HR software, sometimes referred to as Human Resources Information Software (or HRIS for short), is usually a web based application that allows users to access key information about themselves and other people in the organisation.

It has multiple purposes, but in essence it is designed to help organisations manage their people information and activities more effectively than if they didn’t have it.

These systems provide many theoretical benefits that more manual alternatives just don’t offer.  These include data security in a GDPR age, and convenience in terms of accessibility from any internet connected device anywhere in the world.

They also help key processes to be managed, such as the onboarding of new starters, the management of holiday allowances and a central communication portal for company information.

But what are the alternatives?

These days, software is everywhere.  It makes our smartphones work, our computers and even our washing machines!  But in businesses, whilst pretty much every business is using computers and a variety of software, there are a surprising number of businesses, particularly smaller ones that actually don’t have any people or HR software.  

Even uncomplex, small businesses need to keep basic people records and documents, and many of these by law.  And they need to do simple things like track absence & holiday entitlement, and evidence documents like ‘right to work’ permits and so on.

So if they are not using HR software to do it, then they will almost certainly be using spreadsheets and word documents, often in hard copy, and even random bits of paper.  Furthermore, we still meet companies who are trying to manage holidays using one of those traditional wall planners!

So the alternatives are actually not that compelling.  Many SMEs are using them out of habit, a fear of change, a cynicism with technology, or they simply are not aware of what’s out there in the market.

Technology now affords us many luxuries in the modern age, some of which we would all relate to.  Show me a teenager who doesn’t have a smart phone and doesn’t live on it 24/7!

So HR software is designed to make life easier for employees, and business owners.  Generally, HR software saves time and reduces frustrations amongst the workforce, as well as keeping an organisation and its data legal and safe.

What Choices are on the Market?

Like any competitive market, there are a few larger key players, and many more smaller ones to choose from.

A simple google search will provide an initial list and PDW Group’s own offering Immerse is a great place to start (don’t worry, we’ll try to stay impartial).

So you won’t be stuck for choice…

But it does depend on what is important to you and your organisation.  Pretty much all systems do the basics well enough, so if all you want is a simple secure system which provides a simple self service people record facility, with a document repository for policies, and not much more, then going for the cheapest is probably not a bad idea.

But after that it depends really on what features and functions you want most, and where you may have to compromise.

Many systems (but not all) have holiday and absence tracking, they have blogs and news feeds, and auto notifications when something has been actioned.

Some have applicant tracking for recruitment, some have onboarding for new starters, and some even have time sheets and inbuilt payroll functionality.

So beyond the basics, it starts to depend on what you want and what you don’t that will probably drive an element of your choices.  Like anything you are buying, establish your ‘must haves’, your ‘nice to haves’ and then those things that are not important so you can compare what the market has to offer, versus what’s important to you.

And how much does HR software cost?

Most HR software is charged as what’s called a SaaS product, or ‘software as a service’.  This means it is one big ‘supersystem’ which essentially you are buying a number of licenses for, or the ‘right to log into’.

These are almost always ‘capital light’, so little or no upfront payment and then a monthly or annual payment based usually on number of employees.  For small to medium businesses this means they buy into something tried and tested, cost effectively.

For large companies, the alternative is to have a bespoke system built which is often expensive but has all the benefits of being exactly tailored to the needs of the organisation.

Again, a google search will reveal the market prices you can expect to pay.

HR software can cost anything from £1 per employee per month, up to £5 or even more per employee per month.  You can usually pay monthly on a ‘pay as you go’, or annually on a 12 month contract which usually has a lower rate.

You may also have to pay for system training, as well as a set up fee to have your employee data imported into the system.

It is like anything though, to an extent you get what you pay for, but there are a number of companies which will charge you more than you need to pay, for things you don’t really need, so do shop around.

So if you feel you need some guidance, and you want to talk to us about how we can help you to make the right choice in HR software, then do let us know.