What is a human resource information system (HRIS)?

In the digital age, where technology and data form the foundation of business operations, Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) are a vital tool. 

HR leaders use an HRIS as a key strategic tool to help transform their operations and engage with their people, as well as manage and streamline their human resource processes.

In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive understanding of HRIS, demonstrating how they facilitate efficiency and productivity, and foster a work culture of engagement and community.


What is an HRIS?

An HRIS (Human Resource Information System) is software that stores, manages, and tracks employee-related data. Over the decades, the HRIS has evolved from paper-filled filing systems to become cutting-edge workforce management solutions that digitally monitor data and streamline HR processes.

Key functions of HRIS

HRIS solutions perform a wide range of functions and will usually include the following:

  • Recruitment and retention
  • Work scheduling 
  • Compensation
  • Benefits administration
  • Training
  • Self-services for candidates, employees, and managers
  • Workflow
  • Core HR

It’s important to understand that the specific functions offered by HRIS systems may vary depending on the organization and vendor. That’s why the best course of action is to find an HRIS that fits your needs and can seamlessly integrate into your organization. 

Features and benefits of HRIS

A quality HRIS should be agile and adaptable. Companies purchasing an HRIS want a product that can evolve with them and accommodate changing work trends. Creating an intuitive HRIS involves constant evaluation, internal and external benchmarking, regular product developments, and ongoing service and assistance even after the implementation stage.

Here are some features every HRIS should include: 

An HRIS can help businesses adapt to and thrive in today’s rapidly changing world of work. A quality HRIS will boast: 

  • Automation and self-services. These features boost workflow efficiency and remove the burden of endless administrative tasks and paperwork, freeing up HR professionals to invest more time and energy into what really matters: the employee experience.  
  • An easily accessible database. As a one-stop shop, an HRIS provides HR leaders with data and reports to make informed, evidence-based decisions. Employees, managers, and HR can enter data into the system, creating a big-picture, holistic perspective. With a simple login process, this user-friendly software offers easy input and retrieval of information for everyone across the organization. 
  • A centralized virtual platform. For hybrid or remote teams, this feature is crucial to creating community and building personal connections through facilitating engagement, collaboration, and recognition of others’ achievements.
  • Improved talent management. Through automation, an HRIS can streamline recruitment and reduce admin time
  • Better compliance. With all information on one platform, people can easily navigate the system to obtain information regarding different company policies. Companies can use these data-based insights to ensure compliance with national and local regulations more easily.
HRIS Solves Challenges

Choosing the right HRIS

Choosing the best HRIS for your organization begins with understanding what goals you want your HRIS to meet. What challenges do you face that it can help you with?

Think about:

  • The size of your team
  • What kind of business your organization is
  • Where your team members are located
  • Whether your team includes employees, contractors, or both
  • What processes you want your HRIS to help with
  • Your budget

Once you’ve identified the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to look at the different HRIS types and vendors available on the market and narrow down your choices to the ones that fit your needs and budget. Once you’ve created a shortlist, you can try out your top choices and decide based on the one that worked best for you during the trial period.

Understanding HRIS terminology

All of the acronyms involved in the HRIS world can be a bit confusing, especially because they’re often used interchangeably. Let’s clear up what they mean:

  • An HRIS system is just an HRIS. In fact, the “S” in HRIS stands for “system.”
  • HRIS software is, again, an HRIS. HRIS is, after all, a type of software.
  • HRMS stands for Human Resources Management System. Sometimes it’s used to mean the same thing as HRIS. In other instances, it refers to more complex software with additional features like talent and performance management.
  • Finally, HCM stands for Human Capital Management. HCM is like HRIS but much more complex. The term usually describes a whole suite of tools made to help HR teams manage the entire employee lifecycle. And, to make it just a bit more confusing, sometimes people will use the term “human capital management” to refer to the strategic approach to managing talent.

Advantages and disadvantages of HRIS

When you’ve made the decision to adopt an HRIS, each company must decide which type of HRIS or software solution satisfies its unique needs. Let’s take a look at some of the common advantages and disadvantages of an HRIS. 


  • Improved efficiency and productivity. An HRIS can automate a number of administrative tasks, helping to free up your HR team to focus on more strategic initiatives. 
  • Data-driven decision making. By centralizing your employee data, an HRIS allows for quick, accurate, and insightful reporting. HR leaders can use this information to make informed, educated decisions about a number of issues. 
  • Enhanced employee experience. An HRIS provides a platform for your team to self-service a number of HR-related requests. This in turn can lead to increased job satisfaction and higher employee engagement. 


  • Security and privacy issues. While easy accessibility and automation are major benefits, they can lead to security and privacy issues by unintentionally publishing confidential information. 
  • Potentially high costs. Companies with a workforce of less than 100 may find that buying, installing, and maintaining an HRIS costs more than their budget allows. Small businesses may prefer to integrate a less expensive SaaS with a monthly payment system. 
  • Transition challenges. The decision to trade point solutions in favor of a comprehensive HRIS can be a big one, depending on a business’s size and maturity. This transition can require significant time, resources, and potentially cause disruption in day-to-day operations.
Improved efficiency and productivity Security and privacy issues
Data-driven decision making Potentially high costs
Enhanced employee experience Transition challenges

Implementing HRIS successfully

Implementing an HRIS is a strategic decision that transforms your organization’s HR operations and employee experience. 

Here’s our eight-step guide to help you navigate your way through this process.

