HRIS i.e. The Information System for HR has done a great job of enabling information flow, processing and management in HR. However, they are still ISHR i.e. Primarily an Information System that happens to be in the HR domain and not an HR system that is enabled by technology. Time to move on.

There are many HRIS in the market. HRIS are also called HRMS (HR Management Systems), HCM (Human Capital Management) systems and so on. Some of them very mature and have been around for decades, then there are many that are small.


Most of them focus on making it easier for collection of information, sharing of information, processing of information and analysis of information on areas that are transactional in nature. They cover employee information, attendance and leave tracking, payroll and benefits administration, recruitment and onboarding. And some of them have modules on performance appraisals, training, succession planning and so on. What they do well is that they will process the information that is fed into the system. This is exactly the issue.

They bank on that the organization person’s HR or management’s capabilities and efforts to configure the system to ask the information that they should be asking. How would they know if the processes they are setting in the HRIS are in line with the best practices? How would they know if they are asking for the right information and are not missing out on them?

My submission is that intelligent systems are those that lead people and provide choices on the information to be sought, collected and processed. What this means is that the systems should be provided domain expertise, intelligence from the market and leading the organization to become better and better.

Let’s say for example,

Training – We all are aware that MOOCs are a very powerful tool for enabling learning. Companies can very well use them effectively to improve the skills of their employees in a very cost effective way. Now how many HRIS actually enables organizations to benefit from MOOCs by integrating the offerings of MOOCs as a channel of training for employees in the organization.

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Take another example,

Performance Appraisals – We could have two scenarios. One, the HRIS has the necessary technology features for information management. Now the parameters on which appraisal needs to be done is entered by HR (or someone playing or aiding that role). In the other scenario, the system gives the various parameters that are used for different kinds of roles (not just a generic list) from which they can choose the ones that is appropriate for their context. The second scenario will indeed be a great boon to the company. And this is where we need to move to.

This is surely the way to go for ISHR – transition to a truly HRIS. And one that will happen. And with that businesses will greatly benefit.

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Ramu heads up the It’s Your Skills team and enjoys being completely hands on with day-to-day operations. An engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology at BHU in Varanasi and with an MBA in HR from XLRI in Jamshedpur, his key objectives are conceptualizing and developing ideas for solutions, driving product development and business strategy. A creative and strategic thinker, Ramu has a rich and distinguished career with almost a quarter of century spent in senior management positions in the IT, FMCG and HR sectors.