Human Resource Information Systems-HRIS: In-House Solutions vs. SaaS

Conventional wisdom among most company executives now holds that software as a service (SaaS) offers significant benefits over in-house software systems. IT staffs are indecisive but their advice and motivations are hardly unbiased. Companies have migrated everything from customer relationship management software (CRM) and human resource information systems (HRIS) to enterprise resource planning (ERP).

The reasons are varied and do not apply to every situation equally. For instance, the CRM solution is already quite evolved as it is obvious that sales people must be able to access their sales info at a moment’s notice from anywhere that has an Internet connection. The SaaS solution ideally meets this need. Similarly, companies with the resources to develop an ERP want to leverage that investment across as many employees and channels as possible and, again, choose the SaaS platform.

The question remains, however, as to whether it makes sense for a company to migrate its existing HRIS software
to an SaaS platform. There are several factors that should be considered before implementing any changes to
highly confidential information that is not necessarily time sensitive.

Human Resources Information Systems

The value of HRIS is definitely related to its accessibility. The workload of management as well as the HR staff is significantly facilitated by an easy-to-use and well-designed HRIS system. Still, these employees do not necessarily need access from points other than their offices. In addition, the information is highly privileged, for both the employee and the company and must be securely safeguarded. In-house and SaaS solutions address these issues in slightly different ways, each has its own advantages.


An in-house or a non-hosted solution leaves the hardware and software under the management and control of the company itself. While there is technical assistance available from the company that sold the software, the purchasing company is still responsible for implementing, upgrading and troubleshooting the HRIS software. Consequently, any hardware problems or security issues fall under their purview. The information can be conveyed via the Internet or on a company intranet. In-house solutions are typically more difficult for hackers to penetrate as there is usually no outside point of entry.


Software as a Service is a hosted or cloud-based solution as the hardware is maintained and serviced by a third party provider. This third party maintains multiple, redundant servers that store the information and they maintain a technical support team at each of their facilities. Since the equipment resides at their site, they are responsible for maintenance and upgrades as well as physical and online security of the equipment and data.

Another advantage to SaaS is that the technical support team can  resolve client side issues with greater flexibility as they have access to all aspects of the system. In many cases, the hosted solution offers a more robust system with greater security because the cost of the equipment and technicians can be allocated over more than one client. 

This variation also allows access from anywhere with an Internet connection thus allowing greater accessibility and, presumably, greater usage. Obviously, security is somewhat diminished as potential hackers can access the system but the greater technical expertise and the firewall protection provided by the hosting company, generally, more than compensates for this deficiency.

In-House Solutions vs. SaaS

In the end, the choice between in-house vs. SaaS depends on a range of factors including the investment in the current HRIS software, its relative age, the size of the company and its actual needs. There are human resource information systems to meet the needs of every size company in any industry. In addition, they are extremely customizable and highly scalable so that they can grow with your company. The only absolute is that HRIS is a must for any 21st century company.


About the Author

Carolyn Sokol writes about issues that may affect small businesses such as human resources, HRMS and HRM Software. She is a founder of and contributor to which both help match businesses to the right HR or Payroll Service provider for their particular needs.

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