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In this Glossary, we aim to make it as easy as possible for our clients to navigate around the rather IT-derived expressions that they will encounter in their quest for the perfect HRIS application.
Absence Module
A part of the HRIS that collects and aggregates information on attendance, holidays and sickness. The main ways in which the module can be populated are by direct input from paper records, via an Employee Self Service system or by upload from a Data Importer or Time & Attendance application.
Some Absence modules facilitate use of the Bradford Factor method of evaluating sickness absence.
Appeals (see Employee Relations)
Audit Trail
Part of any main HRIS is the Audit Trail, usually accessed through the System Admin area.
This will detail every transaction through the application, date and by whom generated. Regular checks of this are essential to verify the integrity of the data, and to trace the origin of errors translated on to the system.
Auto Number Generation
This is the function where, once set up, unique employee numbers are generated as soon as a new employee is entered onto the application.
Existing sequences are loaded into the application (usually via System Administration). In some cases, existing organisational sequences cannot be accommodated by the software. It is good practice for employees to have only one number, irrespective of the number of posts or roles they may hold, particularly if there is a Payroll involvement.
Automated Events
- see Triggered Events
Bradford Factor
The Bradford factor is a way of illustrating how disruptive frequent short-term absence - around weekends for example - can be, relative to occasional longer spells of absence. Bradford scores are a way of identifying individuals with serious absence and patterns of absence worthy of further investigation. It helps highlight causes for concern and often is one of the first steps in an attendance procedure. (IDS definition)
The Bradford Factor score is calculated as S x S x D
S=the number of absences in the last 52 weeks, D=total number of days' absence during the same period.
One absence of 7 days = 1 x 1 x 7 = 7
2 absences of 2 days, 1 of 3 days = 3 x 3 x 7 = 63
Seven absences of 1 day each = 7 x 7 x 7 = 343
The higher the score, the more disruption.
This can of course be reflected over varying rolling periods of time.
Some of the HR applications include Bradford Factor statistics in their Absence Modules.
Business Intelligence Application
A piece of software that enables the user to report, analyse and present data that is held either in other modules of the same system, or in other discrete systems. The software typically straddles other applications and is set up to draw data from them.
The Catalogue within an HRIS is the array of fields used in the database application that are reflected in the Report Writer, e.g. Job Title, Surname, Grade and Salary.
It is essential that every new field that is added by the user organisation (via the System Administration module for Change control consistency) is automatically added into the Catalogue, otherwise it cannot appear in the reports.
The places where the Database meets the Report Writer are commonly known as "Joins". Up to a few years ago, it wasn't unusual for software to be supplied with some joins incomplete, that caused a lot of head-scratching in HR departments trying out their new-found Report Writing skills, but nowadays most systems will automatically update their Catalogues with new fields.
Comma Separated Values
Generally referred to as a .csv file, this is used, amongst  Red Studio Beats By Dre other things, to transfer data between applications. Typically used when importingexporting data between old and new systems or bulk uploading data such as Absence records via a Data Importer.
There is often confusion in client's minds about the difference between Configuration and Customisation when sourcing HR applications.
Configuration is basically the setting up, addition, modification or deletion of parameters and rules within the application, such as Holiday Entitlements, Occupational Sick Pay limits, Posts and Benefits. Consultancy assistance is usually employed at the roll out of an application, and thereafter is performed by system administrators within the user department.
Customisation is modification of the original software, in order to accommodate a client's requirements, such as new screens and new categories. This entails radical changes, and can be costly. It is often advisable to look into what is driving the need for customisation, as it may be that a straightforward replication of existing processes can be re-worked to advantage.
See also: Configuration
Data Importer
A Data Importer is a software feature that runs a routine to move data from one application to another. This can usually mean that data, e.g. in Excel format, is converted into another format (e.g. csv, comma separated values file) and then drawn into another application to populate it.
Most new or upgraded HRIS are populated by this method as it saves keying in all the data again. An application is populated by data held in several relational spreadsheets set out in a specific format.
