A step-by-step guide to HRIS implementation for non-technical HR professionals

Unlock the power of seamless HR management with our comprehensive step-by-step guide to HRIS implementation. See how OutSail helps organizations through the intricacies of Human Resource Information System setup

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
July 4, 2023
user comparing HRIS systems

Implementing a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) can greatly streamline HR processes, enhance data accuracy, and improve overall efficiency in an organization. However, for non-technical HR professionals, implementing an HRIS can be daunting. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the HRIS implementation process, enabling non-technical HR professionals to understand better the tasks involved, set realistic expectations, and determine if they require additional assistance from an HRIS consultant.

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Phase 1: Data Transfer

The first phase of HRIS implementation focuses on transferring existing data into the new system. This phase involves several subtasks:

  1. Data Extraction: Collaborate with IT or relevant departments to extract data from existing HR systems, including employee information, payroll records, timekeeping data, benefits data, and more. Ensure that the data is accurately extracted and securely stored.
  2. New System Reports: Identify the reports required in the new HRIS system, such as employee profiles, organizational structure, compensation details, and performance metrics. Collaborate with the HRIS vendor to determine which reports are available out-of-the-box and which require customization.
  3. Data Validation: Thoroughly review the extracted data for any inconsistencies, errors, or duplicates. Cleanse and validate the data before transferring it to the new HRIS system. This step is crucial to ensure accurate and reliable data within the new system.
  4. Dual Maintenance: During the implementation process, maintain both the old and new systems simultaneously to avoid disruption in HR operations. This allows for data comparison and validation to ensure the new system accurately reflects existing HR processes.
  5. Year-to-Date Data Extraction: If the implementation occurs mid-year, extract year-to-date data from the previous system to ensure accurate tracking of employee information and payroll calculations.

Phase 2: Process Mapping

In this phase, the focus shifts to mapping HR processes and configuring the new HRIS system to align with those processes. The subtasks involved are as follows:

  1. Design Call & Process Overview: Engage with key stakeholders to understand the current HR processes, pain points, and desired outcomes. Conduct design calls with the HRIS vendor to discuss system capabilities and how they align with organizational requirements.
  2. Labor Allocation & General Ledger Set-Up: Define labor allocation codes and establish the integration between HR and finance systems to ensure accurate cost tracking and reporting. Work closely with the finance department to determine the appropriate general ledger structure.
  3. Org Structure & Position Management Design: Collaborate with HR and department heads to define the organizational structure within the new HRIS system. Establish position management capabilities, including job titles, codes, and reporting relationships.
  4. Timekeeping Rules, Process & SOP Creation: Define timekeeping rules, including overtime calculations, leave policies, and attendance tracking. Develop standardized processes and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to guide employees and managers on timekeeping practices.

Phase 3: System Buildout

During this phase, the focus is configuring the HRIS system to meet specific HR functional requirements. The subtasks include:

  1. Payroll: Collaborate with the payroll team to configure the payroll module in the HRIS system. Define pay groups, earnings codes, deductions, and tax rules. Conduct thorough testing to ensure accurate payroll calculations and timely payment.
  2. Timekeeping: Configure the timekeeping module to align with established timekeeping rules. Define work schedules, leave types, accrual policies, and overtime calculations. Conduct testing to verify accurate time tracking and reporting.
  3. HR/Recruiting/Onboarding: Set up the HR module to manage employee information, recruitment processes, and onboarding procedures. Define employee profiles, employment history tracking, job requisition workflows, and candidate screening processes—Configure onboarding workflows to streamline the new employee orientation process.
  4. Benefits Administration: Configure the benefits administration module to manage employee benefit programs, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other voluntary benefits. Define eligibility rules, enrollment processes, and integration with external benefit providers.
  5. Additional Modules: Depending on the organization's needs, configure additional modules such as performance management, learning management, or employee self-service. Collaborate with relevant stakeholders to determine system requirements and configure the modules accordingly.
  6. Testing & Configuration: Thoroughly test each module and functionality within the HRIS system. Validate data accuracy, system integrations, and user interfaces. Conduct user acceptance testing (UAT) with HR professionals to ensure the system meets their requirements and resolves any identified issues.

