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Advantages of HRIS

An HRIS can reduce the amount of paper work and manual record keeping
It retrieves information quickly and accurately
It allows quick analysis of HR issues

Most HRIS Contain:

Personal history - name, date of birth, sex
Work history - salary, first day worked, employment status, positions in the organization,
appraisal data and hopefully, pre-organizational information
Training and development completed, both internally and externally
Career plans including mobility
Skills inventory - skills, education, competencies...look for transferable skills

The pressure is on for proactive HR innovations that contribute directly to the bottom-line or improve
employee morale and efficiency. Ajuwon (2002) points out that the typical HR professional gets involved
with one step in many different flows of work. Very often the involvement of HR has no purpose except
to validate the process in some way and acts as an interruption to the flow of work. In other words, the
HR function is a 'gatekeeper for information thats been deemed too highly classified for the data owner.'
So HR is not actually making a measurable contribution - in fact, the opposite. HR involvement creates a
queue or delay in the process. We should ask if the HR involvement is really necessary. Once upon a time
the HR database had an 'all-or-nothing' quality - probably because it was paper-based.
But now technology allows controlled access to various portions of the database. So an employee can
safely amend his or her own address or bank account details, while the ability to change certain appraisal
details might be confined to the line manager. In either case, there is no reason for HR to be involved.
HR should move on from the role of intermediary. Not surprisingly, the use of employee self-service
systems for records, information, payroll and other functions is becoming increasingly common. Libraries
of forms can be kept online to be downloaded as and when required. Systems can be enhanced to
include streaming video and other new software providing wide access to corporate videos, training,
etc. Obviously, e-mail announcements and newsletters can also be used to alert employees to new
developments or urgent requests.

Efficiency and effectiveness

HRIS must be capable of changing the work performed by the Human Resources personnel by

dramatically improving their level of service, allowing more time for work of higher value, and reducing

their costs. But, despite extensive implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects,

Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), and HR service centres costing millions of dollars,

Walker concludes that few organizations have been entirely happy with the results. Why is this? Many

systems have been implemented by cutting HR staff, outsourcing and imposing technology on what was

left. Arguably this approach should, at least, have cut costs. But Walker argues that survey results

demonstrate that overall HR departments have actually increased their staffing levels over the past decade

to do the same work. Moreover he considers that:"Most of the work that the HR staff does on a day-to-

day basis, such as staffing, employee relations, compensation, training, employee development, and

benefits, unfortunately, remains relatively untouched and unimproved from delivery standpoint."Fletcher

explores the issue of effectiveness in which she states that: "Executives struggle with what to measure and

how too clearly tie employee metrics to business performance." Not only are they pressured by the vast

costs of Human Capital Management (payroll, etc.) but they also have to report to analysts "whose

valuations consist partly of measuring such intangible assets as the corporate leadership's team to execute

on strategy or the ability of the business to attract and retain skilled talent.

Integrated HR Information Systems (HRIS) have a profound effect on firms that implement them. Most
often these firms are replacing several related systems, such as a personnel database, payroll system and
benefits system, with one HRIS that does it all. Many people focus on the improved reporting and
processing that will be realized from the new system, and those are the reasons most firms choose to
implement a new HRIS. But what many people dont focus on is that the new HRIS will most likely
affect the company much more deeply it will challenge the operating structure and principles of all the
HR-related departments.
An integrated HRIS results is a drastically different environment than a cluster of related but separate
systems. The core concept of a centralized data store inherent with an HRIS demands integrated work
processes for consistently managing that store. The two attributes centralized data storage and
integrated work processes will affect the company in ways most managers dont expect.


