| 26 September, 2023 | 16 Min Read

A Deep Dive into 3 Main Types of HR Software: HRIS, HCM, and HRMS

Dive into the intriguing world of HR software, where HRIS, HCM, and HRMS reshape business landscapes. Ever wondered how they differ or which is best for you? Stay tuned. We're about to demystify this digital conundrum.

In the contemporary business world, the role of Human Resource (HR) software has grown exponentially. It has become a critical component for businesses of all sizes, helping them streamline their HR processes, improve efficiency, and ultimately drive business growth. 

With the integration of HR software, businesses can now manage their human resources functions more effectively, enabling them to focus on strategic planning and decision-making.

This article aims to unravel the distinctions between the three primary types of HR software - HRIS, HCM, and HRMS. We will explore their unique features, specific purposes, and how they can benefit your organization. 

By understanding these differences, you can make an informed decision about which system is best suited to meet your organizational needs.

The Integral Role of HR Software

HR software is a digital solution that integrates various human resource management tasks into one centralized system. Its role in modern human resource management is paramount. 

From recruitment to payroll processing, performance management to employee engagement, human resource software automates and simplifies complex HR tasks, freeing up time for strategic planning and decision-making.

In the past, HR tasks were executed manually, which was time-consuming and prone to errors. However, with the advent of technology, HR software emerged, revolutionizing the HR landscape. 

The global HR management software market has seen tremendous growth, reflecting organizations' increasing adoption of such systems worldwide.

The right HR software can streamline HR processes, improve efficiency, and boost employee satisfaction. For instance, multinational corporations have reported significant reductions in their HR transactional work after implementing an HRIS system, allowing the HR team to focus more on strategic initiatives.

The Three Main Types of HR Software


Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

A Human Resource Information System, commonly known as HRIS, serves as a database for storing and managing employee data. Its primary functions include payroll processing, benefits administration, time tracking, and an employee self-service portal.

HRIS can be particularly beneficial for HR professionals as it centralizes employee data, making it easy to access and manage. For instance, instead of sifting through piles of paperwork to find information about an employee, HR professionals can simply search the HRIS. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors that can occur with manual data handling.

Future-proof HRIS software should include features like data analytics, AI-driven insights, and goal management capabilities, which are becoming increasingly important in modern HR practices. 

Data analytics can provide valuable insights into various aspects of HR, such as recruitment trends and employee performance, enabling HR professionals to make data-driven decisions.

AI-driven insights can help predict future trends and patterns, allowing organizations to plan their HR strategies more effectively. 

Goal management capabilities of HR Software can help align individual employee goals with those of the organization, promoting a culture of continuous improvement and high performance.

Human Capital Management (HCM)

Human Capital Management, or HCM, goes beyond basic HR tasks. It encompasses all activities related to managing an organization's workforce – from recruitment to retirement. This includes talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, and succession planning.

HCM helps HR professionals manage their workforce more effectively by providing a holistic view of employee performance and potential. With HCM, HR managers can identify top performers, track employee progress, and align individual goals with organizational objectives. 

This comprehensive approach enables organizations to develop and retain their talent, fostering a culture of growth and development.

Time and attendance tracking is an integral part of HCM software. It enables businesses to accurately track employee working hours, overtime, and leave, ensuring compliance with labor laws and accurate payroll processing. This feature can significantly reduce administrative work and improve efficiency.

Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS)

Human Resource Management Systems, or HRMS, combines the functionalities of both HRIS and HCM. It's a comprehensive solution that manages core HR functions and strategic HR activities.

HRMS simplifies various HR tasks and processes, reducing manual work and increasing efficiency. For example, an HRMS can automate the recruitment process, from job posting to applicant tracking, making it easier for HR teams to find the right candidates. This not only speeds up the recruitment process but also improves the quality of hires.

When selecting an ideal HRMS for your organization, consider factors like scalability, ease of use, integration capabilities, and vendor support. 

