HR Microservices

HR Microservices

Why Component-Based Microservice Designed Apps are about to Replace Monolithic HR Technology

17 Oct 2017

The current generation of HR systems comprise of many components engineered as a monolithic structured program designed to operate on a single platform. They must be reverse engineered to identify and label the components so they can be reviewed and re-assembled as a more flexible solution and allow interchangeability if any component needs to be replaced.

The Current HR Technology Status   

  • Current monolithic HR systems have failed to deliver and must be replaced by an agile solution able to build innovative applications to support the changing business environment and move to digital technology.
  • The replacement for monolithic systems must be micro architected to align to new microservices middleware connectivity and application development.
  • Component-based system development must be accompanied by a metadata management tool.
  • Selecting the right components to support the HR business requires a new method of matching needs to component capability and based on standardised catalogue structure. The solution must be online in real time and apply artificial intelligence or robotics to calculate the best fit combination of components.
  • The challenge ahead is to convert complex micro-management issues into a simple HR technology construction process.

Specific Problems with Current HR Technology

Companies must buy HR software products from multiple vendors

No single HR software vendors has been able to provide a total solution for every company wanting to purchase an HR technology solution.

Modifications are costly and difficult to manage

Functional gaps are usually addressed by software companies using their resources and cost a fortune to build. Business users are usually locked out of the development process because (1) the vendor’s proprietary tools are used and (2) customers are not given access to the underlying database. 

Modifications can be difficult to maintain during upgrades or when they require further enhancement. Modifications and the code usually remain the property of the vendor even though they were paid for by the customer.

Current system integration methods have failed.

Integrating multiple systems that use different data structures, follow different security access controls, and apply different data definitions make system integration extremely complex and costly and very fragile.

The HR SaaS market has been flooded with new products but many will not survive and put HR technology investment at risk.

When HR technology started to move to the cloud over 10 years ago the entry cost for new product suppliers was dramatically reduced. New products came on to the market almost overnight. The number of monolithic HR products (HRMS and Niche) grew from 1,700 in 2007 to an estimated figure of over 2,000 products today. Most now follow the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model. The SaaS model is economically risky. The subscription model means revenue comes in slowly and many investors wanted a quick return, so some products have already come and gone leaving companies in a situation where total replacement was necessary. In the microservices era if one component fails it can be replaced: It does not bring down the whole HR system.

The Way Forward

Monolithic systems have failed. They will be replaced by component-based applications built using microservices architecture techniques.

The monolithic design of current HR systems is not suitable for the fast-moving agile business world companies compete in today. Organisations are now taking the lead from companies like Amazon, Uber and Netflix and moving their business applications to a microservices architecture. What that means for HR is decomposing the monolithic structure of HR systems into components that align to microservices.

Microservices is simply the middleware layer that transport messages and connects one component to another on either the same or different cloud platforms. Single data items can be connected using APIs (Application Programming Interface) or larger components can be transported using “containers”.

Citizen Developers will fill the void left by professional developers being allocated to higher priority business applications. They need a supporting ecosystem or the whole concept of Citizen Development will fail.

The growing popularity of microservices has meant companies are moving their ERP and operational business applications to the new architecture and HR applications are low on the priority list for resource allocation. Professional developers must be supplemented by developers from the business community, known as Citizen Developers, and their role is to build HR component applications but they do not have all the skills needed. Low Code / No Code development platforms have emerged to assist Citizen Developers, but the supporting ecosystem is slow to emerge.

There are over 50 possible development platforms to choose from. Some require professional programming skills and others are designed for amateur business programmers or citizen developers.

There must be a standardised platform for component development and a simplified method to select the right combination of components and data in the new microservices environment

Data is becoming the priority in the new digital era for innovative and strategic applications. Traditional RFP (Request For Proposal) techniques for selecting software solutions is no longer suitable. A monolithic HRMS solution contains approximately 30 functional component groupings, around 200 potential interchangeable process components and over 3,000 data elements. Most HRMS products have their own database schema and integration is extremely expensive and never entirely successful.

If every software provider was to decompose their monolithic product into components, and adopt a microservices architecture, then by multiplying the 200 potential components by the number of current suppliers there would be around 400,000 component products to choose from.  

HR Microservices have the tools to support the new microservices era.

API integration will be an essential feature of new microservices technology.

There are currently around 40 prominent companies offering API integration services. Whilst the current bimodal environment (legacy monolithic applications and the new innovative digital platforms) exist it will be necessary to integrate data from multiple sources. Unless the full data requirements are known it will be difficult to construct integration maps.

HR Microservices Provide the Products & Services

There is a White Paper in the HR Microservices Knowledge Centre detailing the type of products and services HR Microservices offer to pave the way forward for a better HR technology industry.

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