Understanding HRIS, HRMS, and HCM

Understanding HRIS, HRMS, and HCM

Understanding HRIS, HRMS, and HCM

The acronyms HRIS, HRMS, and HCM each describe the same type of system. Essentially, the acronyms refer to a suite of software, databases, and cloud computing often implemented in human resources applications. Such systems act as a comprehensive means to improve and more easily manage the many different aspects of a workforce, from pay histories to contact information tracking. That said, the three terms aren’t completely synonymous and have several functional differences. To gain a better understanding of HRIS, HRMS, and HCM, continue reading.

Blurring Lines

Before we begin, it is important to note that the exact definition of each type of system is not universally agreed upon amongst professionals in the industry. While each acronym previously had more pronounced differences, the dividing line between them has grown thinner through the years as companies have attempted to provide a single solution.

Further, the terms are often used interchangeably by the vendors who offer these systems. As such, it is important not to assume that a system has the specific features or capabilities commonly associated with each acronym just because the system is marketed using a particular term.

When choosing a system, make sure to always carefully look into the capabilities and features they provide so you can obtain a system that works best for your application. That said, let’s talk about some of the general qualities often associated with each system.


The acronym HRIS stand for Human Resources Information Systems.

An HRIS is generally viewed as the most narrow human resources software solution. It is mainly used to manage personnel, procedures, and policies in a company. Some of the key capabilities commonly associated with an HRIS system include:

  • Absence management
  • Benefits administration
  • Personnel tracking
  • Absence management
  • Compensation management
  • Payroll and tax compliance
  • Self-service portal
  • Recruitment management
  • Workflow tracking.


The acronym HRMS stands for Human Resource Management Systems.

Human resource management systems are often considered the most comprehensive HR solution, though not always. These systems generally include all of the capabilities of an HRIS with the addition of several others, including:

  • Talent management
  • Payroll processing
  • Analytics
  • Position control
  • Onboarding
  • Employee performance
  • Time and labor management (TLM)
  • Global capabilities (such as localization, multi-lingual, and multi-currency formatting).


HCM stands for Human Capital Management.

There is still debate over whether HRMS or HCM systems are the most comprehensive solution. However, most professionals universally agree that HCM systems are more extensive than HRIS. An HCM system includes all the features offered by HRIS with the addition of talent management capabilities such as succession planning, career planning, learning and development, and compensation planning.

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