Why bespoke is better than standardised

This is a client story illustrating bespoke integrations: The thing is, in our work and in the tech (start-up) sector, we come across many advocates and companies that see standardisation as the holy grail for everything. One of the reasons is that standardisation makes everything faster, which in turn assists to keep up with the current world, which appears to spin faster each time. But...

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Reality is often messy and complicated

What do you do when faced with an imperfect reality that does not lend itself to a standard approach from one client to the next? The fact of the matter is that many companies aren’t perfect in the way they have set up their processes and IT. Things grow organically.

At times, we see a tension with squeezing these imperfect realities into a standardised approach. Like a square peg in a round hole. It may work somewhat, and on the surface even appear to be an improvement. However, is it the best we can do for the customer? Or is there a better way?

In this blog, we argue the case of bespoke standardisation - via the story of Kind & Co (which loosely translates to Child & Co).

Bespoke HR automation for Kind & Co

Kind & Co is a large organisation that owns daycare centres in the Netherlands. They have many temporary and permanent staff members working in the centres. As a result of their core business in working with children, onboarding new members of staff is a process that requires many structure, precision and many checks and balances. Therefore, they were keen to explore automation as part of the onboarding process, to unburden HR staff with a lot of these complexities.

In addition, this project was in line with their overall aim to create synergies by running many centres concurrently, and to improve financial performance along the way.

Before delving into the details, this bespoke approach does not equate to a lengthy process. The below was implemented within 1 month. We also don’t and didn't need to use a lot of customer time, and in this instance we worked directly with the (AFAS) consultants for most of the information we needed to set things up.

Automated onboarding by linking the applicant tracking system to the HR system

When Kind & Co acquired Emply as their new applicant tracking system, this offered the perfect opportunity to start the automation project, as Emply offers an open API and advanced functionality for process automation. They already had AFAS as an HR system.

The first step in the process was to create a simple link between Emply and AFAS. This was to copy and keep up-to-date certain organisational structures and other master data in Emply so that recruitment could be organised along the appropriate Kind & Co structures. This enabled vacancies to be attached to the right cost centre and responsible persons within the Kind & Co organisation. At this stage, an HR staff member can jump in to add a title and other enriching information, before the vacancy gets published out to job boards

After this first step, the next phase entailed automating the end-to-end HR process of finding and on-boarding new employees.


If you have been reading more of our blogs, you probably wonder why it is worth describing a similar use case to other ones we have blogged about before. With this use case, we illustrate how none of our clients follow a cookie-cutter approach. The below story shows how Kind & Co needed a different approach in order to achieve optimal results.

The most valuable component

When a candidate has been marked as ‘proceed to hire’ in Emply, the most valuable component of the integration service kicks in. Harmonizer sends the candidate an enrolment form, and monitors that the candidate sends it back, with associated attachments such evidence that certain screening procedures have been initiated. No human intervention needed anymore!

The HR staff member subsequently can attach other information as appropriate for the role and perform a final check on the accuracy and completeness of the information. As soon as the HR staff member changes the candidate status to ‘hired’, Harmonizer picks up all relevant information from Emply, and creates a new record in AFAS, for the new hire.

Bespoke business rules

Once again, this is where it is so important the automation/integration is flexible and not standard, to match the destination system’s flexibility. Because AFAS can be deployed in so many different ways, Harmonizer needed to understand the exact way in which the process worked for Kind & Co. There are number of business rules in place to ensure the information is processed into AFAS correctly. These business rules will be different from organisation to organisation due to the level of customisation that occurs within AFAS.

The basic steps obviously involve the creation of the personal information, attaching any relevant documents and kicking of the AFAS workflow to complete the onboarding process. However, many questions quickly come up like:

  • what information do you include,
  • how do you deal with persons who were formerly registered in Emply / worked with Kind & Co in the past; and
  • what validation is needed on the data before it can be synchronised?

The answers all depend on the exact configurations of the AFAS application.

Even though we currently have a handful of customers like Kind & Co who use Harmonizer for on-boarding automation between Emply and AFAS, none of them have exactly the same flow. The reason is their different business processes and therefore, the different system architectures and ways in which these systems work for them.


Standardisation is a great thing, but in practice it is often limiting for larger organisations with complex processes. Perhaps one day we may live in a world where applications can handle very complex logic and be standardised at the same time. Until that point in time, there is Harmonizer to deal with complexities and tweak standard approaches such that business processes are optimally automated.

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

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