June 2017, Vol. 2

Recognizing trends in HRIS

by Patti Ellis

In May 2017, TASB HR Services launched a new survey, Human Resources Information System (HRIS) Features and Capabilities. The purpose of the survey was to gather information to better understand trends and opportunities within Texas school districts, specifically pertaining to HRIS.

How districts are using HRIS

The survey asked participants which of the following areas of functionality the district is using within their current HRIS:
 
  • SBEC link to track certification
  • DPS interface for background checks
  • Application tracking system connection
  • New hire uploads
  • Task tracking and management
  • Employee self-service
  • Reports for analytics
  • Dashboards for central office staff
  • Employee performance management
  • Contract renewal

Of the districts that responded, 18 percent indicated the district did not have any of the listed functionality in place. A majority of districts indicated their HRIS links with SBEC to track certification (62 percent) and interfaces with DPS for the background check process (64 percent). The other listed functionalities were not being used by many of the respondents, ranging from response rates between 17 and 33 percent for each remaining functionality.

Of all respondents who used at least one of the listed functionalities, on average, districts utilized three different features. Metro area ESC Regions had the highest average utilization at around five different features. As expected, as enrollment groups increased, so did the average use of functionalities.

How districts are getting help with HRIS

As districts run into issues with their existing setup or wish to begin the process of implementing a new feature within the HRIS, there are many resources for assistance and guidance. According to the survey, districts appear to equally use internal experts (e.g., HRIS Specialist); a representative from the HRIS vendor; and manuals, FAQs, or online training tools. Very few respondents look to an external expert, such as a consultant, for assistance.

Most HRIS vendors offer a variety of options for learning more about how to use the system and maximize its functionality, so getting help is often a click or phone call away.

How districts retrieve requested information

When districts receive data requests from TASB HR Services related to annual salary surveys or contracted services (such as staffing reviews and compensation studies), 52 percent of respondents indicated they are able to pull the data from a single source, while 26 percent gather data from multiple sources, and 13 percent manually track data.

District successes

TASB spoke with several districts about their experience in maximizing functionality with HRIS. An overwhelming trend in responses reflected the importance of communication, both within the departments implementing new technology and with stakeholders using the new features.

Socorro ISD (SISD) noted their biggest challenge was acceptance of change and getting everyone invested in the concept for improvement. SISD’s advice on how to prepare for a successful implementation is to ensure all teams responsible for implementation are aimed toward the same established goals.

Director of Human Resources at Allen ISD (AISD), Kelly Mires, has seen the district move to near paperless processes in the past 17 years. AISD set up its contract and letters of reasonable assurance process so that all are prepared, sent, signed, and returned electronically.

Along with maximizing HRIS functionality, AISD has integrated new technology with the HRIS so that duplication of efforts is reduced and information is not being entered multiple times.

The district also prioritized efforts according to the goal for that particular year, ensuring the HR team took on little projects at a time and didn’t bite off too much. The district recognized that implementing new technology took more than just one department, and so worked closely with their software vendor and the technology team.

Sharon Roy, chief HR officer, and Amy Broaddus, facilitator of human resources, said Tyler ISD makes a concerted effort each year to think big, while remaining realistic.

“Retention starts with the recruitment process,” Roy said. “With the changes the team has made over the years, someone can apply in the morning, be prescreened and interviewed by the end of the day, and recommended for hire by the next day.”

The efficiency of having the workflow and communication completed electronically makes this possible – there is no more tracking individuals down for a physical signature. 

To make sure leadership and employees are well-informed, the HR team communicates in advance what new features are coming and provides step-by-step instructions with screenshots (sometimes providing seminars and webinars for additional support) to ensure users are able to make the most of the new functionality.

For Roy, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who have a meaningful understanding of what technology can accomplish. Regardless of technical skills, you need to have people who understand the value of technological advances and possess the mindset to spark the start of that journey.

Learning more through the survey

Participants in the survey have a unique opportunity to learn about the types of efficiency and tools an HRIS may be capable of providing. Additionally, participation opened up the possibility of connecting with other districts who have successfully maximized efficiency within their district through HRIS. If you haven’t yet participated in the survey and wish to, you can access it within the HR Reports section of DataCentral.