Evolution of Human Resource Management and Human Resource Information Systems: The Role of Information Technology

OBJECTIVES  Describe the historical evolution of HRM, including the changing role of the human resources (HR) professional  Discuss the impact of computer technology on the evolution of HRM  Describe the three types of HR activities  Explain the relationship between strategic HRM and HRIS  Explain the purpose and nature of HRIS as well as the differences between the types of HRIS  Discuss the use of information from an HRIS on decision making  Describe the central themes of the book and how they relate to managerial decision making  Understand how HRM and HRIS fit into a comprehensive model of organizational functioning

INTRODUCTION    To maintain a competitive advantage in the market place, firms need to balance the resources available to the firm to achieve the desired results of profitability and survival. The resources that are available to the firm fall into three general categories: financial, physical, and human. The management of the human resources is the most critical of the three due to the costs of human capital for the firm. The effective management of human resources in a firm to gain a competitive advantage in the market place requires timely and accurate information on current employees and potential employees in the labor market. The need for timely and accurate information for managerial decision-making must stressed with the students early in the course. Finally, as will be seen throughout the book, the evolution of computer technology, meeting this information requirement (timely and accurate) has been greatly enhanced through the creation of HRIS.

Historical Evolution of HRM and HRIS

There was a growing realization within management that people costs were a very significant part of their budgets. training. and reporting of voluminous data to statutory authorities. HRM in the ―pre-world war II period‖ was only focused on keeping employee records. occupational health and safety. As a result. through cost reduction and value-added services. such as prohibition of discriminatory practices. compensation. such as recognition of work achievements and work norms. and tax regulation. As a result.      The evolution of HRM and the development of HRIS is important for the student in that the caretaker/record keeping function prior to World War II still is important in today’s elaborate systems.65% to 75% of the time. selection. and performance management . there was a growing demand on the HRM function to cost justify their employee programs and services.15% to 30% of the time. employee status changes. The advancement of the field of HRIS is tightly intertwined with the developments in the IT/IS field in that as more data and information could be stored and accessed. analysis. The increased use of technology and the changed focus of the HRM function as adding value to the organization’s product or service led to the emergence of the HR department as a strategic partner. One of the keys to effective management of the human talent was the computerization of the HRM function. Traditional activities involve HR programs such as planning. In the ―cost-effectiveness‖ era the functional focus shifted from employee administration to employee development and involvement. Firms today realize that innovative and creative employees who hold the key to organizational knowledge provide a sustainable competitive advantage because unlike other resources. HR professionals could move away from primarily clerical work to work that was closely related to the strategic objectives of the firm. In the ―social isssues‖ era there was an unprecedented increase in the amount of labor legislation that governed various parts of the employment relationship. In the ―post-world war II‖ era managers realized that employee productivity and motivation had a significant impact on the profitability of the firm. . and the administration of employee benefits . entering payroll information. intellectual capital is difficult to imitate by competitors. recruiting. Some companies estimated that personnel costs were as high as 80% of their operating costs. To improve effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery. and there were very few government rules or regulations governing the treatment of people in the workplace. the HR departments came under pressure to harness technology that was becoming cheaper and more powerful. HR Activities HR departments engage in three types of activities as follows:   Transactional activities involve day-to-day transactions that have to deal mostly with record keeping—for example. retirement benefits. The human relations movement after the War emphasized that employees were motivated not just by money but also by social and psychological factors. the personnel department was burdened with the additional responsibility of legislative compliance that required collection.

and distribute information regarding an organization’s human resources. Although an HRIS includes hardware and software. policies and procedures. retrieve. An HRIS is not simply computer hardware and associated HR-related software. Why Do We Need HRIS? There are several advantages to firms in using HRIS. it also includes people forms. comprehensive database. At this point it is important to introduce the idea that HR folks design the systems and IT/IS simply supply the technology. A Primer on HRIS   Important to note that a company that does not have a computerized system still has an HRM system. One of the main purpose of an HRIS is to reduce the amount of time spent on transactional activities and shift that time for HR professionals to use for traditional and transformational activities. the paper system used to acquire. cultural or organizational change. However. and data. strategic redirection.  Transformational activities are those activities that add value to the organization—for example. analyze. that is. structural realignment. store. this enables organizations to provide structural connectivity across units and activities and increase the speed of information transactions  Increasing competitiveness by improving HR operations and improving management processes  Collecting appropriate data and converting them to information and knowledge for improved timeliness and quality of decision making  Producing a greater number and variety of accurate and real-time HR-related reports  Streamlining and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of HR administrative functions  Shifting the focus of HR from the processing of transactions to strategic HRM  Reengineering HR processes and functions . They include the following:  Providing a comprehensive information picture as a single. and increasing innovation – 5% to 15% of the time. manipulate. the additional idea is that systems do not make the decisions but people do. This idea of an HRIS impacting the entire organization is very important and you should emphasize it strongly.

