Open source HRMS: can your company overcome the risks?

Free and open source software (FOSS) offers an interesting option for many companies. As it is created by informal collaboration among developers it is available at zero cost. If you have a limited budget for IT spending, an open source HRMS may be appealing but beware of these risks as you review options.

1. Availability of code creates vulnerability

One of the primary concerns about open source software is that the coding is free and available to anyone, including hackers. A clever programmer can find the weaknesses and loopholes to potentially cause harm to any company using an application.

Check out our free open source HRMS guide for a full view on what to expect when selecting an HRMS system

At the same time, the development community is fiercely loyal to its FOSS programs. Any weaknesses are reviewed and quickly fixed. The availability of the code to anyone opens the door to a vast number of development resources, more than you’d find in any proprietary HRMS provider.

2. Frequent updates create an unstable platform

One of the advantages of open source is that developers are always looking to make the product better by adding features and functionality. A downside of regular updates is that your HRMS can unexpectedly perform in a different manner. You cannot afford to have mistakes occur when employee personal data is involved.

It is important to mitigate the risk of code changes by having skilled IT resources who are knowledgeable about your open source code. Use similar procedures to adjust and test code in the same way that you’d handle a proprietary HRMS. You wouldn’t accept a proprietary vendor’s fixes or code updates without running them through a test cycle. Apply a similar level of diligence to FOSS updates to mitigate the risk.

3. Vendors have less accountability than traditional suppliers

There is often a conception about open source software that because no one owns it there is no accountability if things go wrong. Have you heard some of the horror stories of failed HRMS implementations? Many of us remember when a technology vendor was sued by the state of California over a failed payroll system upgrade. The vendor finally settled for $59 million. Your C-level executives may have concerns that open source products do not have any sort of backing.

It is relevant that you apply the same software selection process for an open source product as you would do when choosing a proprietary HRMS. Document your requirements, create a short list and review product functionality. It becomes especially important to reach out to other companies who are using your FOSS candidates to find out how well the software works on an operational basis.

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Heather Batyski

About the author…

Heather is an experienced HRMS analyst, consultant and manager. Having worked for companies such as Deloitte, Franklin Templeton and Oracle, Heather has first-hand experience of many HRMS solutions including Peoplesoft and Workday.

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Heather Batyski

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