HRIS glossary guide

The HRIS (human resources information systems) universe can sometimes appear complex. Its specific vocabulary can, at times, be confusing. It is for this reason that we have put together this helpful HRIS index.

Introduction to the HRIS glossary

The HRIS (human resources information systems) universe can sometimes appear complex. Its specific vocabulary can, at times, be confusing. It is for this reason that we have put together this helpful HRIS index.


The agile method is the term for a project management approach originally developed for IT development. The agile method is centered around an iterative and incremental process (often called Sprint). It is essential to involve the participation of the customer in this process allowing greater responsiveness and results, as well as generally leading to a greater customer satisfaction.

AI corresponds to the technological processes allowing machines to undertake actions that require a form of real intelligence. The field of artificial intelligence has a large scope and could have an impact on the functionality of HR namely recruitment, managerial administration, training, evolution and support.

The “project management assistant (assistant à la maitrise d’ouvrage AMOA) is the person who accompanies, supports and coordinates companies in all phases of their Human Resources (HR) digitalisation projects (the definition of objectives, planning, budgeting, training, etc.). The project Manager is the intermediary between the business to customer (B2C) teams and the technical (integrator, editor) teams. The Project Manager can be internal to the company or an external consultant: At I-RH we offer personalised assistance in the design, UAT- User acceptance testing, data migration, interface and deployment phases. 

This is also a role carried out by a “project management assistant” (assistant à la maitrise d’ouvrage AMOE). This role is performed by the employee who delivers the demands made by the AMOA. The objectives are defined, and the pathway to reach them is assured by this team member.

A call for tenders is a procedure often used in B to B purchasing processes which aims for the client (demander) to choose the company (tenderer) deemed most capable of performing the service demanded for a project or a defined need. It can be a competitive bidding process for the tenderer to win the clients proposal requesting a specific service or goods.

In the same field, see also: Request For Information / Request For Proposal.

The “Application Programming Interface” is a programming interface, facilitating the communication between applications and the mutual exchange of data.

ATS or Applicants Tracking System is a tool used by the personnel in charge of recruitment. The ATS software essentially facilitates the management of applicants, from the reception of their CV until final selection of future employees.

The automation permitted by an ATS is an efficient solution, gaining time for the company and favouring a collaboration between employees who are implicated in the recruitment process.



Referring to terminology for a particular professional sector, all the behaviours and techniques that a large denomination of professionals in that domain consider essential. For quality and security reasons, or for the respect of legislation.

Refers to the specific market position of a software editor. Best of breed solutions is the denominated reference for the solutions used to respond to precise problems. They are known to provide functional Human resources (HR) excellence when dealing with specific subjects. On the contrary we find that software editors of ‘generalist’ solutions can be proposed to HR as software suites. For example SAP Successfactors, Workday, Oracle, HCM etc.

Referring to one or more complex data challenges allowing for the HR department, after a data analysis has been carried out, to create statistics to analyse performance, make predictions, or even optimise recruitment.

The ‘Business Process Analyst’ BPA is responsible for the harmonisation between the business processes and the Information Technology IT solution. The BPA assists the organisations to investigate, thoroughly, their internal changes or processes to find areas for improvement.

The ‘Business Process Management’ BPM permits an overall visibility of  companies business processes.  Once identified, work towards optimisation and automation can be carried out. The final goal being a global improvement of the company.

The BPO corresponds to the delegation of a project or one or more company tasks to an external service provider, also known as a ‘sub-contractor’. For example: Outsourcing the payroll and legal declaration tasks to a designated company.

The BPO is the person who detains responsibility of the performance of a given process within the company. When working within the HRIS framework a BPO can, for example be responsible for the performance management process or even the process linked to recruitment.

The personnel who occupy the role of the BPO often have a key role to play during HRIS projects since one of the major challenges will be to effectively re-transcribe the business processes into the information technology IT solutions.

An HRIS business study is a study carried out ‘upstream’(before the beginning) of a project with the objective of justifying the future investment concerning a foreseen project. It allows companies to evaluate and prioritise one project or action versus another. The team in charge of carrying out the project can redirect this opportunity study in the direction to present and defend the usefulness of their project before the organisations decision-makers.

Business intelligence BI is the capacity to transform raw data into pertinent information allowing for decision making support or refining of a strategy. We can find a number of BI software available on the market.


The change management process, is the process of accompanying employees through the transformation of a process within the company. This includes communication, it also includes the monitoring of impacts, limiting rejection from stakeholders and the control of the adoption rate by employees.

