Payroll HRMS System Interfaces Defined

Jul 24 08:12 2009 Clay C. Scroggin Print This Article

During your search and evaluations of payroll HRIS Systems or HRMS system software applications, you will hear a great deal about interfaces. The purpose of this article is to explain in detail how they are typically used. If you are looking at purchasing payroll HRIS Systems, HRMS systems or HR Software application and plan to tie it to an existing payroll application, this article will prove very helpful. The vast majority of HRMS system applications will offer some type of capability for transferring HRIS data or HRMS data from one system to another.

First,Guest Posting it’s important to point out the difference between HRMS payroll integration and an interface. With an integrated system, you have two products sharing the same HRIS data and payroll data or you have an automatic real time transfer and update of data from one system to another. With HR and Payroll software applications, this is rare unless you are working with the same company for both systems. If that’s not the case, then you are going to be dealing with interfaces.

With an interface you will have to either manually, or via an automated process, transfer HRMS data from either payroll to hr or vice versa. In many cases, this is a fairly manual process to setup but easy to maintain. If you want to transfer data from Payroll to HR, you will create a file from the payroll system and import this into the HR Software product using some type of software. The problems with this type of process are that if it’s not automated, you will have to frequently perform the transfer of data because, in this example, your data in HR is only as up to date as the last transfer of information from your payroll application. There is no reason to not accept using interfaces since it’s still the standard for getting two unique products to share data.

How a HRMS payroll system Interface works

If you are using a well known payroll product, such as ADP, almost all, if not all, HRMS systems will provide some type of interfacing capability between your HRIS system and your payroll product. If not, your payroll HRIS system will offer some type of import and export program.

System interfaces are also defined as data mapping. Once you determine which system will push the data, a report will be run from that system containing the data needed to import into your import application. Once the report is run, it is typically converted to either Excel or a text file for importing. Now you need to make sure both systems are speaking the same language. This is called data mapping. If in one system the field name for first name is “fnam”, and in the system you are mapping to the field name is “first name,” you simply direct the “fnam” data in product to populate the “first name” field. The same process is repeated for each and every field contained in both systems. The good news is that after you set up the data mapping, you won’t have to repeat this process. The next time you need to transfer data, you will spend only a few minutes to do so.

The challenge with the setup occurs when the fields are in different formats or lengths. In these cases, the data can be brought into Excel and any needed modifications can be made there before importing the data. In some cases, the actual interface software will provide the ability to alter the information.

Populating your HRMS payroll system database

Let’s say you have just purchased a new Payroll HRIS system. By some means or another you are going to want to easily pull as much information from other sources as possible into your new system. If you have another HR product, you may create a file from that system and transfer this data over to your new HRIS system. If you don’t, then most likely you will be pulling data from your payroll system to HR. It’s important to note that your payroll system will not contain all the information of your HRIS system. So there are only so many fields you will be able to update. Typically, this information is going to include demographic data and data related to pay that will be tracked in your HRIS system. I have seen what rarely transfers from one system to another are benefits data and history. Make sure to ask about the transfer of this data while you are reviewing systems.

Payroll to HRMS or HRMS to Payroll

Going forward, you will have to determine which direction you want to push data and in what system your core input for new hires, terminations, and employee changes will happen. Whichever direction you decide to go, payroll to HR or HR to payroll, it’s important to realize that whichever system is accepting the data will have the interface for that import of data. This is not always the case but in most circumstances it will be.

Remember the data in the system being updated is only as up to date as when the last interface data transfer was performed. This can create problems. Let’s say, for example, that you are pushing data from your payroll system to your HRIS product and the last time you performed an update was two weeks ago. If you run a termination or new hire log from your HRIS system, the data you are relying on is two weeks old. You may have to go through the process of updating your data before running the report. As you have seen, interfaces are not a perfect world but they are a necessity.

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Clay C. Scroggin
Clay C. Scroggin

Clay C. Scroggin has over fifteen years of experience in the human resource software industry. Clay is currently the President and owner of, a web site dedicated to assisting HR professionals with their search, selection, implementation and use of HR software. offers an extremely comprehensive HRIS selection tool to assist you with your HRIS, HRMS or HR software selection process. Make sure to download’s free HR and Payroll Software Buyer’s Guide.

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