Creating a platform for HR services, the new challenges of ‘urbanization’, interoperability and data traceability

The ‘urbanization’ (*) of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) is a current trend to meet new challenges, restrictions and developments specific to HR. It involves defining the architecture of the software components, functions and services considered as a whole. The goal is to structure the software components and their interactions by making them interoperable. Traceability of data and its uses is complementary to this method. The concept is gaining ground to deal with changing HR information systems. This is due to several observations that have an impact on HR.


The first observation concerns the implementation on May 25 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which describes a certain number of rules designed to protect personal data, particularly for employers. This European regulation stipulates that the use of personal data and its processing must have a specific purpose. The use of a record of processing activities requires that data flows be managed and access to personal data be controlled.

Multi-faceted HR information systems

The second observation is that HR information systems are increasingly becoming multi-faceted.  They used to be based on ERPs that offered integrated solutions. These included all the features for HR management, administrative management, payroll and T&A. Today, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are widely used – and highly popular – in Talent Management. New HR offerings developed by startups are appearing and these are dedicated to employee engagement, evaluating the quality of life in the workplace, recruitment, skills and mobility. The SaaS applications, accessible via the Internet and designed by specialized companies or startups with expertise in digital technology, are thus expected to work with a company’s more traditional applications, that have less interoperability.

HR information systems that are open and accessible in ‘multi-channel’ mode

Third observation: HRIS are opening up to a variety of people. Employees and managers can now remotely and easily access new HR services using various devices such as their computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. This ‘multi-channel’ access is gradually being implemented within companies and extends the scope of traceability due to legislation and quality of service requirements.

Agile HRIS for better quality of service and new uses

The fourth observation is that HR departments must meet the expectations of the various people within the company and deploy new services for new uses. The agility and speed necessary for implementation require great quality of service. This means ensuring the quality of the data provided or managed in the new services and the functional consistency of the systems and uses offered and possibly implemented in separate Business units or departments in the company.

High volume and wide variety of HR data

Fifth observation: HR information systems as a whole (if we include all subsystems, uses and channels of access) are handling larger amounts of data in all types and formats.

Changing the HRIS into a service platform 

Faced with all these challenges, companies need to implement a certain number of best practices to increase agility and security in their transformation process. ‘Urbanization’, defining standardized functional systems, managing access security, interoperability and the use of APIs (**) are all keys to success. This will simplify the integration of new HR services and applications, while ensuring control and security of access to the HRIS. HRIS are becoming service platforms, by offering a way to manage a company’s HR database, the application services dedicated to the HR management and payroll features as well as additional services tailored to new methods.

We need to be able to manage and control the urbanization of HRIS to ensure an optimum and functionally consistent employee experience, based on HR services that can be accessed upon request.

API (**) management is a possible key to structuring the HRIS

The major challenge facing the HR departments will be to ensure the overall consistency of these multi-faceted and multi-channel solutions within the HR information system. To manage and control the new HR information systems, we will need to implement principles and tools that ensure traceability when accessing and using the HR data and services.

The need to control the use of data is not only due to the requirements of the GDPR. It is also due to the need for a high quality information system. The following are essential points: data freshness, responsibilities for managing data during its life cycle, avoiding the duplication of business services for similar functional needs, fighting against shadow IT systems while encouraging the use of third party systems.

API Management is one of the possible options designed to make it easier to manage the new hybrid HRIS and can provide IT and HR departments with a variety of tools and procedures for developing, publishing and managing APIs, but also for ensuring use of APIs by third party systems.

API Management can provide additional protection for APIs, ensure administration of accesses, optimize performance by complying with service contracts defined between the application components and ensure consistency between several versions of the same API.

API Management can also be an important ‘brick’ for tracking and measuring a company’s HR data and services in real time. The traceability implemented must be functional and not only technical. It can thus help a company meet its regulatory requirements and manage and improve the quality of its new HRIS.


(*) API: Application Programming Interface

(**): ‘Urbanization’ (taken from the French ‘urbanisation), in this context, is the structuring and planning of a system’s architecture.