Human Resource Information System

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Organisations all over the world are known only to show willingness in adopting new strategies and processes that will ultimately give them an edge over their competitors or at least make their operations more efficient. Only the ones that have a swift reaction to ‘environmental threats’ by adopting new methods or processes have been deemed ‘innovative’ (Chattopadhyay et al., 2001). These threats could come inform of social and environmental pressures with the advancement in technology, giving managers no other options than to seek new innovations (Pfeffer, 1997). The Human Resource (HR) function is therefore now experiencing some fast changes, in reaction to the challenges posed by this rapid technological growth. In a bid to meet up with these challenges therefore, organisations have had to involve the use of ‘information system technology’ in the conventional HR practices (Simon & Werner, 1996). This information system is what is basically referred to as Human Resource Information System (HRIS).

The HRIS is “the composite of databases, computer applications, hardware and software necessary to collect/record, store, manage, deliver, present and manipulate data for human resources” (Broderick and Boudreau, 1992). This recent integration of Information Technology into HR has left many confused about the distinction of the concept. However, from the definition it is clear that an HRIS is not limited only to some technical components (that is the computer hardware and software application), but also includes ‘people’, ‘politics’ and ‘procedures’ as well as data required for a complete Human Resource Management function (Hendrickson, 2003). Numerous studies have suggested the potential HRIS has, in assisting HR function in developing business strategies and enhancing the performance of organisations (Barney & Wright, 1998; Broderick & Boudreau, 1992; Guetal, 2003; Lawler, Levenson & Boudreau, 2004; Lengnick – Hall & Moritz, 2003), although there are some arguments as to whether indeed HRIS is fully delivering its potential on HR as promised (Dery, 2006). Despite this obvious clash of opinions, a considerable number of organisations would still engage this technology to help their human resources practices to be more efficient.

Before HRIS began gaining popularity in the 1960s (Lederer, 1984, Kavanaugh et al., 1990), Human Resource practices have been rather manual and paper based. It was a striking discovery to note that not more than a third of HR and Payroll professionals have a comprehensive detail of staff’s activities - years of service, recruitment cost or sick leave (Anonymous, 2006), the rest have got no idea. It was a greyer situation prior to the World War II, when HR professionals were referred to as “personnel” staff and had just basic responsibilities which were limited to managing information of employee names, addresses and sometimes employment history (Kavanaugh, 1990). It therefore became imperative to have a system to ‘automate’ existing processes as well as proffer solution to time-consuming HR process, thus the idea to merge HR processes with Information technology for ‘accurate’ and ‘effective’ data keeping (Ceriello, 1998). From the traditional first stage and important step of Human resource management function –Recruiting and selection (Bratton et al, 2003), all through to the strategic function of HR research, the process can be automated.


Though several attempts have been made to develop a rather holistic view of the role of Information Technology and the general importance of technological adoption (Dewett and Jones, 2001; Fiorito et al. 2000,Caroll and Wagar, 2010), a major part of them have been focused on developed societies. Also...
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