Planning for Implementation:
Read "Case Study: Vignette Revisited," and the section titled, “New Information for the Case:
Part 1,” from Chapter 3, Summary and Resources.
Describe the concerns you would discuss with the SVP of HR.
You realize the project is going to impact a lot of departments and people. Identify the
different customers who would be logical members of the implementation team and
Think through an HR process; describe the data you would want to collect.
Describe the pros and cons of investing in computer hardware and housing the network
internally or using a cloud based architecture. Why?
Support your claims with examples from required material and properly cite any references.
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Systems Considerations in the Design of a Human
Resource Information System
Planning for Implementation
Michael D. Bedell and Michael L. Canniff
This chapter covers the information necessary to understand the system development process for HRIS
in more depth in order to improve the design of the HRIS. As mentioned in Chapter 1 (ch0001.xlink.html)
, the system development process involves multiple stages from initial design to implementation and
evaluation. Failure to follow these steps or rushing through them will result in a poorly designed system
that will ultimately fail when it is implemented. Thus, this chapter begins to identify some of the
information that is critical for the eventual implementation and evaluation of an HRIS. The authors
start with a focus on the users of the system to help the system development and design process in its
beginning steps. The types of information about the users or customers of the HRIS, the sorting of HRIS
data into categories of human capital, and the main concepts of hardware and database security are
After completing this chapter, you should be able to
• Understand the different types of users or customers of the implemented HRIS and their
different data needs
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• Discuss the differences between the ive general hardware architectures that are presented,
from “dinosaur” to “cloud computing” to “bring your own device”
• Discuss, very generally, the main concepts of hardware and database security
• Discuss the “best of breed” approach to HRIS acquisition and the various options available for
each functional area of HR
• Develop an understanding of the general steps and factors that affect system implementation
• Understand the pros and cons of implementing a changeover from one software system to
HRIS IN ACTION
A billion-dollar retailer with 4,000+ stores inds that it cannot move fast enough to beat out the
competition. The organization’s senior management arrives at the conclusion that it would be
easier to achieve the strategic goals enumerated by the board of directors if the various
organizational functions would share information. Shared information would enable them to
develop and deploy new actions and tactics more quickly. The CEO and president have therefore
ordered the major functions to update their information systems immediately so that data sharing
is possible. The senior vice presidents (SVPs) of accounting and human resources immediately
conclude that the only solution is to decide jointly on an enterprise resource planning (ERP)
product. An ERP software application is a set of integrated database applications or modules that
carry out the most common business functions, including human resources, general ledger,
accounts payable, accounts receivable, order management, inventory control, and customer
relationship management (see www.erpsupersite.com (http://www.erpsupersite.com) ). To speed
the installation along, the SVPs decide on a rapid-implementation methodology that a company
down the street used. The goal is to have the new systems operational in nine months.
Shortly after this decision has been made, the SVP of HR calls you into his of ice and tells you
that you will be management sponsor for this project. You have to decide on everything. You sit
back in your nice of ice and think:
What’s the problem with this scenario? It shouldn’t be dif icult to select a vendor and then
borrow the methodology from down the street. It worked for them; it should work for us! We’ll call
a few vendors in the morning and ind out about cost, time frame, and implementation methods. In
the meantime, I should ind out a little more about how to do this and who will be using the ERP. I
remember from my information systems class in college that this is a reasonable irst step when it
comes to buying software.
What do you think your response would be to this inquiry? As you go through this chapter’s
material, keep this vignette in mind, and see if your answer changes.
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Successful implementation is the central goal of every HRIS project, and it begins with a comprehensive
design for the system. As the steps in the system development process are covered in this chapter, the
foundation knowledge that is critical to the implementation process will be emphasized. Only by
understanding the users/customers of the HRIS, the technical possibilities, the software solution
parameters, and the systems implementation process can we increase the probability that the
completed software installation will adequately meet the needs of the human resource management
(HRM) (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Kavanagh.5623.17.1/sections/nav_140#glo114) function
and the organization. The chapter will begin by identifying the potential users and the kind of
information that the HRIS will be managing and storing to facilitate decision making. The chapter will
next discuss the technical infrastructure, how the technical infrastructure has evolved, and the many
choices that the organization must make. After the technology is discussed, the systems
implementation process will be presented.
Those who have participated in a system implementation will tell you that success is the result of
careful planning, a dedicated team, top-management support, and an awareness of potential pitfalls.
These same people will also tell you that the implementation process provides a host of opportunities
to reengineer and systematically improve nonsoftware processes to re lect best practices in HRM.
