Assessing the Human Resource Information Systems

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The Human Resource Information System is either software or an online application that is used for the data tracking and information requirement of the Human Resources Department. This helps in generating electronic data related to maintaining the profiles of the employees that helps in various functions like accounting, payroll and management. With the increasing workforce it becomes extremely difficult for the organizations to maintain such a huge set of records. Thus Human Resource Information System plays a vital role in the success of an organization by speeding up the human resource management activities and providing better solution as compared to manual work.

Human Resource Information System has been expanding in all sectors of UAE very rapidly and is now being employed by the Government Organizations as well. In order the study the relevance and setup of a Human Resource Information System in a government body we take the case of the Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi. (Walker, 1998)

The Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi (Home- Department of Economic Development ) works to promote a sustainable, diversified and balanced that makes Abu Dhabi more competitive and strengthens its economic position in the world besides making the people prosperous than ever. The mission of the department mainly focuses on:

Economic Agenda and Policy

Regulatory Role

Economic Research

Economic Planning

Marketing & Investment Promotion

Commercial Licensing



Export Promotion

Industrial Sector

Establishment of Centres / Authorities

Span of Authority

Human Resource Information System works in three important systems:

Management Information System

Decision Support System

Human Resource Management Decision System

Characteristics of Management Information systems are as follows:

An information focus, aimed at middle managers

Structured information flows

Integration of EDP jobs by business function (production MIS, marketing MIS….)

Inquiry and report generation (usually with a data base)

This type of HRIS fits the traditional level of HR activities, such as recruitment, selection, and compensation.

Characteristics of Decision Support Systems are as follows:

Decision focused, aimed at top managers and executive decision makers

Emphasis on flexibility, adaptability, and quick response

User initiated and controlled

Support for the personal decision-making styles of individual managers

This type of HRIS fits the transformational level of HR activities - adding value to organizational processes.

Characteristics of Human Resource Management Decision System are as follows:

Report formation and generation based on identified managerial needs for decision making

Categorization of reports by management level

Timing of report generation based on frequency of managerial use: daily, weekly , monthly

Historical information retained and reported in a timely manner so that managers and HR professionals can see the results of their use of the information in their previous decisions

This type of system could be described as the ideal system and should be used as a standard for the development and application of any HRIS.

Organization Structure

The Department of Economic Development has a four level hierarchical structure that is necessary to understand before we move on to the implementation of the Human Resource Information System at the department. (Home- Department of Economic Development )

First Level: At the first level we have the President.

Second Level: At the second level we have the Under Secretary.

Third Level: At the third level we have following officers Planning and Statistics, International and Economic Affairs, Commercial Affairs, Policies and Regulations, Support Services and Corporate Support.

Fourth Level: The Support Services include HR, IT, Finance and Management Information Systems and many other offices in the various categories of the third level.

The Human Resource Information System applied in the Department of Economic Development serves the following overall purposes: (The General Secretariat of the Executive Council )

Employee Information is maintained.

Analysis and reporting of the above information.

Documents pertaining to employee handbooks, evacuation and safety guidelines during emergency.

Administration benefits including updating employee information, enrolment and status changes.

Payroll and accounting.

Selection of employees either during interviews or selecting current employees for some projects.

Although the Human Resource Management Systems can provide almost anything related to the current employees, former employees or even the new applicants but they are generally configured according to the needs of the organization providing specific details only what is required.

As is evident through the organization structure most of the concentration of the Human Resource Information System is at the level four where the employee strength is considerably more and hence helps to monitor them effectively.

HR activities Supported by Human Resource Information System

The main activities are:


It allows the user of the system to have access to variety of employee information and also the authority to key in changes to the data as provide by an employee. Everything depends upon the administrative authority of the user.

Manger Self Service

The managers are allowed to work upon the software and add new data like announcements along with the necessary documents for recruitment, selection or simply making the employees informed.

Employee self-service

The employees can view the company information and change their profiles or update them. They can also check their salaries and other emoluments or rewards if being given to them.

Interactive Voice Response

This helps in providing a cheap and effective means of communication and getting the required information at the press of a button.

