The Evolution of HRIS

The Evolution of HRIS

An unprecedented demand for HRIS

Corporate HR departments early on charged after ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and sometimes CRM (Customer Relationship Management) deployments in order to build giant repositories that would house employee data and improve personnel-related decision-making. However, changes in the hiring and workforce climate are making clear the need to wrap HR systems into larger corporate architectures as a way to give top officials a more holistic view of human capital.

Rapid retirement rates, a shrinking pool of talent and more transience among workers are just some of the factors that have HR shops struggling to make the most of traditional HR silos. In the face of these changes, the more progressive HR departments are now hustling to convince upper management that HR needs a seat at the technology planning table and deserves a stake in the ERP and CRM decision-making process.

In response to fundamental changes on the HR landscape, larger ERP and CRM vendors are doing more to accommodate HRIS (Human Resource Information System) applications, paying special attention to the HR needs of larger corporate clients. Meanwhile, numerous industry players are offering more options to smaller HR shops. 

Analyzing the pros and cons of open source CRM may also be a great starting point for businesses that don’t have a CRM at all, since a more minimalistic version can be sought with equally minimalistic customization. However, this will certainly require scaling as company needs change or grow.

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What’s driving the need for HRIS

Large or small, HR departments are just waking up to the seriousness of the "war for talent" and the simultaneous "brain drain" — both of which have triggered new challenges for HR offices, observed Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp (Institute for Corporate Productivity) Inc., a Seattle-based private organization that strives to offer a peer community and research to its member corporations.

"As the CEO and other senior executives embrace the importance of human capital in their quest to achieve the organization's strategic goals, the very need for existing HR silos is being called into question," Oakes said. "It's clear that the recruiting function needs to work more cooperatively with the performance-management function."

Executives at business intelligence and performance-management vendor SAS Institute Inc. agree that enterprises are now rushing to include HRIS systems in broader IT efforts. "What HR is looking for today is a single, holistic or organization-wide view of their workforce," said Becca Goren, product marketing manager of SAS Institute's Performance Management and Human Capital Management Division.

SAS Institute's answer is the company's Human Capital Management solution, an analytical tool designed to detect employment patterns and understand the way talent is tied to the mission of corporations. "The software integrates workforce and third-party data to help HR departments gain a comprehensive workforce view," Goren added.

The need for a more complete view of how HRIS functions blend into the bigger picture has more enterprises looking to integrate these applications into larger IT efforts, such as the purchase of a new CRM or ERP system, agreed Tim Padva, president and co-founder of CheckPoint HR, an Edison, NJ based outsourcer of HRIS, payroll and other administrative services.

"HRIS functions such as benefits administration, payroll service, recruiting, HR administration, training and organizational developments are all functions that can and should utilize CRM systems," Pavda attested. "While some may argue that the return on investment for these capabilities is difficult to track, the benefit of a more productive, responsive and knowledgeable HRIS department is clear."

Leading HRIS vendors in the market

From stalwart ERP vendors such as SAS Institute, to new-breed SaaS (Software as a Service) companies including CheckPoint HR, HR departments now have a variety of options:

Oracle NetSuite

Oracle NetSuite is an HR management system that combines core HR functionalities together with payroll and financial systems. This way, multiple disparate systems can be avoided, including third-party integrations. While gaining insights via analytics through gathered data, employee management is streamlined through user self-service and workforce optimization capabilities.

ADP Workforce Now

ADP Workforce Now is another powerful contender in the HRIS space, owing to its vast expanse of capabilities that range across business sizes. Smaller businesses have the convenience of opting only for essential payroll services, while larger or more intricate organizations that need advanced capabilities such as acquisition management can sign up for larger package offerings. 

Sage People

Sage People is an HRIS that has been adapted to suit multinational work environments, especially remote settings. The product is particularly adept at making sense of employee data, with every component (payroll, benefits administration, performance management etc.) having a dashboard to report on findings, including forecasts and what-if scenarios. Workflow automation further streamlines data gathering from employees, especially since mobile apps offer self-service options for employees to update their profiles by themselves.


Paychex offers HRIS that combines with workforce training, especially around OSHA compliance. With HRIS professionals conducting custom business assessments to understand the individual needs for each client, Paychex is an all-round HRIS vendor that is well catered to smaller, more boutique businesses.


BambooHR is another HRIS that is SMB-friendly, as it boasts a complete suite that is otherwise reserved for larger enterprises. Use a centralized console to conduct daily HR operations such as employee profiling, along with scheduling/planning, onboarding/offboarding and even analytics such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) from employees.

Purchasing an HRIS: things to know

Now that there are abundant new and varied options on the market, HR officials are wise to tread carefully when making IT-related decisions. "In general, HR departments are not particularly adept at the elements that go into selecting technology platforms — decisions that involve sourcing, negotiating and implementing sometimes complex platforms," observed i4cp's Oakes.

Therefore, HR departments should strive for closer internal teaming opportunities when it comes to making purchasing decisions, "HR departments really should not be expected to have these competencies. Partnering ahead of time with IT and purchasing departments is critical to ensuring that not only is the right platform selected, but also the terms are favorable and the implementation is ultimately successful," Oakes advised.

Just like any other software, HRIS is no exception to the rules of assessing common problems, and shortlisting vendors based on whether they can solve those very problems - at the budget that has been allocated. By choosing the right HRIS vendor, your business will be well on its way towards building a solution that is people-centric and intuitive, while being adaptable to changing seasons and demands as time passes by.

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