As an HR professional looking to save time and gain valuable insights, you know that the ROI of an HRIS system can be sky-high. But knowing which HRIS system to choose is a bit trickier. Only some types of HRIS are the right fit for every HR pro or organization, and picking the right SaaS HR software is an important first step toward enjoying its time-saving and efficiency-boosting benefits.

We’ve created this guide to help you learn about the different HRIS systems available. Here, we’ll share what makes each one unique, which kinds of organizations and HR teams we recommend them for, and why. 

Let’s dive in. 

The 5 different types of HRIS systems

There are a few things all HRIS systems have in common. They offer the benefits of automation, self-service, centralized databases, and talent management to help HR professionals best perform their functions, ultimately benefiting the organization. Beyond that, each of the different types of HR systems offers a different set of features. 

Here is an overview of the five types of HRIS software and what kinds of organizations can benefit from them the most.

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1. Operational HRIS

Operational HRIS systems collect and report human resource data such as employee records, position details, and performance appraisal information. They help provide HR managers with the data they need to perform tasks such as performance management, promotions, hiring, and internal personnel changes. 

Operational HRIS systems can be helpful in a variety of organizations as they help with standard HR functions. If you feel that your HR team spends too much time on repetitive people management tasks or digging around disorganized files and spreadsheets for employee data, an operational HRIS system could be the right choice.

Primary Function: Record management
Use cases: Performance management
Ideal for: Standard HR functions
Key benefits: Task automation
Suitability: Various organizations

2. Tactical HRIS

Tactical HRIS systems are involved in processes related to the use of resources. This includes recruiting, training, compensation, vacancies, and so on. 

These are more useful for making big-picture decisions about things like resource allocation, job analyses, and team development. In addition to internal figures, tactical HRIS systems also deal with data such as union information, competitor data, government requirements, etc.

Tactical HRIS systems are more for organizations that need assistance making macro-level decisions about what to do with resources and less for those who need support with smaller day-to-day tasks. 

Primary Function: Resource use optimization
Use cases: Recruiting, training, etc.
Ideal for: Macro-level decisions
Key benefits: Big-picture insights
Suitability: Macro-level organizations

3. Strategic HRIS

Just like it sounds, strategic HR data systems help with strategic analysis and decision-making. They assist HR professionals with functions like goal-setting and future workforce planning. Strategic HR systems can help with awareness regarding available labor resources and proper workforce planning by managing data like market information and operations budgets.

Strategic HRIS systems are especially beneficial to organizations looking to expand or grow strategically. If you want to rely on concrete figures to make intelligent, strategic, data-driven decisions for your company’s future, it’s a good idea to consider a strategic HRIS.

Primary Function: Strategic analysis & decisions
Use cases: Goal-setting & planning
Ideal for: Growth & expansion
Key benefits: Data-driven decisions
Suitability: Growing strategic companies

4. Comprehensive HRIS

A comprehensive HRIS is somewhat of a combination of the above types, involved in all things HR, including operational, tactical, and strategic matters. It works as a streamlined database and platform to offer easy review and management of a variety of HR-related tasks and areas, including:

  • Employee information
  • HR files
  • Open positions
  • Recruitment and hiring details
  • Job analysis and design
  • Safety guidelines
  • Skills inventory
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Training and development
  • Performance management

A comprehensive HRIS functions as a one-stop shop for storing and displaying any information needed to perform nearly all HR functions. While these systems may be a bit pricier or require more training and resources to run, comprehensive HRIS systems can offer many valuable features that can ultimately transform how an HR department runs.

Primary Function: All-inclusive HR management
Use cases: All HR operations
Ideal for: Full-spectrum HR management
Key benefits: One-stop shop for HR needs
Suitability: Need for complete solutions

5. Limited-Function HRIS

Unlike a comprehensive HRIS, a limited-function HRIS serves one purpose only. These systems are not necessarily made for strategic planning or management. Instead, their functions are more concrete and granular. 

The exact function of each limited-function HRIS depends on the particular system. For example, an HRIS might be created specifically for training or benefits management. 

Limited-function HRIS systems are generally better suited for smaller companies as they are often inexpensive, easy to operate, and can be used comprehensively by even a single HR manager.

Primary Function: Single-purpose HR management
Use cases: Specific HR functions
Ideal for: Targeted HR tasks
Key benefits: Focused, efficient management
Suitability: Small companies or departments

Identifying the ideal HRIS type for your organization

It’s helpful to take a systematic approach to identifying the right HRIS system for your organization. Understanding your specific needs and goals and the unique challenges your HR team faces across all avenues within your business is essential. 

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in helping you identify your ideal HRIS: 

  • Understand your goals and objectives. Make sure your HR goals align with your business’s strategy—and don’t forget to consider your long-term objectives. This helps ensure your HRIS supports the growth and vision of your organization. 
  • Analyze your needs and challenges. Identify key HR challenges and capabilities so that the HRIS you choose addresses any inefficiencies while maximizing your team’s strengths. 
  • Assess your needed functionality. Take note of your essential HR features such as payroll, team management, and annual leave management. Once you know the essentials, ensure your chosen system includes these HRIS modules. 
  • Consider the type of HRIS system best suited to you. Evaluate what kind of HRIS you need. Examples of HRIS systems include operational, tactical, strategic, comprehensive, and limited-function HRIS. 
  • Evaluate your ROI. Ensure the HRIS models you’re looking at have a suitable return on investment by conducting a cost-benefit analysis. Consider factors such as time savings, error reduction, and potential future savings. 
  • Consider integration and compliance needs. Ensure all of the different HR systems you’re considering are compatible with your existing systems and fully align with your local or federal labor laws and data privacy regulations. 

Once you’ve identified and committed to your new HRIS system, there are two final steps remaining: 

  • Plan for implementation and training. Put together a clear strategy for implementing your chosen HRIS. Ensure your plan includes training your team and management to effectively use the system. 
  • Continually evaluate and improve. Establish performance metrics and open up avenues of communication with your team for feedback and ongoing assessments of how your HRIS is performing. 

Ultimately, the best way to determine which HRIS system suits you best is to develop a complete understanding of your organization’s goals, where your HR team needs the most support, and what kind of ROI you should expect to get. 

Once you know your needs, you’ll be best able to identify what type of HRIS can help you meet them.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.