Ask Michael

Vol. 11 No. 6

Q&A

Q: I’m the Business Manager/HR person for a midsize school (50 employees). I’d like to automate our HR record-keeping functions, and I’ve started to look into what our payroll provider offers. Is there a software program or vendor that you would recommend?

A: While we’re not in a position to recommend particular vendors, we’re happy to share a few thoughts on the situation as a whole.

1. Likely vendors—It’s prudent to start your research with your payroll vendor. More and more payroll (and accounting) vendors are now integrating HR record-keeping systems as adjunct modules to the payroll system.

2. Caution—My primary caution would be purchasing/leasing a system that does more than you need. I know that sounds counterintuitive (who wouldn’t want a system that comes with more rather than less?). However, I have seen way too many organizations implement complex HRIS systems that are so far beyond their needs that they end up resenting–and then discarding—the system (i.e., they end up “working for the system,” rather than the system “working for them”).

3. A simple idea (and tool)—Going a bit further with this same line of thought … unless the school’s payroll (or accounting) vendor has a simple system that is very easily learned and implemented, I’m not sure that I would recommend a “system” at all for a school with 50 or fewer full-time employees. That is not an “anti-technology” statement in any way, but rather simply a cost/benefit question.

It may be that a fairly simple Excel spreadsheet more than meets your needs. I know that sounds simplistic—but I really believe it to be the case for many schools. Unless absolutely everything in the Business Office and HR area is running like clockwork, your energies and efforts might be better placed on other issues that impact and support employees and managers more directly.

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