Once the Stakeholder Leadership Group (SLG) has formed an idea of what is needed in a human resources information system (HRIS), it is only natural to want to jump right into developing the new system. But it is critical at this point to pause and take a detailed look at what already exists before moving forward. This step involves a detailed inventory of the existing HRIS capabilities and infrastructure across the various ministries, councils and organizations that will be using the new HRIS solution.
This assessment should encompass all aspects of an HRIS, including existing health information systems that may link to the new system, data collection forms, processes for collecting and managing data and underlying information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. Specifically, the assessment documents existing hardware, software, databases, networks, Internet connectivity, data collection and quality control processes, as well as technical support procedures.
A detailed assessment of this kind may seem too time-consuming at first, especially when the needs for human resources for health (HRH) information are pressing. But the assessment will save time and money in the long run. The assessment should reveal all existing sources of HRH information and all resources available to support the HRIS. You may uncover sources of HR data that you didn’t even know existed. Instead of building a full HRIS from scratch, you may find an existing system that merely needs expansion or improvement to meet your needs.
By widening the assessment to include other health information systems, you can also identify the needs that other systems have for HRH data, which may not be obvious. A single authoritative source of HRH data that can feed into other health information systems (HIS) reduces redundancy and improves the accuracy of health information overall The HIS survey tool included in this section will help fit the strengthened HRIS into the broader context of the overall health system. At the very least, you will have a complete picture of the resources that are currently available and any gaps that need to be filled.
our Toolkit includes two assessment forms: a broad survey designed to identify all health information systems, including any HRIS that are currently operating; and an assessment questionnaire that focuses on HR information systems specifically.
Schedule personal interviews with key informants working with HRH data. Look for both producers and consumers of HRH data when considering who to interview (often the person is both a producer and a consumer). The following types of people are usually involved with HR information and should be prioritized for interviewing:
- Managers of health management information systems (HMIS).
- Statisticians, usually located in the health statistics unit.
- Payroll staff.
- HR senior managers, personnel officers and records officers in the HR unit.
- Undersecretaries, director generals or principal secretaries.
- Chief nursing officers.
- Health planners.
- Registrars from councils, such as the nursing council.
- All owners of health information systems that can be identified.
You will probably find that the key HRH informants are already members of the SLG. One-on-one interviews should be conducted with each member of the SLG during the assessment phase. In addition to evaluating existing HRIS capabilities and limitations, these interviews will help establish expectations regarding system functionality and priority requirements that the new HRIS needs to support.
The survey and assessment questionnaire are detailed forms for conducting the HRIS assessment. These forms may be provided to key people prior to the interview or when a person is not available for interviewing. However, you may not always be able to complete the full questionnaire.
In lieu of filling out the full questionnaire, you may choose to conduct a rapid assessment during the scheduled interview time. In those cases, make sure to collect basic information from the interviewee. Use the following questions as a guide for conducting the interview:
- What is your name, job title and unit or organization where you work?
- Do you use a computer at work on a regular basis?
- Do you have a need in your work for HR software or tools? What tasks do you need to accomplish?
- Is HR information available to you? Why or why not?
- How easy is it to access HR information (e.g., information concerning the number of staff, positions, locations, rate of attrition or other critical personnel information)?
- To what extent do you believe HR data are accurate and up-to-date? Why?
- To what extent do you believe HR data are used in human resources planning?
- What stakeholders do you think exist who have a stake in HR information?
- Who is responsible for the collection of HRH information?
- What specific information is collected on health workers? Provide examples of forms used, if possible.
- How often is health worker information collected or updated?
- What systems or processes are used to capture and track information on health workers? Consider databases, spreadsheets and paper forms as well as software.
- Are your needs met by the system(s) you are currently using? If not, what are your three biggest needs?
If a system that manages HR information is identified, here are questions to ask anyone who works with that system:
- Is the system electronic or paper-based?
- How do you access the system?
- How frequently and through what methods is the system updated?
- What sectors of the health care workforce are included in the system?
- What reports are available from the system and who uses them?
- Who maintains the system or has responsibility over the system?
Several areas where improvement is needed should emerge from the assessment responses. These areas can generally be divided into three categories:
- HR data quality, including data collection and management.
- HR information system requirements.
- ICT infrastructure needs.
Each type of need should be addressed separately. It may be helpful to list all the gaps separately by category, and then prioritize each need within that category. Consider costs and time required to address the gap as well as its relative importance.
Data quality gaps can be improved by revising data collection forms, introducing measures for ensuring data quality and improving procedures for collecting and managing data. The remaining three tools in this section will help address gaps in data quality.
HR information system requirements are any needs that the HR software should address once it is developed. Refer to this list when evaluating HRIS solutions or writing specifications for software developers. Refer to Section III for help with this.
Improvements to existing ICT infrastructure can generally be implemented quickly. Even small improvements often result in increased efficiency and productivity. The following are key ICT improvements that are often identified as gaps for supporting a mature HRIS:
- Reliable electrical power.