This emphasises the need to ensure that all data is clean before migrating it to another application.
(see Employee Relations)
Email Client
E-mail software, such as Microsoft Outlook Express or Lotus Notes.
Also called a mail client (or just client), an email client is a software application that enables you to send, receive, and organize email.
Employee Relations
Employee Relations is the generic term for the part of the HR application that covers Discipline, Grievance and Appeal. The stages of these processes are tracked through the application, and will generate reminders where required. Not the least important of these reminders is the one that can be set up to purge warnings from the system in line with organisational policy.
Employee Self Service (ESS)
Employee Self Service (ESS) is a web based application that provides employees with access to their personal records (address, contact, and emergency contact details) and their payroll records (bank account and payslips).
It is usual for employees to have the facility to change or modify certain fields such as Address, Bank Details or Emergency Contact, as well as generate requests for Holidays, Training or report on Sickness Absence.
More advanced iterations of ESS feature the capability of running Appraisal reporting online and connecting it to Objective Setting and TrainingDevelopmental needs, which in turn can be administratively booked and delivered through the ESS application.
Access is usually either via an HR portal on an organisation's intranet or from a designated external web link.
Layers of security within the ESS application can permit Managers to view records and requests relating to their staff or departments.
ESS can operate as a feature on an organisation's intranet or via a web enabled proprietary Self Service module appended to an HR system. Logically, it is most effective when deployed across a mainly PC user population.
Entry System
Not to be confused with a Time and Attendance application, this is a system that permits entry by use of an identification tag. Some Entry Systems will collect basic data as to the ID and timings of people effecting entry. Some Time and Attendance applications will enable Entry functioning as part of their capabilities.
Equal Opportunities Monitoring
Note: the categories listed are those commonly used within the UK context for Equal Opportunities Monitoring. You can choose to vary these as monitoring is a configurable feature on HRIS.
Date of Birth
Ethnic Group
White - British
White - Irish
White Scottish
Irish Traveller
Other White background
Black or Black British - Caribbean
Black or Black British - African
Other Black background
Asian or Asian British - Indian
Asian or Asian British - Pakistani
Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi
Other Asian background
Mixed - White & Black Caribbean
Mixed - White & Black African
Mixed - White & Asian
Other Mixed background
Other ethnic background
Not known
Do not wish to supply
Religion or Belief
Prefer not to say
Other - please specify:
Marital Status
Prefer Not To Say
Disability or Long-Term Illness
No known disability
Blind/partially sighted
Deaf/have a hearing impairment
Wheelchair user/have mobility difficulties
Personal care support
Mental health difficulties
An unseen disability, eg diabetes, epilepsy, asthma
Multiple disabilities
A disability not listed above
Not known
Do not wish to supply
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, typically a software application or combination of applications that manages and coordinates information and resources within an organisation. HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems) generally form part of an ERP application.
Software or Source Code escrow is a form of insurance to cover the contingency of your software supplier going out of business.
Under the terms, a copy of the source code (which is the programme written by the developer) is lodged with an agreed third party, an escrow agent, who would release the code to you under specifically agreed conditions, enabling you to recruit assistance to keep the programmes running..
There is a cost attached to this, and in most cases purchasers will have satisfied themselves as to the good standing of their chosen vendor. However, due diligence requirements in some sectors tend to the heavily risk-averse, and this is the solution for them.
FTE (Full Time Equivalent)
The basis on which Headcount is calculated, 1.0 FTE is represented by a full-time employee.
If a standard full-time employee works 40 hours per week, an employee working 25 hours per week is expressed as 0.63 FTE. On most systems, you can set up each post with its budgeted FTE, and compare the budgeted FTE to the actual people in post, and highlight the differences (usually expressed as vacancies).
Fat Client
A fat client or rich client is computer architecture which typically provides rich functionality independently of the central server. Originally known as just a 'client' or 'thick client', the name is derived as an opposite to "thin client", describing a computer which heavily depends on a server's applications.
A fat client still requires at least periodic connection to a network or central server, but is often characterised by the ability to perform many functions without that connection. In contrast, a thin client generally does as little processing as possible and relies on accessing the server each time input data needs to be processed or validated.
Grievance (see Employee Relations)
Grossed Up Pay
From time to time, employers want to ensure that an employee receives a particular net amount of money, in which case a reverse calculation must be performed to arrive at the gross figure before deductions such as PAYE and National Insurance.
Some payroll providers will enable this computation as a standard feature, which cuts out the arduous manual method.
Hay Job Evaluation
Hay Job Evaluation is one of the most popular business management methodologies devised for the analysis of all the existing roles within an organisation. It can be used to produce an organisation chart enabling the grading and banding of salaries and benefits and ranks jobs at similar or varying levels of responsibility.
Hosted service:
The software is never downloaded, but rather is provided by a hosted service provider and is generally paid for on a monthly/annual basis; also known as the application service provider (ASP) software model. Some of these services also charge a percentage of sales in addition to the monthly fee. This model often has predefined templates that a user can choose from to customize their look and feel. In this model users typically have less ability to modify or customize the software with the advantage of having the vendor continuously keep the software up to date for security patches as well as adding new features added.
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HRIS stands for Human Resources Information System (or Human Resource Information Software) and is a generic term for software elements dealing with the recording and processing of personnel.
Other commonly used terms are HRMS (Human Resource Management System or Human Resource Management Information System) and Human Capital Solutions,
HRIS software can form part of a suite in larger organisations. These applications are commonly referred to as Enterprise Resource Planning applications (ERP)
Integrated Applications
In an HRIS context, these applications share a common database although may perform differing functions, e.g. HR & Payroll or Payroll and Time & Attendance.
In HRIS, a user interface is the part of a program that connects the computer with the user and there are interfaces to connect programs, to connect devices, and to connect programs to devices.
The main feature of interfaces is to connect seamlessly between two applications, and they can be costly to construct. Some HR & Payroll packages are actually two different applications with an interface facilitating their working together (as opposed to integrated applications that share a common database)
They are not to be confused with data importingexporting, where there is a distinct input or output from one application, which needs to be imported into or exported from another.
Learning Management System (LMS)
This is a more advanced application than the conventional Training Module.
Typically run in conjunction with an Employee Self Service System, an LMS will allow interaction between Employee, Manager and Training Provider.
A comprehensive LMS will pick up Training and Developmental needs from an employee appraisal (either from within the application or from a connected program) and track the whole process from selection of provider, to delivery and beyond.
With LMS, there is also more scope to record the various strands within Learning & Development, as they can range from Induction, Compliance renewals (e.g. First Aider Certificate), NVQs, and Professional curricula all the way down to Mentoring or Observation.
Licensed software:
The software is downloaded and then installed on a Web server. This is most often associated with a one-time fee, although there are many free products available as well. The main advantages of this option are that the merchant owns a license and therefore can host it on any Web server that meets the server requirements, and that the source code can often be accessed and edited to customize the application.
Organisation Charts
A graphical representation of the organisational structure, these charts is derived from the hierarchy on the database. It is usual for this to be performed  Cheapest Beats By Dre by third party software rather than an inbuilt function in the HRIS. The most popular applications are OrgPlus and MS Visio, and they can be configured to connect with the HR IS database.
Modern organisations do not conform to the traditional pyramidical  dr dre monster beats tour structure, and are complicated by matrix reporting lines and multi-posts; there are occasions when the application has to be manually overridden on the chart itself to reflect a particularly complex arrangement.
Outsourced Service
Outsourcing involves the transfer of the management and/or day-to-day execution of a business function such as Payroll or Human Resources to an external service provider.
The client and the provider enter into a contractual agreement that defines the transferred services. Under the agreement the supplier acquires the means of production in the form of a transfer of people, assets and other resources from the client. The client agrees to procure the services from the supplier for the term of the contract.