  • Step 1: Draft a comprehensive plan. Creating a comprehensive plan is your roadmap to successful HRIS implementation, outlining all key milestones, timelines, and goals from start to finish.
  • Step 2: Gain senior management support. Securing the backing of senior management ensures you have the necessary resources and authority for a successful implementation, fostering a supportive environment for change.
  • Step 3: Assemble a dedicated implementation team. A cross-functional team, consisting of members from HR, IT, and other departments, ensures diverse insights and expertise, driving smooth and effective HRIS implementation.
  • Step 4: Selecting the right HRIS. The right HRIS can improve your efficiency, enable data-driven decision-making, and enhance the employee experience. So make sure to carefully consider the unique needs, size, and budget of your organization. 
  • Step 5: Considering security and privacy measures. Before implementing your new HRIS, make sure that it complies with all relevant data protection regulations and has robust security features in place. These may include encryption, secure access controls, and regular security updates. 
  • Step 6: Test your work. Testing your HRIS before full-scale implementation allows you to identify and address any issues or gaps, ensuring the system works as expected and meets your organization’s needs.
  • Step 7: Constantly evaluate. Continuous evaluation of your HRIS after implementation allows for regular updates and improvements, ensuring the system remains aligned with changing organizational needs and goals. 
  • Step 8: Upkeep and maintain your HRIS. Regular maintenance and updates of your HRIS are essential to its longevity, keeping it functional, secure, and in line with the latest HR and IT developments.
Implement HRIS

HRIS security and privacy

It’s only natural to be concerned about the security of HRIS systems, as they store a large amount of personal and confidential data.

The truth is that keeping addresses, bank details, and identifying information in an HRIS is much safer than more old-school approaches of storing personal information on paper and spreadsheets where it can be easily lost or apprehended.

That being said, there are privacy risks inherent to HRIS, too. That’s why making decisions with security in mind is so important. This means:

  • Choosing reputable HRIS providers. Opt for HRIS providers with proven records in data security, ensuring the secure management and storage of your data.
  • Implementing secure user practices. Promote secure user behavior within your organization, such as the safe handling of login credentials and being careful when opening links or certain emails. 
  • Enforcing robust password policies. Implement strong password policies, including the use of diverse characters, regular password changes, and avoiding repeating passwords.
  • Considering SaaS HR software. Utilize SaaS HR software for additional security layers. SaaS HR software comes with benefits like built-in security measures, automatic updates, and adherence to the latest security standards.

HRIS and the modern HR strategy

HRIS plays a transformational role in HR management. By automating routine tasks, it enables companies to function smoothly and keep up with the fast-paced world of work. And it frees HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives such as talent management and organizational development, which help to drive growth and competitiveness. 

Integrating an HRIS into the HR strategy enhances the employee experience by promoting productivity, efficiency, engagement, and community. It also empowers employees with self-service features for HR-related needs, promoting engagement and autonomy. Leading people to feel more motivated to do their jobs well.

HRIS: An indispensable tool in the digital era

For HR professionals, the Human Resource Information System (HRIS) serves as a key strategic asset for managing and streamlining your HR processes.

An efficient HRIS is adaptable, able to keep up with evolving work trends, and ensures seamless workflow efficiency through features like automation, self-service, and an easily accessible database.

HRIS plays an instrumental role in modernizing HR strategy and operations, enhancing the employee experience, and empowering organizations to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Discover the power of a modern HRIS for yourself and learn firsthand how Bob can optimize your HR processes and improve the employee experience.

Discover the power of a modern HRIS and learn firsthand how Bob can optimize your HR processes


How many people can an HRIS handle?

Every HRIS is different. Some providers claim their systems can handle an unlimited number of team members. Others target organizations of specific sizes. This is why the number of people you need to serve with your HRIS should be a key consideration when choosing the system you want to implement.

Most HRIS adapt to the needs of the business, accommodating the varying numbers of employees as your organization onboards more people and adjusts to dynamic market trends.

When should I get an HRIS for my business?

All companies, regardless of size, can benefit from an HRIS, but a common rule of thumb is to start looking into implementing an HRIS once your organization has reached 25 people.

You can also use the following handy checklist. If you find yourself nodding along to most or all of these statements, it’s probably time for you to get an HRIS:

  • Your team spends hours a day on manual tasks like data entry and paperwork
  • You get lost in your Excel spreadsheets
  • You never seem to have enough time for bigger-picture, strategic thinking
  • You often get blocked waiting for signatures, authorizations, and reports
  • People come to you with the same questions again and again

How long does it take to implement an HRIS?

How long it takes to implement an HRIS can vary depending on the size of your organization, the complexity of your HR processes, and which HRIS solution is being implemented. On average, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. 

Can an HRIS be customized for specific organizational needs?

There are a number of HRIS solutions that offer customization options to align with your specific organizational needs. These can include customized reporting, workflow configurations, and user interface personalization. It’s best to talk about your needs with your HRIS provider during your selection process.

Are there different types of HRIS available?

An HRIS can range from simple systems that handle basic HR tasks to comprehensive solutions that cover the full spectrum of HR functions. They’re also available as on-site systems, cloud-based platforms, and some offer a hybrid solution. 

Can an HRIS be accessed remotely?

You can generally access modern, especially cloud-based, HRIS solutions remotely. This allows your team members and HR staff to access HR functions and data anytime, anywhere, enhancing flexibility and convenience, and making them the perfect solution for the modern hybrid workplace.

Does an HRIS support employee self-service features?

One of the key features of modern HRIS is the employee self-service portal. This allows your people to manage their personal information, apply for leave, view their pay slips and benefits, and access company policies and documents. This helps you to promote transparency and engagement within your organization.