Cloud-based payroll provider ZenPayroll last week unveiled an API that a dozen partners have already integrated with.
The company, which now processes more than a billion dollars in annual payroll for its customers, has grown quickly by targeting small and midsize businesses. To make it easier for those businesses to use ZenPayroll alongside other complementary services, the company developed an API that enables information to be easily shared with those services.
The dozen partners that have integrated with the ZenPayroll API include Expensify, which assists companies in tracking expenses and generating expense reports, and Maxwell Health, which offers a benefits administration platform.
API Enables Choice, With Some Challenges
According to Joshua Reeves, ZenPayroll's co-founder and CEO, his company's approach is designed to offer customers greater choice.
"You have these huge product suites from monolithic business software companies," he told The New York Times. "Companies like Oracle, Workday and ADP typically serve large enterprises. They aren’t in it for the little guy."
Instead of developing a similar product suite and increasing prices, ZenPayroll believes it can better serve its customers by giving them the ability to pick and choose their service providers and connect their accounts with those service providers to ZenPayroll using the company's new API.
Of course, such an approach isn't without its challenges. As the Times' Quentin Hardy observes, some of the ZenPayroll partners that have integrated with its API are also competitors or work with ZenPayroll competitors. For instance, Zenefits and inDinero also offer payroll services, and BambooHR and Insynctive have integrations of their own with multiple payroll service providers.
Ultimately, however, ZenPayroll's Reeves believes that playing nice with others — even competitors — is the way to best serve customers. "We help the underdog get [a] suite of products in an affordable way," he said.
With APIs on the rise, and consumers and businesses becoming more and more comfortable mixing and matching services in an increasingly unbundled world, expect to see more companies opting to integrate instead of insulate.