When is the Best Time to Invest in an HRIS?

At the risk of seeming juvenile, let me ask you a question,

“What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?”

The answer, as most of you know, is,

“Time to get a new fence.”

This joke was happily conveyed to me by a giggling eight-year old. I had forgotten the punch line but after hearing it and laughing, the joke also made me consider how many, if not most, business decisions are made under duress. A problem arises, concerns are expressed, money is thrown about and a solution is eventually purchased with no real regard for the ultimate costs.

This situation happens every day in businesses, large and small. Multinationals have procedures in place to minimize the repercussions and the resources to weather a bad decision. Small and mid-sized companies, however, often do not have the benefit of these luxuries. For this reason, smaller companies must be proactive about problem solving and not wait until the proverbial elephant has had his sit-down to find a solution.

Timing is Everything

Accountants love April and retailers love the holidays. Every business has a decidedly busy and profitable time of the year. In those fat times, it is easy to make grand plans about the future. Unfortunately, times of plenty, if not utilized properly, can be just as ruinous as emergency situations. It is imperative that a business plan for the future using the appropriate resources at the appropriate times. In short, this means evaluating needs, planning for growth and implementing the latest relevant technologies.

So, When is the Best Time to Invest in an HRIS?

Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) are valuable in so many ways that the tempting answer is, “Right Now!”  Still, business decisions should be made in a methodical and prudent manner. Cash flow considerations may make January an ideal financial time while the coming holiday season may seem more opportune as an HRIS will allow the rapid hiring of a more competent and reliable workforce.

Still, an HRIS is not a miracle cure. It takes time, effort and money to properly design and implement one. Instead, it should be viewed as an investment and a tool for greater efficiency. Finding the right time to design and implement one involves the same decisions as any other sizable project. Not only must the financial resources be available but also the staff and management needed to properly implement the project.

As with any other company-wide project, planning should be your first step. Overhauling or replacing your current manual HR process with an automated one may seem like a daunting task but HRIS providers offer consultative services. They can help determine the scope of the project as well as a timeline. Then, you can make an informed decision about the resources necessary for implementation.

Making the Decision

Pulling the proverbial trigger should be a thoughtful, well planned decision and not one forced on you by the aforementioned elephant. Evaluate the HR process in your company and determine if A, it is causing any legal or compliance issues and B, if it is an inefficient waste of time and money. The answers to the questions posed above will then become apparent. If your HR fence is broken, the time for an HRIS is now. If not, the need may not be imminent but it is certainly an excellent time to consider your HRIS options.

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 a 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. Her background is in marketing and communications, employee education and training, development of policies and procedures and the ongoing delivery of outstanding customer service.