10 HR technology acronyms everyone should know

HR has a terminology that ‘outsiders’ may often not understand, seeing it as a different language to the rest of the business. But HR technology has its own set of jargon (usually acronyms) which even long-serving HR-ites on the ‘softer’ side of the service may fail to grasp. Here we offer up ten of the most important HR technology acronyms along with their meanings.

1. HRMS (Human Resources Management System)

Let’s start with one of the easiest HR technology acronyms: Human Resources Management System. Something of an umbrella term, HRMS has been used to describe anything from a fairly simple spreadsheet replacement database right up to the all-singing, all-dancing, fully-integrated systems of today. A modern HRMS can potentially oversee and pull together every kind of HR-related software application.

Recommended Reading: HRMS Selection Survival Guide - Your companion to HRMS selection

2. HRIS (Human Resources Information System)

What’s the difference between an HRMS and a Human Resources Information System? The two acronyms are often used interchangeably but they’re not quite the same… The core difference lies in the data that they store. Traditionally, an HRIS holds generally static information (addresses, social security numbers, payroll figures, etc.) whereas an HRMS holds more dynamic data such as leave days, performance management information, and so on. Where it gets really confusing is that these days, the static and dynamic tends to be wrapped up in a single package and which acronym is applied depends on the vendor. Soon, it will be an unnecessary distinction.

3. RFP (Request for Proposal)

Whatever the acronym of the system, when you purchased it you may well – as part of the HR software selection process – have put together an RFP or Request for Proposal. This document includes all the technical and functional requirements for an IT system and is used as part of the procurement procedure to ensure that all potential suppliers/vendors/bidders are working from the same specification.

4. ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

The Applicant Tracking System (sometimes called a candidate management system) is the automated process of job posting, resume or CV screening (as a preliminary sifting process), sending automatic emails to candidates for advertised positions, dealing with pre-interview/assessment questions and so on. Basically, the ATS is IT embedded in the recruitment and hiring process, usually with full social media capabilities.

5. LMS (Learning Management System)

Going beyond its simple database roots, today’s Learning Management System is a sophisticated beast, handling the access and delivery of all kinds of learning, from administering face-to-face training courses to serving up social and collaborative learning modules. Naturally, a good LMS includes recordkeeping, tracking and reporting functions.

6. TAS & TMS (Talent Acquisition/Management System)

These two acronyms refer to systems that deal with ‘talent’ – its acquisition and then its management. In a sense then, these are ATS and LMS systems that aim to address long-term strategic goals, incorporating succession planning and frequently focusing on high performers.

7. HCA (Human Capital Analytics)

Drawing on Human Capital Management, the fancier and more up market name for HR, HCA or Human Capital Analytics refers to those database functions that go beyond simple reporting and into the realm of combining different sets of people data to unearth new and strategically valuable insights.

8. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

Not strictly speaking an HR term, the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) represents the ‘business resources’ equivalent of ‘human resources’ software (the HRMS or HRIS depending on which way you want to go). The relevance is that more and more, HRMS and ERP are intertwined to take fuller advantage of business analytics capabilities and Big Data.

9. SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service refers to the most common deployment method for HR technology these days, which is to say: in the cloud.

And one for the future?

10. CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes)

Standing for Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes, this refers to an artificial intelligence and robotics project instigated by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which may one day completely free the HR department from its administrative burden. The project goal was to create an artificial personal assistant; something that “organizes and prioritizes information, mediates human communication, resource allocation, task management decisions, and scheduling and prioritizing,” which does make CALO highly qualified for HR tasks, no?

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall