Baby Steps in HR Technology: #HRTech Definitions

This month we are focusing on the Baby Steps in HR Technology. No one enters this space knowing it all. HR technologies, with all of their changing acronyms and definitions can get confusing. As technology advances, these terms can get less concrete; adding tools and blending software and systems. Just as the definitions and roles of sourcing and recruiting have changed over the years, so have the tools that each use. Here are several of the core HR technology terms that every HR professional should have down.

Let’s start simple, with who will be using this technology:

HCM –Human Capital Management (aka HRM –Human Resource Management)

Fancy acronyms for HR, or Human Resources. Somehow tacking on an extra word implies importance. HR is the management process of the organization’s workforce. HR is responsible for attracting, training, assessing and rewarding employees. Additionally, HR oversees leadership and culture and ultimately ensures compliance with employment and labor laws.

The Tech Terms:

ATS –Applicant Tracking Systems (aka CMS –Candidate Management System)

Is a software application meant to help an organization recruit employees more efficiently? An ATS is used to post job listings to the company website, job board or social media sites. The ATS is also used to screen resumes by searching for relevant key words and terms that match, or are related to those found in the job description. Simply put, these systems are used to track applicants.

Almost half of all mid-sized companies and just about all large-sized companies us an ATS. As ATSs become a standard tool in HR departments, their features and capabilities are expanding. Newer ATS features can include individual applicant tracking, resume ranking, automated emails, pre-screening questions, customized fields and forms, requisition tracking.

LMS –Learning Management Systems

Is a software application or web-based technology used for documenting, tracking, reporting and the delivery of electronic learning education courses or training. An LMS is used to plan, implement and assess the learning and training process. This technology provides company leaders with a manageable and trackable way to deliver content, assess performance and monitor participation in training.

Training an entire workforce and assuring compliance has gotten a whole lot easier with learning management systems. New LMS features include threaded discussions and discussion forums, video conferencing, automated approval and notifications to ensure ongoing compliance.

HRIS –Human Resources Information Systems (aka HRMS -Human Resources Management Systems)

Where systems and processes of human resources management and information technology intersect. HRIS is where the basic functions of HR meet with technology. This type of software makes the routines tasks of HR easies and more efficient through technology. Tasks like payroll or employee record management are now done through an HRIS.

Big Data

Ah, the ubiquitous "big data". All of the afore mentioned tools are aimed at obtaining, organizing and storing big data in a usable and efficient way. The term big data is not only relevant in the HR space. Big data refers to data sets (of any origin or within in any industry) that grow so large that it becomes difficult to process them using traditional means. Big data, without the appropriate tools, can be far more difficult (or impossible) to read, store and use, than smaller data sets.

In HR technology there are a lot of overlapping and redundant terms. While this is not a complete list of HR tech terms, it is a great starting point for beginners in HR. A lot of acronyms get thrown around, and it can get down right confusing. CRM can mean “Customer Relationship Management” or it can mean “Candidate Relationship Management” and those are two very different sets of people. Having a basic understanding of these core terms and how they relate to one another is an essential part of HR and recruiting. 


photo credit: the UMF via photopin cc

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Comment by Britni Salazar on November 11, 2013 at 4:08pm

Love the baby steps you listed, Raj! I'm a recent addition to the HR tech industry and can totally attest to the insane amount of acronyms floating around out there!

Comment by Raj Sheth on November 12, 2013 at 3:10pm

Thanks for sharing Britni.


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