ATS vs. HRIS - What’s the difference?

As a hiring manager, you might have wondered what the difference is between an ATS and HRIS. How are they different and, more importantly, which one should you choose?

As a hiring manager, you might have wondered what the difference is between an ATS and HRIS. How are they different and, more importantly, which one should you choose?

The main difference comes down to the timing. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) keep track of applicants in the recruiting phase. HRIS systems handle employees after they’ve been hired, and for the duration of their employment. The differences go a bit further than that -- in this blog post, we’re going to untangle these terms and help you decide which one is best for your business.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Usually, employers will receive hundreds of applications for any given job opening. That’s especially true now that online applications make it easier for people to apply, even if they’re not necessarily qualified. All these applications can quickly fill up your email inbox, making it a huge task to deal with. That’s where an ATS comes into the picture – to ease the workload for overwhelmed hiring managers.

Fundamentally, an ATS is designed to track applicants through the hiring process. It’s software that recruiters use to handle applications, simplify the hiring process, and find the right person for the job. More specifically, it lets recruiters more easily review an application, send follow-ups, and automate tasks like interview scheduling and candidate reminders.

Once a candidate has become an employee, they move into something like an Onboarding platform. This platform helps get the new person up and running in the company by streamlining paperwork and background checks, and allowing new employees to sign necessary documents at home using e-signatures.

Why should you invest in an ATS? The main benefit is that it cuts down on hiring time, and makes it easier to find your ideal employee and hire them before the competition. With the hiring time cut in half, you’ll see improved productivity and an overall boost for your business.

An ATS also lets you manage all your job posts in one place. And you can access it 24/7, as long as you have an internet connection. By automating the process, you can manage multiple job ads and applications at once. The software does the multi-tasking for you, while you free up time to do other things, like spending more time getting to know candidates or training new employees. Essentially, it makes your job as a hiring manager a lot easier, which will have an overall positive impact on your business.

So, what’s an HRIS?

A Human Resource Information System (HRIS) typically comes into play after the onboarding platform. Unlike an ATS, it’s used during a staff member's employment rather than for recruiting. It’s a SaaS-based software used to collect and track key employee data from an HR perspective, such as date of birth, position, salary, vacation requests, etc. Some of the data is collected and stored for compliance’s sake. This includes identification data in case of theft, fraud, or other types of misconduct. It can also have emergency contact information in case of accidents or citizens’ identification for the tax office.

Other functionalities of an HRIS can be handling employee handbooks, training and development, and performance measuring. The features can vary with different HRIS systems, but the main purpose of them is to manage employee data long-term.

While some HRIS operate on a company’s own infrastructure, they’re more commonly cloud-based. This means you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easier to update it frequently. The overall benefit of having an HRIS in place is that the HR team can easily manage everyday tasks related to staff members. An HRIS can also improve privacy and security by storing all the information digitally. Just like an ATS, it can boost a team’s efficiency and productivity with all the information and analysis kept in one place.

ATS or HRIS, which one is right for me?

The choice between these products comes down to what problems you’re trying to solve and what your needs are for the business. ATS and HRIS are two very different systems, focused on separate solutions. Are you looking to simplify and streamline your hiring and onboarding process? Then an ATS, like HigherMe, is the best solution for your company. You’ll save hours of time (and frustration) by using a digital system that’s designed to speed up and automate the hiring process.

On the other hand – if you want to have a simple record-keeping system for managing your employee’s data, then an HRIS is likely a better option for you. Besides tracking and storing data, it can be used for offering self-service HR to employees and managers. This feature means that an HRIS (when it’s user-friendly) can offer an improved employee experience.

As a business owner, you don’t necessarily need to choose between these two systems. Generally speaking, both ATS and HRIS are very affordable products. And like most other companies, you’re probably faced with more than one problem you’re trying to solve. That’s why, in many cases, the smartest alternative is to implement both. The time saved by using systems to automate and streamline your process will often cover the costs involved. It can very well be an investment worth making.