Strategic HRSuccessfully completing the day-to-day, administrative tasks of the department is an integral part of HR. While important, these tasks are really just a support mechanism for the rest of the company. It is in the strategic arena where human resource or, more accurately, human capital management can really have an impact on the overall success of a business.

The HR professional who can hurdle the transition from administrative to strategic HR thinking will better serve his company’s employees, enhance his own professional reputation and provide far more value to the company.

Be Involved in the Big Picture – While it is important to fully grasp the fundamentals of HR encompassed by the administrative side, the real value of HCM only reveals itself when HR is integrated into the company’s overall strategic plan. Similarly, being the expert on the administrative aspects will make you the “go to” person on HCM matters, especially when they involve challenges and assignments that go beyond the merely administrative.

Understand the Needs of Your Colleagues – HR is often treated as an outsider or kept in a support role. HR can be so much more on a strategic level if you understand the needs of the other departments. You need to establish yourself and your department as a partner in the business and not just ancillary support. Start by asking the most important question, “How can HCM help each department fulfill its mission?”

Delegate the Administrative Details – Even a small or mid-sized company can benefit from the integration of HCM into their strategic plan. Unfortunately, these smaller companies do not always have the resources to accomplish the task. Consider outsourcing the administrative HR tasks to a professional employer organization so that your HCM team can focus on the more important strategic aspects.

Leverage Your Outside Contacts – There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are perfectly good solutions already present. Look for parallels in other industries. You might see a solution in an out of the way place. Similarly, trade associations may have answers or tools to help you implement the strategic view.

The Great Leap Forward
Making the transition from an administrative HR perspective to one with a strategic view can seem a Herculean task. Still, it is the most effective way to leverage your company’s most valuable asset, its people. Start by delegating the least strategic task like payroll to an automated HRIS or outsourcing the task completely. Next, attend as many strategic meetings as possible to determine where your efforts will most likely produce results. Lastly, take that great leap and integrate the HR strategy into the overall company one.

To read more about online HR software. download our complimentary white paper, Web-Based Online Open Enrollment: How a Paperless Process Saves Time, Eliminates Errors and Increases Employee Satisfaction


Elements of Human Capital Management

by Carolyn Sokol on August 22, 2014

HCMThe theory of Human Capital Management (HCM) tries to explain and process the role of human beings in the workplace.   However, there are limitations to the theory because people, in all the diversity of their traditions, talents, and treasures, often differ from what is expected of them. HCM would like to consider humans as assets, but this has several flaws:

  • You cannot count people as if they were physical assets. While the value of physical assets do appreciate or depreciate, you cannot accurately measure the appreciation or depreciation in people.
  • You cannot treat people as financial capital. Finding financial capital is harder than finding people.
  • You cannot identify people as capital assets the same way you list machines. Machines are useful in themselves when efficiency rules, however, people can innovate and adapt where quality is king.

The best practice of Human Capital Management steps up where it can – and where the nature of the work invites – to (1) manage the hiring of the right employees, (2) upgrade their skills, (3) utilize their knowledge to the fullest, (4) motivate performance, and (5) evaluate how they benefit the organization.

Human Capital Management includes the following:

  • Recruiting the best talent available
  • Developing career plans for employees
  • Coaching and mentoring employees
  • Motivating employees to deliver their best
  • Developing performance management strategies

Using HCM software to do the job

One bad hire can ruin the bunch. Today’s employers are long past the day when one body could simply replace another, when one pair of hands was as good as any other, and when all job seekers appeared the same. When hires are made soundly and intelligently, managers spend less time training and re-training. When an organization knows what it needs, Human Capital Management can recruit the right talent, suited and ready for the system. Orientation, then, moves beyond the static review of policies towards a dynamic introduction to the performance already underway.

  1. Human Capital Management software facilitates corporate communication vertically and horizontally. Senior management can access and monitor hiring needs and process. Employees can communicate with peers and teammates and track their training and performance. HCM software thereby reduces misunderstanding among interested functions and stakeholders.
  2. Training builds quality. Well-trained workers perform better than the untrained. Increasing skills and abilities of employees – at all levels – improves the performance and quality of their work. And, because HCM tracks skills, training, experience, and ability, it helps employees become self-sufficient, agile, and adaptable.
  3. HCM software tracks employee assessments and performance evaluations. It requires management’s full buy-in to regular, consistent, and constructive performance feedback. By making reporting systems available to leadership, they can monitor and value their workforce accomplishments, status, and needs.

