The Problem with HRIS Systems

HRIS are more of IS and less of HR – that’s the biggest problem with HRIS.

Problem with HRIS Systems

There are hundreds of HRIS –big and small. They are indeed quite useful in managing many of the HR functions such as employee information management, payroll administration, performance appraisals, and so on. Most of them are client-server applications, while some of the recent ones are available on Software As A Service (SAAS).

But with almost all the HRIS, the problem is the same – they help you manage employee information but do not help in generating the right information. This analogy might explain that better. A hospital is equipped with the best medical equipment and state-of-the-art facilities. But there are no doctors who can do what is expected of any hospital – diagnose and treat patients.

Simply put, they lack functional intelligence. This is not confused with process intelligence. There are two different things. Process intelligence means understanding how a particular process works. In the case of say, an appraisal, a simple process is that an employee does a self-appraisal and then the appraisal goes to the manager for his review and approval. Most HRIS have built-in customizations to take care of this kind of process intelligence. But the functional intelligence is different. In the case of appraisal it would be determining the areas in which an employee needs to be appraised. This intelligence means someone who is appreciative of the various dimensions of appraisal in specific contexts (such as culture, industry, levels etc.), is able to lead employees and managers to focus on the right areas while appraising the employees. Ideally, such activities, like adding the right kind of parameters, explanations, matrices etc. would be done by a seasoned HR person.

But if the same were done within the HRIS, it would go a long way in improving the overall value of the system and bring about real meaningful change in the organization.

Why is it that most HRIS are unable to provide the functional intelligence? Simply because they are built by IT companies who are good at creating state-of-art technology platforms. But they are not intelligent in the capabilities area.

This is one of the problems that can be solved by profiling of a person’s capabilities. One can easily appreciate that human development and training or human capital revolves around talent or capabilities of people. When companies hire people they aim to identify the right fit – which is about finding the right person for the required job profile. When rewarding or compensating employees, companies aim to pay employees in consideration with the market price for a particular profile. When making promotions i.e. giving a higher responsibility, companies aim to ensure that the employees are trained to match his capabilities profile with that of the higher job.

To do all this therefore what is needed is a profiling tool. A profiling tool which is holistic in the sense that it is able to capture capabilities in different areas of skills including functional / technical skills, behavioral / soft skills, managerial / leadership skills and more.

Such profiling will make most of the decisions on human capital – hiring, training, deployment etc. lot more scientific.

Alas, today’s HRIS are simply not equipped to do this.