Many companies go through a process of comparing and evaluating several HRIS packages using a team
of analysts or managers from the various departments affected HR, Payroll, Benefits, Employee
Relations, Training and so on. As this team prepares its evaluation criteria and reviews HRIS features,
much is learned about the goals and values of the various departments. The HR department is looking for
improved reporting of employee data, Payroll is concerned with the systems paycheck calculations and
regulatory reporting, while Benefits may be looking for a more streamlined enrollment process. As this
team drives deeper into the selection criteria, the members learn more about each other and may start to
see the emergence of some really messy business processes. It can be a bittersweet process. The hiring
process is a good example. As a person is recruited, hired and paid each department may have its own
specialized system and process for managing the employee data. As the HRIS evaluation team discovers
redundant processing and data storage, its members start to see ways to make the process more efficient
by aligning their part of the hiring process with the requirements of the other departments. The team
members are excited to find a better way to get the work done, but scared by the ramifications of closer
ties to other departments. They think:If we improve the efficiency of the process we wont need as many
people in our department and we might lose control of some piece of data that is critical to our business
function. As the team evaluates an HRIS software package, it begins to get a better grasp on what the
entire companys business processes are, and therefore what the company might require in an HRIS. The
team will most likely find that none of the packages are an exact fit and that substantial effort is required
to modify or integrate the chosen HRIS. Or if not enough due diligence and research have been done, the
team may be facing this effort and not be aware of it. This gap in planning will show itself later in the
implementation phase when the project team realizes there are not enough resources time, people and
money to implement the HRIS. Perhaps the most critical results of the HRIS evaluation process are that
the evaluation team set correct expectations for the project and gain executive management commitment.
With correct, or at least realistic expectations and an executive management team that seriously supports
the teams efforts, an HRIS implementation project has a much greater chance to succeed. Most often the
HRIS evaluation team members spend most of their efforts building selection criteria and choosing an
HRIS, instead of setting expectations and building executive support.
There are three primary activities in an HRIS implementation configuring the HRIS for the firms
business processes and policies, interfacing data with other systems and converting historical data into the
HRIS, and preparing the organization for the new HRIS. An HRIS comes with built-in.

Many HRIS implementations include, to one degree or another, business process reengineering. As a firm
documents, investigates, and discovers its true business processes, its natural that the firms also take time
to improve them, or at least integrate the processes across departments. The integrated nature of most
HRIS packages drives this activity. When a process is reengineered or integrated, once-independent
departments become much more dependent on each other. That dependency can increase tensions on the
project team as representatives from those departments learn to trust others to do their part of the process.
Or, once the project team members become comfortable with the new processes they have designed, they
may have a hard time selling those changes back to their departments. Most HRIS packages dont handle
exception processing very well. As new business processes are designed, the project team customizes the
HRIS around those new processes. Users will most likely find that exception cases require significant
manual thought or labor to process since the exception does not fit into the business process as
implemented in the HRIS. HRIS project team analysts will walk a fine line between generalization of the
process to fit exceptions vs. a more narrowed implementation of the process to enforce data integrity and
accurate application of HR policy. This is a great time to enforce some standards and clean-up special
deals but HR managers and policymakers must be willing to support these efforts, and to help
implement them. Finally, as the project team analysts dig into the current business processes, they may
find that the HR users, and sometimes managers, dont really understand or know the processes well.
Users may know what is done, but not why it is done. Knowing the why part is critical to getting the most
out of your HRIS implementation. In most every HRIS there are two or three technical methods of
implementing any given requirement knowing why something is done in a business process helps
ensure the project team analysts select the best method of implementing it in the HRIS.