Service Centres

They are similar to call centres but with additional features as they may have to deal with geographically widespread users. Operators take inquiries on call or by mails that deal with non-routine issues that cannot be handled by the basic technology. They can have fax, email and post features to enable effective service distribution.

To establish a Human Resource Information System the prime requirements are data bases, standalone or distributed software architecture and data warehouses. This depends upon whether the organizational staffs are small or big and the cost directly depends on the factors of size and features. The expanded activities are described next in the case with a detailed discussion in reference to the use in the Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi.

There are three types of data sharing:

Data sharing between functional units

Data sharing between management levels

Data sharing across geographically dispersed locations

Data sharing between different functions

Relational DBMS facilitate data integration across different functions such that each function might have access not only to its own data but also to other data as well. Example: the HR department is able to maintain its employee database but also access cost information from the accounting department's database. This integration can be carried out by enterprise resource planning (EPR) business applications.

Common business functions to be integrated are: HR, general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, order management, inventory control and customer relationship management.

Data sharing between different levels

Operational employees, managers and executives also share data but they each have different objectives and different needs for that data.

Operational employees use transaction-processing information systems which help conduct business on a day-to-day basis to provide timely and accurate information to managers and executives. Examples: update employee history, attendance, work hours.

Managers are more interested in summary data, such as reports generated from daily operational data that can be summarized into daily, weekly or monthly reports on hours worked by employees or absences by employees.

Data sharing across locations

In today's global environment, access to data from any physical location in the world is increasingly important. Data sharing across geographic locations throws up two issues:

Managing the day/time of a transaction

Determining where to store the various components of the business application, DBMS and database.

The advent of Internet has made centralized database structures and geographically dispersed data sharing feasible. As centralized database allows a company to confine its data to a single location and therefore, more easily control data integrity, updating, backup, and query and control access to the database.

Human Resource Information System

In the Department of Economic Development it is employed in the following cusp areas: (Human Resource Information System for Better HR Operations)

Human Resource planning

Planning of succession events

Managing work force

Staff selection

Recruitment and selection tracking of applicants

Development of employee database

Performance management of employees

Compensation and benefits of work

Pay roll management

Job evaluation and review of employees

Salary survey and planning

International compensation

Management of benefits of organization

Develop innovative Organizational Structure

Information Technology and management integration

The above features make the Human Resource Information System extremely strategic to the functioning of the Department of Economic Development. The department has recently envisaged the Human Development Report to which the system played a major role in providing a collection of informative data on the topic.

The above features can be dealt in detail as follows:

Human Resource Planning is required to make sure that an organization has the right kind of people in the right number and at the right place that will complete their designated tasks in the right time and help in achieving the goals of the company. It helps in maintaining the links between the strategies and their operation. It is more pro-active than reactive.

Succession Planning is the process of identifying and training and developing them to occupy the important leadership positions in the near future or succession. It increases the chances of having more employees that are experienced for the posts in the company. It includes:

Identifying the key roles for succession planning

Defining the competencies, qualities and motivational profile that determines the suitable employees

Assessment of the people against the criteria and future orientation

Identify the talent pool for the key positions in the company

Development of the employees for advancement into important positions through the correct experience

Managing work force is extremely important to maintain the rules and guidelines set by the organization along with setting the correct employee output rate.

Staff Selection is extremely important as qualified employees are required always in the company and for this purpose it requires a well-defined strategy and procedure and thus the information system helps in the applicant selection process.

Developing of employee database is not only important from the view of keeping a record of the employees but also for selecting them for various jobs, attributing salaries and also bonus if any directly into the database and thus keeping a track of all the finances of the employees.

Performance Management of Employees is the systematic procedure adopted by an agency involving its employees, either as individuals or group members, to improve effectiveness of an organization for the accomplishment of the goals and objectives of the company.

