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Overcoming Data Synchronization Challenges with APIs: A Guide for Professional Services Firms

Posted by Peter Nuffer on May 11, 2023

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In today's fast-paced business environment, organizations such as professional services firms rely on data synchronization between systems to ensure consistency and accuracy across different departments and teams. Getting this data from one system to another will require the use of an API. In this blog, we will explore the basics of APIs and how they play a crucial role in connecting systems for seamless data exchange.  

Here, also, we will discuss common pitfalls that organizations like professional services firms may face during the synchronization process. These include data mapping errors, lack of standardization, security concerns, and network reliability issues. So, let's dive into the world of APIs and learn how they can revolutionize your organization's data synchronization process!  

Why Synchronize Systems? 

Well, organizations such as professional services firms synchronize data between systems to ensure that the same data is available in multiple locations or systems. This can provide several benefits, including: 

  • Improved data accuracy: Synchronizing data between systems helps ensure that data is consistent and up to date across all systems. This can reduce errors and improve overall data accuracy. 
  • Improved efficiency: When data is synchronized between systems, it can reduce the amount of manual data entry required. This can save time and improve overall efficiency. 
  • Better decision-making: Synchronized data can help ensure that decision-makers have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information across all systems. This can improve the quality of decision-making and lead to better outcomes.
  • Better collaboration: When data is synchronized between systems, it can improve collaboration between teams or departments. This can help ensure that everyone has access to the same information and reduce misunderstandings or conflicts that can arise from using different data.
  • Data backup and recovery: Synchronizing data between systems can also help ensure that data is backed up and can be recovered in the event of a system failure or disaster. This can help organizations avoid data loss and minimize downtime. 

What is an API?  

This acronym that has been tossed around stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a set of protocols, routines, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact with each other, allowing different systems to communicate and exchange data seamlessly. In the realm of intersystem connectivity, an API functions like a door into an application for programming to perform automated routines.  

What are Endpoints and Methods?  

Let’s break down APIs even further: 

API Endpoints 

An API endpoint is a unique URL where a client can access a specific resource or perform a specific action within an API. In other words, it is the location where an API can be accessed over the internet. Endpoints are defined by the API provider and are usually documented for developers to know how to interact with the API. For example, if an API provides access to a list of products, the endpoint might be something like https://api.example.com/products. 

When an application/client sends a request to an endpoint, the API will process the request and send back a response containing the requested data or action. The response will usually be in a specific data format, such as JSON or XML, which the client can then process and use in their application. 

API endpoints are an essential part of building a RESTful API (Representational State Transfer), which is a common architecture style for building web APIs. They provide a clear and consistent way for clients to interact with an API and perform actions on specific resources. 

API Methods 

API methods, also known as HTTP methods or verbs, are the different types of requests that can be made to an API endpoint. Each method represents a different type of action that can be performed on a resource. The most common API methods are: 

  • GET: retrieves data from an API endpoint. This is the most common API method and is used to retrieve data like user profiles, product listings, and other resources. 
  • POST: submits data to an API endpoint to create or update a resource. This method is used to create new resources or update existing ones, like submitting a form or creating a new blog post. 
  • PUT: updates an existing resource with new data. This method is used to update an existing resource, like updating a user's profile information. 
  • DELETE: deletes a resource from an API endpoint. This method is used to delete a resource, like deleting a user account. 
  • PATCH: updates part of an existing resource with new data. This method is used to update a specific part of a resource, like changing a user's email address. 

API methods are typically used in conjunction with API endpoints to perform specific actions on resources. The appropriate method to use will depend on the type of action being performed and the resource being accessed. 

Revolutionize Data Synchronization with APIs 

With this quick introduction, you should hopefully now understand how APIs can revolutionize your organization's data synchronization process. Scoping an API integration project between any two systems requires careful planning, clear communication, and a focus on delivering business value. By following these best practices, organizations like professional services firms can increase the likelihood of a successful integration project and achieve their desired outcomes.  


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How Phased Retirement Can Benefit Both A&E Employees and Firms

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on April 20, 2023

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By 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 42 million people will fall under the category of people working that are 55 or older. So, this equates to almost one-fourth of the workforce in the U.S. While an aging workforce is becoming more prevalent in firms including those in the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry, this doesn't mean seasoned employees have to immediately say goodbye to the industry they love!  

With phased retirement, A&E firms or any professional services firm can help these senior employees transition into retirement while still retaining their valuable skills and experience. Not only are there many benefits for both employees and employers when implementing a phased retirement program, but leadership can also customize the plan that meets the needs of individual A&E firms. Going forward, let’s discuss this concept of phased retirement in some more detail and see how it will be advantageous for your A&E firm.

What is a Phased Retirement?  

As defined by Stephen Miller’s article for SHRM Online, “Phased retirement is an employer-based program that allows employees close to retirement age to reduce their working hours and transition into retirement. These programs may include a partial drawdown of funds from defined contribution or defined benefit retirement plans and continuing employer-sponsored health coverage.” 

The idea of phased retirement is not new. In fact, a worldwide survey of 1,736 HR Executives, by Mercer LLC, indicated that around 38% of these executives said they offer phased retirement which is more than double the 17.2% before the pandemic. Clearly, these executives see the slew of benefits for considering a phased retirement plan that will be advantageous for both employees and employers. 