Linking the New HRIS with Other Systems

Most HRIS project teams have a number of people assigned to converting historical data from the
existing HR databases into the new HRIS, as well as for interfacing the new HRIS with other systems that
rely on HR data. As this group starts mapping historical data to the new system for conversion, most often
group members will find (particularly when combining data from several existing systems to go into one
HRIS) that the existing HR data contains significant amount of invalid, incomplete, or contradictory data.
As the new HRIS was configured for new, reengineered or streamlined business processes, the existing
employee data may not fit well into the new system. The new HRIS will demand more complete and
accurate employee data. Making sense of these data conversion problems is a skill that falls to HR
analysts, not the programmers writing data-conversion routines. Conversion and interfacing are not solely
technical activities user consultation and input are required. Many HRIS project teams discover these
requirements too late, thus increasing the demand for time from HR analysts on the project team time
that the analysts most likely do not have. If the firm has a data warehouse, the new HRIS data will need to
be mapped to it. If the data model in the warehouse is based on the legacy HR database, the two data
models may not be compatible. A lot of effort can be spent mapping the new HRIS to an existing data
warehouse. Or if the HRIS vendor has its own data warehouse application, the project team might
preempted to use it, but theyll still have to contend with converting existing historical HR data into the
new warehouse. Either way, HRIS project teams spend more effort than planned on this issue the details
can get very tedious and time consuming.

Replacing HR systems involves any area of the company that reads or relies on employee data. New
system implementation may highlight employee data privacy issues, or increase the scope of interfacing
once the project team realizes just how many systems read employee data from the current HR-related

Preparing the Organization

Many times it is easier for project teams to focus on technical aspects of the implementation, which is
ineffective. For example, configuring the HRIS to correctly assign resident tax codes based on the
employees address is easier than getting HR, benefits, payroll, and recruiting to buy into and implement
are engineered hiring process. The HRIS project team must track progress not only on the technical
aspects of implementing the HRIS, but also on the softer side of managing the organization as a whole to
accept the new business processes that come with the HRIS. Companies typically underestimate this
change-management effort. From the very beginning there must be a focus on preparing the organization
and the employees for the new HRIS. A new HRIS, with more integrated work processes, tends to pull
related departments together. Some firms recognize this as they go through the implementation process,
and also implement a new organizational structure with the HRIS roll-out. For example, HR and Payroll
may have reported to separate areas of the company, and parts of HR business processes were scattered
throughout various departments. But as a new HRIS is implemented, the previous organizations are
transformed to report to a single authority, and a shared-services group is established to perform the
integrated work processes that were once scattered. This is a common, but often unexpected, result of
HRIS implementations. During the implementation phase, firms should also be determining what their
support model will look like what kind of organization will be required to support this new HRIS?
Those who study this task in detail will realize they need cross-functional support teams containing
programmers (ABAP), configuration experts, and business analysts to successfully support the new
HRIS. But this integrated support team does not fit well into the vertical departments in most companies
today. Finding a way to implement this cross-functional team is a critical success factor for the new
HRIS ongoing operation. All of the items mentioned so far force HR managers to become involved in
what is usually perceived as an IT project. They may be accustomed to pushing responsibility for such
projects onto IT managers, but implementing an integrated HRIS requires HR manager participation and
active involvement in scoping, implementation, cutover, resourcing and management.

LIVING WITH THE NEW HRIS (Changes in the HR User Community)

An integrated HRIS leads to more integrated reporting of employee data, which can lead to efforts that
benefit the company. Better reporting of employee costs, skills and requirements, time-keeping and
recording, etc. give senior managers information that can be used to improve the application of HR policy
or to cut costs (i.e. reducing time-card fraud, highlighting wasteful compensation practices, etc.). Most
integrated HRIS packages are very sophisticated in the functionality and processes they offer. Compared
to legacy, or screen-based/code-based systems, the new HRIS requires a more analytical user. The user
cannot simply be trained to put certain codes into certain fields --he/she must know the business process
and how it relates to the HRIS. In most companies, a certain portion of users will be able to make this
jump to "analytical" thinking; others will not. The resulting shakeout has to happen, and it is most often
painful either for the employees themselves or for the HRIS supports organization. If a more
centralized, integrated HR organization doesnt surface during the implementation period, the
organization will l tends to evolve in that direction. An integrated, centralized HRIS tends to pull user
departments together. Using integrated work processes across departments that do not operate under
common authority will highlight data and process ownership issues. These issues in turn get pushed up to
HR managers or executive management. Eventually, these managers resolve the issues by increasing the
integration of the departments to match the processes. Either way it happens at implementation or via
evolution -- this level of organizational change is always difficult.