The A-Z of HR technology
9 March 2022

The A-Z of HR technology

HR technology has evolved from the early days of fax machines and paper filing to modern, comprehensive cloud-based solutions – Ciphr presents a glossary of terminology


Bogdan Tiganov

Bogdan Tiganov

Bogdan Tiganov was head of content at Ciphr from October 2020 to September 2021.


HR transformation Technology


HR technology has evolved from the early days of fax machines and paper filing to modern, comprehensive cloud-based solutions – Ciphr presents a glossary of terminology

The first purpose-built HR management software, called PeopleSoft, was released in 1987. Since then, HR technology has evolved from enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to more empowering self-service systems.

From legacy HR systems to cloud, there is a world of terminology around HR technology. We have gathered, in one place, a glossary of the most common examples.

This page will be kept up to date with the latest HR technology terminology – we recommend that you bookmark it for future reference.

Active Directory (AD) Connector – a gateway between HR software and Microsoft’s Active Directory to keep people data up to date and secure.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – an application, such as Ciphr iRecruit, that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs.

Application Programming Interface (API) – is a set of code that enables two separate applications, or more, to interact.

Best-of-breed softwarechoosing the best software to cater to the different needs of HR teams, often from different vendors.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) – outsourcing a business function, such as payroll, to a third party.

Cloud-based HR software – accessible from anywhere with access to the intranet, with data stored securely in data centres.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – managing business data through an integrated software suite, such as Ciphr Connect.

G-Cloud – an initiative aimed at making procurement easier for public-sector bodies in departments of the UK government. It consists of:

  • A series of framework agreements with suppliers, from which public-sector organisations can buy services without needing to run a full tender or competition procurement process
  • A digital marketplace that allows public sector bodies to search for services that are covered by the G-Cloud frameworks

GDPR compliance tools – enable HR teams to comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

HR automation – the process of automating repetitive manual tasks to streamline existing processes. An example is replacing the traditional new starter pack with the automated delivery of important documents and information.

Human Capital Management (HCM) – often used to refer to an HCM system, which is another term for HR software.

Human Resources Information System (HRIS) – another term for HR software. An HCM usually has more features than an HRIS.

Human Resources Management System (HRMS) – another term for HR software, and sometimes seen as the most comprehensive option.

Index Sequential Access Method (iSAM) – an advanced method for creating and manipulating indexes of key fields extracted from random data file records to achieve fast retrieval of required file records. It is not to be confused with iSAMS, a school management system that Ciphr HR can integrate with.

ISO 27001 – an information security standard that Ciphr has achieved.

Learning and Development (L&D) – encouraging the professional development of employees. This can include tailored programmes, online and in-person training.

Learning Management System (LMS) – developed from e-learning, an LMS, such as Ciphr LMS, delivers and tracks educational courses and programmes for employees.

Legacy HR software – software that was installed on-premises as opposed to the cloud.

Mobile native – a mobile app designed to work on a specific mobile operating system, such as iOS, taking advantage of native user interface, and creating unique user experiences.

Mobile responsive – an application that adapts to any device, automatically.

Nine-box grid – an individual assessment tool that evaluates an employee’s current and potential level of contribution to an organisation. It forms part of the talent management and succession planning module of Ciphr HR.

Organisation chart – a graphical representation of the structure of an organisation, to help employees understand reporting lines.

Predictive analytics – an algorithm that uses historical data to predict the behaviour of employees, and sometimes used to potentially distinguish future high performers.

Real-Time Interface (RTI) – instantly accessing information that resides in an application’s database.

Scalable software – applications that can adapt to a growing number of users and more data.

Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) compliance tools – an application that enables HR teams to be compliant with SMCR requirements.

Sentiment analysis – a tool, which can be AI-powered, used to discover how employees are feeling. It can be powered by natural language processing to analyse the language used by employees when they provide feedback.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – a method of delivering and licensing software. Software is accessed online and is on a subscription basis.

Single Central Record (SCR) – Schools are required to maintain an SCR as evidence that they have carried out defined recruitment and vetting checks.

Single-sign-on (SSO) – allows access control of multiple related, yet independent, software systems. A user logs in with a single ID and password to gain access to any of several related systems.

Single source of truth (SSOT) – the practice of aggregating data from different systems so that it can be mastered in one place.

Staff Individualised Records (SIR) – usually related to further education, these records look at the employment and working patterns of staff.

Talent Management System (TMS) – a set of software applications that enables HR to qualify, hire and retain talent.

Total reward statements – enable employees to view the total value of their salary and benefits package.

Two-factor authentication – an extra level of security to keep your data secure. An example could be a random code that is sent via a text message.