Phased Retirement Benefits for Employees 

The following are just some of the benefits of a phased retirement for employees: 

  • Lowered Responsibility: Experienced or knowledgeable professionals tired of dealing with their current level of responsibility are looking for less-stressful roles or roles that are project-based, and those where their schedules can be more flexible. 
  • Guidance from Employer: As they see the unknowns of retirement fast approaching, these senior employees can look to their employers for a source of assistance on how to proceed forward in their ultimate career plans. 
  • Addresses Longevity in Life: People are living longer, so there are both financial and personal reasons employees close to retirement age may want to and/or need to phase into retirement, which includes continuing to save as much as possible before their career comes to an end. The days of guaranteed pension plans have been replaced by 401k plans and other sources of retirement savings. 
  • Offers Partial Retirement Earlier: Given the opportunity to reduce hours while still getting a salary and benefits allows employees to save money and invest carefully now so they can enjoy a retirement while still young enough to appreciate it.  
  • Can Test Drive Retirement: A phased approach to retirement lets senior employees ease into a new chapter in life. They get a chance to try things out before totally committing or “test drive” how retirement will work for them. For example, with a reduced workload, they will have the chance to explore other interests outside of work. 
  • Helps Adjust to New Life: Employees close to retirement age must consider making life changes that may be a bit stressful. Phased retirement provides a chance to see what these changes look like going forward without being overwhelming. Like, if married, starting with reduced hours is a handy way to help a couple ease into a new living arrangement. Or for those that are used to working all the time, they can see what it is like to have more time without work. 
  • Get an Encore Career: With changing responsibilities or the type of work that senior employees can take on whether upskilling or reskilling, phased retirement can offer these employees an “encore” career. This mindset allows for the eventual transition to retirement to be a positive one and has employees “go out with a bang.” 

Phased Retirement Benefits for Employers  

Employers also benefit by offering their employees phased retirement options. Below are just a few of those benefits: 

  • Knowledge and Skill Transfer: Seasoned employees generally have strong skill sets and knowledge that comes from experience, or the work ethic that can be transitioned to another position through reskilling or upskilling. Firm leadership needs to keep these valuable employees by granting pre-retirees the opportunity to continue earning income while feeling significant to the firm. During the phased retirement, skills and knowledge can be transferred to the next generation and the employees feel valued by their employer who works with them to provide a comfortable transition. 
  • Opportunity for Younger Generation: Again, skill sets and knowledge come from experience and are not learned immediately out of school. With phased retirement, transitioning senior workers gives younger workers opportunities to move up, making skills coaching by experienced workers vital. These younger workers will have the chance to get exposure to what the experts know before they transition out. 
  • Mentorships: Pre-retirees can offer their skills and knowledge and help with succession planning, mentoring, and training of the younger workforce. With phased retirement, there is time for this significant evolution to occur with no sense of major urgency. In fact, morale can also be improved when senior workers are given the chance to mentor their younger coworkers and see the value they still bring to the future of the firm. 
  • Ease of Transition: With phased retirement plans in motion, this facilitates a more seamless transition for these workers. With guidelines in place, and a mutual understanding of what is to come, there is no abrupt ending to their careers.  
  • Offers Employee Flexibility: Phased retirement gives pre-retirees the flexibility to retire on their own terms, which shows them that they are valuable and that the firm cares about them. When structured, firm leaders can help senior employees make a comfortable transition to retirement while not losing the trust of long-term employees.  

Examples of Requirements for Eligibility for Phased Retirement Program 

A&E firms looking to introduce a phased retirement program may want to start with determining eligibility requirements. Below are a few examples of such requirements: 

  • Minimum 5 years of Service 
  • Minimum Age 55 
  • Minimum Hours Reduction 10% 
  • Maximum Hours Reduction 50% 
  • Minimum 6 months, Maximum 3 years 
  • Minimum 20 hours/week 
  • Agree to retire at the end of the specified timeframe 
  • Arrangement must be mutually agreed upon 

Additional Items to Consider When Creating a Phased Retirement Plan 

Other considerations when exploring if a phased retirement plan option is right for your A&E are: 

  • Participation in the program must meet the needs of the department and the firm as a whole. 
  • It is not a guarantee of employment. 
  • Employees must be in good standing. 
  • Employees must adhere to company attendance policies. 
  • Employees have the option to accelerate their retirement date.  
  • As an employer you do not necessarily have to agree to a request if you have a good business reason for your refusal, but you must deal with the request in a reasonable manner and accommodate employees' needs wherever possible. 
  • Attention needs to be paid to the details of the transition. 
  • It should be presented as any benefit, so eligibility is like any other firm benefit. 
  • Program needs to be communicated throughout the firm and speak to “all demographics.” 

Get Started with your Phased Retirement Plan 

With a phased retirement plan in place, A&E firms or any professional services firm can navigate the transition of valuable, seasoned employees with ease, maintain careers and skill sets, all the while helping the next generation be prepared for the future to ensure continuing success. Each plan will be specific to an A&E firm’s needs, focusing on what makes sense for that firm and determining which roles it would apply to. If this is something you would like to explore further, feel free to reach out to our HR Consulting Experts. Click the image below to get started. 


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