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HRMS and Related Terms

March 7, 2001
Related Topics: Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Featured Article
From scalability to stand-alone system,here are the definitions that you were afraid to ask about.

1. ASP20. Opendesign/architecture
2. Batch Processing21. Operating system
3. Boolean Search22. PAF
4. Client/Server23. Passive EventProcessing
5. Data warehousing24. Perpetual/Rental license
6. DistributedWorkforce25. Proprietarydesign/architecture
7. E-mail client26. PTO
8. Enterprise systems27. Real-time
9. Firewall28. Requisition
10. FoxPro29. RFP/RFB
11. HRMS30. Scalability
12. Import/Export31. Scanning
13. Intelligent Search32. Stand-alone system
14. IVR33. UNIX
15. Intranet34. User Interface
16. Kiosk35. Utility
17. MIME36. Wizard
18. Modules37. WorkforceAnalytics
19. OCR38. WorkforceManagement
Application ServiceProvider (ASP)
Term given to companies that designand manage software-based services for companies from a central locationrather than provide software of other solutions for the company to manage ontheir own.

Batch Processing
Executing a series ofnon-interactive jobs all at once. Usually, jobs are stored up during workinghours and then processed at a set time, normally during the night. This ishow many older HRMS systems processed information, and it is being replacedby systems that provide real-time processing.

Boolean Search
Boolean searching is based on asystem of symbolic logic developed by George Boole, a 19th-century Englishmathematician. Most keyword-searchable computer databases support Booleansearches. Boolean search techniques can be used to perform accurate searcheswithout producing many irrelevant documents.

When you perform a Boolean search,you search the computer database for the keywords that best describe yourtopic. The power of Boolean searching is based on combinations of keywordswith connecting terms called operators. The three basic operators are theterms AND, OR, and NOT.


A type of network setup that iscomposed of 1) main computers (servers) that control file storage (fileserver), printer control (print server), and network traffic and 2)individual computers or work stations (clients) that allow users to runprograms that use the server's resources. A client/server setup is generallyvisualized as a computer in the center, with individual PCs branching off itin wagon-wheel fashion.

Data warehousing
The process of collecting andstoring data in an organized manner so that it can be accessed for analyzingat a later time. Companies will often collect vast amounts of data onbusiness operations and then design flexible database programs to access thedata in any form required. This is often used by finance anddecision-support departments to model the impact of organizationalinitiatives.

Distributed Workforce
A buzzword used to describe anorganization that has employees spread among many geographic or divisionallocations.

E-mail client
A software application that allowsusers to send, receive, and organize e-mails from either an individual PC ora network work station. Some popular e-mail clients are Lotus Notes,Microsoft Outlook, and Group Wise.

Enterprise systems
Large computer applications thathandle multiple operations for a company or business unit. An example islarge human resource information systems, such as PeopleSoft, that have theability to handle general human resources information, payroll processing,and corporate financial and accounting management.

A type of system, either hardware-or software-based, that prevents unauthorized access to a computer network,usually a corporate intranet.

A database program developed byMicrosoft that many professional software developers use to build programs.Its counterpart, Microsoft Access, is considered the "everydayuser's" database application.

Human ResourceManagement Systems (HRMS)
Also known as Human ResourceInformation Systems (HRIS). Software-based systems that manageall or part of the human resource function for an organization. Typicalparts include employment demographics, benefits/compensation management,training, payroll, and reporting.

The function within a softwareprogram that allows it to read and use data from another system orapplication (import) or format its own data for use by another applicationor system (export). For example, an applicant tracking system may produce areport that shows applicants and their itemized hiring costs. This reportcould be exported to a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, forfurther analysis that would not be possible in the applicant trackingsystem. Likewise, résumés can be scanned, and the information importedinto the applicant tracking system.

Intelligent Search
Also known as intelligent agents. Automated searches of programs or,more recently, the Internet that are established under certain parameters bythe user. For example, a person can tell the intelligent search program tolook for all instances of the word "programmer" at a certain Website and to perform this search every eight hours. This relieves the personof doing this search manually each time.

Interactive Voice Response(IVR)
A type of service, usuallyassociated with a telephone, that allows a user to listen to a menu ofchoices regarding some type of process, and then perform an action bypressing the keys on the phone keypad. A common example is a voice messagesystem; however, in the human resource arena, IVR is used widely forcollecting benefits enrollments.

Also known as a company network. A private network inside a companyor organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find onthe public Internet, but that is only for internal use. As the Internet hasbecome more popular, many of the tools used there are also being used inprivate networks; for example, many companies have Web servers that areavailable only to employees.

A booth or independent structurethat performs a computer-related function. The most common type of kiosk isan automated teller machine (ATM). However, many companies are turning tokiosks to be able to communicate with their employees and collectinformation from them from remote locations. In applicant tracking, kiosksare being used to collect online applications for jobs.

MultipurposeInternet Mail Extensions (MIME)
A specification for formatting non-ASCIImessages (messages containing special formatting, such as italics or textcolor) so that they can be accurately sent over the Internet. Many e-mailclients now support MIME, which enables them to send and receive graphics,audio, and video files via the Internet mail system.

