Human resource management is considered one of the most important elements determining the success of any firm. The ability to manage people, motivate them and retain them is an unrivaled ingredient towards successful organizations. The competitive advantage gained through the application of proper human resource management practices is most valuable. The need to adopt better and more efficient management practices has seen human management practices evolve from the conservative approaches to more liberal supportive practices that seek further involvement of the employees in decision-making processes.
The current issues of globalization and modernization perhaps have seen the greatest changes in human resource management. The application of modern technologies has not left human resource practice behind. Information systems have been developed for human resources just like there are information systems developed to handle the various other departmental functions of the organization such as sales, distributions, production and marketing.
Human resource management systems offer comprehensive answers to the process of recruitment in many ways. Identification of best-fit candidates is greatly boosted by the use of information technology.
For smaller firms, the management, along with other administrative matters, mostly handles the human resource function. Larger firms though have the human resource department charged with the responsibility of managing personnel. Human Resource Management Information Systems are widely used in larger firms as opposed to smaller firms. The HRIS is mainly developed to handle the entire process of human resource management. Straight from the recruitment process to the time of exit for each employee. The main functions are to acquire, manipulate, store, analyze, retrieve and distribute information relating to human resources in the organization (Erik, Dianna, Eugene, 1999, Par5).
Various programs under the HRIS are developed to assist in the recruitment process by aiding in job analysis, developing adequate job descriptions, handling responses from job seekers, processing applications. After hiring, the HRIS programs are used to record and track data regarding the employees. Most importantly, the systems are increasingly being used to support decision-making as regards employees (Hempel, 2004, p3).
HRIS aid in storing, manipulating analyzing, and retrieval of pertinent information. In earlier times such systems were restricted to supporting transactions and maintaining management control. A myriad of benefits accrues from the use of HRIS in the organization. The range from faster processing of information, greater information accuracy, better planning, and program development as well as improved employee communications.
Some preliminaries are important in assessing the ability of HRIS to ease the process of planning for recruitment. The performance of the system is seen in two aspects. First is the ease of use. Systems that are seen as easy to use offer a higher positive impact than those perceived to be difficult to use. Difficult HRIS may frustrate workers, introduce rigidities hence develop a negative attitude by the workers. Secondly, the usefulness of the system is greatly important. The development of systems is a critical point in the life of the HRIS. Not fulfilling the minimum requirements for use can easily render the system useless. Proper care has to be applied in developing it in order to incorporate as much help as possible to the users (McLeod, R., & Schell, G., 2001, p5).
A critical function of the human resource department is the recruitment process. This is the initial process and establishes the contact between the jobseeker and the organization. A typical recruitment process has several processes are involved here. It commences with the emergence of a vacancy in the organization. This may result from the creation of a new job, retirement, sacking, resignation or retirement of the previous employee. This is followed by an update in the job description to take care of upcoming developments regarding the position. The updated job description may now be circulated both internally and externally depending on the company policies with the intention of inviting applications for the said vacant post.
On the expiry of the set deadline, the received applications are evaluated and a shortlisting of eligible candidates is conducted which is followed by the interviews which may be single or multi-staged. Qualifying candidates are then invited for possible training and inducting into the system.
In planning for the recruitment process, one should consider both organizational and administrative issues. Organizational issues are considered relating to whether the recruitment process is to be carried out in-house or an external agency is to be hired, whether the recruitment will be centralized or decentralized, and the need to engage in recruitment alliances. Centralized recruitment is done at a common point for a large organization and the recruits are sent to the networks. Cooperative recruitment alliances involve the sharing of recruitment resources especially in cases where the numbers to be recruited s small thus the need to reduce costs. Important administrative issues of consideration are the recruitment budget, the recruitment guide to be used by the recruiters, the process flow as well as record-keeping requirements. There may also be the need to train recruiters to improve the accuracy of the recruitment process in terms of recruiting the right people. The selection of suitable recruiters is also a critical issue requiring the attention of the administration in addition to the rewards to be offered to the recruiters (Walsall Council, 2009, Par 4).
It is thus clear that planning for the recruitment process is an intricate and highly complex process requiring numerous critical decisions which are not obvious to make. In this regard, the application of information systems becomes necessary.
Deciding on the organizational issues requires an intricate analysis of several factors. An analysis of the costs and benefits both quantitative and qualitative is crucial in determining whether to hire external recruiters or conduct the recruitment within the organization. The interplay of the monetary costs of hiring recruiters in relation to recruiting in-house but considering the expected quality of recruits can be difficult to fully comprehend and analyze especially for big companies hiring many employees. The assistance of systems developed with abilities to combine the qualitative and quantitative scenarios and give an accurate interpretation cannot be overrated (Recruitment-Naukrihub.com, 2009, Par4).
In addition, choosing between centralized or decentralized recruitment requires the full understanding of a myriad of qualitative and quantitative factors. The requirements for local people to take up certain positions, special skills required and which are available in certain places, the availability of suitable recruiter, cost implications for adopting either of the methods, and many other factors have to be considered in deciding whether t adopt the centralized or decentralized recruitment process.
The need to adopt a cooperative or individual recruitment process is mainly informed by the cost implications and the probability of higher quality of recruitment processes resulting in the case of the cooperative model.
The administrative considerations are also crucial in planning the recruitment process. The budget is perhaps the most important issue. Budgetary allocations define the comprehensiveness of the entire recruitment process. The budget must take care of all the components of the recruitment process. The recruitment guide is also a crucial document in recruitment. Developing the guide incorporates several factors such as the qualifications of the recruiter, the requirements as per job descriptions as well as the resources available in terms of time and money. Clearly, programs are utilized to sort out and give condensed and analyzed information to aid in the development of adequate guides (Walker, & Prerrin, 2001, p4).
Decisions concerning the recruiters to be involved in the process are also critical especially in ensuring the right skills are hired. In the case of the in-house recruitment process, a choice has to be made on who conducts the recruitment among the human resources personnel, line managers and employees. Factors such as ethics, integrity, attitudes, and other soft skills have to be put into consideration in deciding the decision on who conducts the recruitment process. Again the recruiters have to be evaluated and rewarded in consideration of how well-fitting the recommended persons are. All these decisions can easily be supported by the use of integrated HRIS to ensure the best people are hired (Mawhinney & Lederer, 1990, Par7).
Case study- Somitrack AB.
Somitrack AB is a Swedish company that offers dual-sided proofing systems. The company uses an HRIS developed by Info track PVT. Ltd from India. The system has numerous programs which largely aids in the integrated decision-making within the human resources department. Indeed the system automates the recruitment process. The system offers provision for drawing up exhaustive requirement plans at different levels of the recruitment process. It aids in drawing up accurate schedules and plans. The different programs developed can capture information regarding applicants together with the source through which the application is made. The evaluation and shortlisting processes are also fully automated. It has special capabilities to identify evaluation procedures to be employed. Documentation required throughout the entire recruitment process is automatically generated by the system. Again, the HRIS is integrated with the Employee detail system (Somitrack AB, 2007).
The salient features in the system include comprehensive and in-depth analysis through reports and graphs, a multi-tier security system, a configurable process of evaluation and export and import facilities. Others include ready interface with packages like Oracle Financial. The system is also easy to use and maintain. It has inbuilt fax, mail, and scanner in addition to its seamless integration with Windows applications (Recruitment Planning & Tracking System, 2009, p2).
Various features enable the system to be of great help in developing recruitment plans. First, it friendly and simple interface which guides users in defining requisite skills and competencies and establishes thresholds and other measurement scales to assess skills. Secondly, it enables users to define types and categories of qualifications technical or non-technical. The recruitment department can easily establish educational qualifications and specializations by drawing up permutations and combinations of degree, specialization and qualification type. This ensures that the best possible academic skills and specializations are considered in hiring (Recruitment Planning & Tracking System, 2009, P3).
Definition of evaluation scales can be customized to fit the immediate needs of filling the vacant position. In addition, the system has provisions to evaluate parameters as well as associate weights and scales to these parameters. This ensures that the construction of the qualification requirement in planning for recruitment is sufficiently informed (Recruitment Planning & Tracking System, 2009, p3).
The system allows the incorporation of scales and thresholds within evaluation procedures in addition to being flexible in terms of defining multiple evaluation procedures the various categories of evaluation methods. More importantly, it facilitates the actual process of drawing up plans at all levels. Interestingly, it has the ability to capture personnel requirements for various units in the organization. A special feature called versioning of plans which provides differing approaches in developing plans is available. Changes in the plans prompt the storage of the older version and the development of the new version. Even more importantly, the system captures the budget at each level of the recruitment process. This enables the development of a proper and accurate overall budget (Recruitment Planning & Tracking System, 2009, p4).
The system enables guided drawing up of procedures to be used in the recruitment process in consideration of requirements already established. The user can choose sources of recruitment and work out likely dates for the execution of schedules.
In addition to assisting in planning for recruitment, the system is most useful in the implementation of recruitment and human resource management. Doing this incorporates other equally important functions. It is able to capture applicant’s details, skills and qualifications, experience, details of referees, and other related information. The source of the information is also captured for purposes of backtracking. It also detects duplicate applications in addition to provisions for phonetics-based research.
Again, the system is used in the process of evaluating and shortlisting candidates by comparing the requirements of certain positions with those of candidates. The user can also specify the process of evaluation to be followed for some positions that may be different from those regarding other positions. The system then models the entire recruitment process on behalf of the user.
After evaluation, the system is able to offer the final rating of the candidates based on the predetermined weights and scales. This self-evaluation cycle is very useful in aiding the selection process. Even more interesting is the fact that due to the interface with window-based applications, the system automatically generates offer letters. Reasons for the rejection of unsuccessful candidates are also given. In addition, the system produces a wide range of reports used for ease of tracking and analyzing the hiring and management process. It also records the admission of a candidate and the conversion of a candidate into an employee (Recruitment Planning & Tracking System, 2009, p4).
The success of the company’s system cannot be over-emphasized.
The company has been able to hire effective and highly qualified employees while at the same time being able to easily track the activities of the entire human resource department.
The company is well able to eliminate bias and discrimination tendencies in the recruitment process. Attempts to apply favors are highly limited by the system’s ability to track the profiles of the hired employees since the time of first contact. The hiring process is largely transparent and credible due to the elimination of too much human participation (Martinsons, & Chong, 1999, p41).
More importantly, the company is able to operate a very small human resources department because the system is able to handle most of the work otherwise handled by employees. The organization in general is able to effectively manage employees with minimal effort. Instead of focusing too much on the human resource department, resources and energies are aimed at pursuing the organization’s goals and aspirations.
Success in planning for recruitment is the most prominent element of success for the HRIS. Successful planning is characterized by an accurate development of budgets for recruitment, recruitment schedules, relevant evaluation methods as well as proper identification of competent recruiters to undertake the recruitment. A look at the system’s abilities shows the profound abilities of the system in developing accurate forecasts for these elements of the recruitment process.
The accuracy in developing recruitment plans not only leads to recruitment that is more effective, but also ensures that costs are minimized. By recommending which between the external and internal hiring process is best for certain circumstances, the system eliminates some systemic inefficiencies that may result from employing the wrong hiring process. Again, by aiding in the selection of the appropriate recruitment team to handle recruitment processes associated with certain posts that require the accurate identification of certain skills, the system ensures that proper and adequate plans are made by the human resources management for the reward systems and any requirements for facilitation of the entire process. In addition, adequate notice can be issued to the selected recruiters in order for them to be able to adjust their schedules and be available to give their very best during the time in which they are to be engaged in the recruitment. The smoothness in the recruitment process of the company is almost guaranteed (Tannenbaum, 1990, p30).
Information system and the human Resource management professional
The human resource profession is focused on employing proper processes for hiring and managing the employees at the work place. The activities in execution of roles range from recruitment, training, remuneration, labor relations, motivation as well as handling disciplinary and other emerging issues. It is increasingly becoming important to adopt better and cost effective human management practices, as competitiveness is the crucial aspect of the modern business. The adoption of information systems is increasingly becoming important (Bohari, n. d, p7).
The human resource practice, the adoption of information system has introduced the term ‘e-HR’. The term refers to the use of Information Technology (IT) in executing the human resource practice. Indeed, the use of HRIS is often seen as an opportunity for human resource professionals to coalesce strategically with top management. The notion that the HR personnel would be provided with better information for decision-making is most prevalent.