- Computer access for HRH and ICT staff.
- Backup system.
- Updated software.
- Access to spare parts for computer repair.
- Local area network access.
- Internet connectivity.
- Access to shared files or resources.
- Staff training in computer use.
- ICT technical support.
- Technical support service-level agreements.
- Antivirus protection.
- E-mail access.
- Skype or mobile phone access.
You may find it most expedient to address ICT improvements immediately. We recommend developing an ICT infrastructure improvement plan and budget, including a timeline. Then identify local consultants and vendors to provide needed hardware, software and services. Remember to include staff training on new computers, software and procedures, as well as technical support, in any infrastructure improvement plans.
Step 1: Initial Assessment
First, an organization must make the determination whether the selection process will be carried out by an internal HR team or an outside consultant firm. For smaller HR departments or HR professionals who have not experienced the HRIS selection process before, it can be a bit challenging to manage the normal day to day responsibilities as well as the HRIS process. Therefore, if the department has the need but does not have the time available to take on the data-gathering and evaluation process, hiring a consultant to assist with this process may be a wise choice. Even organizations that have a large HR Department may want to get an outside opinion to validate the findings and recommendations of their internal HR Department’s suggestions.
Step 2: Determine Organizational Needs
Assessing the organizational and departmental needs will be a company-specific venture. At this point, the specific requirements of the organization will determine the needed features versus the wanted features. Many organizations will begin with either an integrated payroll module or an HRIS that will work with the payroll system currently in place. Some of the features you might consider integrating may be an applicant tracking system, a performance management system, or a time and attendance system. Due to the ever-increasing complications of benefits administration (especially with the challenges of Affordable Care Act), a benefit module is a good addition for many organizations. These modules allow you to enroll employees, track and process benefits enrollments and participation for the organization, and produce required notices. Another additional module to the benefits module and the HR module includes an employee self-service (ESS) module. An ESS allows employees to view and update their personal information in the system.
Step 3: Evaluating Available Vendors to your Company Needs
Once you have determined a master list of requirements and project parameters, you should develop rating criteria to measure the offerings and limitations of the products available to you. List your specific needs and requirements down the left-hand side of the spreadsheet, and add the vendors and products you will assess across the top. An example list of requirements may look like the following:
- Integration with payroll system (or combination HR/payroll package).
- Performance management.
- Timekeeping and attendance tracking.
- Reporting capabilities, standard, and custom.
- Applicant tracking.
- Job and pay history.
- Benefits management.
- Employee self-service.
- Electronic form processing.
- Training management.
- Training requirements.
- Monthly costs.
- Total costs.
- Succession Planning.
Step 4: Create Your Project Committee
Once the evaluation process has been completed, you should be left with a list of vendors that match your organization’s needs. At this time in the process, you should organize a committee to view the project beyond the scope of the HR department. The evaluation committee should at least include members from the following departments:
- Members of Senior Management.
Step 5: Request for Proposal (RFP)
From your list vendors, you will want to provide each a detailed RFP seeking bids for your business.
Vendors should meet the minimum requirements that you have established and should be willing to hold a price point for up to 90 days. The RFP should include information about your organization as well as your project specifications such as your minimum requirements, budgetary constraints, and targeted selection and implementation schedule. Organizations should provide RFPs to no fewer than four vendors because some vendors may be unable to meet your specific needs in one aspect or another.
Step 6: Demonstration and Evaluation
Upon receipt of the RFP responses, select no less than three vendors to come onsite to present a demonstration. The complexity of the system and your list of minimum requirements will have an effect on the length of time that you should schedule for the demonstration. Ensure that each member of the project committee is able to attend the presentations and to ask relevant questions. Use the list of minimum requirements to create a checklist (scorecard) for the demonstration to ensure that each item is sufficiently addressed. The scorecard may also include some or all of the desired items from the list of original organizational needs assessment, which could potentially serve as “tie-breaker” items during the evaluation process.
Committee members should use this opportunity to ask questions and to fully explore any aspects of the software that may be potential challenges or difficulties. Shortly after the final demonstration, members of the selection committee should meet to debrief. During this debriefing, the committee members share the results on their scorecards and bring any concerns to light. Members will also discuss how the software meets or exceeds the requirements of the organization. Follow up discussions or questions may have to be provided to certain vendors.
Step 7: Choosing Between the Final Vendors
Once you have reduced your list of systems down to your final candidates, conduct reference checks. The finalist vendors should be able to provide you with a list of current clients who are using the current product. Following your reference checks, you should reconvene your selection committee one last time to review the results of the reference checks, in conjunction with the original scorecard results. During this meeting, the final provider candidates should be measured against each other, and the team should be able to reach a selection decision at this point.
Following a decision, you can make the appropriate recommendation to the senior executives of the organization, complete with a presentation outlining the justification for the purchase and the value added by the software. Part of this discussion should focus on how this system will enable HR Managers to have a more strategic role in the organization; as they can now capture data from the new system to create leadership training programs, succession plans, and many other programs to help employees grow and develop for the future.