AN HRIS Case Study: How to Optimize an Existing HR System

AN HRIS Case Study: How to Optimize an Existing HR System

Over the course of my twenty years career as an HR & payroll systems trouble shooter, I’ve consulted and strategized with management teams of all types. I’ve watched the wrong people ask the wrong questions, and I’ve witnessed the evidence of hundreds of thousands of pounds flying out of the window, wasted on the wrong software.

If there’s one thing my clients and workshop attendeesreally enjoy, it’s hearing about these case histories, as very often they are able to relate directly to what I have found in my experience, and also take away some key points.

So, in this first segment of a two-part case study series, I will dive into How to Optimize an Existing HR System.

Client: Private Sector   Size:  1,800 Staff

As anyone who works in HR knows, making the most of your HR system means the constant review of your basic processes to see how the technology can be used to drive improvements.

A key tool in this is work flow, which pushes documents round an organisation (normally via Self Service) gathering approvals (or rejections) for certain actions, and automating what can be a time-consuming task. I proposed that a number of paper-driven processes be handled by work flow.

One of these processes was the Recruitment Requisition, used to hire replacement staff. I  was astonished to find no less than six different people were required to authorize this event. I’ll even name the posts: the hiring manager, their divisional head, the head of recruitment, the HR director, the Chief Financial officer and the CEO.

When I looked into the procedure, I discovered, in reality, people were hiring because they had an urgent need to fill vacancies. After the appointment, they trudged around the company a posteriori, gathering signatures as and when they could.

Rather than replicate this farce – that blatantly wasn’t working – I had a discussion with the CFO deploying this logic:

  1. Headcount budget is set every year. Therefore, providing the new hire salary is within bounds, a replacement is in budget.
  2. If a replacement is truly needed, and the post can’t be lost or reduced, then the hiring manager should know best. If you can’t trust your managers to make objective judgements, then get rid of them and find better ones.
  3. Given that a replacement is required, and the proposed salary is within budget, then surely all that is required is that a suitable financial officer verify that the hiring manager’s request is within limits?

This process could, in effect, be reduced to two signatures.

This logic was agreed by the CFO, especially in the light of current practices being unworkable and lacking rigour. A revised work flow was designed and is now working cutting unnecessary administration.



  • Look critically at what you are doing. Many of these sorts of anomaly arise from the Board not trusting their line management; if that is the case, get managers you can trust.


  • Try to make the system work if it is unworkable. Challenge it.


Stay tuned for my next case study: How to implement a new HR & Payroll system for a medium-sized company. 

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I am a consultant specializing in the selection of HR & payroll software for a range of clients in many sectors in various countries, primarily UK, Europe and the USA. I came into HR for a background in Finance, and this analytical training has stood me in good stead. A few years after, I was asked to computerize the payroll, which was manual at the time, which, having successfully been accomplished, the next step was to find an HR system for the personnel records. The rest is history, as ever since then people have asked me to do things because I “knew about that stuff” and the whole arena of HR & payroll systems was an area of considerable trepidation for HR & payroll professionals, and Information Technology had very much occupied that space by default at the time. My philosophy has always been to act as an enabler with clients, lighting the way for them to arrive at the most suitable conclusions; that way, the client has ownership, and the knowledge stays with them rather than passing through the door after the project. After co-founding the niche HRmeansbusiness consultancy in 2000, I went on to build and launch the HRcomparison website (for comparison of HR, Payroll and Time & Attendance software), that was the first of its kind in the UK and currently features over 60 vendors. Currently I am working on a series of webinars and seminars for 2015 on HRIS topics and a book is already under way. Sharing Our Expertise and Making Worldwide Connections

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