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HRIS: An emerging issue of learning and implementing

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The journey of Human Resource Information System (HRIS) can be traced back in 1950's and 1960's when the first automated payroll system was introduced (Martinsons, 1997). Back then, with the increasing importance of IT applications in HR, the functioning of HR department has been undergoing a radical change in strategic HR decision making. During 1990's, extensive studies were undertaken on the advantages of the introducing HRIS in the organization and its influence on the overall human resource strategies and business planning. Now, it is not only confined into the administrative milieu rather shifted to as academic content so that future human resources can get a strong base of early learning.  
So, the concept 'HRIS' is a systematic, customized and integrated software solution designed for storing data and information about the human resources of the organization regarding the performance of the people, processes and key organizational strategies by automating key HR processes like employee profile, absence report, salary administration, recruitment, training, manpower planning, performance appraisal and job analysis & design.
 "HRIS is one of the benchmark HR practices in the today's corporate world. Beyond the cost controlling concept of traditional HRIS, now it is working on widespread and stratified information of HR along with the effective decision making motive."
Furthermore, the application of HRIS is vast but the scope of learning is so few in comparison to. So, it is the high time to compile the HRIS course in academic learning where some institutions are running this course for the stream of HRM major graduatesonly. Thus, the students can get the professional level application of HRM processes through the wide implication of HRIS at academic field and can also ensure the following competencies from the future HR leaders: Automated HR practices, which implies the ability to design and implement the strategic staffing, employee development, compensation and collective learning.
Adaptability of change management how to face the real challenges.
Fostering a climate of learning organization to flourish a vibrant value based corporate culture.
Providing a strong and complete background of HR information applying legal compliance.
Hence, it is one of the benchmark HR practices in the today's corporate world. Beyond the cost controlling concept of traditional HRIS, now it is working on widespread and stratified information of HR along with the effective decision making motive. There is a practical example of HRIS implementation; Christy Gigandet, senior HR partner at Sarnova Inc., a medical products company in Columbus,Ohio says that when Sarnova got doubled in size nearly 500 employees through mergers that they also had no HRIS. After implementing an HRIS tool from ADP called 'Workforce' to replace its paper-based system, they could be able to track the individual employee not only by the pay class but also with region, titles and categories. In Bangladesh, the importance of HRIS is being felt by the HR professionals and entrepreneurs.There is a large Bangladeshi local organization took HRIS software recently. The organization was a group of 13 SBUs (Strategic Business Units) where in total 4000 employees were employed from almost 50 locations across Bangladesh. So it was a challenge for the group HR to accommodate such diversity in job. Later while, to make processes faster, it was a business as well as a strategic decision for the company to cater all the HR processes in the software. In this regard, a team from both HR and IT decided to go for customized software considering cost, positive track record and goodwill in the market. Despite many challenges, the software was launched within six months since the gigantic work order was issued. Along with some required modification the company is satisfied with software considering the benefits they are getting from the software.
In a nutshell, HRIS offers distinctive advantages to the organizations by automating various functions of HRM:
HRIS as Enormous Information Bank:Now a days, severalcompanies have started integrating HRIS system to other HR systems such as payroll, leave, travel and expense, time and attendance, career planning, and skills inventory to store, retrieve, update, classify, and analyze data easily. The integrated system makes easy access to the information about all HR processes. Faster information processing with improved access to metrics helps to take more accurate and faster decision making and better HR planning.
HRIS as Cost Controlling Mechanism:Additionally, by using HR applications, a company can calculate the overall costs incurred per employee and its effects on the business as a whole (DeSanctis, 1986)where HR services became self-service rather than paper based transaction that resulted in more efficient HR department. some information systems allow automation of processes, such as payroll tax calculations, while others streamline processes by minimizing the need for manual data entry and paper records, thus increasing accuracy and efficiency.
HRIS as Strategic Partner:With the passage of time, there is a significant impact of HRIS on strategic human resource planning. Human resource information systems are electronic systems that compile information in databases to be easily accessed and analyzed. However, along with this huge information source, HRIS is playing as pivotal strategic tool though it shares crucial data with the management related HR practices for strategic decision making and aligned with the overall corporate strategy for realizing the organizational objectives of growth.
HRIS as an Effective Decision Making Tool: Initially, HRIS systems were only used as an information resource that allowed data input and storage capabilities but in the past decade, the focus of HRIS has shifted from an information system (Office Automation System) to a fully operative decision-analysis tool (Transaction Processing System, Decision Support System, and Communication System). Hence, the new forms of HRIS such as Employee Self Services (ESS) and Manager Services have provided the ability to employees and their managers to complete the HR-related transactions without the intervention of HR. This has significantly reduced the administrative burden from the HR. Thus, it helps to make effective decision making throughavailability of information on wide range, human resource analysis, quick reporting, forecasting and planning.
Moreover, HRIS is one of the modern HR tools that became popular since the beginning of this century. In Bangladesh, corporate organizations have started to implement HRIS around last 5 years. But still its implementation is limited within the big corporate houses. Small corporate houses and public organizations have failed to realize the benefits of HRIS and taken very few initiatives to implement the system. The major barrier to the success of HRIS is the lack of management commitment and efficient human resources as well. Furthermore, it is the demand of time to spread the learning and practicing the HRIS in the gigantic milieu of the competitive business world.
(Sabreya Khanom Zuma, Faculty, School of Business Studies, Southeast University. Email: sabreyajhuma@gmail.com)

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