Homegrown (as little as $0). A generous employee with some advanced database programming experience can whip together a basic recordkeeping system for most small employers. If you live in a college town, you may even be able to enlist a starving Computer Science student to do it for a classroom project or small stipend. The challenge with this option is upfront planning so that you know which fields you need in the database.
The Internet (free). That's right -- HRIS on the internet! One of the first free web-based employee recordkeeping systems can be found at www.virtualhr.com. This online HRIS is a basic system that maintains employee information, benefits, paid time off and helps with compliance issues.
Off-the-Shelf ($250-$5,000). There are many companies who produce load-and-run HRIS software programs. Some of the more visible names in this area are ABRA HR, HR Office, PeopleTrak and HRVantage. Some of these companies work directly with customers, using detailed instruction manuals and customer support for installation and usage. Others, like ABRA HR, work primarily through independent consultants who market, install and support the product.
Look to pay anywhere from $75-150 an hour additional for the consultant's time. Price differences vary based on the types and number of modules you use, but basic employee modules in these vendors run about $500-750.
Payroll Vendors (Per-employee fee). If you already use an outside vendor for your company payroll, you may want to inquire about their abilities to provide extended HRIS-type services. These include capturing benefits enrollment information, training records and performance review measures. These can all be provided via online links to the vendor's main computers. The advantage of these services is that it allows the same view and edit capabilities of an in-house HRIS without the upfront system costs.