Alphabet Soup: Making Sense of HRIS, HRMS, & HCM

April 6, 2023

By Jim Morrone

HCM, HRIS, and HRMS acronyms floating like in a bowl of alphabet soup

It’s time to replace your current HR software! As you begin your research, you realize you have opened a can of alphabet soup with terms like HRIS, HRMS, and HCM. What is the difference between HRIS, HRMS and HCM? Are they the same thing? Are they different? Does it matter?

HRIS, HRMS and HCM are all terms used to describe systems or software used to manage HR processes and data in an organization. However, there is some overlap and differences between the terms.


  • HRIS: HRIS is a Human Resource Information System. Typically HRIS refers to a system that focuses on managing HR data such as employee information, payroll, and benefits.
  • HRMS: HRMS is a Human Resource Management System. An HRMS usually includes all HR processes. These include HRIS functions, as well as other HR processes like performance management, succession planning, and compensation planning.
  • HCM: HCM Human Capital Management usually describes a more complete
  • system. A system that integrates HR processes and functions with other areas like payroll, benefits, talent management, and learning management. An HCM intends to provide a unified solution.

Key Differences and Similarities between HRIS, HRMS and HCM

Let’s break down the differences and similarities:

Key DifferencesKey Similarities
HRIS: An HRIS is a software solution that enables the storage, management, and retrieval of employee information such as personal information, employment history, job titles, and benefits. An HRIS typically includes employee self-service, attendance tracking, and reporting functionality.

HRMS: An HRMS goes beyond an HRIS and includes employee performance management, payroll, time and attendance tracking, and benefits administration. HRMS is a comprehensive system that provides an end-to-end solution to manage human resources.

HCM: HCM is a more strategic approach to managing human resources. It is a business process encompassing all aspects of managing people, from recruitment to retirement. HCM includes HRIS and HRMS functionalities and features such as talent management, workforce planning, succession planning, and learning management.
Centralized employee data management: All three solutions offer centralized storage and management of employee data, which makes it easier for HR professionals to access and update employee information, track employment history, and maintain accurate records.

Automation of HR processes: HRIS, HRMS, and HCM all provide automation of HR processes such as employee onboarding, offboarding, and performance management. This automation saves time and reduces the likelihood of errors.

Employee self-service: All three solutions offer employee self-service functionality, which enables employees to access and update their personal information, view their pay stubs, request time off, and more.

Compliance management: HRIS, HRMS, and HCM all provide compliance management features to ensure that organizations are adhering to legal and regulatory requirements related to HR.

Reporting and analytics: All three solutions offer reporting and analytics functionality, which enables HR professionals to generate reports on employee data, track HR metrics, and identify areas for improvement.

Main Differences

The main difference between these three terms is the scope and focus of the HR processes they support. HCM is the most comprehensive term, while HRIS focuses primarily on HR data management, and HRMS encompasses a broader range of HR procedures.

Let HRchitect make sense of the alphabet soup and get you started on the road to choosing the right solution and vendor to meet your needs. For more information on how HRchitect can help you select your next HCM, please contact us here.

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About the Author

Jim Morrone brings 30 years of HR and systems experience to the HRchitect team. His blend of functional and technical knowledge across HCM domain ensures the success of his clients, whether evaluation and selection, or implementing a new HCM system.