At the heart of the informatic revolution of the last two decades, Cloud Computing is the terminology used to describe an access to information services including servers, storage, software or the utilisation of an identified supplier to access networking via the internet. In particular the services called: SaaS, Paas, IaaS.

Core Model refers to the elements commonly shared such as: processes, data model, management rules, benchmarks. These are passing through the shared information systems of different branches or sites of a company.


Dashboards are a visual display of data used by a team or service within an organisation. There are a number of tools today, that function around the use of a dashboard. For example in the field of HR, a dashboard could allow HR professionals to have a detailed visibility on the current situation in one or several departments.
E.g. The turnover rate in one year in a team or at a precise work site.

An incident in which an unauthorised person sees, steals, or uses sensitive, protected or confidential data.

The term referring to the analysis of data (often large data; Big Data) to transform it into useful information. In data mining we try to find patterns. To identify certain correlations between different groups of data to make predictions and detect anomalies.

Data visualisation is the representation of data via manual presentation such as graphs and infographics to make it more understandable and legible.

Refers to the method of collaborative work based on the theory of co-creativity utilising feedback from the final users. It’s an innovative management method, elaborated at the University of Stanford, that remains hybrid between analytic and intuitive thinking. E.g. During the installation of an ATS project, the recruiters, employees and managers participate from the conception stage to the final solution with the same collaborative capacity as the HR team and the integrator.

Dematerialisation is the term used to describe the process by which certain tasks and actions originally performed using physical materials, are executed using the aid of digital tools. The human resources dematerialisation process promises efficiency, rapidity and more security for these tasks and actions.

Deployment represents one of the last phases of the project. At this stage the solution is designed to respond to the functional needs established in the conception phase. The deployment phase needs to be carefully organised, with the objective focused on the installation and deployment of the solution executed on site.

The Data Privacy Officer, or Data Protection Officer is in charge of protecting the companies sensitive data. The DPO is responsible for ensuring that the company complies with the data privacy regulations in regards to the treatment of data. The position of DPO became obligatory in many companies after the creation of the General data protection regulation GDPR put into place in 2018.


The term used for the group of formal or informal formations, materials, processes and education programs that utilise electronic media.

The web interface that allows employees to handle the tasks linked to employment normally carried out by human resources (such as enrollment into social advantage programs, updating personal information and access to company information).

Enterprise resource planning is the software package that handles and coordinates all resources, information and function systems of the organisation. Therefore being a common model centralising all the different financial data, logistics, human resources and interconnects them for a management simplified.

The feasibility study is designed to verify the feasibility of a project. This means it measures the possibility of reaching the fixed objectives in a realistic manner. Taking into account the technical, commercial, legal and economic factors of the company.


In the context of human resources, gamification refers to the process that allows the systems, processes, or other HR activities to be more agreeable and motivating thanks to the playful elements or the game design. For example: Using gaming elements to make a banal activity such as inscription or the assimilation of the recruitment process more pleasant.

Go-live is one of the key milestones of the whole project. It indicates the moment when the final users can begin using the new system.

Provisional management of jobs and skills. This consists of anticipating the medium- and long-term evolution of the organisation, and the consequences this may have for HR. Following this analysis, action plans can be developed (training, recruitment, mobilisation, competency transfer) to allow for balance between the company’s future needs and the resources in human capital. If your company counts for over 300 employees, a GPEC agreement must be negotiated.

The time and activity management is the area of HR that covers working hours, absences, attendances and the activities of the employees within a company.


Refers to the implementation of a software or information system adapted to the needs and configuration required by the client.

IaaS is a hosting solution ‘cloud’ in which the organisation can externalise the global administration of its infrastructure (server hardware, virtual management, storage and networks in a cloud distributor. Therefore, it manages the IT costs that are delegated.

Some Emergency IT solution integration consultants (entreprises de service du numérique) can propose integration services therefore assisting a client to install and personalise a software program, an enterprise resource planner or an entire system. The integrators generally possess partnerships with certain software editors and HRIS solutions in which they have acquired an expertise. An integrator can accompany their clients in the integration of other software modules into your HR information system.

The ability certain platforms or IT solutions dispose of to function with others in a standardised and controlled manner. This is for objective the creation of a network and to favour the transfer and exchange of data.

The interface marks the border of communication between two IT entities. It allows the sending and receiving of information between two information systems.

For example: The training module is linked to the Core HR by an interface.