Employee performance measures include:

planningof work and setting of expectations

continuously monitoringthe performance of employees

developingthe ability and capacity to perform well

periodically ratingthe performance in a summarised fashion

rewardinggood performance periodically

Pay Roll Management and Compensation: Compensation is the money based in remuneration on account of employee's contribution to the company. Payroll is simply managing the money paid to the employees in salaries and other ways that is automatically recorded in the electronic database. (Payroll Management )

Job Evaluation only deals with evaluating the job or position and not the person associated with it. It helps in determining the weightage of one job with respect to another to facilitate fair distribution of wages and salary to the employees. There are various types of evaluation:

Job Ranking is done according to the seniority of positions but is extremely difficult in large organizations with huge diversity. Here the Human Resource Information System plays its role.

Pair comparison of jobs.

Benchmarking against some standard job of office.

Point Factor Analysis(PFA) is one of the old bureaucratic ways is used to determine the score for each job by giving points on a chosen scale to the various factors that structure the job.

Employee Review is done because of the following:

Employee growth and development

Employee motivation

Identifying training needs

Documentation to support the Decision Information System(DIS)

Consistency in keeping the employee information updated

Assessment of organizational problems

The use Human Resource Information System is to provide an automated form/ questionnaire for the employee review rather than the manual ones. The department uses the same methodology to review the employees.

Salary Survey and Planning is done to remove any inequity among the various offices and to offer salaries according to the need and demand of the hour. In case of large organizations even small changes may result into great changes and hence the salaries are planned and distributed in the planned manner.

International Compensation is extremely important in large organizations with a number of worldwide offices thus enabling transfer of jobs from one country to another. When there are a number of offers the employee has to decide among many factors one of them being International Compensation. It determines the benefits reaped by the employee if he is stationed outside the native country. (International Compensation)

Developing innovative organizational structure keeping in mind the technologies required to enable smooth functioning of the organization like installing a Human Resource Information System is the key to the success of the organization. It keeps a track of the functioning of the organisation, absenteeism from meetings or otherwise presence.

If there is a mixed style of organization then every member must be able to communicate with the other at the same level. Thus Human Resource Information System plays a vital role in providing an interface between the employees and transferring of information from one to another.

Information Technology and Management is the solution provided by the Human Resource Information System to enable the integration of IT and Management to and provide all the services discussed above. This helps in effective management of the organization with the use of software tools.

Benefits of the Human Resource Information System

The main benefits of the Human Resource Information System are in the field of effective management of the organization from automated distribution of salaries to the feedback from employees, hiring of employees to firing them or whether it is concerned to the process of motivation of employees the Human resources Department plays a critical role in not only aligning and streamlining the business processes but also in formulating the company policies. (Advantages of a human resource information system )

The Human Resource Information System is designed to provide an integrated system thereby helping in payroll, administration, recruitment, training and the analysis of employee performance. The Human Resource Information System works on main areas of payroll management, Human Resource management, time management and employee review and benefits making them less problematic besides making them run smoothly without any hitch. It facilitates an individual (the user of the Human Resource Information System) to have a view of the chronological history of the employee data, the payroll for him and the benefits being taken by the employee that belongs to his/her department. Obviously the usage of the software is limited to administrative structure and the permissions given to the employees of the Human Resources Department by the organization.

The main advantage of software like Human Resource Information System is in its capability to handle payroll management by automating it with data being gathered regularly. Besides doing the prime job it also gathers information like the attendance of the employees, calculation of the salaries and tax deductions on them and generating pay-checks periodically and handling the above reports by storing them in an electronic data base to the company seniors. This makes the job the Human Resources Department very easy as everything is automated and is click away from being processed or investigated.

In the field of time and labour management the Human Resource Information System is extremely useful and advantageous as it enables the personnel in the human resources department apply novice technologies for gathering and appraising the employee time information and work information. This helps in easily tracking the employee information and allowing it to be examined and assessed at higher levels of scientific nature to determine whether the employees performance is up to the mark or not and if any other changes have to be made to make the work environment better and enhance the security of employees in terms of money and health.

Employee motivation is another crucial activity that can increase the work production and quality. The Human Resource Information System helps in keeping a better track of all the employee activities and achievements and helps in looking into the fact that the employee is benefitting from the policies of the company and to minimise any discrimination on any grounds against the employee.

It is an effective tool in the Human Resource Management and because it shortens the time of long activities besides providing cost effectiveness. It reduces the paper work that makes the work slow and is also difficult to keep record of thereby making the functioning of the various departments more productive, conducive and smooth in the run. These are some of the potential benefits of a Human Resource Information System.

