Taking the next HRIS step

by 08 Jun 2007

Q. Our organisation has a few well-defined HR processes and we use mainly excel to track the data. Now we are considering purchasing a HRIS. Could you tell me what I need to consider when evaluating an out of the box solution vs. customised application?

A. Either option will provide immediate benefits over your current spreadsheet solution. The technologies found within today’s HRIS applications provide secure and reliable database platforms, with processes designed to maintain an accurate picture of your business’ HR data. Processes such as recruitment or employee separation will result in changes in staff numbers and new reporting/management structures, and must be reflected in headcount and turnover reports.

A modern HR system does this as a part of the process and is an example of where process drives the technology. A rules-based workflow engine will involve the appropriate participants in a process, track authorisations and acknowledgements and inform those who need to act or be aware of a process. All this is done while maintaining an audit of changes and process. A result that is simply not possible when using a spreadsheet solution.

When assessing the suitability of a solution, custom or otherwise, it’s essential that you have a clear understanding of your business and HR strategy and set objectives you can measure. Decide on the benefits you are looking to gain, and identify any technological requirements your business may have. In your case you are starting with a number of well-defined processes, compare these with the out of the box solutions for the ‘fit for purpose’ test. Understand your current processes and review them with a critical eye. How well they are working for your business and assess the areas you would like to improve? Is the out of the box version suitable? What impact would changing our current processes have on the business? How well do we as an organisation manage change? It’s important that you are aware of your corporate culture and what is achievable.

It’s fundamentally about business process and strategy. Assess the technologies involved and look for flexibility, scalability and agility in accommodating the changes that will occur within your business.

Adopting an ‘out of the box’ strategy can be highly attractive to those companies who are new to the world of HR management. They tend to have a well-defined set of procedures for common tasks and processes and can be used to implement processes where none may have existed before. Then, as their understanding of both their real world requirements and the application capabilities grow they can incorporate the benefits of business specific components. This option is a very cost-effective strategy of deploying advanced HR functionality into your business.

By Sam McDonald, EmployeeConnect. www.employeeconnect.com.au.