Business Tipping Points - A Case for HRIS

In a beautifully written and well-reasoned book, Malcolm Gladwell makes the insightful point that there comes a time in the life of ideas, products or processes when a confluence of factors will “tip” an ambivalent state into an inevitable result. The more far-reaching ramifications about our planet and society aside, the author makes some interesting points about business processes.


A Hypothetical Case in Point

When does the cost of an automated HRIS save more time and money than the man-hours needed to accomplish the task? Obviously, a cost-benefit analysis could be done but there are several factors that can misrepresent the results. Typically, these analyses are done by home office personnel or others who are not intimately involved in the actual process.

For instance, an HR manager may decide that the weekly schedule for the store can be made in fifteen to twenty minutes. It seems a reasonable estimate as there are, in this hypothetical case, only six plus the store manager involved. The HR person then multiplies this number across the number of locations in the organization and derives an estimated cost per week for accomplishing this process. This number is then compared to the cost of purchasing an HRIS.

Unfortunately, the HR person has missed a good deal of the problems and aggravations associated with developing a weekly schedule. Company policy may dictate that all employees be available for every shift but the reality is that managers deal with a host of schedule conflicts such as school schedules, other jobs and day care conflicts. The point is that the simplest procedure such as developing a schedule can consume inordinate amounts of time.


A Real Life Example

There was a time when almost every company in the developed world utilized a fascinating device called the manual time clock. Employees would punch a card that manually recorded when they arrived at and left from work as well as break time. The process was used because there was no better system.

So, where are the manual time clocks today?

No prudent business person uses this system any longer. It was prone to manipulation, miscalculation and many other types of abuse. In addition, it required immense amounts of time for the manager or payroll person to process the weekly payroll. A simple missed punch could require two or three phone calls and twenty minutes to resolve. 

The implementation of electronic time clocks that flagged a missed punch when it occurred and prevented the employee from any further action until the problem was resolved was the first step in eliminating this tedious and tiresome process. The introduction of computer-based timecard systems further enhanced capabilities and sealed the fate of the manual time clock


Multiple Tipping Points

These are just two HR tasks that face a manager. There are a dozen more from new hire “on-boarding” and training to diplomacy actions and termination that hold the same pitfalls and time-draining procedures. An HRIS can address every one of them.

The savings in managerial man-hours can be significant with the introduction of an HRIS but there are other material benefits. Compliance with government regulations is increased and payroll management is made significantly easier. Most importantly, managers, at every level, are freed from tedious paperwork to focus on the real business of the company. In short, an HRIS is a valuable tool for any company with more than a few employees.


About the Author
Carolyn Sokol writes about issues that may affect small businesses such as human capital management, hr management software, and HRIS programs. She is founder of and contributor to, both of which help match businesses to the right HR or payroll service provider for their particular needs. Her background is in marketing and communications, employee education and training, development of policies and procedures and the ongoing delivery of outstanding customer service.