Try blending the best of both worlds

Rightsourcing: Using a mix of in-house and ASP software.

Today, many human resources departments are developing long-term strategies for as many as 30 or 40 Internet-based applications at a time. With the increasing emphasis on human capital management (HCM) in the corporate environment, it is important that companies select a technology platform and application deployment method that suits their needs, goals and resources. As customization of functionality increases, so do the methods of implementation. The following three deployment options provide endless flexibility to IT and HR departments in managing their human capital.


Whether the data involves salary history, personal background or simply family size, companies often strive to keep some information private by maintaining it in-house. In this case, companies have the option to deploy HR applications on the organization’s intranet, behind the firewall and fully integrated with existing human resource information systems (HRIS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

Application service providers

Application service providers (ASP) have increasingly become an extension of an organization’s IT department. Companies access standardized HR self-service applications through a Web interface and outsource the administration of all hardware, networking equipment and software to an online HCM provider.

ASP deployment can reduce the burden on internal IT resources by off-loading application development to a third party. This allows organizations to direct their efforts toward supporting goals and strategic objectives.

Mixed model, or "rightsourcing"

Entrenched IT and HR departments may feel they only need help with a few specialized tasks. By “rightsourcing,” or outsourcing the “right” information only, companies have the option to deploy some HR solutions on-premise and host other applications with an ASP. Ideally, employees should be able to access the entire spectrum of solutions with only a single log-on per user session and navigate seamlessly within their HR self-service applications, having no idea what pieces have been outsourced versus those which are housed internally.

While full on-premise or outsourced deployments have their advantages, companies are increasingly looking to the mixed model offering that allows them the advantages of outsourcing select business functions while enjoying the control of on-premise software for others. They don’t want to go to multiple vendors and systems integrators to achieve the right mix. The mixed model approach enables self-service applications to be implemented faster than regular on-premise solutions, with lower costs for deployment and ongoing maintenance, and without diverting IT resources from other critical business tasks.

For organizations that have already deployed on-premise HR self-service solutions, or those that are looking to gain greater leverage through an ASP deployment model, a mixed model approach serves as a new means of enhancing current solutions. Some HR departments prefer to store sensitive employee information on-premise, but also want the flexibility of outsourcing some components of HR business processes.

Because some HR applications must be designed for peak usage times that are short and data intensive, they are not built like typical transaction-based applications. Providers that offer mixed deployment options are especially well suited to handle those non-regularly-recurring events and their unique load requirements. This eliminates the costs of unused capacity in on-site implementations.

Prime examples of such hybrid opportunities include compensation planning and benefits enrolment. Both are seasonal activities that require significant staffing and IT resources for a relatively brief period of time. Due to the time-critical nature of these types of business processes, they are often the first applications companies choose to outsource.

An ASP can bring temporary solutions to an enterprise with speed and expertise. When the enrolment crush dies down, the company disemploys the seasonal software while still maintaining the core internal applications year round. An ASP can bring both people and computing capacity to bear on these projects and then be re-deployed to other clients or projects after the busy season is over.

Rightsourcing ensures that a manager has easy, secure access to the latest in Internet- and intranet-based management planning tools — at the same time the company can maintain other manager self-service applications on-site without impacting scarce internal IT resources.

Benefits of using a mixed model

•24/7 accessibility: Organizations can access and use new business applications faster; bring on more users from remote offices more quickly; and adapt more easily to acquisition and merger activity. Companies simply need a Web browser loaded on each user’s desktop computer or other device to provide access to the hosted application. Employees can then access the full functionality of the system.

•Security: Ideally, an HCM application framework should act as a first line security check — performing user authentication and a role-based security check. An authentication process should be customizable, encrypted and used to share authentication with other third-party systems. Role-based security determines which applications a user may view depending upon their role in an organization.

•Reduced cost of ownership: Because an ASP’s ability to serve multiple customers takes advantage of economies of scale, it provides organizations discounted access to best-in-class business applications and infrastructure. Companies can deploy more feature-rich systems on a low “cost-per-user basis” without having to buy, maintain and upgrade in-house hardware and software on a desk-by-desk basis. Rightsourcing also significantly reduces up-front capital investments for the required hardware and software.

•Integration with ERP, payroll and other systems: An ASP HCM provider should have the capacity to offer transaction results and accurate, encrypted information flow to your organization’s third-party vendors, such as ERP, payroll, health plan carriers and disability plan administrators. This eliminates the need for internally customized electronic feeds, paper reports and forms.

Some companies choose to work with multiple vendors selling single-point solutions that must be individually integrated within their IT infrastructure. Others will select an HCM provider that offers a broad suite of solutions that are integrated on a single platform with back-office integration to HRIS and ERP systems.

In both cases, rightsourcing helps vendors differentiate their product offering from the competition. Customers realize a reduced cost of ownership by farming out select applications, feel secure with the functions to be maintained in-house and appreciate the simplicity of a single vendor for both needs.

Kevin Dobbs is vice-president of products and solutions in the San Jose, CA, offices of Workscape, a developer of Human Capital Management and workplace e-commerce solutions. He can be reached at (408) 346-9800 or [email protected].

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!