Are there Industry Specific HR Information Systems?

A question that seems to pop up from time to time with users of is, “Are there industry specific HR information systems?” Someone, for example, may be looking for a system that is specially created for banking, manufacturing, or health care. In many business software industries, systems tend to be highly focused toward particular industries. That is not really the case with HR information systems.

In General, Most HR Information Systems are designed to work for a wide range of industries.

The companies do so because it’s obviously more profitable to create a HR management software system that works for a large number of industries as opposed to a single industry. They make the systems very universal by offering custom fields, screens, tables or reports. With my prior HR system reseller business, I worked with an application that we sold to everyone from accounting firms to banking, government offices, health care and manufacturing. Each of these industries has industry specific HR system needs but they also share many common needs, as well. We found that a single system was able to meet the needs of a large number of industries because of the degree of customization the provided to the customer. I did a lot of work within the health care industry which has extremely extensive needs regarding training details that must be tracked for their personnel. We were able to meet this need with a product that was not designed for that industry but still provided the capabilities the client needed. The same was true for a large number of other industries.

If you feel you work in an industry that demands very specific capabilities from an HR information system, don’t assume that every product will meet that need. As you demo the products and do some research, ensure the product will meet your company’s or your industry’s specific needs. In most cases, I think the products on the market today are customizable enough to meet most end users' needs, but never assume this is the case.

If you are not sure, when you ask for references from the HR software vendor, ask for references from organizations specific to your industry niche. Ask the reference if there is anything the product would need to do for your industry that it does not. Ask them about how, or if, they were able to customize the product to meet this need.

Industry Experience, however, may still matter for the HR information system you select.

Even though the HR system may meet your basic needs, this may not be enough. Having someone implement the software that has done so with the same package for your specific industry may prove very helpful. If challenges arise during the implementation, prior direct industry knowledge may prove very beneficial.

What if you find an industry specific HR information system?

Should you buy it? It all depends if the product meets your needs. In the past, I’ve seen a few accounting systems that were specifically created for governmental offices. One of these systems had an HR information system component but the product was very light on substance and capabilities. Even though the product was “specifically created” for government organizations, the add-on HR system was not nearly as comprehensive as other systems created for a wide range of industries.

I guess the best advice I can offer is to ensure you ask for specific information from the HR software vendors whose products you are considering to see if they can support your specific industry.  

About the Author

Clay Scroggin worked in the Human Resource and Payroll Software Industry for more than fifteen years. During that time, Clay and those who worked for him, assisted hundreds of HR professionals with their HR software needs. In 2007, Clay began working on, a site dedicated to assisting HR professionals with their search, selection, implementation and use of HR systems. The site contains several tools to assist HR professionals with their HR software research including an HRIS and HRMS Software Selection Tool.