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HR software selection: Your guide to purchasing an HRIS

An HRIS may be one of the most important purchases you can make to ensure a smoothly operating business and workforce. In this guide, we delineate HRIS benefits, key questions to ask when choosing one, the major functions to look for, and the main reason why you’re likely here: a step-by-step guide to choosing an HRIS software.

Ashley McCann

Ashley McCann

hris guide: hr software selection

A lot of the work of HR professionals happens behind the scenes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

There’s no doubt that hiring, onboarding, retaining, and managing the operational needs of talent is essential work, but it’s work that involves a lot of seemingly mundane tasks.

Those include scheduling interviews, posting to job boards, sending emails, making follow-up calls, and filling out, reviewing, and filing paperwork – all aspects of the job that aren’t glamorous or celebrated.

But those tasks are incredibly important. In fact, the reason the work of the HR department often goes unnoticed is because when it’s performed effectively, it helps keep an organization running smoothly.

Missing any one of those routine tasks can have a ripple effect of negative consequences, which is why helpful HR tools like a human resource information system (HRIS) are so valuable. HR software selection is an important process that can change the way you do business for the better.

The benefits of HRIS software

Any tool that makes essential work more efficient and effective is an investment. Human resources software simplifies HR processes and boosts productivity by freeing up HR professionals to focus on the more personal aspects of managing candidates and employees — which is the largest and most significant benefit — but there are other advantages of implementing an HR system as well:

1. Central resource for employee data

An HR information system serves as a convenient, searchable repository for employee records and information.

With cloud-based HR software solutions and permission settings, employee data can be safely and easily accessed by stakeholders.

2. Streamlined hiring and onboarding

Successfully attracting, hiring, training, and onboarding new employees involves a lot of people and moving pieces.

An HRIS system can double as an applicant tracking system, scanning and sorting resumes, and organizing important candidate information. It also adds an organized structure to hiring processes and workflows.

3. Organize scheduling, payroll, and benefits

There’s a lot of information involved when it comes to scheduling, leave requests, sick days, payroll, and benefits administration — and that information is multiplied by each employee.

An HR platform serves as an easily-accessed reference and makes HR functions scalable as your organization grows.

4. Ensure compliance

A failure to maintain compliance with local, state, federal, or industry-wide regulations can leave your business vulnerable to legal liability.

Collect, retrieve, and store appropriate documentation for the correct amount of time with the help of an HRIS.

5. Increase employee engagement

Some HR systems offer an employee self-service option that allows team members to log on to view training modules, performance reviews, or information about payroll or benefits.

Empowering employees to access relevant information improves productivity for team members, management, and HR professionals.

6. Track employee-related metrics

Data is the key to improved decision-making. Track analytics and compile reports on time-to-hire, cost of hire, recruitment, retention, engagement, performance, demographics, absenteeism, turnover, employee profiles and more to help identify patterns and potential areas of improvement.

7. Automation of time-consuming tasks

An HRIS can greatly improve the efficiency of HR workflows through automation. Posting job descriptions, sending follow-up emails, scheduling interviews, and collecting signatures are all examples of time-intensive tasks that can be automated. This improves the applicant experience and simplifying the responsibilities of HR professionals.

There’s a lot more. Check out our comprehensive deep dive into HRIS benefits.

Key questions to ask (and answer) when choosing an HRIS

The first, and most important step, of the HR software selection process is research. Finding the best HR software requires more than comparing features and cost — it involves finding a solution for your organization’s specific business needs.

Before you start looking at specific software systems, sit down with stakeholders and find answers to the following questions:

  • What are the challenges that your HR team faces?
  • What is the main goal you want to achieve by purchasing HRIS software?
  • How much budget are you willing to assign to an HRIS software?
  • Which teams will be involved in the selection and implementation of the software?
  • When are you planning to implement the HRIS software?

Having a thorough understanding of existing pain points, what problems you’re hoping to solve, how much you can spend, who needs access or may have input, and how and when you’ll make the transition to the HRIS will help narrow down your HR tech options.

5 key functions to look for an HRIS software

Once you’ve established how your organization would implement, utilize, and benefit from HR technology, it’s time to start comparing your options. Evaluate these five functions as you research:

1. Flexibility

The main objective of using an HRIS is to improve the efficiency of core HR tasks and responsibilities, so it’s important to find a system flexible and functional enough to enhance existing workflows.

2. User complexity

HR professionals should be experts at human resources-related work — not experts at HRIS software. Your HRIS should feature intuitive design and functionality that makes it an asset almost immediately.

Users should be able to quickly access employee information easily and in real-time, using a variety of search methodology.

3. Cost

The budget carries a lot of weight when you’re evaluating the pros and cons of a new tool. Look for options that can grow as your business does, but don’t fall into the trap of paying for features that you don’t need if they come at a greater cost.

4. Implementation time

Making significant changes to existing workflows is always a challenge, particularly since the day-to-day tasks don’t stop as you integrate a new piece of software. Estimate how long different HRIS options may take to get up and running.

5. Customer service & ongoing support

Having easily accessible support is often the difference between a seamless transition and total turbulence.

Make sure the HRIS you choose has live support options and a library of resources to reference outside of traditional office hours.

Your step-by-step guide to choosing an HRIS software

Let’s face it — a little bit of discomfort or disruption is inevitable whenever new software is introduced, even if the potential value is evident. It’s not a process anyone wants to needlessly repeat, so take the time to find a good fit and follow these steps during your HR software selection process:

1. Ensure the right team(s) are involved

The human resources team may not be the only ones accessing information contained within the HRIS. Managers, executives, and trainers are often part of the hiring, onboarding, and performance management processes, too.

Consider who will be using the software and decide if their input would be helpful during the selection process.

2. Understand your businesses needs

An effective way to avoid paying for features you don’t need is to have a clear understanding of what problems you’re hoping to solve with an HRIS.

Also, the ideal HRIS can be incorporated into an existing workflow instead of forcing your organization to completely reinvent the way they’ve handled human resources work in the past.

3. Research software vendors

As you research software vendors, compare cost, features, and functionality, but also check customer testimonials and independent reviews.

Be especially cognizant of complaints around customer service.

4. Create a shortlist

Narrow down your options to a list of two or three possibilities, set up sales calls with those companies, and do your own in-depth research on those vendors.

Make your own list of advantages and disadvantages and ask other stakeholders to contribute opinions.

5. Test as much as possible

Spend some time trying out demos or free trials of any potential options. Good marketing can sell software that may not be the best solution for your organization, so take advantage of opportunities that allow you to evaluate user experience first hand.

An easy decision – but an important one

HR software selection is a serious decision that can pay off for years to come. The right HRIS can streamline HR workflows and optimize talent management, boosting productivity and ultimately improving the overall employee experience.

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