Sunday, March 1, 2009

What Do You Do With HR-XML

I've been doing a lot of blogging lately, and I don't just mean posting a bunch of stories. I've been posting stories and digging and stumbling and all kinds of crazy things. Despite all of this, most of my hits are still on that one HR-XML article I wrote last year.

That brings up a few thoughts. First, if so many people are looking for information on HR-XML so consistently, they must be actively accepting it or rejecting it, and I'd like to know which and why. Second, I'd like to know who is doing what with HR-XML.

So, when you finish reading this post, I'd really appreciate your comments. What have you decided to do with HR-XML? What led you to this decision? What solutions have you already implemented with HR-XML to date?

My company has been evaluating HR-XML for several months, but we haven't yet implemented an HR-XML solution. We produce several components of an HR suite of software and we have integrated with a number of applications including background check vendors, HRMS, and ATS, but not one vendor has had an HR-XML integration solution (even one particular vendor which purports to be nearing an HR-XML integration solution).

We've been waiting for a partner to be HR-XML capable before we develop our own HR-XML integration. The problem is, I think everybody else is doing the same thing. Well, we're in a good position because the more customers we get and the more applications we have, the more we need our own internal applications.

So, we have decided to take the initiative to develop an HR-XML integration with all of our applications. This will give us a common and standard format with which to transfer data not only among our own applications, but with other applications and vendors as well. Future integrations will go through an "HR-XML layer," including custom integrations. By that, I mean rather than developing integrations to read from spreadsheets and CSV files and then to write directly to our databases, they will first be reformatted to HR-XML and will then be consumed by our HR-XML import engines.

Exports will be handled similarly. This gives our developers and our partners' developers a contract on which to map any imported or exported data without having to know anything about our internal data structures. We're hoping that as we integrate with more and more vendors, that they will also adopt HR-XML allowing all companies which provide human resources software and services to work harmoniously and interchangeably together throughout the entire employee life cycle.


  1. Patrick Caldwell writes:
    "So, we have decided to take the initiative to develop an HR-XML integration with all of our applications."

    I'm not sure what this means. Can you provide some specifics? Which version are you planning to implement? Which nouns for what purposes? The HR-XML 3.0 library is something much closer to being a comprehensive and uniform library for HR integration, but is not yet available.

  2. If you're interested in a .NET library for manipulating HR-XML Resume documents, may I suggest the #Resume project? I've let it languish for a while but have recently resumed development for use in another project expressly for the purpose of providing an integration component with my service. If you're interested the library is licensed under the MIT license, but contributions are welcome. The project home page is on CodePlex and the source is hosted on Google Code. and respectively. If you're interested in using the library or have any questions my email is

  3. Chuck, I'll be providing specifics in upcoming blog posts. Is this Chuck Allen, by the way?

  4. @just3ws

    I'm going to have to check that out. Perhaps my company could contribute.


  5. Patrick,

    Chuck Allen here. I'm no longer with HR-XML, but I'll share a few perspectives.

    What do people use HR-XML for? The 2.* library is designed around point-to-point integrations for specific types of transactions For example, sending a background check or an assessment order to a service provider from an ATS. This is where HR-XML has had the most traction and most value -- as a neutral format for arms-length trading partners to receive orders, postings, enrollments, and the like.

    The 3.0 library was on track to support a broader range of use cases, including a wide variety of "talent management system provisioning" operations. The 3.0 library represented something much closer to a unified data model for HR. The 3.0 library was open for public review when I was still with HR-XML, but is now behind the "iron curtain." Contact HR-XML for an update.

    Coincidentally, I put up a post yesterday that provides an overview of some of the data sets related to talent management system provisioning. This is a 40,000 foot-level view of provisioning use cases, which really make up some of the most frequent and troublesome type of integrations among HR/TM components. See:

    Additionally, as your post last year suggested, another use of HR-XML is as a "fig leaf" to cover up the lack of genuine open integration capabilities. There are many companies with solid HR-XML integration capabilities, but unfortunately there are also many very thin claims and assertions around HR-XML as well.

  6. Chuck, I remember that you had left HR-XML. How have things been going with your new organization?

    I'll be sure to check your blog post out. I've enjoyed your work in the past (last we talked was when I posted the "fig leaf" article. You may noticed I'm still a little bitter about that . . . I did mention it in my new article too.

    Because the 3.0 library seems like it's going to take a little longer than I'm prepared to wait, we'll probably have support for 2.x and 3.x through an abstracted HR-XML layer, but I don't wanna go too deep into that because I still want material for another blog post.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I work as an IT Consultant for a large Background Screening company. I have spent quite a bit of time with HR-XML 2.* and have developed integration solutions for BackgroundCheck and BackgroundReport. I have worked with other companies and HR vendors to develop HR-XML compliant solutions.

    What I have found to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks is misuse and a lack of understanding or misinterpretation of the schema itself. So much so, that we have had to develop mapping routines to process HR-XML from different sources. This, of course, defeats the whole purpose and intent of standards and contracts.

    So, it's not enough to have an international standard that accurately defines data structures. The consumers of this standard must understand how it is to be used, and to use it uniformly and consistently.

  9. rgramann, I agree.

    My company has found no value from HR-XML certification for two reasons:

    1) It is possible to get certified on a schema by implementing only a tiny portion. It is also possible to output the data in multiple areas/formats (e.g., a choice of how to format dates). Combined, this means that two vendors certified on the same schema may provide wildly different, but schema-valid, output for the same input, thereby greatly reducing the data-interchange value of the "standard".

    2) has allowed members and non-members to falsely claim HR-XML "compliance" when they do not output valid HR-XML. Thus, it is impossible to use HR-XML certification as a differentiator because impostors are able to make false claims with impunity. In fact, as far as we can tell, the only thing in the marketplace that differentiates those of us who are certified on HR-XML schema from those who lie, is that we paid a fee that they did not. Silly us?

    I am saddened that the HR-XML organization has allowed its brand to be diluted by false claims. However, at this point, we intend to let our certifications expire, as there is no value in actually having a certification.

  10. Very nice article I have found, I want to know the difference between web based recruitment software and recruitment software and its use.

  11. Just a quick note to tell you that I have a passion for the topic at hand. Cheers.
    Hrms Solutions

  12. I am struggling to find up to date information on anyone using HR-XML. I would be interesting in knowing about Payroll integration, but its not something that I have heard clients talking about in the sector.

  13. Hey, great blog, but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me please? alc software

  14. Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here.
    HR Outsourcing