Are you considering adding a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to your tech stack?
It’s a big deal! Investing in an HRIS is a crucial decision for an organization. It has an impact on every department as well as the overall productivity of a company.
An HRIS is only as good as how well it integrates with your existing tech infrastructure and apps. Therefore, one of the primary considerations in the process is to see whether the software is a good fit based on your company’s present and future technology needs.
In this article, we’ll explore the top questions and issues you need to address before updating your tech stack with an HRIS. We’ll also look at typical integrations, customization options, factors that make an integration good or bad, and the questions you should ask during a demo.
Let’s dive right into it!
What is an HRIS?
Human Resource Information Systems are HR software solutions designed to perform multiple essential HR functions. These tasks can vary by company but typically include the following:
- Employee onboarding
- Attendance management
- Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
- Paid Time Off (PTO) management
- Payroll administration
- Compensation and benefits administration
- Performance management and reporting
- Learning and development tough a native learning management system (LMS)
The software can be cloud-based or on-premises. However, according to Softwarepath, over 98% of companies opt for cloud-based solutions.
Examples of some well-known HRIS platforms are:
If you want to learn more about the best HRIS solutions on the market today, have a look at our expert-rated guide to the Best HRIS Vendors in 2022. Here, you’ll learn more about the pros and cons of each software, read about the potential pitfalls of HRIS software, pricing, features, and much more.
Why Do You Need an HRIS?
HRIS systems collect, organize, and process employee information to provide comprehensive Human Resource Management (HRM) solutions. Therefore, one of the primary reasons to purchase an HRIS platform is to facilitate seamless employee data collection and reporting on a single platform.
Furthermore, investing in human resource management systems can bring along additional benefits for organizations:
- Productivity: Let employees take charge of essential formalities related to their employee records, such as contact information management and PTO requests. This reduces manual paperwork and data entry discrepancies.
- Employee Centricity: Once repetitive administrative tasks are automated through your HRIS, the HR team members can focus on your organization’s most valuable asset - its people.
- Employee Experience: A well-integrated HRIS improves employee experience by providing access to essential company data via a single dashboard. This reduces employee reliance on HR, removing friction and improving overall employee satisfaction.
What is HRIS Integration?
Software integrations refer to the ability of computer programs and apps to communicate via virtual bridges called Application Programming Interfaces or APIs.
Similarly, an HRIS integration is your HRIS platform’s ability to connect with the pre-existing software in your organization using APIs. This software could be for accounting, attendance management, payroll, or other functions.
Your HRIS platform may be sophisticated and expensive, but it cannot achieve everything independently. It requires input from other moving parts in your organization to present a complete picture to the management.
Typical HRIS Integrations You’d Want
When thinking about using an HRIS to boost business productivity, what kind of HRIS integrations do organizations typically choose? There’s no straightforward answer to this because each business has unique needs and requires solutions specific to its circumstances.
We spoke to several industry leaders to learn more from their experience. The answers we got revealed the following common themes:
Does it Make Life Easier?
Your HRIS integrations should make life easier for HR by enhancing the functionality of the existing tech stack without too much of a learning curve for the team.
Hannah Yardley, the Chief People and Culture Officer at the Achievers Workforce Institute, says, “...The main thing to consider is that the system helps integrate into the flow of work for an organization and that it eases and supports HR processes and procedures.”
Talking about ease of use, she goes on to say, “Generally, adopting new technology can be difficult when it comes to learning, integrating, and even training on new processes and programs, so systems that are both compatible with existing workflows and seamless for the end user, wins big points.”
Does it Provide Useful Data?
The definition of “useful data” varies by organization type and industry. What works for one company may not work for another. Accordingly, an organization exploring HRIS integrations would have to ask what kind of data it needs to generate from a specific integration and how it needs to be processed.
“As an organization is considering an HRIS system, something to consider is the data received and how that data is leveraged. For example, integration that enables us to leverage demographic data in our decision-making is highly valuable because employee segmentations are critical to understanding the employee voice. Integrating those demographics from the HRIS into L&D, performance management, and payroll makes observations so much better and actions much more meaningful to employees.”, says Yardley.
