May 30, 2024

About the Book


A human resources management system (HRMS) is more than a human resources information system (HRIS). It is what the name implies; an information management system accessible to staff at all levels, designed to ensure that the organization's most important resources, it's people are recruited, selected, developed, employed, deployed, and supported most effectively.

Texts on human resources information systems commonly focus on developing and implementing systems that gather, store, and report human resources data in a timely fashion, in forms that are useful to human resources personnel, line management, and other users. In writing this book, we have attempted to go further than this, by focusing as well on the uses of an HRMS as a critical management tool.

This book is designed to reach a diverse audience, including:

  1. post-secondary school students taking a general HRMS course;
  2. human resources and/or payroll managers and functional specialists who want to know more about what an HRMS can do, or who are involved with, or contemplating the development of a new HRMS;
  3. information systems professionals who will be working on an HRMS project and want to learn more about the business and user perspective on such systems;
  4. executives and general managers who understand that their human resources are their most important resource and are looking to the strategic and pragmatic value of an HRMS in terms of helping them manage their human resources.

The content of HRM Systems: A Practical Approach is based on advancements in the professional literature, together with the authors' combined first-hand experience in developing, implementing, and using numerous human resources management systems in private and public sector organizations. The perspectives of human resources, payroll, operations, human resources information specialists, and management systems specialists are all addressed, as are the different issues facing small, medium, and large organizations.

The text begins with the history of HRMS. Chapter 2 the "Need for an Effective HRMS," discusses the typical reasons why organizations begin a search for an HRMS. Using examples, Chapter 3,  "Return on Investment," explores the value that an HRMS can add to an organization's efficiency and effectiveness. These two chapters together provide a framework by which practitioners can develop their own business cases for an HRMS.

Chapter 4, "Planning a New HRMS," outlines the planning processes to be considered in researching the requirements of a new HRMS, with emphasis on the importance of a complete, realistic, and documented plan. An experienced human resources practitioner should be able to use the processes outlined to arrive at an HRMS plan. At the beginning of an HRMS development project, those responsible are generally faced with the decision of whether to upgrade the existing system, to build a new one from scratch, or to buy one.

Chapter 5, "Designing and Developing a New HRMS," describes the steps involved in building (designing/developing) a system in-house, or in adapting existing commercial software packages to meet the needs of the organization. The strengths and weaknesses of each approach are discussed. There are currently many sophisticated, reasonably priced HRMSs on the market. Consequently, most organizations find it more cost-effective to buy a new HRMS "off the shelf." This chapter therefore also outlines the steps involved in identifying the best software packages, including preparing requests for proposals, short-listing proposals, how to approach systems demonstrations, hidden issues surrounding the decision, and the final choice. Chapter 5 also discusses what is required to prepare a feasibility report and a business case to present the options, arguments, and recommendations so that an informed decision may be made. Many organizations have existing manual, semi-automated, or automated processes and systems in place. This chapter examines how to determine whether opportunities exist to better use or improve on those systems and processes and, thus, avoid the expense of buying or building a new HRMS.

The many issues involved with implementing an HRMS are discussed in Chapter 6. We believe that most texts do not give adequate attention to this important subject.

Once implemented, an HRMS must be maintained, or it, and the information the system contains, will soon become out-of-date. Chapter 7, "Maintaining the HRMS," discusses the ongoing requirements of an information system's maintenance, as well as who should be involved. The "users," whoever they may be, must be schooled in both the concept and operation of an HRMS to fully and successfully integrate it into their everyday work.

Continuous systems testing is required in the development, implementation, and operation of an HRMS. It is better to test and retest rather than to allow errors to go unidentified and uncorrected, resulting in a lack of confidence that would take much longer to correct than any testing process.

Without giving users the ability to generate information, an HRMS is simply a bucket for data, and data are not necessarily information. This chapter points out that on-line and hard-copy reports, graphics, and analysis, are the keys for successful system use. Adapting the HRMS to new legal requirements, changing business needs, turnover in personnel, and new technology is a challenge requiring continuous improvement. A successful HRMS will never be "finished": it must be flexible enough to grow and change with the needs of the organization. Included is a discussion of who should do what, when an HRMS is "live."

Using actual examples drawn from the authors' experience, Chapters 8 through 13 describe how an effective HRMS can be used to further the work of the core human resources functions. Chapter 14, "Trends in HRMS," discusses the impact that the ever increasing technological and organizational change is having on HRMSs, as well as how this technology may be used to support the human resources function, and in turn, the larger organization which the human resources function supports.

The authors would like to thank Barbara Rampton, who served as our lay critic and helped to edit the book, and Laurie Murray, who provided insightful feedback on early chapters.

Thanks as well to the anonymous reviewers who provided extremely useful feedback on early chapters of the book.

We would like to offer a special tribute to our many friends in IHRIM (formerly CHRSP/HRSP), who daily contribute to our knowledge and make this business fun to work in.

Glenn Rampton would like to thank Barbara and Sherene for all the sacrifices that they made while he was preoccupied with this project.

Ian Turnbull would like to thank his wife Susan for her continued loving support, his daughters Katherine and Elizabeth for their forbearance, his parents for giving him the love of the pursuit of knowledge, and Bob Grose, who was his mentor in HRM.

Al Doran would like to dedicate this work to his children, Wendy and Michael, who make it all worthwhile. He would also like to thank his co-authors for their patience, and Glenn for being his mentor in HRM and in life.

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