System communicationFor the “receiving system” to know what data it is receiving, it needs an interface specification. This specification stipulates which data should be transferred, which programming methods should be used for this purpose (syntax), what the value ranges should be called and what they mean (semantics). By themselves, systems do not know that if Max Müller is entered into an address field, “Max” is the first name and “Müller” the last name. The “transmitting system” must indicate this, and the “receiving system” must recognise the content. The naming specification is found in a construct that looks roughly like the folowing:
Standards harmonize data exchangeLuckily, HR software system manufacturers have a common “vocabulary” and common methods and functions that together make up specialized HR standards for exchanging data. There are standards for exchanging HR data from the International HR Open Standards Consortium (www.hropenstandards.org). These use a pre-defined format to make it easier to specify how interfaces are created. This results in much less programming work. If the data structure is determined in advance, recurring elements can always be described in the same way. The same type of interface can be reused. Then, the programmer only needs to program specifically which data should be exchanged.
What is HR Open Standards?The HR Open Standards Consortium, which has been active since 1999, is the leading international non-profit organisation for developing and updating standards for exchanging HR data. It publishes HR-XML and JSON standards for data exchange. Specifications can be used free of charge. They include terminology as well as different business cases with implementation guidelines, examples, and best practices. Specifications are available to all HR areas: from assessment to talent management (see diagram).
Who uses it?The HR Open Standard is also common here in Germany. Many companies do not even know they are using it, for example when they transmit a job advertisement to the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Labour Office) or various job portals. The BA slightly modifies the standard, but uses it as the basis for its own interface specification. The EURES database, the EU job portal, also uses the HR Open Standards Consortium standards.
The HR Open Standards Consortium is available to interested parties. You can attend Consortium events with no commitment to learn more about these standards in the HR area.
The next „Local Meeting“ in Europe takes place on 20 February 2020 in Germany with us, and is free of charge:
12:30 – 5:00 PM
milch & zucker AG
You are welcome to come by; registration required at:
If you want to get more out of the standard, as a member you will benefit from the high-quality exchange of professional and technical knowledge, and can contribute your own ideas and needs directly.
“Egalitarianism” is cost-efficient for interfaces.
Author: Ingolf Teetz, CEO milch & zucker
Ingolf Teetz is a co-founder of milch & zucker – Talent Acquisition & Talent Management Company AG, and has been the CEO of the company since 2014. He is responsible for the business area of recruiting software and technology, and has been on the Board of Directors for the HR Open Standards Consortium since 2006.