Any subset of functions within anapplication that pertains to a specific objective. In the HRMS environment,many applications are module based, meaning that along with the basedemographic module, you can also purchase other modules that you may need(e.g., benefits module, training module, attendance module). This allowsmaximum flexibility in building the system for your needs.

Optical CharacterRecognition (OCR)
Relatively new technology that canread paper text and manipulate it for viewing and editing in aword-processing program. It saves extraordinary amounts of time in retypingdata into other formats, such as databases.

Open design/architecture
Software or hardware that has theability to be modified by any user, including the programmer. This hasbecome a more popular design for today's software in that it allows thirdparties to develop companion software (i.e., add-ons) to improve theoriginal product. This allows maximum flexibility for buyers to tailorproducts to their specific needs.

Operating System
The "engine" that drivesthe personal computer and provides the basic framework on which the computeroperates and software programs can be run. Popular examples in business areMicrosoft Windows, OS/2, Linux, and UNIX.

Personnel ActionForm (PAF)
A type of form associated with olderHRMS applications that shows summary data information on an employee (e.g.,address, pay, emergency contact). Users make manual edits to the form andsubmit it to the HR department for processing.

Passive Event Processing
A type of processing thatautomatically executes once a predetermined event or set of events (i.e.,rules) occurs. For example, an HRMS sends out an e-mail to a manager on anemployee's anniversary date to request that a performance evaluation becompleted. This requires up-front programming but no ongoing interaction bya system administrator.

Perpetual license/Rental license
An alternative way of purchasingsoftware or a service. Under a perpetual agreement, a buyer would pay alarger amount at the setup of the system, with a fixed monthly"lease" amount over a long period, say five years.

Under a rental license, the buyerpays less at setup and a higher monthly fee, generally for a shorter amountof time, say 24 months.

These purchase agreements areanalogous to buying versus leasing a car and provide additional options forfinancing.


Proprietary design/architecture
Generally refers to a software orhardware design that can be modified only by the original designer orprogrammer. Many vendors develop proprietary designs so that outside partiescannot copy or duplicate them. It also allows them full control, andpricing, over modifications made to the product.

Paid Time Off (PTO)
A common type of paid-leave programthat combines all types of paid days off (vacation, sick, holiday) into onebank of time. This approach allows flexibility for the employee in how daysare used and better budgeting control for the employer, who only has tomonitor one bank of time.

Input into a system that affectsexisting data immediately, as opposed to a batch-processed system thatcollects all data inputs and then processes them at a later time. Forexample, if an HR person wants to change an employee's address, then theentry is made into the system and the address is changed immediately. Thisis a common buzzword that indicates that data can be accessed or editedimmediately.

A formal request by a hiring managerto fill an open position in the company. Generally, a requisition willinclude the title of the position, the required knowledge, skills, andabilities, salary information, and any other information that is pertinentto the performance of the job (e.g., location, restrictions).

Request forProposal/Request for Bid (RFP/RFB)
A document that is normally preparedby a buyer of a system or service that provides necessary information for aseller/vendor to make a formal bid or proposal for product/service. Thedocument normally includes an overview of the company, the specific needsthat should be met by the system or service, technical information regardingthe company's current environment, and the time line for the seller torespond.

The ability of a software program orpiece of hardware to adapt to an increased amount of demands. For example,if you have only one location but think you might expand to other locationsin the future, you will want to purchase an applicant tracking system thatcan handle your one location now and then expand to handle your multiplelocations later.

Computer industry buzzword thatrefers to taking a paper format and putting it directly into a format forviewing and/or editing on a computer. This usually is used in connectionwith optical character recognition (OCR).

Stand-alone system
Any machine or system that does notrequire another system to operate. The term is most frequently used inreference to a personal computer that is not part of a network and has itsown file storage, printer control, and e-mail/Internet connection (i.e.,modem). When comparing certain software products, vendors will price theproduct for a "stand-alone" version and a "network"version.

UNIX (pronouncedyoo-niks)
One of the leading operating systemsfor companies with networks and work stations rather than separate personalcomputers.

User Interface
The part of a software program orWeb-based application that the user actually sees and uses. This is normallydesigned to be easy to use and aesthetically pleasing.

A program that performs a very specifictask on a computer. For example, antivirus software is considered a utilitybecause its sole function is to monitor for computer viruses.

A utility or sub-program within alarger software program that helps to perform a certain task. For example, in anapplicant tracking system, a "requisition wizard" would lead a personthrough each of the steps of producing a requisition.

Workforce Analytics
A newer function within HRMSapplications that evaluates organizational data and uses it to make humanresource-related decisions. Common analytics are cost-per-hire, turnover rate,and total compensation costs.

Workforce Management
Also known as Workforce Planning. The organizational objective ofaligning the right people with the right job at the right time. Manyorganizations have sophisticated models that manage recruitment, training,performance evaluation, and career planning in a way that maximizesproductivity.

Recent Articles by William Dickmeyer, CEBS

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