Barriers in the success of Human Resource Information System

The main barriers to the success of Human Resource Information System when being initiated into the department were: (HRIS Implementation Pitfalls )

Lack of commitment in management

Analysis not done properly

Key people undermined

Project team difficult to keep intact

Overcoming Politics and hidden agendas

Significant groups not consulted

Communication gap

Bad timing of implementation and use

The main barriers discussed above are the major inhibitors of the success of automated systems in the organizations and the same parameters were found to be countered at the Department of Economic Development. Lack of commitment can lead to the complete failure of the whole system being installed as the employees and other people in the organization may not participate effectively thus many details would be left out.

The Human Resource Information System is not a single system that can be used to model any organization but varies from one to another, thus if the analysis is not properly done the system may not fulfil the requirements of the organization.

The key people who have to use the software are undermined and hence the interface of the system may not be feasible for them to work upon and may be the organization would have to incur extra cost over training and induction of new employees to work upon the software. Besides it would be difficult to keep the project team intact till the completion of the project and hence would lead to implementation delays.

The project may fall a victim to the internal politics as it may lead to overcoming some of the major frauds being done and hence the employees may stand against its implementation. The communication gap may also hinder the success of the system as the employees may not share every information and the analysis may go wrong.

The project may be implemented at such a time when it can interfere with the internal functioning of the organization and hence time may not be correct for the implementation of the project. This can lead to disastrous consequences as barrier as the whole investment in the project can go wrong.

Pitfalls in the Human Resource Information System

The various pitfalls experienced at the Department of Economic Development in the implementation of the Human Resource Information System: (Human Resources Software Pitfalls )

With so many vendors around selling HRIS soft-wares it creates a good opportunity for the company to get what it wants but also burdens the company to do a large amount of homework to decide the best amongst the huge variety closely differentiated products.

Timing is extremely important as a delay would result into losses on the implementation of the product. As for example if recruitments are to be done the software should be in place at least six months before implementation to test it completely and remove any bugs. The project development may also get delayed if a large number of features are demanded in the software that will lead to huge induction time in every department, training time and wastage of resources.

The scope is an extremely important issue. The features in an Human Resource Information System should be decide on not what the vendor offers but what are required by the company. This not only saves cost but also helps in easy maintenance of the system since everyone is aware of the features of the system.

Data Quality is also a very important issue. The data generated and used must be by far legal and must generate reports that can be used for a variety of purposes. It must remove duplicate data, maintain consistency of data and finally filter of the unrequired content to enable faster processing and understanding by the user.

Support from management is the key to the success of the Human Resource Information System. The higher management has to look into the filed by enabling that the message is communicated throughout the organization, the project team gets complete support and resources to complete the project. Empty motivational speeches and comments cannot do to suffice the project. The features have to be clearly laid down before the employee, their suggestions taken because they are the end users and the complete project be tracked on to ensure its success.

Critical Analysis of the Human Resource Information System

Department of Economic Development has taken a good step in implementing the Human Resource Information System. However most HR managers believe that they work can be carried out without it and thus only large organizations have started employing the Human Resource Information System. It is not wrong to say that Human Resource Information System may not prove useful in smaller organizations where there are fewer resources to manage. (Paauwe, 2004)

Seeing the nature of advancement in businesses the Human Resource Information System would be very useful in the near future as follows:

Processing of large amounts of data.

Work environment centric to projects.

Empowerment of employees.

Increasing the knowledge base.

Organizational learning.

The managers delay the implementation of Human Resource Information System as they are not comfortable with sudden change from manual work to automated work i.e. in other words they fear the technology that will soon replace the traditional system of human resource management. But again this is not true and at present time when Techno managers have started taking the lead the path has become simpler.

With the changing trend of businesses the vendors have also realized that there is going to be a huge demand of such information systems. Hence they have already geared up to provide A-Z variety of information systems and other business intelligence systems. Department of Economic Development has entered into a new phase OF HR management by employing the best suited Human Resource Information System and now it's the turn of other government bodies to do the same.