What Exactly Is HRIS?
In the process of selecting a product to automate your human resources department, you may have heard the phrase “Human Resources Information System” or “HRIS”. To define this long and complex term, let’s begin with the last word: “system”. Although it has many definitions, the term is traditionally defined as follows:
System: a group of interacting, interrelated, and interdependent elements forming or acting as a collective entity.
This definition is a nice start, but it is hardly meaningful. Let’s see if we can do a little better by defining that group of “interacting, interrelated, and interdependent elements”. Typically, computer systems are composed of four major elements: hardware, software, users, and documentation. Thus, our enhanced definition becomes:
Computer system: hardware, software, users, and documentation that interact, interrelate, and function interdependently to form or act as a collective entity.
This is an improvement, but let’s continue. When applied to a computerized information system, this definition can be further refined to include the purpose of the “collective entity”. Since the purpose of an information system is to manage information, our definition can be further enhanced as follows:
Computerized information system: hardware, software, users, and documentation that interact, interrelate, and function interdependently to manage information.
Now we’re getting somewhere. We need only refine the definition to include the type of information being managed and to dump the big words. Our definition becomes:
Human Resources Information System: hardware, software, users, and documentation that work together to manage human resources information.
What’s the difference between HRIS and HRMS?
To be honest, nothing really. HRMS stands for Human Resources Management System. This and HRIS are terms that vendors have used to try to distinguish their software from others. If you’re looking for a solution to automate HR, it’s best to start by being familiar with your own needs, then see what different vendors offer.
So, what kind of HR information are we talking?
A HRIS has different modules to separate and manage the different kinds of information HR departments deal with. A module is a portion of a software program with a particular function. Each HR function should have a different module.
Modules that are typically included in a core HRIS system are Personnel Management and Benefits Administration. Additional modules could include Safety Management, Training & Competency, Job Profiles, Position Control, and possibly Applicant Management.
While modules are naturally separate, some modules share information and work with other modules in an "integrated" system.
An HR information system is quickly becoming an essential part of every business. It can help eliminate hours spent on data-entry, provide managers pertinent information about their workforce, and streamline HR processes.