The A-Z of HR technology



Read time
12 mins

HR systems features have evolved from simple data entry and storage to modern, comprehensive cloud-based solutions that support the HR, learning, payroll and recruitment activities of busy HR teams

From legacy HR systems to cloud-based HR software, there is a host of terminology around HR software. We have gathered, in one place, a glossary of the most common terms related to HR systems features.


HR systems features: the definitive A-Z of HR technology


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ |



Absence management – this is a fundamental HR systems feature for most organisations; the HR system will enable them to record, log and report on employee absence, whether that’s holiday, sickness absence, or some other form of leave. Self-service HR software empowers employees to log or request their own absence, and line managers to approve that absence, without the HR team needing to be involved

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 that enables the electronic handling of recruitment processes. These processes can include approving and distributing job adverts; collecting, storing, and analysing candidates’ applications; arranging interviews; arranging background checks; and making job offers

Application Programming Interface (API) – is a set of code that enables two separate applications, or more, to interact. In an HR systems context, APIs are used to link together two pieces of software – such as a central HR system and a time and attendance system – so they act as one, linked database

Analytics – your HR systems features should include comprehensive, user-friendly tools to help your organisation compile reports about important metrics such as absence, training, and productivity

Audit trails – the records in your HR system will create auditable trails of correspondence with and interactions between employees and managers, which may be useful if a case is taken to an employment tribunal


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

Bradford Factor scores – some organisations use this measurement to understand the severity, frequency, and impact of employee absence. You may wish to use an HR system that can calculate this score automatically

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


Case management – employee-relations cases can be tricky to manage. HR systems that feature case management tools will help you manage cases more effectively and consistently, and to create an auditable history of interactions between the employee and the organisation

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


Data-retention dashboard – this report in an HR system helps the organisation understand what personal data needs to be deleted or anonymised, so that the organisation can remain compliant with the requirements of the GDPR (see below)

Digital payslips – an electronic statement of an employee’s pay for a particular pay period. Historic online payslips can be stored within your HR system, where they are easy to access at any time, from any internet-enabled device, empowering employees to take ownership of their pay

Document storage and management – many HR systems now enable you to store documents (such as policies, contracts, or other letters) against an employee’s record, creating a full history of correspondence that employees, line managers, and HR professionals alike can access


Electronic signature, or eSignature – the ability for an individual to electronically ‘sign’ a document, such as a contract or policy, to confirm they have read, understood, and agree to the document. Often facilitated through an HR system’s integration with a third-party tool such as Adobe Sign or DocuSign

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 a greater scope, and therefore a broader range of HR systems features, than an HRIS system. An HRIS typically stores HR-related data securely, while an HCM or HRMS will offer more sophisticated tools to help automate tasks, report on and analyse data, and integrate the platform with other HR software. Not sure what you need from a system? Take a look at our HRIS requirements checklist

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


Identity and background checks – an area of HR systems functionality that is growing in importance. Look for an HR system that can help you request and manage identity checks, such as digital right to work checks, and background checks such as DBS checks

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.


Job, pay and benefits – a fundamental HR systems feature is the creation and storage of job, pay and benefits records for all individuals who work at an organisation




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) – a learning management system such as Ciphr LMS helps organisations deliver training activities (often in the form of eLearning courses), as well as report on learners’ skills and experience. A modern LMS will do more than just deliver training content, though: it will also engage users with learning through learning journeys, forums, communities, gamification, and skills analysis tools. Integrate your HR and LMS to bring additional benefits to your organisation

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

Live chat – a ‘widget’ within the central HR software that enables individuals to get help quickly through a text-chat message function. It can be powered by AI (with pre-programmed responses), or connect the individual to a live agent (likely an HR practitioner)


Management information (MI) reporting – a suite of reports available within an HR system, giving information about metrics that are relevant to an organisation’s most senior stakeholders

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

Multi-post – the HRMS system enables an individual to work in more than one job or role at a single time. This is important for entities such as schools, where employees may hold more than one position (for example, as a head of department and as a head of year), for which they receive different salaries

Managed HR services – also known as outsourced HR – is an annual support package designed to provide extra flexibility and capacity to operate and develop your HR platform, and to maximise its potential by assisting and adding value to your organisation’s HR processes


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


Onboarding software – specialist onboarding software such as Ciphr’s solution helps organisations to streamline and automate the onboarding process, helping them create a consistent (and consistently positive) introduction to their company and its culture for all new starters

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


Payroll softwarepayroll software is used by organisations to calculate, manage, automate and process payments of wages or salaries to their employees and workers. It is often integrated with the organisation’s central HR software for additional efficiency gains

Payroll integration – this is a key HR systems feature for many organisations, enabling them to link their central HR system with their chosen payroll software

Performance management – the process organisations use to continually improve the skills, knowledge, and productivity of their people is called performance management. You can expect an HR system to feature tools to help management performance, including reports, areas to record the outcomes of performance reviews, appraisals, and other conversations, succession planning tools, and functionality that helps organisations identify top performers.

Policy acceptance – an HR system feature which enables HR teams to centrally upload a company policy to the HR software, and share that policy with employees for them to read and accept. When a user ‘accepts’ a policy, this is recorded in the HR system

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

Reminders and notifications – a modern HR system will streamline your workflows by automating tasks (particularly around activities such as new starter set-up) and issuing automatic reminders (such as when appraisals are due)


Safeguarding and pre employment checks – organisations that work in highly regulated sectors (such as schools and care homes) will need to carry out additional employee checks to protect the health, wellbeing, and safety of the people in their care. Some HR systems, such as Ciphr HR, feature additional optional functionality to support these requirements

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

Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) dashboard – a module within an HR system that helps HR teams comply with the SMCR’s 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 a single central record 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

Subject access request (SAR) management – current and former employees of an organisation are now legally permitted to request copies of all information their employer, or former employer, holds on them. SAR management tools within an HR system help organisations extract and share that information more efficiently

Succession planning – a process carried out by HR teams to understand which of their most important people are flight risks or may move to a new role in the short, medium, or long term, and to identify top performers who would be suited to these roles when vacancies arise. HR systems can feature functionality to make succession planning easier and quicker to achieve


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

Timesheets – individuals who are paid on an hourly basis, and may not have fixed working patterns, may need to complete timesheets in order to be paid correctly. Many HR systems include timesheet functionality as standard; however, organisations with complex working patterns (including shift patterns) may benefit from integrating their central HR system with specialist time-and-attendance software that supports activities such as clocking in and out

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






Workflows – modern HR systems such as Ciphr HR will enable organisations to configure bespoke workflows that help to automate common, repetitive tasks such as setting up new staters, updating policies, and distribute management information reports







Want to find out how the HR systems features of Ciphr’s solutions can benefit your organisation? Contact us now to arrange a demonstration of our integrated HR, learning, payroll and recruitment platform.


This article was first published in November 2020. It was updated in November 2022 for freshness, clarity, and accuracy.