applications are only part of the solution, chatbots are useful but still not the complete solution, shared screens and video conferencing tools will not work, social media collaboration tools help but are not all that is required: There must be a more tangible or physical presence to substitute for a real-life consultant. That is where a humanised robot is the most suitable solution for the next decade. The introduction of a robot would have the following benefits:

  • The physical presence of a “humanised” robot would create a feeling of personal involvement by the consulting entity
  • It would speed up the information collection process
  • It would eliminate subjectivity and slick marketing influence. The evidence based robotic approach (matching against product capability data) to component selection would nullify the marketing ploys of giveaway mugs, caps and the use of music and dancing to build personal relationships with project team members. Component suppliers would spend less on marketing and more on component product improvement.
  • It would get around the problem of software vendors answering “yes” to every item on an RFP in order to get in front of the project team to demonstrate their product and explain why “yes” is a qualified response and the feature is in their next release.
  • It would, make a more accurate and user agreed set of requirements
  • The involvement of a robot in the selection process would convey the accurate perception of total independence
  • By using back-end data it would ensure objectivity and eliminate any personal bias, within the project team or steering committee.

The software application, that could now form the back-end intelligence using robotics, performs the necessary calculations needed to go from requirement gathering to best fit product selection and gap analysis. It is now a matter of providing a better interface for users, immediate feedback and the ability to physically reach a global community.

Why Robots will be the “Financial” Solution

The use of robotics will represent a financial win all round:

  • For the client company seeking a solution it will reduce project time to weeks instead of years
  • License costs for online access be minimised because by having the robotic software running at the user interface level, and input would be from one source, the application would be only accessing one user license at the back-end saving the cost of multiple licenses.
  • For software suppliers it means an expanded global market without the need for costly marketing to reach potential customers
  • For consulting companies it means servicing more clients

[1] Micro-sizing will involve reverse engineering or decomposing their current monolithic systems into micro-components

By 2018 CET will roll out their Robotic Component Selection service



Competitive Edge Technology is now working on their RCS service and updating their product capability database.


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