These opportunities should not be ignored, as they can bene it the organization as much as
implementing the software will. Finally, the implementation team (http://content.thuzelearning.com
/books/Kavanagh.5623.17.1/sections/nav_140#glo119) members will tell you that getting the system up
and running was the most intense six months, year, or two years of their work life but that they learned
a lot and every moment of the experience was worth the time.
There are four things that should be remembered throughout the chapter:
1. It is important to keep in mind the customer of the data, the process, and the decisions that
will be made.
2. Everything about HRM is a system of processes designed to support the achievement of
strategic organizational goals. The HRIS, in turn, supports and helps manage these HR
3. An HRIS implementation done poorly will result in an HRIS that fails to meet the needs of
the HR function.
4. Successful implementation requires careful attention to every step in the system design
process. However, done well, the implementation process is full of opportunities to improve
the organization and processes. More consistent processes will contribute to enhanced
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3.1 HRIS Customers/Users: Data Importance
Individuals who will be using the HRIS can be split into two general groups: employees and
nonemployees. The employee category includes
• managers who rely on the HRIS and the data analyzed by the analyst or power user to make
• analysts or power users who use the HRIS to evaluate potential decision choices and
• technical staff who are responsible for providing a system that is usable and up to date for
each user, or clerical employees who largely engage in data entry; and
• employees who use the HRIS on a self-service basis to obtain personal information, for
example, to look up paycheck information, to make choices about bene its during open
enrollment, or to see how much vacation time they have available.
The nonemployee group includes potential employees, suppliers, and partners. Potential employees are
those who might log in via a Web portal to search for and apply for a position. Suppliers and partners
are organizations that interface with the HR function for a variety of purposes, from recruiting to
bene its administration and payroll.
The managers referred to within this section may have a variety of titles: manager, director, vice
president, and even CEO. What they all have in common is that their primary HRIS need is to have realtime access to accurate data that facilitate decision making with regard to their people (Miller, 1998).
The HRIS provides the manager with data for performance management, recruiting and retention, team
management, project management, and employee development (Fein, 2001). The HRIS must also
provide the information necessary to help the functional manager make decisions that will contribute
to the achievement of the unit’s strategic goals and objectives (Hendrickson, 2003). Easy access to
accurate employee data enables the manager for each employee to view and engage in employee life
cycle changes such as salary decisions, job requisitions, hiring, disciplinary action, promotions, and
training program enrollment (Walker, 2001; Zampetti & Adamson, 2001).
Many HRIS products provide real-time reporting and screen-based historical information that can
provide managers with information about their employees or their functional units. There are also
several third-party software products available that provide managers with almost continuous data
about the status of their unit and the organization—much as a dashboard on a car provides immediate
information. The analysis of more complex situations is beyond the capabilities of many of these
reporting and query tools. To facilitate decision making on complex issues, the manager, before making
a decision, usually relies on the analyst or power user to complete some type of analysis.
Analysts (Power Users)
The analysts or power users is perhaps the most demanding user of the HRIS. The primary role of the
analyst is to acquire as much relevant data as possible, examine it, and provide reasonable alternatives
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with appropriate supporting information to facilitate the decision process of the manager. The analyst
is referred to as a power user because this person accesses more areas of the HRIS than almost any
other user. Analysts must be pro icient with reporting and query tools. Analysts must also understand
the process used to collect the data, how new data are veri ied, and how the HRIS and the employee life
cycle interact. They also need to understand the data de initions in terms of what data exist, the
structure of the data, and what data ields are up to date and complete. Some HRISs also provide tools
that the analyst can use to model scenarios or perform “what-if” analyses on questions of interest.
As an example, a recruiting analyst might be asked to provide a short list of potential internal
candidates for a position that opened in the marketing function of a large retailer. The potential
candidates’ characteristics of interest are queried and may include (1) when they were last promoted,
(2) whether they have engaged in continuous personal-skills development, (3) what their
undergraduate degrees were, and (4) whether they have ever expressed any interest in marketing. The
analyst would query appropriate tables and develop a list of internal candidates.
Another example might have the HR analyst completing an analysis of corporate headquarters turnover
to determine if a particular function or salary issue is the cause of the problem. This information would
be drawn from existing reports, ad hoc queries, and available salary information. Data could be
compiled into categories by salary, function, gender, or organizational level and examined to determine
if the cause of the turnover can be pinpointed and then countered.
Technicians (HRIS Experts)
Technicians (HRIS experts) straddle the boundary of two functions. Their role is to ensure that
appropriate HR staff members have all the access, information, and tools necessary to do their jobs.
