HR Systems of Record: Re-Evaluating Their Importance In Digital Era

Organizations can spend weeks, even months evaluating and purchasing a HRIS. If this purchase is the first ever integrated HRIS for the organization, the process can take even longer as everyone is trying to make the best decision possible. And after the decision is made and contracts are signed, more time and money is invested to implement the system. Finally the go live date arrives and everyone is excited that now all the HR related system deficiencies will be solved. After all, the lack of a system was the real problem, right?

Months pass and the ROI of the new system is still not quantified. Perhaps the uptake of the new system is slow and employees are not using it or not using it to its full potential. Maybe there was a lack of training or change management processes to help make a smooth transition and resources are burned out from the implementation. The requests and HR system issues seem to still be there and everyone questions whether they perhaps did not select the right system.

When you start doubting your decision, you pay more attention to articles and research that seem to offer easy and quick solutions. For example, headlines such as this one found in Forbes: “The Move from Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement” lead you to think that you may have focused on the wrong thing. A system of record is necessary but maybe you should have been focusing on engagement. On closer examination you see none of the cool gadgets people say they like to use for social collaboration, goal setting, peer recognition, or productivity analysis. Perhaps you feel that what you have is already outdated and you need to rethink your system.

But before you start ripping out your current system or buying new software solutions, take the time to understand your overall HR strategy and how HR systems of can help achieve your goals. And don’t dismiss the need for a solid HR system of record. This core system can provide the basis for engagement strategies.

When we look back at the history of HR and record keeping, systems had to evolve from purely tracking employees to becoming systems of compliance. Regulations from governments dealing with child labor, hours of work, and compensation meant that it was not sufficient to just know who was working for you, but you also had to track very specific details of their work. After WWII, when resources were in demand, managers started realizing the importance of maximizing productivity and how hiring the right people from the start could make a big difference in overall profitability.

In the 1960s, computer technology became available for employee record keeping and compliance reporting became easier which freed up HR’s time and resources to focus on other employee management activities. No matter how technologically advanced the tools available have become over the years, productivity, profitability, and compliance have been the constant themes behind HR systems.HR themes over the y...

HR has become more complex over the years. New ways of working such as telecommuting have made it crucial that there be technica l tools available to manage projects and the people doing the work. Compliance issues are ever present and we need to make sure we have people with the appropriate competencies and authorities in the correct roles. But none of the tools work without a solid and reliable HR system of record. There must be one source of truth about the employee or contractor that the organization can rely on. And let’s not forget the importance of authority and the security and network access that is attached to that authority.

As security experts have pointed out, today’s SaaS based companies are quick to develop applications but the information security and vulnerability in those processes are sometimes overlooked [1]. If you employ a collection of apps and systems that do single functions, security and user setups need to be replicated across systems and this is prone to error. And when a change needs to be made to a user, you are required to make that change over and over in different systems. Having a core HR system of record that you pivot applications and functional add-ons off of, can provide the level of security, consistency, and reliability required. And having one system can provide the big picture view required to really understand how people and processes are impacting your organization.

While technology trends and tools have come and gone over the years, what remains consistent is the need for a core HR system of record to maintain compliance, track productivity, and analyze how people work. Better use of your HRIS and extending functionality off of that system is where you will see the real ROI.

marnie_pic_blogAbout the Author:

Marnie Larson is the CEO of StarGarden Corporation and oversees its operations in Canada, US and New Zealand. She has over 20 years’ experience in the software industry and specializes in HCM, Business process automation and Workflow technology.

Follow Marnie on Twitter: @mblarson

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