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10 essential HR tools to supplement an existing HRMS

HR departments may need to supplement their existing HRMS with tools for document management, reporting and analytics, and employee engagement.

While it would be nice if HR could buy a single HR tool that meets all its needs, the reality is HR often needs multiple applications to accomplish all their tasks. The features offered by your existing vendors may not meet all your needs, or you may require functionality not available from the vendor. Your HRMS may be great in many ways, but it might not support generating ad-hoc org charts. Another example would be merging data from multiple systems into one report that provides a more comprehensive profile of your employees, such as by incorporating sales data.

In addition to the traditional HR tools and applications, you may need others for specific tasks, such as an FTP application to transfer files to a vendor or partner.

The list below provides a sampling of the types of applications an HR team can benefit from in addition to an HRMS. In some cases, these applications may be implemented for the whole company or used by IT to support HR.

Document management

While some HR teams may rely on paper file folders and a network drive to store information, a document management solution like SharePoint provides many advantages. This eliminates the need to remember the directory structure on the file server to find a file. Instead, you can use the search feature to find the files that you need. Another advantage is the security model that allows an administrator to give and revoke access. Permissions can often be set at the individual or group level.

This type of application is often implemented by IT and used across an organization. While there are many advantages, it does take some getting used to after making the switch from a file server.

Org chart software

Although many HRMS applications include org chart functionality, it's not always the most robust feature in the application. Also, it may not support what-if scenarios if a reorganization is being considered. Additionally, applications dedicated to org chart development often provide a full suite of features that allow you to develop professional looking charts, share them in multiple formats, control access and show data on the chart that you might not want to share with the whole organization, such as base salary information.

XML and HTML editors

Some HRMS applications allow users to edit a form's XML directly and, in turn, incorporate additional functionality not available through the standard design tool. Similarly, you may be able to add HTML tags to improve the look and layout of your text.

FTP applications

When working with a remote team or the vendor's implementation team, it may be preferable to use an FTP server to share files securely. Having access to an FTP application can simplify this process and avoid emailing sensitive information.

Spreadsheet and document processing applications

Whether you use Microsoft Office or a comparable suite from another vendor, these are important HR tools. While many HRMS applications can generate offer letters and reports, there is often a need to write documents or generate ad-hoc reports that cannot be done easily in an HRMS.


There are plugins for common applications employees use that can simplify a process or task. For example, employees can use a plugin that checks their spelling and grammar. Another example would be a plugin that turns a PDF into a Word document and emails it in one step.

Reporting and analytics software

Most, if not all, HRMS applications include reporting functionality by default, and some also offer an analytics module. The HRMS tool may be sufficient, but there are also many vendors in the analytics market that provide robust platforms for HR. Others offer applications that can be used across your organization, such as Tableau.

Total rewards software

Total rewards statements are given to employees to show them the full value of what they earn by working for the organization. This includes base salary, benefits, bonuses, profit sharing and vacation time, but may also include legislated expenses, such as taxes paid by the company. An organization can provide these statements to employees in print or electronically, but there are applications developed specifically for this purpose that offer additional features. For example, the application may allow the organization to measure how many employees opened the statement, restrict access to individual statements to authorized employees, and provide employees with a single location to view current and past statements.

Survey software

Often, HR has a need to get feedback from employees. This may be to get feedback on the rollout of a new program or something much larger, such as an employee engagement survey. A free option may be sufficient for simple surveys, but it may be necessary to use a vendor that specializes in a specific area as the importance of the survey results increases. For example, several vendors offer employee engagement tools that not only survey your employees, but also compare your company's results with those of other organizations.

Employee engagement software

Providing an HR tool that allows employees and managers to recognize exceptional performance ensures positive behavior is documented. Depending on the configuration, the recognition received may equate to points that employees can exchange for different products or services. These applications can also streamline the recognition process for milestone events, such as awards for years of service.

An HRMS application often provides a set of standard modules, such as one to capture core employee data, performance management, recruiting and onboarding. However, HR teams may have needs beyond what the HRMS offers, or they require a more specialized solution. When a need arises, it's important that an organization explore all the options available since there are many software solutions and HR tools available to address almost any requirement.

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