What is an HRIS?

HRIS describes software designed to organise the information and processes associated with human resources management. Also known as HRIS software or HRIS systems, HRIS reduce administrative overheads, enable compliance, facilitate informed decisions and better support employees and their managers.

HRIS software is almost always delivered online, as Software as a Service (or SaaS HRIS), and hosted in Cloud-computing environments. The best HRIS software dramatically improves the ability of human resources management teams to support the wider business and boosts employee productivity and engagement.

HRIS example

What are the benefits of an HRIS?

Efficiency, productivity, insight, engagement

HR information systems help organisations work more productively, reducing administrative overheads by centralising and digitising critical HR data and automating processes. They support legislative compliance, enable better-informed decision-making and help ensure key tasks aren’t overlooked.

The best HRIS also improve company-wide engagement and collaboration through easy-to-use manager and employee self-service. This simultaneously improves data accuracy and employee satisfaction, allowing employees and managers to take control of the information that matters most to them – such as requesting time off, updating personal information or checking on team performance.

HRIS devices mobile

When is it time to get an HRIS?

It’s easy for overstretched HR professionals to struggle on with paper files, excel spreadsheets or out-of-date HR solutions – even when they know there has to be a better way. Here are some of the signs that you need a new human resources information system.


  • You are spending more time collating data for reports than reading them.
  • You have no idea of current employee headcount, absence levels or vacancies.
  • Sensitive HR data is being shared via spreadsheets, email or paper, putting you at risk of breaching GDPR regulations.
  • Line managers are complaining they have no visibility over team absences, performance or career aspirations.
  • Employees are inundating you with requests that could be answered through an online HRIS, such as how much holiday they are due, what the working from home policy is, where to find an old payslip, or how they update their bank details.
  • Posting a job ad online, or reviewing and responding to applications, takes more than just a few minutes.
  • New joiners aren’t being smoothly onboarded into your organisation and probation periods are being missed.

Discover how leading Fintech company OpenGI cut HR admin overheads by 80% with an HRIS

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How to select the best HR Information System

Choosing an HR Information System can feel a little overwhelming. There are so many HRIS to pick from and, superficially at least, many of them appear to support the same human resources management processes and offer the same features. However, not all systems will fit your business. Here are three reasons why:

1. Company size

HRIS are built to fit different company sizes. While there is some overlap, most suppliers primarily focus on just one market:

Large enterprise HRIS solutions, such as Workday and Oracle, are often part of a wider ERP solution and are aimed at organisations with tens of thousands of employees. They usually require extensive customisation and/or configuration and are expensive, often requiring many months and considerable time and money to implement.

Mid-market HRIS, like Cezanne HR, are targeted at the needs of mid-sized organisations and focus entirely on supporting human resource management. They frequently offer a similar depth and breadth of HR functionality as enterprise HRIS solutions, but may not be quite as configurable. They are, however, quicker to implement, easier to configure and significantly less expensive than enterprise alternatives.

Small business solutions (typically for 5 – 100 employees) reflect the simpler requirements of these organisations. They cover the key HR processes but don’t have the same sophistication or flexibility as the mid-market solutions.

software selection sector pyramid

3. Company Sector

Some organisations have special requirements from their HR technology. Perhaps because of the way they are organised or the way that work takes place.

For example, HRIS for the public sector generally needs to support pay spines and grades; manufacturing or retail organisations may need HR information systems that manage multiple shift patterns; financial organisations have specific compliance requirements.

2. Company location

The majority of HR information systems have been developed to reflect the legislative requirements of a single country. While they may be accessible from other countries, a UK HRIS may not ‘work’ in the USA or Australia, unless it’s been developed from the very start as a global HR information system.

Alongside language and legislative considerations, every country has different ways of working and expectations of their HR systems, including the processes the system needs to support and how data is protected.

What are the most popular HRIS modules?

HRIS solutions are generally split into two key areas, those concerned with core administrative and legislative support and those that focus on employee development, engagement and retention, which is sometimes referred to as HCM, or Human Capital Management. Increasingly, modern HRIS suites combine some elements of both. Before starting your selection process, you should review the HR processes you need to support over the next 2 to 5 years.

Core HR administrative support may include:

  • Personnel administration
  • Holiday and Absence Management
  • Rostering and Shift Patterns
  • Time and Expense Management
  • Payroll

Human Capital Management solutions usually cover:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Performance Management
  • Training and Development
  • Career and Succession Planning
  • Pulse Surveys
  • Employee Engagement

Which HR technology platform should you select

The technology platform you select is important as it can have a huge impact on both the cost of the implementation and how easy it is to manage going forward.


key questions


A cloud-enabled HR information system describes an older system that has been designed to run across the internet. These systems support the same HR processes as modern Cloud-native HRIS solutions, but are typically more time-consuming to implement and more expensive to maintain.

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Cloud-native HRIS are built on a multi-tenanted architecture that is easier and more cost-effective to develop and maintain than older platforms. This is usually reflected in lower fees, faster deployments and easier updates, often delivered automatically and for no cost.

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