In the project management vocabulary a Jalon represents the finishing of a step in the process, or a task completed. A Jalon is often associated with an important event that is linked to administrative elements such as contract approval and/or signature.

For example: The step ‘Go-live’ marks an important Jalon in the planning of a project.


KPI’s are the measurable value that demonstrates the efficiency with which a company achieves its key commercial objectives.

Kick-off literally means kick off. The kick-off meeting  marks the official launch meeting of a project.


Learning management systems are defined as the applications or online software of which an organisation disposes of to manage the career path of employees and to develop their competencies via training. These are often linked to the HRIS to monitor progress and store the formation data in the Core HR.


Maintenance refers to the group of actions that guarantee the proper, functionate running of a HR IT system. This is about maintaining the solution over time by assuring that it is regularly updated so as to stay adaptable to evolutional change.

Appears in the event of a system malfunction, corrective maintenance allows to solve and correct system anomalies.  

This type of maintenance reflects the activity aimed at ensuring that the system continues to function correctly, whilst respecting the expected quality of service. The prevention requires, amongst other things a regular analysis of the totality of the system, maintenance of the database, system protection as well as updates.

Manager self-service is a web interface allowing managers to handle a number of tasks related to employment, normally carried out by HR.

For example:  Work time approval, report execution, leave validation, employee information research etc.

Artificial intelligence has the capacity to learn (detect patterns and adjust accordingly). For example: within a company AI can be utilised in information systems to use the data related to attendances and absences to predict the trends relating to nonattendance or to detect information linked to future turnover rates.

The MCO refers to the strategies that continuously guarantee that the functional operation of the IT infrastructure is maintained. The objective may involve the warning/protection of the company from important changes to the regular working conditions, even during situations that could provoke serious malfunctions. For example: Computer attacks, fire…

The MOA is a project manager in charge of the ‘Cahier des Charges’ ‘Specification Note’. The employee executing this role will define the characteristics and modalities required. For example: The objective, time frame and budget. As well as being the person that validates each step of the process.

Another project manager position, this employee oversees that the work is carried out from the operational point of view. This position decides on the technical means to be used for the project, ensuring that they conform with what has been defined by the MOA Project manager.

Project mode is the management method aimed at bringing together employees from different specialities or different departments through having a common project. It is a mode of organisation that’s directional goal is to reach precise, defined objectives, whilst respecting the conditions of resources, costs, delays and the budget. It is often accompanied by the establishment of a project operative including the definition of a team project, the installation of various bodies and schedule planning etc.


The concept note refers to the summary document that is developed during the initial scoping. In this document we have the information pertaining to the entire project description. Therefore, we must ensure that the document is drafted in a succinct and precise manner.


Employee onboarding is the transfer process of a new employee from the status position of potential employee to employed. It is comprised of the administration and contractual components but more importantly the welcoming of the employee within the company. HRIS onboarding modules exist to group together and facilitate this process in the experience of a new employee.

An On-premise software is a software program that is installed and runs ‘on-site’ on the servers of the company allowing for the integrality of data to be accessed internally. This is different from a SaaS solution as the company hosts the entire solution itself. This can represent costs and technical maintenance fees superior to those of a SaaS solution.

Outsourcing refers to the process of delegating tasks of a specific function to a designated third party.  


The term PaaS refers to a platform as a service. It is the provision by a cloud provider of an ensemble of tools (software and hardware) permitting companies to develop and launch applications directly through the cloud. It is a flexible solution allowing companies to avoid the acquisition of hardware, operating systems, web servers or even large IT teams.

These are methods permitting the analysis of data with the goal of obtaining information to facilitate the comprehension of talent/qualifications present within the company. This methodology has the objective of predicting HR needs and contributing to the optimisation of performance within the company.

This is the process that maintains or improves the work performance of employees thanks to the use of tools that facilitate the defined objectives as well as their evaluation, the managerial support and advice, and continued feedback.

The pilot committee is an incorporating body of strategic negotiation and decision-making. These decision-making committees are designed to guarantee the smooth running of a project, with the objective of implementing the orientation of the executive committee, the allocation of project resources, the validation of project phases, the overall control of the project and potential risks as well as validation of the orientation given to the project. Sponsors, directors and project managers are often part of a steering committee for a project.

The PMO refers to the part of the organisation in charge of the steering of a project. This begins at reflection and continues through to construction. This part ensures a smooth running and an optimisation of each step of the project.


