HRIS: A Business Enabler

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on July 17, 2012

There is an old Chinese saying which goes like this,

“If you wish to plan for a year Sow Seeds,

If you wish to plan for 10 years Plant Trees,

But if you wish to plan for a life time, develop People”

“People” have turned out to be the most valuable resource and assets for any organization in this challenging and competitive market, the companies of post-modern era are in a lookout for every means to get the best talent on board and maintain them. One such tool is HRIS which helps the organization understand its employees and take decisions which best serves both the company as well as its people.


When reference is made to Human Resource Information System (HRIS) in today’s environment of high tech wizardry, it is often thought as a vehicle that integrates people processes with user interface by leveraging technology. HRIS can play an important part in an organization’s HR function. After all we live, work and play in the information age. Over the past century HR has evolved from a “Caretaker” to a “Business Strategy Contributor”, during this transformation the need for an information system increased drastically.


Emphasis in HR

Pre-World War-II

Reactive, caretaker activities, not part of mainstream business, record keeping.

Post War 1945-1960

Importance of employee morale, personnel is part of operating cost, yet not part of mainstream business, R&D on selection of employees, Payroll automation, Early application of mainframe computers for personnel in  defense industry

Social Issue Era 1963-1980

Social issue legislation changes HR, Increased paper work and reporting requirements, Advent of MIS in computing world, Introduction of IBM/360, HR considered more into mainstream business.

Cost Effective Era 1980-1995

HR expected to cost justify its activities, Increased government regulations, High paperwork and reporting requirements, Advent of microcomputers and explosion of HR software, Increased focus of R&D in HR domain.

Optimization Era 21st Century

HR considered as a mainstream business, Shift from Manufacturing to Service lead to Peopleas an asset, HR becomes part of business strategy, Analysis requirements increased, Sophisticated HR software.

Table-1 “Historical Eras of HR” (Kavanagh et al. 1990: 7)

It is evident that the role and challenges of HR has expanded over time, so has the need for effective recording, storing and analyzing HR data. In today’s global knowledge economy, information is power. A contemporary use of Information System (IS) at various levels aids the organization in making strategic decisions as well as operational level decisions and working. The quantum of information and type of information required in an organization differ, hence making HRIS a system that acquires, stores, manipulates, analyze, interpret and disseminate relevant information to the right person at the right time.A summary of the three levels of IS according to organization level is depicted in Figure-1.

Figure-1: Different level of IS use (Source: Elliott and Starkings, 1998:Pg48)

To cater to such diverse information needs of each level of the organization a systematic and a sophisticated analytical system would prove to be both responsive as well as cost effective. Companies look forward to HRIS to simplify the HR activities that best serve the end customer i.e the employees and managers. Implementing an effective HRIS can be sure-fire for HR to stay on the cutting edge in its bid to deliver more effective and streamlined service in the most efficient manner. HRIS can assist human resource in numerous ways, but particularly in the day-to-day functionality by streamlining workflow through control process, system interface and database validation. One of the most common HR grips is being bombarded with mundane data and administrative work that takes away from the actual practice of ‘walking the floor’.

For instance, HRIS consists of web-based portal which integrate employee self-service system (ESS) that removes the burden of administrative work for HR by lacing policies, procedures and involves employees to maintain their own information. ESS acts as a major employ-engagement technique for many organizations, which widely use this platform to keep employees up to date on the latest company news, awards or achievements by both employees as well as the company.

HRIS acts as an interface between the user and the database, which is a real value-add in terms of data analysis and reports that aids in accurate decision making for both strategy and operational point of view.

Probably the most profound way in which HRIS can manage human capability is by providing end-to-end solution around the employee life-cycle which includes activities such as recruitment; manage performance management system, learning system, succession planning etc. Hence it is about managing the human capability in all dimensions. Two other areas that HRIS can assist HR in include greater control of payroll processing at a fraction of the cost incurred in outsourcing and the other area is ensuring government and payroll tax compliance with automatic updates to keep the HR up to date on the latest regulations.

With continuous technological breakthroughs HRIS system are increasingly becoming advance and more user-friendly. Some of the latest achievements in this technology include the Time Clock system, OLAP (Online Analytical Processing Databases), Real-Time system and Web-GUI’s. OLAP systems allow direct links to the online system so the data can be entered via web and when saved the data is submitted via direct link into the HRIS.

Some of the key advantages by implementing HRIS are:

  • Reduction of cost of storing HR information.
  • Higher speed of retrieval and processing of data.
  • Reduction of duplication of effort leading to reduction of cost.
  • Reduction of manual operations due to automation of HR process.
  • Better analysis leading to more effective decision making.
  • Improved quality and accuracy of reports.
  • More transparency in the system.

Organizations need to keep in mind most ERP system such as HRIS fails to deliver due to unrealistic expectation from the management, requirements mapping prior implementation, improper coordination among impacted functionalities, domain centric rather than technology centric, improper gap analysis. Hence implementing the system keeping such factors in mind plays a crucial role for a successful.

The future trends of HRIS would incline towards technology improvements of e-workplace, mobile computing, XML (standards such as HR-XML for some companies, this shift has taken place but for others the journey has just begun). Communication will also become more important as the Indian workforce evolves. With a vast increasing number of employees telecommunicating, HRIS must be able to communicate via web mobile, WAP and PDA devices. HRIS must be able to serve employees no matter where they are located.

This article has been authored by Siddharth Jaiswal from IMT Hyderabad.

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