Human Capital Management software is a tool that makes Human Capital Management more than theory. It pays respect to employees, clarifies what is expected of them, and raises the bar on their performance.

Strategic HMC
Human Capital Management systems become a strategic reality when they align human capital strategies with the business mission by providing, integrating, and reporting the data required for the planning, analysis, and management of human capital assets.

To compare HCM software systems try our Quick Product Search Tool.


HRIS: Technology and Organizational Complexity

by Carolyn Sokol on August 14, 2014

HR technologyGoogle “office automation,” dates back to the 70s and 80s. Before the vocabulary switched to “chips” and “processors,” futurists predicted a world of technology created leisure. The assumption was that, once you made work faster, it would become easier. Noted human resources technology expert Naomi Bloom describes this as extrapolative thinking.

Technology must do more than expedite work.

However, there is no evidence that office technology has fundamentally eased labor, quickened work, or improved productivity. For example, despite the fact that human resources technology makes information instantaneously accessible, the workload may have actually increased because human resources personnel are now multi-tasked and salaried exempt. The value of HRIS does not lie only in its ability to expedite work.

You see, the evolution the futurists predicted as occurring on a straight line has happened in the context of other forces operating synergistically and independently. So much has happened – socially, economically, and managerially – during this 20 to 30-year evolution that technology meant to promise simplicity presents itself as complexity.

It’s all in how you use it

The true value of HRIS lies in how it is strategically implemented and utilized. To paraphrase Naomi Bloom:

  1. Would a business benefit from doing the work of Human Resources within the organization or buying the results from a third party?
  2. What are the best mechanisms, sources, terms, and conditions for purchasing the same work done by a third party?

The value of HRIS technology lies not in what it can do so much as in how you use it. In the face of complexity, writes John Hagel III, “we need to expand our focus on innovation beyond the narrow frame of technology and product innovation. If we are to successfully adapt to the escalating complexity of our environment, we need to invest time and energy in exploring institutional innovation [across the organizational silos].”

Strategically used, Human Resources technology – in its management of information, talent, human capital, and performance – can be the central key to managing and exploiting the new and always evolving complexity. And, to play that role, HRIS must contribute to the often unarticulated shift in management culture. It can and must contribute to institutional innovation on a sustaining basis:

  • Organizations must decentralize by deferring power and authority to employees. This innovation requires the ability of the organization to view people as performance assets, human capital able to expand growth instead of as a labor burden meant to be eliminated.
  • Lifelong learning needs to be put in place, designed and measured to influence aligned performance outcomes, it requires tracking, communication, and facilitation.
  • Core strengths must drive all organizational behaviors, so the key performance metric for HR technology lies in its ability to free management to focus on the institutional innovation that matters.
  • As business economies and operation processes become socialized and collaborative, the Human Resources technology must facilitate  support to the institutional innovation dynamic.
  • Human Resources management must dump the traditional models that may have defined and proscribed its clerical behavior for ages.

Grooming HR professionals for institutional innovation

Bill Roberts wrote in SHRM Magazine (2008), “The heart of the HR teaching profession is in the right place, but most professors do not have the knowledge to teach the courses [in HRIS]. Like the HR profession, the HR academic profession has historically attracted people with varying degrees of technophobia.”

Accepting this as a given demands a new focus on the academic and practical preparation of Human Resources personnel.

  • Community college experience can prepare entry-level candidates with a thorough background in the core Human Resources issues of compliance and risk management.
  • Human Resources Bachelor’s programs should deepen that core knowledge and expand it with practicums in interviewing, crisis management, and problem solving. The academic discipline should be standardized and reflect input from professional standard-bearers such as SHRM.
  • Disciplines, such as organizational development, knowledge management, training & development, performance management, strategic HR management, and more, require graduate education that focuses on the discipline as a career path beyond Human Resources generalist positions.
  • The assessment and implementation of HRIS and related HR technology will be best served by laser-focused training offered by providers.