HRIS systems as described above help to acquire, store, manipulate, analyze, retrieve, and distribute pertinent information regarding human resources. Implementation of the systems is seen in three main ways: the automation of transactions, publishing of information, and a transformation of the HR department to strategic liaising with the line business.
With the freedom from too much paperwork and the availing of more processed information for decision-making, the HR profession is better able to adapt better services and offer more in the strategic decision-making process. The most important benefits of using information systems are enhanced employee communications, greater accuracy, improved planning and program development, and information accuracy all of which are types of administrative efficiency (Lawler, 1992, Par2).
With the adoption of HRIS, the number of HR officers required in the organization is drastically reduced. For the organization, this is an advantageous cost-cutting measure. However, for HR professionals it is a reduction in opportunities. In fact, in some organizations, the HR departments have been completely scrapped, as the line managers are well able to use the HRIS in place to manage workers parallel to their core roles. Watson Wyatt’s survey report written in the year 2002 showed that it does not take a high profession of e-HR to reach high performance on the administrative side. The survey covered different organization sizes and measured productivity improvements in the organization, return on investments as well as enhanced employee communications. The conclusion was that by properly adopting the e-HR, an organization is well able to lower the amount of work for the human resource department. This in effect leaves the HR professionals free to focus on strategic roles (Watson, 2002, p24).
The strategic application of the HRIS is much difficult to measure and explain mainly owing to the qualitative nature and the fact that there may be no one sure way to tell whether the observed benefits accrue from the strategic application of the HRIS. Strategic decisions largely determine the overriding policies adopted on issues like recruitment, retaining employees and remuneration. Of course, most of these decisions are made after analyzing the administrative information and merging them with external data to come up with a comprehensive analysis. However, easy access to the information in itself is an integrated part of the strategic decision-making process (Beatty, & Schneider, 1997, p30).
In another study in which Human Resources directors in the Southeastern United States in a bid to establish the strategic impact of HRIS, the result was largely affirmative. In the survey, items on a five-point scale and a few open-ended questionnaires were sent to 30 respondents with twelve of them responding. The questions focused on perceptions of the HR directors on the impact of HRIS on HR practice, time-saving element of the HRIS, the costs of the HR activities, the role of the HR department, information used in the organization and strategic decision making. The survey was largely exploratory and descriptive in nature.
The results were large as expected. The directors were largely pleased with the information systems. 90% of them were satisfied while 80% believed that the junior HR employees were also pleased. This implies that the hindrance to acceptance is largely overcome by the HRIS. However, despite the approval, 60% thought that the HRIS at their organization could be better utilized.
The HRIS effect on data input and maintenance processes was rated the highest. The directors dismally rated the effect on recruitment, training and forecasting staffing needs. In addition, the biggest effect time-saving effect on the implementation of HRIS was on data input, processing of paperwork, and correcting errors. On the cost-saving front, the HRIS was deemed to reduce costs incurred in each hiring process, data input expenses, and overall HR staff salary expense (Beadles, Christopher, & Kim, 2005, p22).
The area with the highest effects involved information. Over 80% of the directors believed that the information systems increased the amount of useful information while at the same time improving their ability to spread information. 70% acknowledged having shared the information with their seniors. On the other hand, 70% thought that the shared information was rarely utilized by the top administrators and a paltry 40% thought that the HRIS had improved coordination between the HR department and senior administration. One area where the HR directors thought that systems were helpful concerning promotions. Due to proper employee database management, the directors had an easy time determining candidates for promotion based on some predetermined criteria.
The effectiveness of information systems in organizations is immense. Almost all the functions of the HR department can be aided to some extent by the HRIS as demonstrated above. The onus is on the users and other interested parties to seek the full utility provided by the systems. It is admissible that adequate implementation of HRIS in an organization has the potential to revolutionize the human resource function in modern-day organizations (MacAdam, 1987).
Caution should however be taken in implementing the HRIS. This is because the systems can introduce some rigidity in the HR management with the potential to ruin the positive contributions it intends to introduce. Well-trained, keen and open-minded human resources should be hired to operate the systems to ensure that unique and unforeseen occurrences are well handled.
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