Bugünlerde, ITWorldCanada dergisi açık kaynak kodlu İK yazılımları üzerine bir araştırma yapıyormuş. Bu sebeple, başlattığım ama bir türlü istediğim kıvama getiremediğim OpenHRIS projesi hakkında bana bazı sorular sormak istediler. Aşağıda cevaplarımı ve yayınlanan makaleyi bulabilirsiniz.

ITWorldCanada: What inspired you to create open-source human resources software?

UCY: Along my 5 years of HR experience, I saw the importance of infrastructure in properly deploying new HR applications. Advanced HR applications (such as target deployment, performance management, competency management…etc) are difficult to implement and control with paper & pen and quite expensive to run and maintain with incumbent commercial solutions, which require considerable investment on both server and client side. Moreover, installing these comprehensive and integrated software packages with all necessary infrastructure isn’t sufficient for full utilization, as it is also required to receive consultancy from the vendor for customization of built-in HR models or for adaptation of the customer’s own existing models to the new framework in expense of a couple of more zeros on the right of the billed figure.

These solutions are not affordable for many SMEs, most of which are even unable to maintain a dedicated HR function within their organizations. Other small but inexpensive solutions are generally desktop based, and lack many features.

There, it came the idea of having OpenHRIS, which

  1. will be open source (will be free to use and will be developed collaboratively online)
  2. will be web based and will require no/minimal investment for infrastructure (it will be accessible from and fully operable on every computer with a browser and access to internet)
  3. will include basic built-in HR models so that it will be ready for deployment immediately after installation for any small enterprise

In short and medium term, we decided to leave most classical HR functions such as payroll management and attendance control out of the scope of this software project. Main focus will be on personal and organizational development areas where most SMEs are unable to store a solution.

ITWorldCanada: I’ve noticed that you don’t have a working copy yet: what have been the challenges so far in developing this software?

UCY: The greatest problem is time actually. We are unable to spare enough time to the project since our professional life is quite loaded. The other problem is that there are no professional programmers in the group yet. Group consists of HR people. Only I have an IT background, particularly in database design and web programming, and therefore I am trying to deal with technical issues at this phase. Actually my most dominant expertise is in personal development and organizational excellence areas. After completing the conceptual design phase, we were planning to search for support in programming.

ITWorldCanada: There appears to be only one company with an open source human resources solution, OrangeHRM. Why aren’t there more open source human resources solutions?

UCY: It is probably because HRM is a very complicated domain and therefore coming up with an HRM solution is a task that can not be handled with 1 or 2 ambitious programmers.

In my opinion, there are two factors boosting this complexity. First of all, HRM’s boundaries are still unclear because the domain continues expanding and evolving radically, and I don’t think that the pace of this expansion and evolution will decrease in the near future. 5 or 10 years ago HRM consisted of payroll management, personnel administration and industrial relations. Today it includes people alignment, internal communication, talent management…etc. Even today’s giant vendors are unable to provide a solution with such diversified functionality.

The other problem is the need for extreme flexibility. Some basic processes – such as employee registry management – don’t differentiate very much, they are almost the same anywhere on earth. But as far as the advanced HR applications are concerned, we observe that a company’s HR perspective is considerably affected from the company’s size, industry, culture, history, employee demography, political, economic and social environment…etc. Therefore it is possible to see ten different performance management practices in ten different companies in the same industry. For example, my company’s employee performance management system is completely objective based. One of our direct competitors uses a completely competency based system and an other uses a hybrid (both objective and competency based) one. My company employs a relative evaluation method such as the one employed in GMAC examinations and gets the performance results reflected to base compensation radically. However in some of our competitors, effect of performance in compensation is quite limited and it is fundamentally used as a reference in career decisions. These variations are quite normal and unavoidable. For this reason, flexibility is extremely critical in designing an HRM infrastructure and flexibility naturally brings complexity into picture.

ITWorldCanada: Some analysts suggest that the lack of these solutions can be attributed to the difficulty in writing software that is very industry-specific (ie: like HR), as the person writing it needs to be able to code AND have industry knowledge.

UCY: Yes I agree. Designing an HRM software requires considerable domain knowledge. But this difficulty can be overcome by forming the project group with a mix of programmers and HR specialists.

ITWorldCanada: Do you have any HR background yourself? If so, has that been how you’ve been able to work on this?

UCY: Yes, I have considerable experience and academic background in HR. Combined with my earlier IT background, I was able to see the lack of such a solution.

ITWorldCanada: Do you think that more people will start developing industry-specific open source software in the future?

