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Integration: Not Pretty, but Pretty Important
Have you ever worked on an integration project? Or have you ever been told something could not be done regarding systems you wanted to connect? I’ve been there, and here are some things I’ve learned through experience when it comes to integration. I'll also share how we’re thinking about this topic as we build GraceBlocks.
What I’ve learned:
1) Where there is true will, there’s almost always a way. Even if your provider thinks it can’t be done, chances are something is likely possible.
2) If there’s no way, it’s time to re-think your tech stack.
Integration usually starts out very straight forward and then bam, somewhere along the way, that devil in the details rears its ugly head. The next thing you know, you are down a rabbit hole of constraints that have you jumping through hoops trying to understand net change rules, sorting orders, and rankings of information, not to mention data transformations and the like. Each system has its set of rules, and to get data to easily talk to each other can be, well, frustrating. Here’s a story about a recent project I’ve worked on to illustrate the issue.
Project #1: ATS—CRM
In this first project, we were pushing applicant records from the ATS into the CRM. Now, the reason most folks want records in their CRM is for two key purposes: 1) pipelining prospects for future opportunities 2) relationship building (through a newsletter, direct outreach, texting, and such.) To have a clean pipeline of prospects for future opportunities, sourcers and recruitment marketers need to know where the applicants in your ATS stand in the process: who is being interviewed? who has been rejected or declined? And not just for one job, it is across all for all of the jobs where the applicant is being considered. You see, just because Gretchen interviewed and declines the sales leadership position, cannot overshadow the fact that she is actively being recruited for that general manager position right now as we speak. So in short, companies need an easy way to distill various applications in the ATS into one source for CRM purposes. Easy access to this information allows your recruiting team to focus time on the right prospects. It also allows you to send your campaigns to the right audience
In truth, I’ve done this integration more than once and have worked with various ATS and CRMs to make it happen. I can tell you from work with various ATSs and CRMs this question is not as easily answered as we’d all like it to be. But it is usually possible, largely due to a heavy lift on the integration experts that are out there in our HCM ecosystem. Sometimes, depending on the technology you are working with, its doable and relatively painless. Other times, you need to bring in solutions experts to close the gap between the systems. At GraceRock we resell The Cloud Connector’s framework to help with this. Think of The Cloud Connectors as the mediator that helps give each side of this systems conversation what they need to be happy. The amount of mediation needed directly depends on the system involved, but I can attest, that putting them on the table opens a whole new set of options that are otherwise seemingly impossible.
What did you say about rethinking my tech stack?
Sometimes the way a provider stores the data does not allow for integration. It can happen and is usually the result of two possible issues: 1) unfortunate architecture regarding source data by the provider 2) nonexistent integration or ad hoc reporting framework (yes, ad hoc reporting is the poor man’s integration. It is not pretty but it can work.) If you are facing either issue with the technology you are using, your provider is not evolving, and while it’s painful to change, the longer you wait, the longer you will be stuck in the mud.
At GraceBlocks, we are bringing the power of creative problem solving to your fingertips block by block. Designers will be able to build their own systems with a few clicks, opening new possibilities that only business minds can sometimes think of. We are starting with a simple use case, namely candidate text messaging. Even still we are building a strong foundation to handle those hairy use cases like this one that we have had to spend 100s of hours working through how to address customer by customer. How will you sort out applications to magically understand where a candidate is in the hiring process? With GraceBlocks’, that’s a simple lookup configuration option.
Even still, you need to connect your legacy systems and that is why we envision our partners at The Cloud Connectors will still be very much in demand.
Go ahead, try and stump us!
In the meantime, if you have a hairy integration need, and you think it can’t be done, give us a call and we’ll see if we can shine a light on what’s possible that you were sure wasn’t.