Updating HRIS to Meet New Company, Governmental and Technological Requirements

Human Resource Information and Management Systems (HRIS or HRMS) provide critical support for every department in a company. These systems are instrumental in obtaining, tracking and archiving information that is vital to the company and that is mandated by the government.

The merging of traditional human resource data and functions with the most current information technology allows the rapid integration of HR data into a company’s universal database. However, it also poses some interesting problems. The integration of the disparate systems proves flexible and valuable on one hand while remaining rigid and uncommunicative on the other.

HRMS systems, while undoubtedly written to provide excellent functionality in the current year, will inevitably become dated. New company needs, constantly changing governmental requirements and the advances in technology demand that software eventually be updated.

Obviously, newer HR software is less susceptible to this phenomenon than older ones. Still, to determine whether the current software is sufficient, some fundamental questions surrounding these facts should be asked.

Why do I need an update?

The most common reasons for updates involve new company needs or new governmental regulations. In rarer cases, HR software becomes so dated that it is more cost effective to replace the entire system than to write a software “patch” to integrate the legacy HR system with the company’s newer software systems.

Does this process occur automatically or do I need to initiate the update?

Most HRMS systems are sold with a renewable, yearly update package. Software vendors understand that the human resource field is constantly shifting as lawmakers and company HR directors shift their priorities and needs. Nevertheless, the prudent HR manager should check their contract and see if any special requirements must be met to upgrade their software.

Is an update sufficient or do I need a completely new system?

This question can only be answered with a thorough review of the current system. If the system is relatively new, an update is almost assuredly the right decision. Newer systems have usually been designed on a “module” system and only the affected modules need to be updated. For older systems, the question is significantly trickier to answer. Other questions must be posed and answered. For instance, “Is client data being preserved or lost?” and, “Are all government mandated forms being obtained, signed and archived?” Only through this process can an accurate decision be made.

What are the costs involved?

Again, costs will vary depending on the scope of the upgrade or new installation and with the terms of any signed contracts. For legacy systems, the cost of upgrading may not be the most daunting problem. As one can imagine, there is very little demand for programmers on outdated systems. As such, the prudent HR director should keep well ahead of developments when it comes to HRIS software.

How is it accomplished?

Once the decision has been made to proceed, the actual process of upgrading an essential system requires a coordinated effort across the entire organization. Upgrading at the wrong time could disrupt all manner of essential reporting processes. Generally, a non-peak time is chosen and the organization’s employees are forewarned of a shutdown. Technicians then perform the necessary software installation. In a well-designed system, the installation itself, is fairly straightforward and easily accomplished.

Understanding the implications of an hr systems upgrade is the first step in the process. It should be undertaken well in advance of the perceived date of need. Then, if warranted, a specific and cost effective solution can be implemented.

About the Author:

Carolyn Sokol writes about issues that may affect small businesses such as human resources, hr management software, and HRIS products.  She is founder of PEOcompare.com and contributor to compareHRIS.com, both of which help match businesses to the right HR or payroll service provider for their particular needs.