  • Scalability ensures that the system can grow with your business, accommodating more employees as your organization expands. 
  • Ease of use ensures that your team can quickly learn and adapt to the system, minimizing disruption to your operations. 
  • Integration capabilities ensure the system can seamlessly connect with your existing software and applications, creating a unified, efficient workflow. 
  • Vendor support ensures that you can get help when you need it, ensuring the smooth operation of the system.

Differentiating Between HRIS, HCM, and HRMS

To delve deeper into the differences and similarities between HRIS, HCM, and HRMS, let's take a look at the below comparison table that encapsulates their primary functions, benefits, and key features.

Differentiating Between HRIS, HCM, and HRMS-3

While each system has unique features and usage, there's overlap between them. For instance, both HRIS and HRMS handle payroll processing, while HCM and HRMS manage talent acquisition. These systems complement each other, working together to provide a comprehensive HR management solution.

Consider a multinational corporation like IBM. With its large and diverse workforce, robust HR systems are required to manage different aspects of human resources.

  • HRIS (Human Resources Information System): IBM could use an HRIS to manage employee data across different countries and departments. This system would handle administrative tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and leave management.
  • HRMS (Human Resources Management System): Given IBM's continuous need for talent acquisition due to its size and scope, an HRMS could streamline the recruitment process. It would handle job postings, applicant tracking, interviews, and onboarding. Additionally, it could also assist with payroll processing, thus overlapping with the HRIS.
  • HCM (Human Capital Management): IBM could utilize an HCM system to manage its human capital strategically. This would cover areas like succession planning, performance management, learning and development, and workforce analytics. It would also handle talent acquisition, thereby sharing functionality with the HRMS.

In this way, IBM could potentially employ all three systems - HRIS, HRMS, and HCM - each handling unique tasks while also sharing certain functionalities. Together, they would provide a comprehensive HR management solution that aligns with the company's global operations and strategic objectives.

However, it's crucial to note that the specific systems and their usage can vary greatly depending on the organization's size, industry, requirements, and resources.

Choosing the Right HR Software


As businesses evolve and grow, so do their human resource needs. Choosing the right HR software is a critical decision that can significantly impact an organization's efficiency, productivity, and overall success. 

The ideal software should align with the specific needs and goals of your organization, streamlining HR processes, reducing manual tasks, and enabling strategic decision-making.

Importance of Alignment with Organizational Needs and Goals

The right HR software can contribute significantly to an organization's success. HR tools are there to help humans solve the problem of repetitive and manual daily tasks. 

However, choosing an HR software that aligns with your organizational needs and goals is not always straightforward. Different systems offer different features and capabilities, and what works for one organization may not work for another. 

Each business has its own stories, so make sure to define current needs and future goals before making a decision. Or else you may hurt your budget with the wrong solution and waste time looking for another tool.

This includes considering factors like the size of your workforce, the complexity of your HR processes, your budget, and your long-term growth plans.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Selecting HR software can be a challenging task, and organizations often encounter several common pitfalls. These include choosing software that's too complex for the team to use effectively, doesn't integrate well with existing systems, lacks necessary features, or doesn't provide adequate vendor support.

To avoid these pitfalls:

  • Understand Your Requirements: Clearly define your HR needs and objectives. Consider which HR tasks you want to automate and what kind of data you need to track and analyze.
  • Prioritize Usability: Choose software that's user-friendly and easy to navigate. This will ensure your team can quickly learn and adapt to the new system.
  • Consider Integration Capabilities: Ensure the software seamlessly integrates with your existing systems, creating a unified, efficient workflow.
  • Check for Necessary Features: Make a list of essential features your organization needs and ensure the software you choose provides them.
  • Evaluate Vendor Support: Check whether the vendor offers adequate support, including training, customer service, and regular updates.

Top 15 HR Management Software in 2023




Key Features


Basic plan: $10/user/month Premium plan: $25/user/month

Comprehensive onboarding checklist, Customizable templates and workflows, Employee self-service portal

Grove HR

Free plan available, paid plan starts at $3/user/month

Automated onboarding workflows, Customized onboarding checklist, Candidate Data Sync, and best alternative for BambooHR.