The hardware, operating system and database management or file system
It may also refer to a specific combination of hardware and operating system
Self service (see Employee Self Service)
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service is a fairly recent expression to  dr dre beats headphones white describe the supply of software as a variable overhead rather than a fixed cost. In a sense, it is a new iteration of the "bureau" approach, but instead of a third party providing the processing as well as a software environment it is now supplied more flexibly.
Organisations can plug in and subscribe to services built on world-class infrastructure via the Internet. All they need is a basic PC with an Internet Browser and an internet connection.
SaaS also changes the traditional model of user licensing as on-demand licensing enables software to become a variable expense, rather than a fixed cost at the time of purchase. It also enables licensing only the amount of software needed versus traditional licenses per device.
Another upside to SaaS is that it can reduce the up-front expense of software purchases, and may lead eventually to a reduction of investment in server hardware as these costs and functions are shifted to the service provider.
Software Licence
The type of Licence that is most usually encountered in HRIS is a Proprietary Licence, meaning that the software vendor gives a licence to use an agreed number of copies of the application, but ownership will always reside with the vendor.
There are a number of subsidiary legal issues attaching to software licences that are not to be gone into here; a well-known example of proprietarily licensed software is Microsoft Windows.
A number of HRIS vendors use a charging model based on the number of user licences.
System Administration
The System Administration module is the part of the application where authorised persons are able to configure Rules (such as Holiday and Occupational Sickness ), adddelete new Posts or modify existing ones (such as amending the FTE), Departments and Divisions and add system Users with their appropriate Security access levels. Additionally  monster dr dre beats headphones to this, the System Events (or Triggered Actions) can be formatted and set in motion from here, where available to the application.
System Events - see Triggered Events
Thin Client
A thin client (sometimes also called a lean or slim client) is a computer network which depends primarily on the central server for processing activities, and mainly focuses on conveying input and output between the user and the remote server. (Contrasting with Fat Client which does as much processing as possible and passes only data for communications and storage to the server)
Many thin client devices run or support web browsers meaning that all major processing is performed on the server.
Time & Attendance Application
Mainly deployed in production or manufacturing locations, a software application that records employee attendance by "clocking" them in and out by a variety of means. It is possible to allocate employees to a set of shift patterns and plan required workforce patterns. These applications provide powerful reporting tools for a range of production statistics.
It is worth bearing in mind that a substantial hardware cost can be incurred per clocking point, and so their deployment should be carefully considered.
Triggered Actions
Also known as System Events, Triggered Events or Automated Events, these are features of many HRIS whereby responses are triggered by changes in specified data fields. These responses are usually embodied in email alerts.
An example would be when a New Employee is entered on the HR database prior to start date, the configured Triggered Action would generate a series of emails to:
Advise Security & Switchboard of the arriving newcomer, name, position and department;
Advise the IT department to create an ID and login;
Advise the relevant departments to provide a car, mobile phone, laptop, where appropriate;
Advise the Training co-ordinator to enter the new starter on the next Induction programme.
And so on.
A Triggered Action - or series of them - is set up in the System Admin part of the application. They constitute one of the big advantages of HR systems, as they streamline administration and help to suppress errors and oversights.
Upgrade is a term referring to the replacement of a product with a newer version of that same product, typically meaning a replacement of hardware or software to update the system (e.g. annual changes to Payroll) or to improve its features or operating efficiency.
Increasingly, the downloading of upgrades is effected via the internet where "a patch"- containing the parts of the application that will be changed - is introduced into the main application.
Web Browser
A software  how to get beats by dre cheap application used to access information from the World-wide web, well-know examples being Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox or Safari.
Able to connect to or run on the web.
The automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information or tasks are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules.
Denis Barnard is the CEO of the UK's first HRIS comparison website, HRcomparison.com, which includes advice, tips and resources to help choose the best HR software. He is an expert on the implementation of HR and Payrollsystems and has worked in the HR industry for more than 20 years.
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