Time clocks were the first HRIS tools. In the days when keypunch was the rule, you slipped a card into a clock that stamped it. Supervisors approved what they saw, and managers passed them up the line to payroll. It makes you wonder how they do payroll in a culture where the abacus still rules.
A Matter of Trust
Moreover, it was not just a matter of accuracy and charting; it was a matter of trust. As the technology improved, the data did not depend on supervisor approval; it challenged manipulation or revision and provided data universally across the operation.
HRIS programs introduced variations on, and sophisticated versions of, the time clock concept. Time cards were not necessary except as a tangible consolation to the employee, and they would disappear soon thereafter. A reporting mechanism, it sent data to payroll, usually in-house. It saved time and reduced challenges to the record. Vendors and users worked on keeping it secure.
The Analog Paradigm
The developers were a long while coming out of the abacus mode. They pretty much focused on processing, speed of processing, and managing multiple layers of reporting. They were still ruled by the analog paradigm – until the 1980’s.
To give you some perspective, this is the time of big names in computing, like Tandy, Compaq, Timex, and IBM. Pac-Man was state-of-the-art, and the worldwide web had no legs yet. So, gathering and processing remained the norm.
Once Enterprise Management Programs (ERP) realized there was trans-operational value in the data that Finance owned, the other divisions demanded a share in the info. HRIS software began as integrated systems that could collect, archive, analyze, and report information regarding the business’ personnel. Still thinking of employees as FTEs, the data remained a financial issue now available to management in real time to support their decision making regarding labor overhead.
HRIS Added Values
As HR professionals came to embrace the processing value of such software, the leaders among them saw the advantage of regaining some ownership in the progression by selling management on additional values in the processing:
- Compliance demands accurate and thorough reporting.
- Payroll supports compensation analysis and vice-versa.
- Applicant tracking supports talent management.
- Benefits management puts the ball in the employee’s court.
- Reporting manages performance and appraisal
- Recruitment and resume processing support compliance reporting.
- Team and project management analysis informs managers, training, and skills testing.
HRIS Restores Ownership to HR
Human Resources professionals are now educated into and assume the operation of some form of HRIS. HRIS now does things they never had to do and would not now know how to do. It has allowed them to manage human capital effectively in global situations and, most important, free themselves to develop skills and strengths in talent management and strategic HR. Quality HRIS software can reinvent the job, add value to the profession, and make HR important to the corporation.