Generally speaking a Human Resource Information System, or HRIS, is software that incorporates data from a variety of areas into a single database. It’s a systematic tool for gathering, storing, maintaining, retrieving, and revising HR data. HRIS usually join several organizational functions and human resource modules. This is done to perform basic HR functions. These include payroll, regulatory compliance, employment lifecycle management, as well as managing training and/or knowledge retention programs. An HRIS can be extremely useful to the HR function and consequently to the organization for several reasons. It can improve the value of information, decrease the amount of administrative work HR is required to do. A well-implemented system can dramatically increase the speed of access to important information and assist in human capital reporting. In addition, an HRIS should have the functionality to generate HR metrics, increase the HR department’s productivity, while potentially reducing costs. It should also improve the ability of management to control the hours employees are working and improve employee service levels.

Now the term e-HRM refers to using Web-based technologies to provide HR management services within your company. Examples are PeopleSoft by Oracle, SuccessFactors by SAP and much more. Unlike an HRIS, which is primarily used by the HR staff to provide services to management and the employees, e-HRM is in a sense pushing many activities traditionally done by the HR department down to the employees and managers. The goals of the e-HRM system include greater efficiency, better service delivery, strategic orientation, workforce empowerment, and greater standardization. There are several common HR activities and processes that are supported by the HRIS. The four primary areas are payroll, time and labor management, benefits administration, and HR management. An automated payroll function gathers data on employee attendance, calculating the appropriate deductions and taxes, and producing paychecks. It also facilitates direct deposits and generates tax reports. A time and labor management module records and evaluates employee work time and other information. The benefits administration function allows HR to manage and track participation levels in specific benefit programs including health insurance and retirement plans, as well as a range of other benefits. The system contains personal and demographic data, as well as recruiting, training, skills inventories, and compensation planning records.

A recent survey by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD indicates that absence management is the number one most popular use for an HRIS. That’s followed by training and development, employee rewards, diversity management, recruiting and selection activities, payroll and other functions, performance management, HR planning, knowledge management, and tracking expenses. Now as we discussed, an HRIS is used to hold and safeguard employee information and documentation electronically. A well-implemented system increases accuracy and reduces delays in reporting and several other areas. And it can be an effective tool for decision-making. In order to select the right HRIS to meet your organization’s needs, a needs analysis should be conducted. This will identify the areas that will benefit most by an HRIS. You will also determine whether the system should integrate with or share data with other legacy systems and how many levels of access will be needed. You’ll also want to decide what types of reports will be necessary and provide the greatest benefit. And finally, one of the most important areas to consider for any HRIS is security. That includes the possibility of and requirement for remote access as well as the overall level of security built-in to protect privacy and prevent security breaches. Remember, technology is a fantastic tool and a vital part of almost every business. For that and many other reasons, HR professionals need to follow and adapt technology trends.