HRIS experts do this by understanding what is needed from an HR-process standpoint and then
translating that into technical language, so the technical employees—programmers, database
administrators, and application administrators—know exactly what to do. When the technical staff is
planning to install the latest update and one of the results will be a change in functionality, the HRIS
expert must take what the technical staff provides and translate that into language HR users
understand, so as to indicate how processes and activities might change. For example, if an HR
professional required that a new report be generated every other Tuesday, the HRIS expert would learn
what data the report requires—perhaps mock the report up with the user—and then explain to the
technical people how to make sure that this report is automatically generated on the time schedule.
Much like power users, clerical employees also spend a signi icant portion of their day interacting
with the HRIS. The difference is one of depth. The clerical employee must understand the process
required to enter information into the HRIS and may also need to start the process or generate periodic
reports. While clerical staff members in the HR employment department do not generally provide input
about whether to hire an individual to a particular position, they bear considerable responsibility for
seeing that the new employee gets paid properly. Hiring a new employee requires that someone, for
example, a clerical employee, enter the appropriate information into the HRIS—such as the reporting
relationship of the new employee as well as his or her bene its, salary, and direct deposit information.
Organizational employees are essentially all the other employees throughout the organization who
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interact with the HRIS. These employees serve in roles such as bank teller, nurse, machinist,
salesperson, and accountant. These employees are not involved in human resources and are not likely
to make decisions with HR data, but they may utilize the HRIS to help manage their personal
information. Typically, all the employees in the organization may interface with the HRIS through a selfservice Web portal or secure employee kiosk, removing the necessity of an HR clerk or staff member
assisting with many routine HR record modi ications (Walker, 2001). Self-service capabilities
encourage employees to manage their personal HR pro iles with respect to a variety of functions, such
as bene it and retirement plan monitoring or computerized training, in addition to using HRIS-based
systems to complete numerous personnel forms (Adamson & Zampetti, 2001; Zampetti & Adamson,
2001). Typical self-service applications are accessible most of the day throughout the week. Employees
log on to the system, where their identity is authenticated and veri ied. Then appropriate change
options are offered to the employee based on certain parameters that control the areas where the
employee is allowed to make valid alterations to the HRIS—such as personnel data updates, job
postings, or desired training enrollments (Adamson & Zampetti, 2001; Zampetti & Adamson, 2001).
One fairly large inancial-services organization noted that self-service options signi icantly enabled
them to reduce the annual bene its open-enrollment process by reducing the paper documents
generated, reducing necessary mailings, and reducing the data that had to be read and entered into the
HRIS. Data entry time alone was reduced from six to two weeks (Bedell, 2003b).
It is estimated that 70% to 90% of large organizations use online recruitment, and that number
continues to increase (Stone, Lukaszewski, & Isenhour, 2005). Online recruiting tends to attract
individuals who are well educated, Internet savvy, and searching for higher-level positions (McManus &
Ferguson, 2003). Online recruitment also attracts people born since 1980, who have grown up with
computers and are therefore comfortable with obtaining information on the Internet (Zusman &
Landis, 2002). A successful recruitment website needs to be user-friendly and easy to navigate, while
attracting candidates to apply to an organization by clearly communicating the bene its of joining it.
Typical job seekers have little or no prior information about how to interface with the HRIS and have
had nearly zero training opportunities with it. Therefore, the recruiting portal needs to provide ease of
use and ease of access to up-to-date job information. The Web form that is used to collect applicant
data must also be reliably entered into the appropriate ields within the company’s HRIS database. This
online recruiting activity will facilitate searches for new employees to ill existing and future positions.
Sourcing Partner Organizations
The partner organizations to HR functions require certain information to complete their tasks.
Sourcing partner organizations (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Kavanagh.5623.17.1/sections
/nav_140#glo237) such as Monster.com (http://Monster.com) , Adecco, and most executive recruiting
irms require information about vacant positions, including a position description, job speci ications,
desired candidate competencies, potential salary range, and contact information. The information
provided is limited to speci ic searches for open jobs and is updated as needed.
Business partners that are the recipients of decisions to outsource portions of the HR function (e.g.,
bene it management irms) or that facilitate process completion on behalf of the employee (e.g., banks)
require information that is related to current employees. This requirement increases the need for
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accurate data, training, and specialized security assurances, as employee information is leaving the
As is evident in the previous sections, each customer or user of the HRIS has slightly different needs
with regard to what information he or she will be using. Some users simply input data and information,
a few simply look at data and information provided in the form of reports, while a few others analyze
the data and information to make decisions. What these users all have in common is that all the
information is about potential and current employees with a focus on managing the organization’s
human capital to improve decision making and help to achieve strategic organizational goals. Speci ic
data from the HRIS database it into three categories:
1. Information about people, such as biographical information and competencies (knowledge,
skills, abilities, and other factors)
2. Informa ...
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