The Big Four
Most industry professionals we spoke to acknowledged that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all set of integrations for any organization. However, integrations with the following functions kept coming up:
- Performance Management
- Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Here’s what some business leaders have to say:
“Some of the most commonly sought-after HRIS integrations include those with payroll, time and attendance, and performance management systems.” - Linda Shaffer, Head of People Team on HRIS integrations, Checkr
“In order to avoid having to enter the same information twice, it is best if your payroll system is linked to your time and attendance monitoring, personnel database, and any other relevant information systems.” - Kim Abrams, CEO, Abrams Roofing
“One of the most important HRIS integrations you will want in a new platform is compatibility with your Applicant Tracking System. When your ATS and HRIS systems are seamlessly integrated, it makes hiring and onboarding so much easier. Things like employee contact information, background check results, and new hire documentation are usually gathered by the recruiting team and then passed along to HR for record keeping when a person officially joins the company.” - Natalie Fell, HR & Business Specialist, Step By Step Business
Some other possible integrations for businesses to explore are:
- Reporting on key HR metrics
- Talent management
- Learning and Development
- Benefits administration
- Succession planning
- Employee self-service
- Compliance assistance
- Email alerts
- Data import/export options
- Point-in-time reporting
HRIS Customizability (or Lack Thereof) to Consider
Flexibility and customizability are essential factors to consider when choosing an HRIS. As businesses scale, enter new markets, or pivot to tackle new challenges, their HRIS features should remain customizable enough to adjust to new business realities.
If you’re a small business considering investing in a new HRIS, check out our guide on HRIS software for small businesses. The guide lists the best software for small businesses, pitfalls to avoid, and answers to the most frequently asked questions on the topic.
Is the Latest the Greatest?
While all the latest HRIS platforms promote themselves as customizable and integration-ready, organizations must be cautious about adopting the shiniest new tool on the market.
“Although many HRIS systems appear highly customizable, which is undoubtedly attractive, leaders need to consider their company’s existing technical infrastructure and choose systems proven to perform their desired functions with easy setup and integration of the application,'' says Hannah Yardley.
The best HRIS integrations facilitate high-quality reporting across the organization. This means having the ability to customize reports for multiple departments and having key metrics for each available in real-time.
“Some of the things you may want to consider when assessing the customizability of an HRIS solution include the ability to add, remove or modify fields, create custom workflows, integrate with other systems, and customize reports.”, adds Linda Shaffer.
Talking about reporting customization, Richard Lubicky said, “A great HRIS customization feature to look for is the ability to generate reports that educate both the HR team and the entire organization.”
When done correctly, one of the great advantages of an HRIS integration is having a centralized hub for all your company information. This information can be pulled and utilized by any integrated business function on demand. This includes data such as payroll, time tracking, and employee records and eliminates the hassle of data double entry across the organization.
Elaborating on this further, Kim Abrams said, “When modifications are made to one section of a system, many will immediately reflect those changes everywhere else they affect the data. Because of this, countless hours of effort are saved, and the likelihood of making mistakes is much diminished.”
During our research, we came across some HR leaders who had very specific ideas about some of the customizations they prefer.
Rafal Mlodzki is the CEO of Passport Photo Online, a small business that generates US passport photos for customers. He said, “Customizable visual boards are something I consider a major advantage in HRIS apps, as well as tools to monitor productivity and customize workflows. Luckily, a handful of programs offer as much.”
He also shared one of his negative experiences with the lack of customization. “The worst experience I recall was when we encountered an incompatibility issue between the previous communication tool and HRIS. An update or two can change a lot, and what was our first-choice software needed to be replaced.”
Dean Kaplan, CEO of Kaplan Collection Agency, shared his thoughts about the importance of customization for growing businesses. “We look for an HRIS system that can scale. As a rapidly expanding company, we want to know that our HRIS can keep up with our business growth as we expand into new markets.”
What Makes an HRIS Integration Good (or Bad)?
