Who are Fourth “Partners”?
Fourth partners are the businesses that connect to Fourth as part of providing services to you, our customers. For example, your business will have a POS provider. When they and Fourth have established a connection to one another, the POS provider becomes a “Fourth partner”.
While Fourth can connect to any type of business, the most common types of partners we have are:
- POS providers
- HR and ERP
- ATS and onboarding
Our Integrations Glossary contains some useful definitions and examples of terms used in this article.
What is an Integration?
An integration refers to connecting two separate systems together.
Some integrations unite systems closely, with lots of data passed between the two. This would be common for large infrastructure projects or merged businesses. For example, after Fourth and HotSchedules merged in July 2019, we built multiple integrations between the software systems. This allows us to offer a combined set of solutions to customers.
However, most integrations are between two systems that benefit from sharing only some of their data or services. For example, Fourth only shares the necessary data with each partner, such as Wagestream.
Integrations may use APIs, file transfers (FTP or SFTP), and other systems to pass data. Most integrations use APIs.
What is an API?
API stands for “Application Programming Interface”.
- Application: a solution or product
- Programming: writing code
- Interface: a point of interaction
An API sits on a computer server and waits for requests from other systems to come in. These requests might be to get information (such as employee details), send in information (such as sales data from a POS provider), or trigger an action (such as sending a phone notification to a user).
APIs send and receive data in a format designed for software to read. For example, to update exchanges rates in Adaco, the following text is sent into the API:
"AdacoProperties": [ "121" ],
During an integration, the business that built the API – for example, Fourth – does not normally need to do any development work. However, the business that is connecting to the API will do.
What Happens During a Fourth integration?
When a new partner integrates with Fourth, the following happens:
- The partner is introduced to Fourth by you, the customer. Fourth provides the partner with instructions for using the API and both the partner and Fourth check whether an integration is possible.
- Fourth has a technical call with the partner to cover any questions they may have.
- The partner starts development. Fourth's team is available to them during this process for any questions and troubleshooting. Because each customer’s use of Fourth products is customisable, some integrations require more time from Fourth's team than others.
- The partner tests their integration. Fourth checks that the data received from them is valid.
- We then get sign off from you, the customer, for the integration to “Go Live”.
- Go live happens!
Integration Use Cases
POS Provider Integrations
A common integration is one with a POS provider and Fourth. The data shared between both systems helps Fourth customers run their businesses better.
The POS provider sends Fourth:
- Sales transactions for the day, via the Fourth POS Gateway
- Time and attendance data, if the POS records this
Fourth will ask the POS provider to send the most detailed information they can, to power your business analytics, update your inventory, and forecast labour needs.
- The approved employee schedules for the location
- Employee details that the POS system can use, such as preferred names, job titles, etc
- Recipe, menu, and ingredient information. This keeps the POS system up to date with the most recent menu changes as well as nutritional and allergen information
- For hotels or retailers, any sales items
Each point above requires a separate integration, which the Fourth Solutions Consulting team will guide you and your POS provider through. The POS Gateway is a required integration, while the other integrations will depend on your needs.
Connected apps are another common integration between Fourth and a partner. This allows the partner to have their app available from the Fourth platform, making it easy for your users to access it.
This is powered through a single sign-on integration. Single sign-on allows users to sign in to multiple apps (or websites) using the same set of credentials. An Identity Provider handles authenticating users on behalf of the app. For example, many websites ask users to sign in with their Google or Facebook account when accessing their services.
With Fourth connected apps, users sign in with their Fourth account. This means the connected apps do not need to store and manage user accounts, and also ensures that only your employees can access the app’s services.
Trade Simple, Fourth's electronic trading platform, handles supplier integrations. Trade Simple enables you and your suppliers to exchange predefined and structured documents in a secure manner, with a complete audit trail and guaranteed delivery. And, it's designed to integrate with supplier systems and processes in a way that is flexible, usable and tailored to hospitality.
The setup between Trade Simple and each supplier is customised and often does not use an API. The process will take more or less effort based on the supplier’s own processes - for example, if they use paper invoices or an EDI system.
Other Partner Integrations
As well as POS providers, finance systems and suppliers, Fourth has a wide variety of other partner applications that can be connected to, including:
- HR and ERP
- ATS & recruitment
- Rewards and recognition
- Kitchen management
- Time & attendance
- E-learning and talent
Many of these will have one integration with Fourth to get the data they need to provide their services.
How do I get an Integration Started?
If you have a new partner that you’d like integrated with Fourth, just get in touch with your Fourth contact. They will provide any specific requirements and pricing for the integration type and advise our solutions consultants that a new integration is required.