3 HRMS Database Issues and How to Solve Them

Like any technology, HRMS software can be a tricky beast. Just when you think you have everything set up to run as smooth as silk, that’s probably the moment a problem will come to light. Of course, this applies to pretty much any technology from the latest enterprise system to the digital alarm beside your bed. Here are three possible issues that might occur in your HRMS database and how to solve them.


The Problem - You might find the system has two records for a single employee. Or within a single records, there is duplicate or contradictory information. Or an employee who left the organisation months ago is still showing as a member of the workforce. These may be simple inputting errors, or a consequence of having wide self-service access, or integration with other programs that are uploading their own data into the main database. Either way, any of these circumstances (and many more in the same vein) will throw out your HRMS reporting outputs. When you’re looking for new analytical insights into costs, development needs, succession planning and so on, you need to be able to rely on that printout – and reliable reports come from an accurate and up to date dataset.

The Solution - Keep your data clean. Keep track of who and what can update your main database (there should be a clear business benefit to every right of access). Run regular data cleansing exercises – from automated verification processes, to manual initiatives in which every employee is asked to check a printed version of their own details on the system.


The Problem - Another indication that there may be something awry within the database is slow report generation. Even the most IT-minded of people are still human (mostly!) and as such have a tendency to imagine a database as being something like a library or shelf of books: one copy of everything and kept in alphabetical order. Not so. Every update, input or deletion creates new chunks of data that are stored in what would seem to us to be a fairly random and chaotic manner. For example, most systems, when you delete a record, don’t actually delete it straight away; they mark it for deletion and then remove it from access (you can’t see it anymore so the assumption is that it isn’t there). Put simply, the more you use the system, the greater the amount of data it has to wade through to produce your weekly or monthly reports.

The Solution - A little like defragging your home PC, the answer is to optimise the database (depending on which system you have, this function may be called something else) which will actually delete records marked for deletion and then reorganise the data. To return to the library analogy, it throws out the old and duplicate books and rearranges the rest into alphabetical order.

HRMS Database Issue: USER ERROR

The Problem - Finally, there’s the old principle of ‘garbage-in-garbage-out’ or in other words: user error. The above issues can and will probably arise from correct use of your HRMS; then there’s the issue of incorrect use. An HRMS has a wide variety of users – possibly the widest of any corporate system: HR administrators, senior C-level executives, managers and supervisors, and finally, every employee may have access if only to their own personal data. As such, it’s inevitable that false data will be entered, a wrong code here, an incorrect date there…

The Solution - First, keep the design of your *self-service functionality simple; the simpler and more familiar the better. Second, train all users and have the training focus not so much on processes and screens, fields, buttons to push, etc. but on the principles of data integrity and good data management and impact of that on the business. This focus on the ‘why’ will drive the ‘how’ resulting in better use of the system.

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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