Only after HR end-users are trained and experts in technology (systems and operation as well as utilization and potential) will those users be able to find time and resources to contribute to strategic solutions in organization complexity.


Workers’ Comp and Your HRIS Software

by Carolyn Sokol on August 6, 2014

Workers' compensation riskThe premium rate for a business’s workers’ compensation insurance starts with a base count of employees. A business must make a correct classification of itself according to definitions determined by the National Council of Compensation Insurance (NCCI) or the respective State Rating Bureau. If classified incorrect its rating may cause over or under rating the employer’s risk.

Employees are further classified by the type of work they do in their respective workplace. For example, a driver is classified according to his/her job functions, but that classification is also categorized by the risk of the industry sector. A driver employed by an armored car service is at different risk than a driver for a retail store.

Getting these classifications right and keeping them current is vital to managing your business workers’ compensation insurance premium rate.

HRIS Reliability

An HRIS program brings credibility and accuracy to your payroll audits. But, it is only as infallible as your input and updates. Make sure to accurately update the following:

  • Complete a correct and current list of employees on staff.
  • Identify employees as regular, probationary, temporary, full-time, part-time, and exempt or non-exempt.
  • Locate or prepare job analyses and descriptions for all work positions.
  • Identify the minimum number of hours required of workers to be considered full-time.
  • Determine how accurately your business has classified employees as exempt.
  • Confirm that independent contractors are clearly assigned.

Your HRIS software will be an enormous help in sorting, storing, and reporting the data auditors want to see.

Schedule HRIS Audits

Still, HRIS can only process that data provided. It is not enough to have confidence in your installation data because there will always be changes: turnover, transfers, reassignments, and promotions. Your HRIS program’s value is a function of the regular reviews you schedule and maintain. It is prudent to review the following:

  • Enter employee changes accurately and consistently with HRIS implementation directions.
  • Train employees involved with HRIS interface in the need for accuracy and audits.
  • Plan a quarterly desk audit of HRIS performance. (A desk audit can be a simple review of paperwork and a comparison to the software reports.)
  • Review your HRIS job classification reports together with your workers’ compensation insurance broker well before soliciting your insurance premium rate.

A good HRIS program can give you a false confidence in its outputs. There is a risk that you will think the quality is self-perpetuating. However, getting your workers’ comp rate right from the start and keeping it right is your job. Don’t allow there to be any costly oversight.


6 Questions that divide HR and HRIS

by Carolyn Sokol on August 1, 2014

HR and HRIS working togetherThe evolution of technology will determine the future of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). With no lid on the potential of technology, it is difficult – even for our imagination – to see beyond a near future. Picturing the Human Resources function in that future presents a disconnect we may not be near solving.

The technologist sees a future without limit, information technology smart enough to eliminate human intervention. Human Resources professionals anticipate technology that takes on enough of their routine to let them reimagine their role. These visions do not integrate fully.

1.  What Does “Management” Mean?
“Management” means different things from the different perspectives. “Management” means processing, handling, wrangling, corralling, analyzing, and administrating – functions Information Technology manages very efficiently. For the technologist, management is a project.

Human Resources traditions value HRIS because it assumes all those tasks. That way Human Resources management can counsel, protect, and advocate in the interests of risk management and talent development. These perspectives do not integrate without effort. For the HR professional, “management” is a service.

2.  What Happens to Authority?
As HRIS technology enables employee participation, it reduces the employees’ social interaction with HR. For the engineer, that equals labor efficiency. For HR professionals, that relief threatens their larger role as adviser. Relieved from the administrative tasks, they struggle to fill the gap with relevant work.

Until HR professionals articulate and promote a new stakeholder value, they lose perceived value and respect to technology that empowers virtual work, engages contemporary employees, and communicates values-added. HR loses personal authority as the HRIS interface forms its own social connection.

3.  What Happens to HR’s Self-Perception?
Originally configured and sold as data processing, HRIS has evolved in terms of speed, scope, and depth of databases and mining efficiency. HRIS vendors speak for their technologists’ worldview. They promote and drive design that emphasizes data entry, transaction processing, and information integration. This is what the business does, and the vendors report those “needs to improve.”

