HR Technology: HRIS deployment options

by 24 Mar 2011


Our IT department has suggested that while reviewing our HRIS solution we should consider the deployment options that are available. Can you explain the various options and outline the best one?


This is shrewd advice you have received from IT. The functionality of the application you select is vital, and it is also imperative that you understand the various deployment options available.

The deployment option that is right for your organisation depends on your business strategy and organisational goals.

The ideal one should transform service delivery and support growth within the enterprise. Some deployment options provide growing organisations with added agility, enabling them to adopt new business models and expand faster. Investing in a solution that allows you to move between deployment options as your organisation evolves or requirements change will maximise the potential impact of the system.

Keeping up with the jargon that relates to software deployment can be daunting, however, as new terms are added regularly that describe another change in the way software or services are delivered. Simply put, software deployment relates to where the software is located and who handles the processing.

Software deployment can be broken into three main categories: in-house, outsourced and software as a service (SaaS). In-house is the model that most organisations are familiar with. It is called in-house because the software resides on a client’s own server at their premises, with all processing managed by internal resources. The in-house model is low risk and provides the client with maximum control of their data and hardware environment. Most vendors provide an in-house model which ensures a plethora of payroll and HR applications are available. Cost of ownership can be considerable when you include internal infrastructure and support expenses – these may include database, server and data centre labour costs.

Software as a service (SaaS), also known as “cloud computing” or “hosted”, is probably the most confusing, as everyone has a different definition and service levels differ from vendor to vendor. Simply put, however, it allows organisations to run applications across the internet. The vendor manages the software and hardware at their data centre with their resources. The customer is able to access the application through the internet and pay either a flat monthly fee or pay per use. SaaS is rapidly growing in popularity. It lets organisations manage their costs more effectively and reduces the need for IT infrastructure and resources while providing scalability. The attraction of SaaS, or cloud computing, is set to increase. Gartner predicts that worldwide cloud services revenue will reach US $148.8 billion (USD) by 2014. With this sort of growth expected, many vendors are investing in the technology and infrastructure to ensure they can support this next generation of business users that require access to workforce data anytime and anywhere.

For many customers, the decision to move to a SaaS model is financially driven – rationalisation of headcount and a lower cost of ownership are resonating at board level and can’t be overlooked.

The outsourced model can be broken down into many parts – from fully outsourced, partially outsourced and business process outsourcing. Payroll outsourcing has been transforming payroll service delivery for organisations of all sizes for many years. It removes the processing burden from internal resources, allowing them to focus on more strategic workforce issues. HR outsourcing operates in the same way, ensuring that HR is more scalable and able to deliver workforce initiatives that convey value at board level.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) allows the client to outsource elements of their processing that may be cumbersome or time consuming – for example, if timesheet collection and input is burdensome, this element can be outsourced. With BPO, the processing can be handled at the client site or off-site at the vendor’s location. Outsourcing all or part of your payroll and human resource processing can provide scalability to smaller teams and reduce service delivery costs.

When reviewing HRIS solutions, understanding the jargon surrounding the various deployment options can be daunting. By comprehending the basics, you will be able to more easily decipher the terminology and uncover what services and costs are associated with the various offerings. The solution that you eventually choose should automate manual processes and facilitate effective work practices. Look for a deployment platform that can improve business agility, reduce management complexity and deliver value for money.

About the author 

Nick Southcombe, is general manager at Frontier Software. For further information visit


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