4 Major Pitfalls of Using Multiple Systems


Is it possible to have one comprehensive solution for all HR/Payroll needs? Whether you are in the process of looking for a new HR/Payroll system, or are lamenting your current legacy system situation, the nirvana of a “single source of the truth” is more elusive and far less common than what you may hear from the vendor marketplace. The reality is, “best of breed” point solutions offering specific capabilities to meet your unique and complex requirements are, in many cases, a superior (or the only) choice.

Managing data across disparate systems does not have to be as daunting as it sounds. Often standalone software handles one task really well…but that’s all. A “best of breed,” self-contained system might be perfect for your compensation management, but has nothing to offer for recruitment or other talent management. A benefits administration solution manages your eligibility and open enrollment nuances like a dream. But that data must now be shared with payroll to generate deductions and consolidate information for ACA reporting.

Creating a comprehensive data map and solid process for updating appropriate values in analogous systems is the key to avoiding the potential pitfalls of using multiple systems.

Ruth Mayhew of Demand Media observed that, “Ineffective HR technology can create havoc in HR operations.”* The HRIS is intended to streamline the collection and maintenance of recruitment, payroll, and benefits data. If that is not the case because you’re juggling multiple systems, then you’re going to have chronic problems with your data and reporting.

Yet everyone seems to be doing it. According to Tech Target, “Multinational enterprises often have hundreds of different HR systems, covering multiple countries and multiple HR functions, but struggle to get them to work together.”**

Below are the four top pitfalls facing companies who maintain multiple HR systems.


When you maintain different data elements across point solutions, you risk your data becoming corrupt or inconsistent. This leads to companies making high-level decisions based on inaccurate information.


A common complaint HR departments have with a lack of system integration is the issue of retrieving data from these information silos. Some systems are designed for data entry while others are ideal for report generation…and never the twain shall meet.

This means that when you need to create a high-level report or analysis, you can’t call up one integrated, at-a-glance view. This makes it more difficult to analyze employee attrition rates, track performance development between reviews, and make more informed hiring and training decisions.***

Instead, you’re compelled to use a workaround like spreadsheets, which costs time and money, creating a negative impact to your company’s bottom line.


When you have a system with a single point of entry, while also maintaining another system, it’s tough to ascertain the timing of updates. When will you get around to updating the other system? How will someone else accessing information know if what they’re viewing is up-to-the-minute?

What ends up happening is that you have lots of variance in the timing of updates. It could happen weekly, monthly, or updates might occur as frequently as every hour—or every ten minutes! You wind up with multiple systems that may or may not be accurate, depending on the last time they were refreshed. You might think the data is timely when it’s actually outdated.


Another complication of having multiple systems is disparate coding on the two systems. For example, you might have one job code on your HRIS and a different job code (same job!) in your point solution. This necessitates translation or mapping across systems to keep the data straight so it can pass from one system to the other.

“Ineffective HR technology can create havoc in HR operations”       -Ruth Mayhew, Demand Media



If you’re experiencing any of these major pitfalls of multiple systems, you’re not without resources.

Some companies will only use multiple “best of breed” HR systems for one or more targeted functions, particularly time and attendance, benefits, recruiting, and talent. If you’re going to maintain multiple systems, it’s important to spend some time mapping out your end-to-end processes and take pains to design more streamlined data architecture.

As vendors continuously update their systems, or as new systems come on the market, more and more of these functions are being embedded into the core system. Whether this is the right solution for you or not depends more upon if that functionality meets your unique or complex requirements than on data integration.

An expert can provide new insights into your HRIS challenges. They can identify whether a new comprehensive solution is right for you or define ways to retrieve accurate data from your current information silos to improve your internal efficiencies. Furthermore, they can answer your questions about reporting and data entry challenges—and come up with a solution that adds value for your company.

You rely on your HRIS to deliver accurate and timely information. Your HRIS is your lifeline—seek expert guidance for the confidence to tap into it.

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