In today's market, companies recognize that human capital management (HCM) can be an important contributor to business success and HR professionals are increasingly involved in selecting their company's information systems.
"Senior leaders in organizations are realizing that HR is a strategic part of their business, just as much as operations and marketing," said Nick Venturella, Divisional Sales & Marketing Supervisor at Insperity.
Drawing on more than 28 years of experience providing human resources software and services, Insperity recognized that integrating Insperity HCM with NetSuite's business software in the cloud would allow customers to eliminate the need for multiple vendors and solutions, leaving them more time to focus on growing their business.
"Having Insperity HCM integrated with NetSuite gives customers a 360-degree view of their business," said Venturella. "You get the full view of your employees in the entire hire-to-retire lifecycle with Insperity HCM, and when you couple that with NetSuite's customer centric and product centric components, you can start to sync up information between the two as if it's all one solution."
Speed to market was essential to helping both organizations become more successful, so Insperity's development team chose to integrate Insperity HCM using NetSuite's SuiteTalk web services.
"What we have in Insperity HCM is a large scale, mature, well-established application," said Matt Petersen, Managing Director, Product Management at Insperity. "We wanted to take the most rapid path to meaningful integration with the existing platform, but also make sure that it was something we could extend as we learned more from the market and gained an understanding about how far we can go with it."
"Because of the sheer scale of our application, we really were looking for more of an API-based integration layer. SuiteTalk web services were ideal for that. Most of the time spent integrating was on our end of the application. We decided to go pretty deep on our integration layer and create a multi-tenant, completely configurable mapping between them."
SuiteTalk enables third-party applications to communicate with NetSuite via SOAP-based web services. Developers can use any programming language or framework, such as Java or Microsoft .NET, that supports the SOAP standard to generate NetSuite business objects in that language or framework.
"Because it uses a standard XML web services approach, we had no ramp-up time on new technologies and we could use the same toolkit that we already use extensively internally," Petersen said. "It gave us the ability to do near real-time data exchange—very lightweight, very flexible—so that seemed like the right approach. Also it is one of the most extensive and robust and well-documented APIs that we've dealt with. It's very easy to use."
To create a more integrated experience, Insperity also took advantage of Suitetalk's single sign-on operation, which allows for Insperity HCM to log in to NetSuite on behalf of the user without having the user's credentials go through Insperity's servers.
NetSuite provides SuiteTalk developers with sample applications and step-by-step instructions on how to set up a Web services environment and start building applications that interface with SuiteTalk. Other documentation describes development considerations such as configuring accounts and enabling NetSuite features to ensure the web services calls execute successfully. The Web Services PHP Toolkit provides setup information to develop web services applications with NetSuite's PHP toolkit.
"The only real development ramp-up time went to understanding the data structures, doing a mapping exercise of the data structures and interpreting how error messaging and handling works," Petersen said. "I'm not exaggerating at all to say that spending a few hours with the documentation and the available resources in the developer site provided everything that the team needed. There really was no fundamental ramp-up time for learning the interface other than just doing the mapping exercises that you have to do with any integration."
Insperity developers took advantage of NetSuite's flexible SuiteCloud data environment to hand-construct a parallel example dataset with a variety of different journal structures and organizational structures.
"We tried a handful of different configurations ranging from simple to complex, but we were able to match those up with the sample dataset, which is nice and robust, in the SuiteCloud sandbox," Petersen said.
"Because it's all web-services-based and all multi-tenant data, we didn't have to go through environment testing or browser-related testing at all on the integration. It was really just pure data functional testing. It's really easy to QA and perform a variety of test cases and see the results in real time. When things fail, it's easy to recover on both sides—clear out the failed data and start over."
NetSuite's SuiteBundler has made it easy for Insperity to bundle groups of customizations, manage versioning, and quickly distribute changes to customers.
"I'm a huge fan of NetSuite's bundling approach for custom fields, objects, forms, and so on," said Petersen. "We've been using bundling for our own customizations of our NetSuite environment for years. I think it's a well-known and easy process. It really makes things like moving from sandbox to production environments and testing upgrades easy.
"We have a standard bundle that deploys all of our customizations in NetSuite. In the future, as we go deeper and bring in more human capital information into NetSuite, we can just update that bundle and make our implementations slick and easy."
"I think the most appealing thing to me is that it's giving us an almost unlimited ability to refine and extend our integration and to connect between applications," Petersen said. "We can continually develop either deeper data integration, customizations of field objects, dashboards, or ports into bundles in NetSuite. If it makes sense to look at the workflow engine, all of those tools are there and they're native, supported and maintained by NetSuite, and all we have to do is use them. I love that flexibility in how far we can go."
Insperity provides human resources and solutions designed to help companies improve their business performance. They offer the most comprehensive suite of HR products and services available today. With more than 28 years of HR software and services experience and more than 100,000 clients, Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities, and systematic ways to improve productivity. They also offer PEO, human capital management, payroll, time and attendance, performance management, organizational planning, recruiting services, and more.