This devalues HR’s perception of its profession. By and large, HR professionals have not trained or studied to fully understand HR technology or its potential. They are not fully equipped to shop critically and/or direct the level of integration and predictive analytics they desire. Without that ability, they are at the mercy of the stakeholders who make efficiency a primary value.

4.  What Does Total Access Mean?
Software engineering is a linear experience. Even the integration of systems is perceived in straight-line terms. “Information” happens where data intersects. This logic lets technology take over best practices, on-boarding policy, and risk management information.

Human Resources personnel see human systems as dynamic and organic, subtle and unpredictable – all qualities that defy reduction. They struggle to see themselves excluded from training and development, employee performance assessment, and benefits counseling. While the HR professionals may value the ability to access all systems 24/7, they also surrender power to the employees’ mobile access.

5.  What Value Lies in Reporting Capabilities?
Information designers build infinite reports into their systems. They promote reports of all sizes and complexity as a sales feature. It grows out of their process orientation. They anticipate all reporting interests for all possible stakeholders.

The abundance of reports and reporting capabilities can overwhelm HR professionals. Report management is already a full-time position worth delegating to a specialist. HR leadership has to configure its role as one that uses these reports to support corporate goals.

6.  What is the Solution?
Legacy Human Resources has had a way of finding itself in time. HR professionals tend to confuse this with an evolution in their role when it is adaptation at best. The HRIS writers, on the other hand, think they can build future into their systems when this is scalability at best. This puts them somewhat at odds from the beginning.

Any solution lies in integrating their visions. But, it lies somewhere before the roles are set. These views need the occasion where they become mutually dependent. They need the opportunity to share their needs and designs. At the core level, they should enjoy and embrace the shared responsibility.

To find the HRIS/HRMS solution that best matches your business needs, start your search with our HR Software Selection Tool.


8 Steps to a Successful HRIS Installation

by Carolyn Sokol on July 25, 2014

Install softwareA Human Resources Information System (HRIS) can not (or should not) be installed without a plan. The plan should precede any commitment to purchase because the implementation process should be well understood.  After all, anything involving technology occurs under pressures, factors, and conditions that are fluid and potentially counter-productive. While the benefits of an HRIS outweigh the concerns, a successful HRIS installation requires attention, strategic planning, and these eight steps.

The Timeline

Your business timeline may not be the same as the provider’s schedule. The provider will focus on undraping the system, plugging it in, running tests, and troubleshooting. The vendor will usually put six to eight weeks on the calendar. Duration is partly a function of data volume and training required.

However, your HR calendar is more complex because people do not roll out on a level playing field. That same six to eight weeks could overlap with behavioral calendars. There are necessary considerations for vacation season, open benefits enrollment, performance assessment cycles, social calendars, and any number of distractions not felt by the provider.

All these schedules must link with decision-making, team-formation, advance communication, installation, and employee training and acceptance. In other words, you will need to be  cognizant of the timeline of installation when deciding to adopt an HRIS.  Once you have purchased an HRIS, installation can begin.

The Installation

  1. Audit: The HRIS provider will direct a business process audit to 1) align processes that integrate easily, 2) revise processes that require adaptation, and 3) replace processes needing it. This discovery process directs and enables team appointments and strategy. Discovery does not proceed without setting a schedule of goals, processes, and sub-processes.
  2. Teams: Teams must reflect the employee needs as well as corporate and vendor interests. Human Resources concerns and IT interests are not exclusive here. While IT should drive the project management, HR needs are not typical of the data functions IT usually serves. The project management focus must remain on integration more than data management.
  3. Installation: Human Resources must stay away from installation. It is the work of Information Technology leadership or outsourced consultants. Inclusion of in-house IT staff and/or HR liaison specialists engages them early in the process.
  4. Conversion: The installation is all about conversion – taking existing data and reconfiguring it to new ends. But, it is also about doing it seamlessly. It is about recognizing that there is archived data, current data, new data, and future data. The conversion takes the static and makes it dynamic and scalable.
  5. Testing: Installation leads to redundant testing and troubleshooting to identify failure, weakness, and remedy. Done right, it will enable continuing self-evaluation and re-configuration.
  6. Training: It is a huge mistake to limit training to HR staff. HR staff need to know operation, liaison, and the core aspects of the system and its operation. However, they are not the end-users. All silo interests have strong interests: finance, operations, purchasing, etc. And, rank and file employees need more than instruction on operation of the system. Allowing employees the feedback and some control over their daily records is a cultural innovation that needs communication, training, and maintenance.
  7. Opening Day: HRIS is a “go” on this day. Measure ROI from opening day forward.
  8. Review: At an agreed upon date, employer and provider will review the system’s performance and manner of use. The review may eliminate functions that appear superfluous in light of the usage, highlight areas of poor performance, or identify training needs.