Starting at $49/month for up to 5 workers

Customizable onboarding workflows, Contract management, Payment processing, and tax compliance tools

Papaya Global

Customized based on organizational needs

Automated onboarding workflows, Compliance management, Document collection and reporting tools


Customized pricing plans are available upon request

Customizable onboarding workflows, Employee self-service portals, Integration with applicant tracking systems


Starts from $2 per user per month

The recruitment module uses AI to source and select top applicants, automates reviews using feedback systems, and automates attendance, leave management, and employee surveys.

Sprout Solutions

Modular pricing system - contact for a custom quote

Leave Management, Attendance Management, Employee Management, Dashboard, People Analytics


Starts from 50 employees per month

Payroll, Timekeeping, Employee Self-Service, HR Reports


Starts from P100 per employee per month

Performance Management, Payroll, Timesheets


Dynamic pricing model (based on the number of employees and features)

Cloud-based solutions for payroll and timekeeping, Mobile-friendly interface


Paid - Contact for pricing

Comprehensive HR management, Ensures compliance with legal regulations, Helps businesses save time and costs

Zoho People

Paid - Contact for pricing

Covers entire employee lifecycle, Time and attendance tracking, Payroll, Performance management, AI-powered analytics


Starts from $8 per month

Easy payroll management, Feedback tools, 24/7 customer care


Free & Paid

Data synchronization, Accurate salary synthesis, User-friendly interface


Paid - Contact for pricing

Provides a comprehensive view of a company's human resources, Customizable reports, and Detailed analysis for strategic planning strategic planning


Indicators It's Time for a New HR Software

Recognizing the signs that it's time to upgrade or replace your HR software is crucial to maintaining productivity and efficiency within your organization. Here are several indicators to watch out for:

  • Overwhelming Paperwork: If your HR team is inundated with paperwork, it's a sign that your current HR software isn't sufficiently automating tasks. The right HR software should reduce paperwork by streamlining processes and automating routine tasks.
  • Frequent Human Errors: Regular mistakes, such as payroll errors or inaccuracies in employee data, suggest your existing HR system may be inadequate. Reliable HR software should minimize human error by automating data entry and calculations.
  • High Turnover Rate: A high turnover rate among your HR team and employees indicates your current HR system may not be effective. Efficient HR software should support talent management, streamline onboarding, and enhance employee engagement. A high turnover rate might indicate it's time to consider an HR software upgrade.

For a more comprehensive understanding of when it's time to upgrade your HR software, you can read this article, which provides further insights and indicators.

By keeping an eye on these indicators, you can ensure your HR software continues to serve your organizational needs and contributes to your business success.

The Future of HR Software

Future trends in HR software include AI and machine learning, data analytics, employee self-service, and digital onboarding. 

  • AI and machine learning can automate routine tasks, freeing up time for strategic activities. 
  • Data analytics can provide valuable insights into HR trends and patterns, enabling data-driven decision-making. 
  • Employee self-service can empower employees to manage their own HR-related tasks, such as updating personal information and submitting leave requests, reducing administrative work for the HR team. 
  • Digital onboarding can streamline the onboarding process, improving the new hire experience and reducing time to productivity.

Staying updated on these trends can help organizations leverage the full potential of their HR software, enhancing efficiency and driving business growth.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, understanding the differences between HRIS, HCM, and HRMS is essential for HR professionals. Each system has its unique features and benefits, serving different purposes. 

By choosing the right software that aligns with your organizational needs and future trends, you can significantly enhance your HR management, contributing to your business success. Obviously, HR software is not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Therefore, it's crucial to assess your organization's needs, goals, and resources carefully before making a decision. This will ensure that you invest in a system that not only meets your current needs but also supports your future growth. If you're a startup or SMB looking for an affordable solution, free HR software can be a good start for experiencing the comprehensive human resource management features.

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Reduce manual effort with automated HR processes

  • Reduce manual effort with automated HR processes
  • Automate attendance and time off.
  • Conduct 360-degree performance management easily.