What is the difference between HRMS, HRIS and HCM?

Vendors sometimes use the acronyms 'HRMS' (Human Resource Management System), ''HRIS' (Human Resource Information System), and 'HCM' (Human Capital Management) interchangeably. 

There are, however, a few subtle differences between them that are worth noting:


The terms HRMS and HRIS are extremely Interchangeable, and their usage differs vendor to vendor and article to article.

Both terms can be defined as systems through which human resource management (HRM) is achieved through information technology. These systems provide employees and employers with integrated access to HR and payroll data. In their simplest form, they consist of an HR database linked to a database management system - additions to this system structure include analytics and self-service frameworks.

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These systems usually include functionality such as payroll, time & attendance, performance management, benefits, recruitment and talent management.


Although used interchangeably with the previous two on occasion, HCM (Human Capital Management) does not refer to an information system or software. It simply refers to the management of HR activities - specifically managing the workforce as a company asset. In this way it is similar to the HRM (Human Resource Management) acronym used across the industry.

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Tom Feltham

About the author…

Tom Feltham is the Editor and Content Guru at HRMS World. In between updating our HRMS software guides and managing our expert contributors, Tom keeps tabs on the HR technology market and occasionally puts his thoughts on paper.

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Tom Feltham

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