The Lesson

The purchase and installation of HRIS is a long way from slipping a disc into your laptop. This is not downloadable software. It is a commitment of time, system, and money. Its performance will succeed once you have formed and shared clear expectations.

HRIS providers are ready to install, and most are ready to complete the installation as partners respecting your interests and quality concerns. It is in their interest that installation succeeds, but it is your management duty to run the show.

For more information on selecting an HRIS system, download our free comprehensive Buyer’s Guide.


5 Key Reasons Why HR Underperforms

by Carolyn Sokol on July 15, 2014

poor career pathHuman Resources and talent management programs are under-performing or barely getting by in 92% of 2,532 businesses surveyed by Deloite and reported in HR Magazine (May 2014). Some 43% admit they do not provide the training to HR, and 47% rate their own businesses low at preparing HR to deliver solutions aligned with business needs.

How did we get here?
There is no use asking, “How did we get here?” The situation is what it is, and it has been the situation since the Human Resources function was created. Whether organizations can find the wherewithal to solve the problem or even enter a productive dialog on solutions for re-skilling HR remains an open question. The problem reflects a number of conditions, below are the 5 key reasons why HR underperforms.

  1. Hiring – People fall into Human Resources. Clerks are hired for their seriousness of purpose and work ethic. They are often found in other departments and transferred for their detail in clerical work and in working with data. They may be vetted, but recruits are not checked for experience and talent that might be predictive.
  2. Education – Even though most community colleges and many vo-tech schools offer courses, certificates, and degrees in HR studies, there is no evidence that businesses staff with this aligned education. HR managers and officers may come to the table with college degrees; those degrees are rich with compliance and theory but usually short on practical application and experience. And, they are as lacking in leadership and management training as other hires to management.
  3. Purpose – HR continues to attract people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Genuinely motivated, they consider HR to be an agent of change and an advocate of employee concerns. This focus on the high road often distracts them, undercuts their effectiveness, and complicates corporate intentions. HR may provide value as an ombudsperson and master of conflict resolution, but it is presumptions to position itself as the conscience of the company.
  4. Task – Human Resources management finds too much pleasure in multi-tasking. They like the variety and constant flux in the duties. However, this is actually an abrogation of management leadership. There is no future in being all things to all people. Leaders should organize, delegate, and direct tasks.
  5. Support – What the business expects of HR and what HR expects of itself has much to do with the support the business leadership is willing to provide. If, as is most often the case, the corporation sees Human Resources as a necessary evil, prophylactic in purpose and practice, it will make no investment in building an HR bench or effort to align it with other business goals.

HR continues to fill the business needs it always has. However, without a more holistic approach to building and sustaining Human Resources, HR will continue to underperform and barely get by unless businesses address these 5 key areas.

You may want to download our white paper compliments of Lawson, Four Universal HR Needs… and How Real Organizations Have Satisfied Them

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HRIS: the Keys to Employee Engagement

by Carolyn Sokol on July 8, 2014

employee engagementEmployee engagement is reason enough to invite human resources technology into your arena. All the benefits of HRIS that might save you from administrative time and workload take a back seat. Efficiency and cost effectiveness are management concerns. Employee engagement makes it work and makes even better business sense.

