Three things to consider before implementing an HRMS self-service module

Self-service functions are great for engaging the workforce more directly in HR practices. They also have the benefit of freeing up HR administrative time and resources for more complex or strategically important work. In a sense, HRMS self-service is an outsourcing process (‘out’ from the HR team, anyway) using automation to devolve responsibility for the simpler tasks to those nearer to them; i.e. the individual employees and managers. Common self-service payroll functions include online payslips, access to tax reports and other deduction statements, and easy changing of personal details and payment methods.

However, it’s worth acknowledging that there can be some drawbacks to self-service and these should be considered when implementing or updating your payroll software package.


If they can’t use it, they won’t use it. Proper training is essential if you want your employees to make best use of payroll self-service. The drawback here is the amount of time needed to design, deliver and evaluate training, potentially to everybody in the organization.

Recommended reading: make sure your HRMS self-service functionality supports your employees as best it can with these steps to HRMS self-service success.

Resource issues

New software is rarely cheap. The TCO (total cost of ownership) includes many more factors than the price in the vendor’s brochure, potentially including maintenance, support, and the ‘hidden’ costs of staff time, especially during implementation training. Selecting and implementing a new HRMS or payroll package requires time and money, and the more self-service functionality you expect people to use, the more time and money the implementation will take.

User Adoption

Once the dust of implementation has settled, what proportion of your workforce are using the new self-service features? The best answer is, of course, 100% but the reality can be very different. You can drive up usage by de-emphasizing the old processes, ensuring access is easy, and marketing the benefits of self-service. However, for every user who avoids using the system to its full capacity, your ROI is reduced.

These are good reasons for caution and not diving straight into an over-ambitious set of self-service functions. Self-service can be a big culture leap for a workforce. If they’ve been used to calling or visiting their HR representative and receiving personal service then you can understand why they may not initially see the benefit of the DIY approach.

When deciding which HRMS self-service functions to implement, consider:

  • Stakeholder needs: what’s in it for them; features that meet these needs are easy to sell and will generate a higher initial adoption rate which you can use to leverage better use of the features you introduce at a later date.
  • Access: put simply, how easy is it for your users to access the system? In an organization in which everyone has their own PC, tablet, smartphone or other internet-enabled device, no problem. However, in a different environment (e.g. a more industrial manufacturing setup) you may need to provide multi-user access via kiosks or something similar.
  • Cost: look at the true cost of your self-service package and the expected benefits and returns. Be very clear that there is a business case for each feature you want to introduce.
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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

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