Customizing an HRIS to Meet Your Company’s Needs

Updated: April 30, 2009


Most vendors design their HRIS (Human Resource Information System) tools to accommodate a wide array of businesses. But your company isn't just any business. You want your HRIS to flawlessly perform the key jobs you've selected for it, not the tasks that some software developer "thinks" you need. That's why you need to spend some time and effort customizing the application to fit your business.


A newly installed HRIS is little more than an empty shell. It's up to the HR manager and his or her team to populate the application with useful data.

What should you include? Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, job titles, previous jobs, hiring dates, termination dates, health histories, school records, citizenship/residency status and salary histories are all standard items. But your business might also require specialized types of information, such as licenses held, security clearance levels, allergies, languages spoken, dancing ability, musical instruments played — whatever is relevant to your business and the people it needs to fill specific jobs.

To decide just what types of information they need to collect, HR staffers should consult with the business's executives, department heads, managers and other relevant individuals. Also, to avoid potential lawsuits and fines, seek out legal advice to make sure that your HRIS isn't inadvertently collecting information that isn't legally permitted (such as religious affiliation or voting record).

Designing Reports

Your HRIS will undoubtedly generate many different types of internal reports for use by various business departments. You will have to custom-design of all of these reports, both in terms of formatting and the type of data collected. Many businesses form a committee, consisting of department heads (including the HR chief, of course), that determines what types of HRIS reports are needed, who will get each report and what information these reports should contain.

Meeting Taxation Responsibilities

Different businesses in different states have different tax-reporting requirements. Make sure the HRIS collects all of the required information, and generates the documents in the proper format, for all of the taxation agencies your firm is required to report to.

Ensuring Compliance

These days, nearly all businesses face some type of regulatory compliance mandate, such as providing equal employment opportunity or government contract-compliance data. Some companies, in fields like banking and pharmaceuticals, have to supply regulators with a wide array of carefully documented employment data. Whatever the level of your business's compliance burden, you'll have to customize your HRIS so that it collects and reports the necessary information in the required form.

Designing the Web Interface

If your HRIS features an employee self-service capability, you will have to customize the program's front end. In many respects, this is the most challenging customization task, since it requires design ability as well as a logical command and data-entry foundation.

Designing a self-service interface is as much of an art as it is a science. Therefore, a professional Web developer can help you create an interface that's logical, attractive and easy to use. A poorly designed front end will frustrate users, lead to errors (that will have to be manually corrected by HR staff) and negate self-service's financial and productivity benefits.


For more information on HRIS, see our HR Resource Center. There, you'll find comprehensive research, including our Buyer's Checklist: HRIS as well as topical research briefs and advice from Focus Experts.

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