Phase 4: Integration Buildout

This phase focuses on integrating the HRIS system with other systems and ensuring seamless data flow. The subtasks involved are as follows:

  1. Ecosystem Analysis: Identify all systems that need to integrate with the HRIS, such as finance, timekeeping, and attendance systems. Collaborate with IT and relevant stakeholders to understand the integration requirements and dependencies.
  2. Data Flow Mapping: Map the data flow between the HRIS and other integrated systems. Identify data touchpoints, transformations, and validation processes to ensure accurate and consistent data across systems.
  3. Data Points Mapping: Define the data points that must be exchanged between systems. Determine which data elements are shared between systems, such as employee demographics, payroll data, or performance metrics.
  4. Testing & Auditing: Conduct thorough testing of data integrations to ensure the accurate transfer of data between systems. Validate data synchronization, error handling, and data security protocols. Perform audits to verify data integrity and compliance with data privacy regulations.

Phase 5: Rollout

The final phase focuses on the rollout of the HRIS system to employees and managers. The subtasks include:

  1. Configure Self-Service Options: Set up self-service options for employees and managers to access the HRIS system. Define user roles and permissions to ensure appropriate access to data and functionalities.
  2. Manager Self-Service Rollout: Train managers on how to use the HRIS system for tasks such as employee data management, performance reviews, and leave approvals. Provide comprehensive documentation and conduct training sessions to ensure their proficiency in using the system.
  3. Employee Self-Service Rollout: Communicate the availability of the HRIS system to employees and provide training on how to access and utilize self-service features. Educate employees on updating personal information, viewing payslips, requesting time off, and accessing HR policies and documents.
  4. Office Hours/Employee Communication: Organize office hours or dedicated support channels to address employee questions and concerns regarding the new HRIS system. Provide ongoing communication and support to ensure a smooth transition and address system-related issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is an HRIS, and why is it important for HR professionals?

An HRIS, or Human Resources Information System, is a software solution that centralizes and automates various HR functions, such as employee data management, payroll processing, benefits administration, and recruitment. It is essential for HR professionals as it streamlines HR processes, improves data accuracy, enhances reporting capabilities, and enables better decision-making through access to real-time information.

Q2: How long does the HRIS implementation process usually take?

The duration of an HRIS implementation can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the organization's HR processes, the scope of the implementation, and the availability of resources. On average, HRIS implementations can take a few weeks to several months. It is essential to allocate sufficient time for each phase, including planning, data transfer, system configuration, testing, and user training.

Q3: What are the key challenges faced during HRIS implementation?

Some common challenges during HRIS implementation include:

  • Data migration issues
  • System configuration complexities
  • Resistance to change from employees
  • Ensuring proper integration with existing systems

Q4: Do non-technical HR professionals need assistance from HRIS consultants?

While non-technical HR professionals can lead the HRIS implementation process, the involvement of HRIS consultants can be beneficial. HRIS consultants possess technical expertise and experience in implementing HRIS systems. They can guide system selection, data migration, and system configuration and offer best practices to optimize the use of the HRIS system. Engaging HRIS consultants can help ensure a smoother implementation and maximize the benefits of the HRIS system.

Q5: How can HR professionals ensure a smooth transition for employees during the HRIS rollout?

Effective communication and training are essential to ensure a smooth transition for employees. HR professionals should communicate the benefits and purpose of the new HRIS system to employees, addressing any concerns and highlighting how it will simplify processes and improve their HR experience. Comprehensive training sessions, user guides, and support channels will empower employees to navigate the system confidently and embrace its features.


Implementing an HRIS system can be complex, but with a step-by-step approach, non-technical HR professionals can navigate the process more effectively. By understanding the phases and subtasks involved in HRIS implementation, HR professionals can set realistic expectations, identify areas where additional help may be required, and collaborate effectively with HRIS consultants or vendors. With proper planning, thorough testing, and user training, HRIS implementation can revolutionize HR processes, improve data accuracy, and enhance overall organizational efficiency.

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Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.

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