EDP is primarily electronic storage of information and was first applied to automate paperwork.  the availability of resources (time. . and coaching.. Improving employee satisfaction by delivering HR services more quickly and accurately to them The ability of firms to harness the potential of HRIS depends on a variety of factors. Electronic Data Processing (EDP). with large firms generally reaping greater benefits. 3. and  the ability and motivation of employees in adopting change. processing. A focus on data. Decision Support Systems (DSS). production MIS. Its characteristics include:  An information focus. and quick response User initiated and controlled Support for the personal decision-making styles of individual managers.  managerial competence in cross-functional decision making. Its characteristics include:     Decision focused. aimed at middle managers  Structured information flows  Integration of EDP jobs by business function (e. aimed at top managers and executive decision makers Emphasis on flexibility. and systems. marketing MIS)  Inquiry and report generation (usually with a data base). Its basic characteristics include:      2. and personnel). storage. g. structure. Management Information Systems (MIS).  the HR philosophy of the company as well as its vision. such as  the size of the organization.  the amount of top management support and commitment. organizational culture. such as increased automation across and between functions Different Types of HRIS 1. employee involvement. adaptability. and flows at the operational level Efficient transaction processing Scheduled and optimized computer runs Integrated files for related jobs Summary reports for management. money.

weekly. improvements to the system. it is recommended that the following system development process should be used for an HRIS: The HRIS development process refers to the steps taken from the time a company considers computerizing its human resources functions through the analysis. Its characteristics include:  Report formation and generation based on identified managerial needs for decision making  Categorization of reports by management level  Timing of report generation based on frequency of managerial use: daily. development. It is important to document this beginning of the process so that it can be considered when the system is being evaluated and maintained. (2) analysis. There are two critical points to be emphasized from the various descriptions of the phases or stages of system development. Installation and Conversion. maintenance. System Design. and (5) maintenance. Some Questions and Hints of Answers 1. There is agreement that the SDLC has five general phases: (1) planning. The second critical point is the importance of the evaluation and. However. System Specifications. System Development. design. Walker (1982) indicated that development of an effective HRIS should follow seven stages: Proposal to Management. (4) implementation. A Model of Organizational Functioning The focus of the model is on the centrality of the effects of the HRIS on the Strategic Management Plan as well on operational implications in terms of specific HR programs. as needed. the HRIS system development process begins when the company first begins to consider computerizing its HR functions. monthly  Historical information retained and reported in a timely manner so that managers and HR professionals can see the results of their use of the information in their previous decisions System Development Process for an HRIS The formal design of any information processing system is supposed to follow a set of steps labeled the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC). (3) design. One. implementation. and Evaluation. Needs Analysis.4. What are the factors that changed the primary role of HRM from a caretaker of records to a strategic partner? . and improvement of the system. Human Resources Management Decision Systems (HRMDS). evaluations.

and implementation of an HRIS is to reduce the amount of time the HR staff has to spend on transactional activities. The human relations movement after the War emphasized that employees were motivated not just by money but also by social and psychological factors. This notion of using technology to process transactional activities more efficiently is the central theme of this book and provides one of the primary justifications for a computer-based system. such as recognition of work achievements and work norms. 3. Managers realized that employee productivity and motivation had a significant impact on the profitability of the firm. In other words. strategic HRM (SHRM) has become critically important in management thinking and practice. The increased use of technology and the changed focus of the HRM function as adding value to the organization’s product or service led to the emergence of the HR department as a strategic partner. They include the following:  Providing a comprehensive information picture as a single. and transformational HR activities more efficiently and effectively? One of the major advantages of the design. Justify the need for an HRIS. there was an increasing need to be in compliance with numerous employee protection legislations or suffer significant monetary penalties. traditional. This made senior managers aware of the importance of the HRM function. How does technology help deliver transactional. so there was a significant growth of HR departments.The major factors were:  The mobilization and utilization of labor during World War II had a great impact on the development of the personnel function. allowing the staff to spend more time on traditional and transformational activities. During the Social Issues era. SHRM derives its theoretical significance from the resource-based view of the firm that treats human capital as a strategic asset and a competitive advantage in improving organizational performance.   2. development. comprehensive database. this enables organizations to provide structural connectivity across units and activities and increase the speed of information transactions Increasing competitiveness by improving HR operations and improving management processes Collecting appropriate data and converting them to information and knowledge for improved timeliness and quality of decision making   . effective and correct practices in HRM were starting to affect the “bottom line” of the firms. With the growing importance and recognition of people and people management in contemporary organizations. There are several advantages to firms in using HRIS.

and function within the organization and the heart that will act as a storage and a monitor of these activities is the HRIS. government regulations. g.     Producing a greater number and variety of accurate and real-time HR-related reports Streamlining and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of HR administrative functions Shifting the focus of HR from the processing of transactions to strategic HRM Reengineering HR processes and functions Improving employee satisfaction by delivering HR services more quickly and accurately to them 4. Of course. societal concerns. paying overtime or hiring temporary employees when there is a sharp rise in demand for the firms products or services. form. moving the HRIS to a DSS means that managers can look at alternative solutions in decisions involving human capital. and HRM research in the external environment of the organization. Using the organizational model. Having this information readily available saves considerable time for managers at every level from the first-level supervisor in terms of attendance records and the corporate board members in terms of the costs of human capital. programs.. e. Explain how an organization that is yet to use technology to automate its HR function can graduate from EDP to MIS and finally to DSS. explain why and how national culture and organizational culture influence the nature and importance of the HRIS function. in digital rather than paper. The introduction of MIS simply follows in that MIS can act on the data in the EDP to develop meaningful results/information for management decisions. The organizational or corporate culture will impact all of the internal processes. With the initiation of EDP in the firm there will be a recognition of the importance of storing data. National culture will impact the laws. 5. technology. competition. .

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