When it comes to HRIS, You’re Only as Good as Your Software

When a small business gets to a certain size, reaches a certain amount of capital invested or has certain assets available, they are legitimately happy to call themselves mid-sized. A lot of late hours, hard work and difficult decisions have usually been needed to accomplish that growth. Similarly, the most successful companies have also seen the need to make a significant investment in technology in many of their departments.

While these technology investments are often given great credit for a company’s success in areas such as operations and marketing, the benefits to the HR department are often overlooked. Nevertheless, a good HRIS system can mean the difference between a merely good human capital management program and a truly spectacular one and that fact can mean the difference between finding merely adequate employees and truly great ones.

The Ramifications of Rapid Growth
In a rapidly expanding company, the human resources department is often only as good as its HR software. The simple fact of the matter is that the HR department is usually kept as compact as possible to do the minimum amount necessary to keep the current employees happy. The issue of an expanded workforce is usually not addressed until after the fact.

These comments are not meant to denigrate the efforts of a well-functioning department but are simply recognition that successful 21st century businesses demand modern solutions to modern problems. A good HR department will recruit and hire effectively but as the workforce expands, there can be a noticeable drop in the quality of compliance, training and further hiring efforts. In fact, it can become a self-reinforcing situation.

The Need for an HRIS

Traditionally-minded companies will often add additional HR staff to try to remedy the above situation but more forward-looking companies will seek a technological solution. Not only is an HRIS more cost-effective than extra staff, it actually makes the day-to-day institution of HR policies and procedures simpler, it also allows management to more easily track implementation, compliance and business metrics.

Finding the Right HRIS

There is no simple way to employ an HRIS. Careful consideration must be made as to the requirements of the system, an implementation schedule must be worked out, training must be done and, most importantly, “buy-in” from all the major stakeholders must be acquired. To accomplish this goal, many aspects of the potential HRIS must be considered. Here are the most important ones:

General Features

  • Performing the basic functions
  • Tracking payroll, attendance, benefits and even training are among the most necessary functions of an HRIS. Be sure that you are getting enough utility for your technology investment.
  • Compatibility with existing software - It is important that the new software be able to communicate with as many legacy systems as possible to give the greatest benefit. The input of information on multiple occasions is wasteful and allows more room for errors.
  • Performance and counseling monitoring - While this area is one of the least attended to, it is also one of the most important. Keeping the right people and losing the wrong ones is a process and should not be overlooked by an HR department. An HRIS can be an important component in keeping your company successful as well as avoiding any unnecessary governmental intrusion or outside litigation.
  • Recruiting and Hiring - The ability to monitor and gatekeep an applicant’s progress through the application and hiring procedure is an obvious boon to anyone who’s ever had to oversee the process. Just keeping track of people who do not yet work for you can be tedious and time-consuming. An HRIS can monitor the process and prompt a busy or unaware manager when an action is needed on their part.
  • Government Compliance - The use and archiving of a single repository for all employment files is a major improvement over earlier paper and file drawer systems. Information is available at the tap of a few keystrokes and can be far more affordably administered by fewer HR personnel.

Operational Concerns

  • Security - The system must provide adequate protection against unauthorized, outside access. In addition, it should be capable of providing a hierarchy of access privileges so that senior management has access to the most sensitive info while location managers are limited to theirs.
  • Update Responsibility - The question of who will install updates, in what time frame and at what cost should be determined before the initial install. As the HRIS will be an integral portion of the entire company technology infrastructure, significant safeguards and penalties should be included to guarantee limited downtime.
  • Training and Documentation - Similarly, the development and inclusion of software specific documentation and training should be determined within the initial scope of the project. Ideally, experts in the software will do the initial training, be available for an extended period of time and provide an online library of tutorials for new users.

Data Considerations

  • Ownership of the Data - It is absolutely essential to establish, in writing, the formal ownership of the data at the outset of the contract as an expiring relationship makes for a very poor negotiating position for a company with all of its proprietary data on someone else’s servers.
  • Customization of Input Fields - All companies grow and develop in some manner so it is important that their HRIS be customizable to accommodate these changes. Whether you do it in-house or utilize the vendor again is unimportant as long as you can address your business concerns in a timely and affordable manner.
  • Exportable Data - In a similar vein, the vendor’s data should be available in a commonly recognized form. There is no longer any excuse to not support one of the more common database formats.

A Final Thought
As you can see, the decision on which HRIS to purchase, customize and implement is not an easy one. There are numerous decisions to be made. Still, a careful consideration of the advantages of an HRIS should assure that the technological HR solution is the proper one for an expanding company. As they say, “If you are not moving ahead, you are falling behind.” This old saying is as true in HR as it is in any other part of your company.

Carolyn Sokol is the founder & President of PEOcompare.com and Business Development Director to compareHRIS.com, both of which help match businesses to the right PEO, HRIS, or HR software provider for their particular needs.