Human Resource Information System (HRIS): Meaning, Evolution and its Features

In the contemporary scenario of modernization and globalization, organizations heavily rely upon technological advancement and innovation in the field of Information Technology.

Advancements in the field of IT has opened up newer avenues for the organizations and provided a competitive advantage by using innovative and customized solutions. It has become an integral part of the organizational functioning and all the departments depend on integrated systems for organizing, storing, retrieving and reviewing data. Today Internet and automation has facilitated accessibility, reliability and accuracy of information; improved organizational effectiveness and provided a leadership edge by applying technology in various operations.

Human Resource Management function is fast evolving and the application of Information Technology has revolutionized the way in which organizations operate.

The field of Human Resource Management has been continuously evolving and the HR in today’s scenario is playing a strategic role than merely a support system. Human Resource function primarily deals with the employees, employers and all the people who are related with the organization. It is designed to improve employee productivity, performance and align the workforce with the business.

The HRM functions in an organization deals with people related issues like Recruitment & Selection, Compensation, General Administration, Employee Welfare and Involvement, Communication, Organizational Development, Performance Management, Employee Motivation, Rewards & Recognitions and Training & Development.

HRIS or Human Resource Information System, is a customized software solution designed for helping the organizations to automate and manage their HR, payroll, management and accounting activities. HRIS affects the performance of the people, processes and key organizational strategies by automating key HR processes like recruitment, training, manpower planning, performance appraisal and job analysis & design.

What is HRMS/HRIS ?

HR software mechanizes the day to day general and administrative functions performed by the HR department, enhances overall employee productivity and performance. HRM applications can be used for updating and recording employee information, its usage can make the recruitment process more robust and effective.

HRMS facilitates applicant tracking, interviewing and confirmation process. Apart from this, the workforce administration strategies can be streamlined and it can generate various cost advantages to the organizations by streamlining various functional operations.

Human resource management system or HR Package (HR solutions) can be used in training processes, tracking employee performance and participation (performance management system), payroll management system and accounting, benefits and leaves.

In a nutshell, HRMS offers distinctive advantages to the organizations by automating various functions of HRM, thereby reducing the workload of the HR department and increasing the efficiency of the department by standardizing key HR processes.

According to Parry (2010), HRIS can serve as a vital strategic tool as it shares crucial data with the management related with recruitment and retention strategies which can be aligned with the overall corporate strategy for realizing the organizational objectives of growth. Additionally, by using HR applications, a company can calculate the overall costs incurred per employee and it’s effects on the business as a whole (DeSanctis, 1986).

Evolution of HRM and HRIS

Historical data reveals that the evolution of HRIS can be traced back in 1950’s and 1960’s when the first automated systems (payroll system) was introduced (Martinsons 1997). Kavanagh et al. (1990) shared their insights on historical evolution of HRIS by introducing the historical eras in human resource from the pre-World War II period to the 1980s and how the evolving HR practices had its effect on the HRIS.

With the increasing importance of IT applications in HR, the functioning of HR department has been undergoing a radical change from mere administrative and support functions to a more active participant in the strategic decisions of the organization.

Historical eras in HR (Source: Kavanagh et al. 1990, Pp: 7)

During 1990’s, extensive studies were undertaken on the advantages of the introducing HRIS in the organization and its influence on the overall human resource strategies and business planning. Several theorists advocated the advantages of using HRIS and the organizations were considered to be more competitive if they had a well-equipped HRIS to support HR functions.

Essential Features of HR Software

Key features which an HR application must have are:

  • Employee Database is the most important feature in any human resource software. This involves filling in all the employee details and relevant data. It can be revised or updated as per the requirements.

  • A robust HR software must include Salary related details as well and the software that supports this reduces half of the burden of the HR professionals. The features might vary but nowadays a lot of software are adding time tracking and attendance too into this feature.

  • The option of self service in the software saves a lot of time of the human resource personnel in big organizations where most of their time is spent on several HR tasks. With the help of this feature, the staff members may have an access to the software for updating their won details, without interrupting with the work of the HR employees.

  • Any HR software should have a module on Performance Management. The software includes certain parameters and scoring system for evaluating the performance against certain criterions or parameters and shares the complete performance report. Good HRIS software also tracks training status and professional development; which may help the HR professionals in implementing strategic initiatives for boosting employee performance and developing their skills through T& D initiatives.

  • Administrative benefits are also availed from the software, as it generates reports across various levels and equally of individual employees.

  • HR software should also have provisions for publishing the jobs, listing of job and should support the overall hiring process by producing quick user friendly reports about various applicants and job descriptions, etc.

  • HR software should have ease of accessibility which means it should be accessible through any gadgets. This provides flexibility in using the software at anytime and from any place.


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