The Difference Between HRIS & HRMS

by G.S. Jackson

A concern for any business involves how to manage employees and labor costs. For some companies, a fully staffed HR department equipped with paperwork and a database can handle the work. However, as labor diversifies and variety in labor demands changes the function of an HR department, it becomes beneficial to automate HR tasks. Accordingly, an entire technology industry has risen to meet this demand. Using terms like Human Resource Information Systems or Human Resource Management Software, vendors in this industry change their marketing and terminology to better entice clientele.

Human Resources in Large Businesses

As business entities grow and diversify services or simply enlarge current services, the problem of a manageable workforce comes to the forefront. Different tasks require different people, for different amounts of time. For a human resources department, this issue of labor becomes paramount when trying to track and maintain databases of information regarding hiring or payroll. With the complexity of a large workforce, institutions need specialized systems to manage the minutia of that workforce.

Human Resource Information Systems

As HR offices evolve, and the needs of employment management become more complex, at some point it becomes desirable to move HR employees away from administrative tasks into more constructive and creative roles. In order to facilitate this while still managing complex HR tasks, many companies implement Human Resource Information Systems suited to their specific needs. These information systems represent a spectrum of services integrated into the HR of a company. These services span a collection of administrative tasks such as payroll, benefits management, and HR employee database maintenance.


Human Resource Management Software ostensibly refers to the same set of services and software as HRIS. HRMS refers to a package of services meant to aid HR departments in handling tasks such as payroll, benefits, and labor costs. Both terms refer to replacements for straightforward databases and manual management of HR tasks. However, it could be said that HRIS is a more comprehensive package, a "system" that handles a larger set of tasks than HRMS.

Terminology and Context

While slight differences may exist between the two terms, in reality the differences may originate more from a marketing imperative rather than a technical one. Marketing in technology usually involves the creation and repetition of marketing tags and buzzwords to entice those who may not be technologically savvy. So, while theoretically HRIS might present a more comprehensive HR solution, this is by no means the standard. Companies can call their systems HRIS or HRMS systems regardless.

About the Author

G.S. Jackson specializes in topics related to literature, computers and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and computer science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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