How HR systems fail HR people

76% of HR professionals feel that their HR systems fail to support strategic objectives and they would not recommend these systems to others. In this modern age, why should this be so?

HR systems: A brief history

For any business reviewing its payroll and HR needs, it pays to understand how HR technology has evolved.

Most modern HR systems started life in the 1980s. At the time, basic payroll functionality was sufficient for most organisations. Over time, enterprise recognised that talent and capability management were (and still are) critical to business success. Software providers modified their payroll systems, adding HR modules for performance and people management, and learning and development. This met most business needs until the early 1990s.

The arrival of the internet in the mid-1990s drastically changed the HR technology landscape. Suddenly, it was possible for managers to own data collection, employee transactions and other key HR functions. This created real problems for certain providers. Some couldn’t keep up and simply disappeared. Others are still with us, but continue to use outdated architecture and development languages such as COBOL® which was designed in 1953.

The importance of the internet

Systems that failed to move with the times now face a serious problem: they cannot effectively use internet technologies to develop and deploy core HR data. They must build complex interfaces to translate legacy code into a browser-readable format. The result is reduced functionality and performance, and ineffective self-service tools for users.

SAP® and Oracle® have struggled to deliver web functionality. Both were forced into expensive buy-outs of existing web-enabled HR systems (SuccessFactors® and Oracle® Taleo, respectively).

Point systems: Friend or foe?

As HR systems failed to deliver single-source data and efficiency gains, businesses turned to best-of-breed ‘point systems’. Point systems deliver core people management functionality. However, they create a whole new problem: disparate data.

Many organisations are burdened with several databases storing the information needed to support their HR and payroll operations. HR software providers usually respond by developing solutions that mix and merge data, increasing manual processes and compromising data accuracy.

Trusted and accurate HR information should come from a single database. This is the only way to enable time-critical reporting and analytics, and manage capability and costs in a timely manner.

The good news

It’s no surprise that 76% of HR professionals feel that their HR systems are letting them down.

The good news is that a small number of affordable integrated HRIS systems do exist. These systems have taken full advantage of modern web and development technologies such as Microsoft® .NET and C sharp. They deliver accurate, timely and trustworthy information from a single source. They are scalable and feature-rich; matching current business needs and meeting future growth.

When considering a new HRIS system, a little knowledge is a powerful thing. By understanding the journey that modern HR software providers have taken, you can ensure that their offering meets all of your business requirements.


(Survey source: Navigo Research – 4th Annual HR Technology Report)

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