Employees of all ages have always wanted a voice in organizational operations. And, every employee under 50 expects an active and involved role. Data and digital systems allow them a real and virtual sense of engagement. When their engagement takes things off Human Resources management’s plate, employee productivity soars.
Interaction and collaboration
A central element of HRIS technology invites interaction and collaboration. The tools replace an element of word-of-mouth and gossip among workers with easily operated interface operations. The technology offers ownership, one less thing to complain about, and a sense of accountability. Technology encourages participation, decision-making, and feedback opportunities.

No need to worry
Human Resources Information System (HRIS) technology works best when:

  • Employees have a comfort level with computers and entry into the technology. Chances are, if they have a smartphone, most employees can manage access, comprehension, navigation, and entry. If they participate in social media, employees know the universe.
  • Employees deserve a chance to provide input on what they want to see, how they want to work with it, and where to access the system. The HRIS technology concept serves HR management’s needs, but it may die in place without willing participation. HR management needs to know its needs are not necessarily the employee’s needs.
  • Employees and systems need a trial run. Implementation is not just a plug-in and turn-on. HRIS implementation must be open to a period of employment involvement, assessment, and feedback. Any final implementation should include and reflect employee input.
  • Employees will expect, welcome, and follow any lead management provides in terms of enthusiasm, communication, and direction. If they recognize features and changes reflecting their input, they will engage and participate. Once they secure confidence in the ability to “own” the system, they will champion the technology.

Open the world
HRIS changes the modus operandi of the human resources office. It means more than moving desks and reassigning people. It is a system and function-wide change. And, if the department does not make that a full and apparent commitment, the HRIS plan can easily fail.  Engagement starts outside the department’s doors.

  • Access requires convenient kiosk portals and internet portals. Sharing is important for the HRIS operation and employee engagement. Access must assure security and confidentiality, and it is key to the operational and cultural success.
  • Self-service ability creates engagement and the accountability that follows. Individual platforms like laptops and smartphones enable the self-service, however create problems of their own. It takes internal IS input as well as that of your HRIS vendor to assure the feasibility and security of systems that enable self-service but guarantee employee and corporate security.
  • HRIS make corporate communication easy and effective. The same access that the employees find interesting gives them contact with personnel policies and procedures, corporate news, employee forums, and internal and external communities. It replaces newsletters and runs interference with rumors.

Employee engagement may be the primary motive to find and design your HRIS future. While you may focus on selling your executive decision makers on the reduced administrative overhead, sophisticated reporting, and cost-effectiveness, you might spend more time on finding and pricing the value in the consequent employee engagement.

Read more for tips on determining whether your company actually needs an employee self service (ESS) system.

You may also be interested in downloading our latest white paper, Web-Based Online Open Enrollment: How a Paperless Process Saves Time, Eliminates Errors and Increases Employee Satisfaction

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Big DataFor all the talk from vendors and technology providers, the big discussion at SHRM was not on Big Data. The much talked about topic, and most likely the darling of venture capitalists investing in firms that purport to be about Big Data, is still early on in its adoption.

First off, lets start with a definition from an article on Forbes from last year:

“Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.”

Great, now that we know what it is – but why is it important to HR? Think about a time, when you can identify talent and future leaders within your organization by leveraging metrics – not just from your HCM/HRIS solution, or succession planning tools – but from a ton of other sources. For example, using information from your CRM, including sales/quota attainment, activity levels, performance management information (including 360 degree feedback) then add in social media utilization (linkedin, and additional industry social media sources), and sprinkle that in with customer/prospect surveys and you have data that is now information. This information can help you identify your next great sales person, or the sales person that will be the most successful.

You can use this to identify individuals that will be successful, and encourage your ‘B’ players to move up to ‘A’ players using coaching, training techniques. In the movie ‘Money Ball’, Billy Beane used data to build a complete ball team – likewise you can build a complete sales team. This is just one example.

Still not convinced? You should be because if you build a Big Data solution, you will be a step ahead of the competition. Albeit, your competition is trying to do it today, the fact is that vision is not always reality. And that’s why I believe this conference is not about Big Data this year – its about real solutions that are more near term, including employee engagement, compliance (when is is not an HR concern), and definitely culture.

For those of you that are somewhat hip, you can also search #SHRM14 on Twitter, (yes, it was trending) to follow what else people are saying about the conference.

