Aurion is one of the most widely used payroll systems across Australia. It has historically served the needs of many organisations in both the Payroll and HR domains, offering tools to manage most aspects of the employee lifecycle.
More recently, however, many organisations have been investing in best-of-breed SaaS HCM and Workforce Management systems. Changes like this present new integration challenges and imperatives for organisations using Aurion. As a risk-focussed and complex domain, Payroll requires strong and reliable integration capabilities with interrelated systems, as manual or low-quality automated integration leads to financial, security, and compliance risks.
Having worked extensively with Aurion in the context of enterprise application integration, Intelligent Pathways is intimately familiar with both the challenges of Aurion integration and the business advantage of doing it well. Below I will take you through some of these challenges, and discuss how we’ve approached integrating with Aurion in previous projects for optimal business outcomes.
Integration around Payroll systems
As stated above, Payroll is a risk-focused domain. Any finance process is subject to high expectations around security, accuracy, and audibility. This is one of the major reasons why manual integration or data transfer is not a preferred method when working with Payroll systems – resilient automation offers a much more reliable, repeatable and traceable process.
Payroll is also inherently cyclical and complex in its integration requirements due to the nature of the payroll cycle, in which many payments are made and payslips are generated all at once every month, week or few days for distribution to employees. This means integration patterns and tool choices need to be able to scale up and down as the amount of data moving around ebbs and flows.
Investing in good integration solutions surrounding your Payroll systems not only has the advantages listed above but also allows you to make the process and system changes in alignment with changing strategy. A robust integration will be flexible enough to cope with change, rather than a point-to-point that is fixed to the one system.
Intelligent Pathways has significant experience delivering HR & Payroll focused integrations around many SaaS ERPs such as Workday, Oracle HCM PeopleSoft and JD Edwards, involving payroll and workforce management systems like Aurion, Chris 21/iChris and Kronos. Because of this, we know there are unique challenges and recommended approaches when integrating with the Aurion Payroll system.
Aurion provides a number of integration capabilities to enable HR and Payroll focused data between applications. You can find an official guide here that discusses common use cases and the types of systems Aurion typically integrates with. These Aurion-provided integration capabilities are helpful and available for Aurion customers to consume. However, at the time of writing, documentation on them is not widely available or supported by a robust community. This makes it difficult to leverage these services and apply them to your unique business challenges. They also do not address unique organisational needs, which can have a huge impact on your integration experience with Aurion.
This is particularly evident in the area of complex Human Resources/Human Capital Management (HR/HCM) system integration. This is a very common use case for organisations using Aurion, as more mature, best-of-breed HR/HCM systems make their way into enterprise environments. Although most of these systems do provide standard payroll connectors to more common global systems, these are not usually compatible with Aurion which is much more prevalent in the Australian market. As it stands there is no out-of-the-box Aurion connector for complex HR/HCM systems like Oracle, Workday or SAP.
This gap can be seen in the diagram below, taken from the above article under the heading ‘Complex HR Integration’.
The lack of an out-of-the-box connector means that in most use cases, data provided from the HR/HCM system does not directly translate into Aurion format, and vice versa. For example, a SaaS HCM system like Workday provides payroll data in a format called PECI format which is the Workday standard payroll definition of the data in XML format. This is not directly consumable by Aurion, because the Aurion API format has a very different data structure. In addition, HR processes and steps in HCM don’t directly match payroll processes and lead to many data translation issues (we have highlighted business process related challenges in this blog). The implication of this is that until an out-of-the-box connector is developed, enterprises will always require something in the middle to enable data transformation and movement between the two systems:
Integrating HCM solutions with Aurion
Although the picture above looks simple, adding the green box and filling it with the right technology requires considerable thinking, and is often overlooked in HCM implementations. There are standard patterns that work well and functional use cases will usually be the same around the Aurion system. Through our experience on such projects, we have built assets and a strong understanding of how to apply these common patterns across many use cases such as standard payslips, pay files, employee files, etc. You can use many different technologies to fill this gap such as middleware, file transfer technologies, or API orchestration, and some are more effective than others. We always advocate for right-fit technology choices taking into account your organisational structure, legacy systems and existing integration capability and maturity.
Below I run through some key considerations for building a custom integration solution between Aurion and complex HR/HCM systems.
Choosing the Right Integration Solution
Automating integration between Aurion and complex HR systems is particularly large and complex work, and requires automating many employee lifecycle transitions such as hire and onboarding, vaccination and covid compliance, and leave. Typically this will require orchestration of multiple Aurion APIs. These flows can be developed using multiple integration technologies such as middleware, iPaaS, Microsoft Azure or AWS, deciding on which one comes down to your organisation’s needs and situation.
For example, we recently developed an Aurion Connector integration solution that integrates Workday and Aurion using the AWS platform. We chose AWS cloud technologies in this case because it was the most suitable to the client’s unique environment – Workday is a cloud SaaS system, meaning it was easier to integrate using cloud technologies; the Client was already using the AWS ecosystem elsewhere in the business; and cloud service providers make it easy and cost effective to scale solutions up and down to meet payroll integration demands. That being said, the same solution could have been built just as effectively on Azure or other platforms as well.
Technicalities when Integrating with Aurion
As with any system, we have found there are a number of quirks that need to be considered or worked around when integrating with Aurion. These include:
- Aurion use name value pair soap web service interface which isn’t widely used in the industry
- Not having an API for everything
- Not having access to the relational database with Aurion cloud
- Doing database lookups to identify data scenarios before processing a transaction e.g. lookup if an employee already exists
- Leave data model is per person-position which deviates from some HCM systems which is per person
- Aurion has Primary keys for person-position combinations which are unique whereas HCM systems only have primary keys for a person and a position separately not the combination
Intelligent Pathways’ Experience
Intelligent Pathways has used a wide range of integration platforms across different types of enterprise-level HR & Payroll products including Workday, Aurion, PeopleSoft, Oracle and Empower. We have significant experience with defining HR data models and have developed a common HR data model for integrations.
A SaaS HCM that requires Aurion integration will require a detailed understanding of Aurion integration capabilities and the Aurion information model to integrate with Aurion. This understanding is not widely available, and our experience is live and current.
The process of building fully-automated Aurion integration has been time-consuming but delivered very successful outcomes for our clients, such as improving the efficiency of processes, reducing double handling of data, increased data quality and higher employee satisfaction. Payroll is also a particularly visible and sensitive area, so the organisation can be comfortable knowing its processes are safe from risk of manual error or outdated integration solutions.