Why HRIS systems are not designed for your performance management process

Should you go for a dedicated performance management solution or an HRIS that has performance management features? This is an important question that will affect your day-to-day HR work as well as a vital part of the operations plans for the coming years. That being said, when making a decision, you also need to take someone very important into account: the employee.

Working in HR requires you to do a lot of admin work next to executing on more operational tasks. That’s why using an HRIS makes total sense. It’s a system that incorporates key features you absolutely need to get all priority admin work done. Oftentimes, these HRIS systems could also include performance management, feedback, and engagement features.

At first glance, this is a convenient setup. An all-in-one tool should, in theory, save time, money and make your life easier. In reality, that is not always true. Depending on your HR maturity stage and what your goals and needs are, the right solution for you will differ.

There are several reasons as to why HRIS systems are not ideal for performance management processes or other employee development-related processes.

In this article, we focus on these main points (jump ahead):

- Performance management is not the primary focus
- Support is not always available
- Compensation should be separated from performance
- Ownership is not easy to assign
- What should you choose for performance management

Performance management is not the primary focus

HRIS systems are powerful tools specifically designed to tackle the admin-heavy part of the HR job. They deal with payroll, absence and leave management, possibly recruiting and other legalities. So far so good. HRIS tools excel at all of that.

However, HRIS systems are not designed for performance management, employee engagement surveys or real-time feedback. Even if some HRIS systems include these options, that doesn’t mean that these features are well-thought-out or as functional as they could be.

User experience takes a back seat

Oftentimes, the UI is bad and the overall user experience is gawky. That’s because these features are not the primary focus of the HRIS. Having such a problematic experience as a user or an admin defies the purpose of doing performance management in the first place.

As a consequence, adoption rates suffer throughout the company. Who wants to use a product that is not intuitive and reminds them of daunting compensation talks or running out of vacation days? Sick leave and performance management should be done in separate environments.

Employee development is an afterthought

Performance management has become about more than just a dreadful annual talk with a manager. Most companies are now focusing on regular check-ins, performance conversations, self-assessments, peer reviews as well as real-time feedback.

Many HRIS systems cannot support these practices either because they haven’t accounted for them or because the features are not working well with one another to give a good final overview that serves as a point of discussion for professional development.

Nowadays, performance is as much about the end-user, namely the employee, as it is about the manager and the admin overseeing all processes. The experience should be smooth, uninterrupted and separated from the day-to-day operations of the HR staff.

That’s why HRIS systems often can’t hold a candle to dedicated performance management tools. Underdeveloped features can be detrimental to doing performance management.

Dedicated performance management solutions put employee development first.

Support is not always available

HRIS support teams are not always able to answer questions and fix issues regarding their own performance management applications. That has to do a lot with the fact that as already mentioned, the real focus of an HRIS is the admin side of HR, not People Enablement.

Clunky and buggy experiences make for unhappy users and frustrated support staff. All of this can become a vicious cycle that doesn’t allow users to experience a smooth onboarding or an efficient streamlined performance management process.

With the latter, given the real purpose of HRIS systems, oftentimes there are multiple inconvenient workarounds that support will recommend so you can perform simple performance management tasks.

The right type of content is lacking

Next to that, there’s a high probability that the “support center” type of content will be either lacking or won’t be addressing all issues users may encounter.

Educating audiences on how to run successful performance reviews, give feedback in a meaningful way or how to create engaged employees with 1-1s is not HRIS priority. The CS team won’t necessarily be able to support you through every step from set up to establishing best practices and so on.

A dedicated, stand-alone performance management solution, however, is designed to do all that and CS staff will be able to support you through every single step and set you and your team up for success.

Support teams and the content they produce can make or break your experience with software.

Compensation should be separated from performance

HRIS tools are formal-looking and remind people of legalities as well as compensation talks. Ideally, performance management and compensation wouldn’t be connected to one another for many reasons, one of them being distorting the purpose of a performance review. Even though performance reviews are often associated with compensation, that’s not their actual goal.

Focus must be on employee development

Performance reviews are a great opportunity to connect with the employee and discuss practical steps for career development, work goals as well as have an open discussion about performance.

When this whole process takes place in an HRIS, it’s difficult not to be reminded of payroll and salary negotiations. Thus, making it difficult to decouple these two talks.

Performance management tools are designed to steer the conversation in the right direction, help all parties focus on work rather than compensation and provide support for everyone with the right features - real-time feedback, self-assessment, leadership reviews, 360, peer review, and so on.

That way both managers and employees can see a complete overview of these aspects to create a fuller picture and really focus on performance management.

Ownership is not easy to assign

Performance management tools are specifically crafted to cater to the idea that managers and employees should be able to run processes without special admin assistance at every turn. A lot of HRIS systems out there struggle with that because they were built for HR admins to organize and complete admin-related tasks.

If you’d like to empower your employees to be in charge of their own performance, without the need for assistance from HR at every turn, a dedicated performance solution is the way to go.

With the right tool, teams can easily stay on top of performance and goal management, exchange praises and tips and request or give feedback whenever they want. Performance management processes flourish when people have the right tools with intuitive UI that let them take control of their own development.

Goal management is an important part of organizational development.

What should you choose for performance management

Keep in mind that the more mature your HR team becomes, the more organizational development projects you will take on. That includes goal setting, engagement surveys, real-time feedback, and more.

Understand your goals and needs

First and foremost, ask yourself what your goal is. Your HR team will always need some sort of an HRIS for admin-related tasks. It should be present, no question about that.

If you’re in the first HR maturity stage- setting up foundational processes, you might be able to get away with a tool like the G-suite when it comes to performance reviews. Having only an HRIS might be fine at this stage.

However, if your organization is growing and/or if your goals are to establish a real performance management process, you need to take into consideration how you can best set your people up for success.

Make a list of requirements

Before you start researching all the available solutions out there, based on your goals and needs and HR Maturity stage, think hard about what will fit you now and in the upcoming few years.

To create a strong performance management process and encourage true adoption for all organizational levels you will need a tool that:

Choose the right tool

The right tool can make all of this possible in no time. Impraise is a dedicated performance management tool that offers users a complete overview of how an employee is doing in regards to performance reviews, 360, self-assessments, goals, real-time feedback and more.

It gets better. Most performance management tools offer ways to integrate with an HRIS. In Impraise’s case, you can enable an SFTP integration (short for Secure File Transfer Protocol).

With it, your HRIS will automatically create exports of your user-base and send them to Impraise's server where they will be uploaded to our database. This way, your user-base information (e.g. hierarchy chain, team placement, etc.) will be automatically updated on a regular basis, avoiding the change of human errors when updating it manually.


An HRIS serves a more admin-heavy purpose and it is a necessity. However, it is a bit of a myth that an all-in-one tool could do an excellent job of taking care of the admin tasks as well as efficiently support managers and employees in their development. That's simply because HRIS systems are not built to support the full-cycle of employee performance, development, and other related engagement processes.

If you would like to invest in growing your people alongside your business, however, you need to opt-in for a dedicated performance management tool and focus on adoption. Learn more about the powerful features of Impraise or directly get in touch with us so you can explore the platform during a private web demo and how we can support you through every single step of the way.

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