As we noted above, some of the main reasons organizations invest in HRIS platforms are:
- To enable automation
- To provide accurate and relevant hiring and employee data
- To speed up time-consuming tasks
- To reduce manual data entry and, as a result, human error
Good HRIS platforms achieve these objectives while maintaining cost-effectiveness and ease of use. They require little to no training and scale well as a business grows. Above all, the HRIS system must fit in well with an organization’s existing and intended tech stack to make any of the above possible.
Michelle Hague, the HR Manager at Solar Panels Network USA, shared her thoughts on the subject with us. “There are a few things that can make or break an HRIS integration. First, you need to make sure that the system you choose is compatible with your existing software. Second, you need to pay attention to the quality of the data that is being transferred. And last, but not least, you need to make sure that the system is easy to use.”
Good HRIS integrations improve the employee experience by taking care of mundane, operational tasks through initiatives such as single sign-on and allowing employees to focus on their core job responsibilities.
When asked about good integrations, Yardley said, “Perhaps one of the most underrated benefits (of HRIS integrations) is reducing the barriers that keep employees from using the software. In fact, anyone can relate to this comment – how many times have you been asked to sign in, re-sign in, and to do so with the same program multiple times in one day? Good HRIS integration mitigates these types of challenges that ultimately become stress points in the employee experience.”
A great example of how an HRIS integration done well can improve organizational processes is onboarding automation.
“A good HRIS integration will automate the onboarding process by connecting it to the rest of the HR system, such as benefits, payroll, and scheduling. We should be able to make an offer, create a benefits package, request a background check, and automatically send offer letters for e-signature to new hires.”, said Richard Lubicky.
It’s worth noting that, according to BambooHR, effective onboarding software decreases time-to-productivity by 33%.
Questions About Integration to Ask in a Demo
An HRIS platform cannot be viewed in isolation from its vendor. You’re likely going to require the vendor’s assistance on a range of tasks throughout the HRIS adoption project. For example, introduction to the platform, feasibility studies, identification of the best possible integrations, implementation, post-deployment support, and more.
Therefore, a solid yet transparent relationship with the vendor is key to the success of your new HRIS. Accordingly, asking the right questions is essential at the product demo stage to clarify doubts and set clear expectations for the future.
Referring back to Hannah Yardley’s commentary on HRIS integrations, when asked about the top questions to ask in a demo, she said, the three key questions to ask are:
- What is the workflow?
- How does it work?
- What are the use cases that other customers have been using it for?
These questions should strengthen your understanding of what the tool is, how it would be used by your team, and perhaps most importantly – give you a leg up on using the integration to its full ability.
“Even if you don’t intend to use all of the system’s capabilities, APIs or opt to adopt the demonstrated system, examples of use cases will expand your knowledge about the tool.”
Michelle Hague has a slightly different yet essential set of go-to questions:
- How long does the average integration take?
- What types of data do you typically need to complete an integration?
- How easy is it to use your system?
- What kind of customer support do you offer?
The goal here is to understand the vendor’s background, the product, and whether it fits your business needs in the present and the future. To that end, questions about scalability, remote work, and any problems the current users of the system are facing are also relevant.
Our Conclusion on HRIS Integrations
An organization’s choice of HRIS platform is a critical factor in determining business productivity. HRIS software provides a comprehensive range of Human Capital Management (HCM) and HR services through various means, including task automation and integration with multiple business functions.
Typically, these integrations are with your ATS, payroll solution, finance, attendance tracking, employee data, onboarding platform, and more. When considering new integrations, companies need to consider whether it would improve the overall employee experience and data processing quality.
If an integration results in insufficient data, duplicated work, and an overall degradation in user experience, finding an alternative may be a good idea.
Before making a final choice of HRIS software, the management should thoroughly interview the shortlisted vendors during the demo stage. It’s vital to understand the problems of the software’s existing user base if any. Questions about technical support during the integration process and post-deployment are also important.
If done correctly, HRIS integrations can allow organizations to utilize the full potential of their HRIS platform and boost productivity, engagement, and profitability.
If you’re just starting out, have a look at our guide on free HR software to get a taste of what an HRIS system can do for your organization.