UCY: Yes I agree. However, I believe that progress in this field will be a little slow. You know, open source lives by collaboration. The pace of growth of an open source software is directly proportional with the size of the user base. Since user basis of Ubuntu or Joomla are huge, they are growing and being brought to perfection quickly. From this perspective, developing industry specific open source software has some difficulties. In order to overcome these difficulties some kinds of sponsorship may prove useful.

ITWorldCanada: Do you have an approximate timeframe for when you’ll have a working copy of the product (this year? Next year?)

UCY: Actually there is no progress at this moment. We made some planning and conceptual design but we couldn’t step into hardcode programming yet. Since sparing time for this issue is problematic for us, we are planning to enlarge our group and get the support of a local university. If we could succeed this, we may finish the conceptual design this year and launch a working copy of fundamental modules in the following year.

ITWorldCanada: What do you plan to do with the product? Will it be purely free, available open source available through word of mouth, or will you market it and charge for tech support?

UCY: It will be purely free. It is possible to establish a business on providing consultancy and technical support for the companies who wish to implement a customized or extensive version of the solution. But at this moment we are far from making plans on this business.

Mülakat sonucunda çıkan yazı derginin web sitesinde yayınlandı. Yazının bir kopyasını da ilişikte bulabilirsiniz.

Open source startups seek to fill vertical voids

Business applications are still mostly proprietary, but a handful of fledgling firms are trying to get past the interoperability constraints to change that. First up: HR software

4/11/2007 4:50:00 PM
by Briony Smith

There are a number of open source software applications that cover enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and payroll, but there is a strange dearth of unified open source human resources software solutions, which some say is symbolic of the general lack of industry-specific and vertical open source software.

Secaucus, New Jersey-based OrangeHRM claims to be the only open source human resources software vendor out there; it got into the market, according to CEO Sujee Saparamadu, to fill the gap.

Matt Lawton, an IDC Canada principal analyst for open source software business models, said that there are more open source ERP and CRM applications, including webERP, Tiny ERP, and Compiere.

“Building software for business processes is complicated stuff,” said Lawton. “You have to get the community’s knowledge to develop software and it takes time to develop that.”

Saparamadu, for instance, worked previously for the Sri Lanka-based HR software company hSenid. Also in the works in Turkey is the Web-based software OpenHRIS, which is being developed by a small group of HR professionals, led by Ugur Cem Yildiz, in their spare time.

Said Michael Goulde, a senior analyst with the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research: “Think about what (human resources applications) do: they don’t really contribute to the top line and they’re not directly product-related, so it’s hard to create a lot of interest.”

Lawton said that the open source software movement traditionally has started at the lower levels of the operational stack, like with operating systems, due to the lower level of knowledge required for something relatively universal like an operating system or word processing program. Lawton said, “But when it comes to the knowledge needed for business processes, as you go up the software stack, the knowledge needed goes up.”

Adding to the complexity is the ever-expanding boundaries of human resource management software, said Yildiz, and its need for extreme flexibility.

Human resources isn’t the only area that suffers a lack of open source options, according to Goulde. “Almost any vertical or industry application I can think of, it’s hard to find people to write open source software for it,” he said.

Interoperability can be a big constraint, too, said Lawton, due to the difficulty of integrating open source software-or, indeed, any software-with a business’ ERP system. He said, “Organizations that would use these types of applications already have third-party or in-house applications written and deployed, and having to take the time the open source application needs to operate with the proprietary software-that’s the weak point of open source software.”

Even when switching the application they’re using, businesses might also be wary of adopting open source. “They want to see the path they can migrate from today to tomorrow,” said Lawton.

Yet open standards seem to be helping adoption along, according to Lawton, who said that open source software tends to embrace open standards, which makes for easier interoperability. OrangeHRM, for instance, uses the HR-XML open data standard, which eases integration with payroll and CRM systems, said Saparamadu.

Companies can also try out open source business software to make sure it would be a good fit with their existing systems and human resources set-up. Once put in place, customization can be a breeze, due to the transparency of the code. Compiere, according to Bill Freedman, the marketing director of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based ERP and CRM software company, uses a model-based development platform that makes it easy for companies to make changes.

More businesses will enter the market with time, said Lawton, and it might surprisingly be large enterprises leading the way with open source human resources software, as, right now, it’s enterprise-level companies that are using open source software the most.

One way in would be to build a thin layer of human resources applications on top of a content management platform, which would be easier than starting from scratch, said Goulde.

Freedman said that he could see developers using the Compiere platform to add human resources-specific features to create an HR-specific solution. This plan of action might especially appeal to budget-conscious companies that don’t want to cough up expensive license and customization fees.

Freedman and Goulde agreed that, as application development tools evolve and require less skill, it will be easier for those with a human resources background — like Yildiz and his team –to take a crack at writing their own HR software if they want. “You won’t need to be a crack programmer,” said Goulde.