A human resource management system (HRMS) or human resource information system (HRIS), refers to the systems and processes at the intersection between human resource management (HRM) and information technology. It merges HRM as a discipline and in particular its basic HR activities and processes with the information technology field, whereas the programming of data processing systems evolved into standardized routines and packages of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. On the whole, these ERP systems have their origin on software that integrates information from different applications into one universal database. The linkage of its financial and human resource modules through one database is the most important distinction to the individually and proprietary developed predecessors, which makes this software application both rigid and flexible.
The function of human resources (HR) departments is generally administrative and common to all organizations. Organizations may have formalized selection, evaluation, and payroll processes. Efficient and effective management of "human capital" progressed to an increasingly imperative and complex process. The HR function consists of tracking existing employee data which traditionally includes personal histories, skills, capabilities, accomplishments and salary. To reduce the manual workload of these administrative activities, organizations began to electronically automate many of these processes by introducing specialized human resource management systems. HR executives rely on internal or external IT professionals to develop and maintain an integrated HRMS. Before the client--server architecture evolved in the late 1980s, many HR automation processes were relegated to mainframe computers that could handle large amounts of data transactions. In consequence of the high capital investment necessary to buy or program proprietary software, these internally developed HRMS were limited to organizations that possessed a large amount of capital. The advent of client--server, application service provider, and software as a service (SaaS) or human resource management systems enabled increasingly higher administrative control of such systems.