This post contributed by Anthony Kelly.


HRIS Certification – What’s it Worth to You?

by Carolyn Sokol on June 20, 2014

HRIP CertificationAs human resources information systems (HRIS) increasingly dominate HR offices, managers want confidence in a qualified support staff. An emerging HR office structure includes an HRIS Specialist. These administrators can build their resume with an HRIS Certificate. And, their employers can trust their HRIS administration to credentialed specialists. What needs this HRIS Certificate serves may or may not add value to your HR operation.

The legacy HR office

Back when things were old school, legacy human resources often gave HRIS responsibility to a senior clerk, someone having talent just short of a dedicated Payroll Administrator. That Senior HR Clerk usually transitioned to HR Specialist, a largely administrative function providing the systems, entry, and database interface with the HRIS provider.

The Specialist sustained a working relationship with the provider’s liaison or account support. These parties interacted to report and solve problems, seek and implement solutions, and identify and rectify errors.

The HRIS office today

Typically, the HR Specialist has been appointed because of some seniority, knowledge of basic HR rules and regulations, and respect for employer needs and employee confidentiality. However, the nature of the technology and the accountability for outcomes has evolved rapidly with the advances in technology. The needs and expectations demand a new level of education.

Many human resources office personnel pursue continuing education at community colleges, online schools, and for-profit universities. However, each venue presents hurdles in terms of cost or convenience that can discourage many HR employees. Some progressive employers sponsor participation in workshops, training seminars, and programs offered through local professional organizations. But, to my knowledge, there is still only one program offering Certification in HRIS studies.

The HRIP Certification program

The International Association of Human Resources Information Management (IHRIM) has created the only recognized certification program in human resources information systems provided through the Human Resources Information Program (HRIP). The program boasts that participants will “cover all aspects of HRIM/HRIS, including the latest trends and best practices.”

  • The HRIP Certification exam assesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities of staff in HR information management.
  • The studies expand knowledge and understanding of HRIM and HRIS technology, functions, trends, and best practices.
  • Three delivery systems match testing opportunities with participant needs: convenient testing centers, proctored exams at local sites, and hosted testing at HR industry events.

To be specific, the Human Resources Information Professional (HRIP) Certificate is awarded for three years to candidates passing its examination. To continue the certificate beyond three years, the HR professional must re-certify with proof of 60 credit hours of continuing education.


There is no prescribed set of courses for the HRIP Certificate. However, there are some conditions worth attention:

  1. The best candidates have five years of experience in working with human resources technology solutions or information management.
  2. IHRIM offers courses to complete re-certification requirements, but the courses and webinars can also help prepare for the HRIP exam.
  3. HRIP offers exam preparation at rates discounted for IHRIM members.

HRIP has no specific curriculum, but it does offer a blueprint of preferred areas of expertise:

                                Study Domain                                          % of Certification Exam

Technology Strategy and Solutions Assessment                                           15%
HR Technology and Business Processes                                                        30%
Systems Selection, Implementation, and Upgrades                                    30%
HR Systems Operations                                                                                     25%

Total                                                                                                              100%

Education partnersHRIP Approved

IHRIM has partnered with several HRIS vendors to provide their Approved Education Provider Program of courses, seminars, webinars, and conferences. This alliance allows participants to meet the courses requirements for re-certification.

Approved providers include ADP, Kronos, WorkForce, and other leading HRIS vendors. Courses offered by and other human resources professional membership associations may prepare candidates for certification, but their credits may not be directly applicable.

Open questions

The need for HRIS education may exceed the ability for employers to provide the training or improve the competencies of employees assigned to HRIS duties. We remain interested in reader views on the need for certification, the fitness of the IHRIM certificate program, and the cost effectiveness of such training.

Your feedback is encouraged and appreciated, and we invite you to follow our continuing interest in HRIS education. In brief, what is HRIS certification worth to your human resources operation?

On another note… SHRM has just announced the long-awaited evolution of its standard-setting SHRM Learning Systems into newly reconfigured certifications as a SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) or a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). We will be learning more about these certifications along with seeing all of our HRIS partners next week at SHRM14 in Orlando!


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