Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Data: The most important part of a HRIS

There is some strong rhetoric surrounding HRIS and their ability to address and/or solve many of the problems that HR and their organisations are experiencing. We are familiar with the ideas that: HRIS can automate many routine functions; they can free up time for the HR function to conduct more strategic activities; and that it can also enable the HR function to transform into a strategic business partner. Despite the power of these ideas and arguments, the picture painted by many organisations is one that differs from this greatly. More and more horror stories of IT implementation projects are being shared as the reality of strategic uses of the HRIS fail to be realised.

Processes associated with obtaining and inputting data is seen as one of the primary reasons why the dreams associated with the HRIS are not being realised. A recent article in WorkForce Management titled "When HR IT Goes Bad" shares the story of the Los Angeles Unified School District who are presented as a case to learn from. It is stated that almost everything that could go wrong with the organisations human resources payroll upgrade did. The story presented resonates with other articles of this nature, however one important point is made that I want to share. The author argues that 'Computer systems are only as good as the data they have to work with, so if a public agency or company starts out with bad information, there's not much a new system can do about it.'

This again raises issues regarding the limitations of HRIS. The system in and of itself can not address and solve issues within an organisation. Individuals, as the human capital assets of the organisation are responsible for the collection, input and then use of the data. Does this mean then that data is one of the most important components of the HRIS, or the most important component?


  1. Data is one of the most important components but it can not stand alone. Process, giving us the flexibility and the ability to encourage new thinking and jump out the constraint of current mechanism, comes first. While data represent the relative stable part of a system, it does not mean it is permanent.

    Before implementing HRIS, analysis cool us down to realize what we want the system to do, how to achieve it, and then what data are relevent and how to capture or display those data.

  2. The other related issue to consider is the concept of "dirty data" and how to minimise the risks that data will not be accurately entered. These are issues that are critical to the success of the HRIS and high on the organisational agenda. One response is to shift the reponsibility for the accuracy of the data eg: Employee information updates or to place checks and balances in the system to minimse inaccuracies. So on one hand you have the advantage of only entering data once and then being able to leverage that data throughout the organisation, on the other hand if "dirty data" is entered the impact is magnified.

  3. 'Dirty data' is difficult to be removed in reality. In nature, data should be continously changed, so the up-to-date information is always needed.

    In addition, the number you produce is highly related to the manetary return and job security.It tempts you to munipulate the data.

    Furthermore, I consider that the closed questions omit the tacit knowledge and covert the explicit knowledge into the data. So, even though the data-gathering process is quite accurate, firms might have the 'wrong' data.

  4. I agree with the idea that data, besides the integration ability of data (various reports created by HRIS), is the most important part of HRIS.

    HRIS is only a system which could assist HR workers to reduce the time of administrative and paper job in some extent, with limited data analysis function.

    It will help organizaitons to buid up easy access and strong searching-ability database.

    However HRIS could never think by itself on what kinds of data are essential on strategic decision making and what kinds of analysis should be done to support decision making.

    The most contribution of HRIS, from my opinion, is that qulified data could be ready and could be acquired quickly in differnt styles when we need it.

  5. Seeing HRIS is a significant sound database system in the 21st century which enables the organisation to access employee detail in a timely and accurate manner only if the data are being entered correctly.

    Manual processing is required in this procedure (data entry). As per Kristine's note, the "dirty data" can have powerful impact on the system especially when there is a linkage in between HR and different areas such as finance, accounting and information technology etc.

    I think data is one of the important components to the HRIS as it is the whole point of having HRIS to enable the funcationality of inputting and obtaining massive amount of employee and organisational data.

    I would say training and support provided by the vendor is the most important component to the HRIS to enhance user's confidence in operating HRIS yet it is a time and cost consuming exerise.


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