The testing protocol is the document that groups together the information highlighting the testing protocols to come. We can also find in this document the following elements:

  • The clear objectives of the testing
  • The perimeters of testing
  • Client tasks
  • Supplier tasks
  • A test planning
  • Product acceptance thresholds

Operational group/body that brings together the operational managers of various categories of a project.

Is a document designed to allow all team members of a project to regularly share details on completed activities. 


RACI is a tool offering visualisation of the roles occupied by each person involved in the project. In essence it provides the response to the question “who does what?”.

A RACI can often take the form of a table or grid and allows the clear definition of reciprocal expectations and the responsibilities of each person.

There are a number of variations to the original RACI, each with additional roles.

RACI-VS- Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed– Verification and Sign-off

RASCI- Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consulted, Informed

RACIO- Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed, Omitted

Request for information (RFI) is the first step in the purchase process/ invitation to tender. The RFI is a request submitted to one or more potential vendors with the purpose being to collect information and receive a rapid response in terms of position and pricing for each provider. An RFI is often developed in the form of a document that describes the project and objectives in order to obtain the necessary information pertaining to your needs and your context.

The Request for proposal (RFP) is the step that follows the request for information (RFI). It consists of the realisation of a supplementary request from the vendors that have participated in the invitation to tender. The RFP aims to identify which of the consultation methods and responses are the most precise and complete from the above providers. Each vendor must formally express in detail their solutions provided and the associated price for carrying out the proposed project.


Software as a Service (SaaS) is a license model in which software is sold under license as a subscription and is stored in a centralised manner on the cloud. The principal advantage being the fact that the client does not have to worry about the physical maintenance of the application (servers) or the potential evolution of its technical or software development, these can be provided by the supplier. Nevertheless, the application maintenance of the solution must be assured.

Human Resource Information System (HRIS) includes all the tools and software relating to the function of HR. An HRIS centralises the employee data: salary, recruitment, training and any other human resource related information. By integrating a HRIS into a company’s current HR process they provide themselves with the solution they searched for when looking to improve how they process information as well as improving their efficiency, speed and reliability.

In the IT universe the Service level agreement (SLA) represents a contractual clause designed to define the level of service and response to precise objectives that a service provider has engaged in to providing to their client.

For example: In the instance of an IT support service case 90percent of high priority demands are treated within an 8hour maximum delay.

Functional specifications have the objective of describing in detail the way in which the clients demands will be taken into account in the software.

We may see two different types of functional specifications:

1. SFG: General functional specifications, documented by the project managers MOA or AMOA describing the professional needs as dictated by the field.
2. SFD: Detailed functional specifications, generally prepared by the MOE. The AMOA can also assist in the elaboration of the SFD.


The term used to describe a contractual document breakdown provided between a client and a supplier. This document is designed to provide a detailed description of the needs required so that a specific solution can be found. It is essential to establish a complete set of specifications upstream of each HRIS project. This is because this will serve as a base for negotiations and can then be used to measure the advancement of the project, and to refer back-to when the compliance between finished project and proposed solution must be verified.

The succession planning is the process that consists of identifying the long-term requirements of a company. This is to prepare and develop the talent reserve ready to respond to these future needs.


Talent management broadly defines the implementation of strategies aimed at increasing the productivity and competitiveness of a company by developing the HR process. The developed process is aimed at attracting, developing, retaining and utilising employees already in possession of required skills and aptitude to respond to current and future company needs.

This refers to the document that lists exhaustively the sets of test that must be carried out to validate that the finished system corresponds to the clients expecatations.

The testing phase is the phase in the project in which a series of tests are performed so as to ensure that the configured system or solution meet the expectations and specifications of the client. There are multiple project stakeholders participating in this phase of the project. Therefore, the contribution of the client is essential.

Third party application management represents the outsourcing of maintenance of all or part of the IT system of a company to a third party provider.

For example: IT consulting firm.


The urbanisation of IT systems is an architectural method within companies used to describe the relationship alignment between the IT systems and the overall strategy. This is done all whilst taking in to account the future transformations. The challenge here for companies is to be able to integrate the IT evolutionary demands within a logical, controlled and rational approach.


Workflow is the term used to describe the representation of tasks divided amongst the different parties of a process. We can also find, in the representation, the necessary control and validation methods. As well as the deadlines and necessary information in the execution of a specific task.

For example: In HR/ HRIS the workflow assigned to the allocation of bonuses requires a manager’s approval, followed by authorisation from a member of the HR department before final validation by the compensation and benefits branch.




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