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Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) have been making their mark on the human resources function for decades: in addition to the power of their memories and their computing capacity, which make it possible to automate administrative tasks, they have recently been joined by the multiplication of terminals and the sophistication of decision support tools, which open up their use to all employees, both operative employees and decision makers.

We talk about Digital Transformation of the HR function. Its challenges are as much about a better Employee Experience as they are about the necessary Data Quality, not to mention Privacy, in the interconnected world that the recent pandemic is accelerating.

The question then arises: are these systems well used by their users?

According to our 2022 HRIS Adoption Barometer, and the 20 testimonials from HR professionals in the latest edition of our White Paper on HRIS Adoption in organizations, the answer is: not really

Resistance to change, application constraints, complex governance: let’s discover in this article the 8 major obstacles to a good adoption of HRIS by its users.

Resistance to change:


1) Resistance to change is first and foremost human …


Resistance to change is not simply a matter of age. Resistance to change is directly linked to the human factor, to fear of change.

According to Samy Berber, RUN Project Manager at Eiffage: «Human beings are sometimes inherently opposed to changes in order to remain in their comfort zones, it is quite natural».

This fear can also result in a lack of investment by employees who are not ready to make the required adaptation effort. Some employees are willing, curious, and do not even need to be supported, while others will reject the solution on principle and will need support close proximity to the solution otherwise there is a high risk that it will be rejected.

We find the «it was better before» effect, which could be seen in several testimonies, an effect that is particularly noticeable when the tool is imposed, without any consultation with the employees

2) … But also historical and structural …

We also find aResistance to change is observed during mergers and acquisitions, particularly during the integration phase of the taken-over company into the acquiring company. It is observed that structural resistance on the part of highly unionized staff who were an obstacle to the adoption of digital tools to the extent that, following the acquisition of their company and a growing deficit of trust with their employer, they were resistant in their daily lives. Moreover, if a company-led initiative has led to failure, the impact of this failure will be reflected in future initiatives because it will be remembered by employees. .

3) … Especially among populations without a digital identity …

Particular attention should be paid to people without a digital identity, i.e. employees who do not
have access to a fixed workstation, or who do not have an email address from their company
to connect to the HRIS. Their access to HRIS is a determining factor in digital autonomy. It is
then more difficult to «get them on board».

Population sans identité numérique

It is not always possible to adapt digital tools to a mobile format favoured by employees, so they need to be provided with computers and trained in order to include them in the digitalisation of the company.

4) Lack of intuitiveness of the applications

Manque d'intuitivité

Difficulties in adopting HRIS systems do not lie solely with employees

Applications can sometimes be the cause of their own poor adoption. First of all, poor HRIS usability is a factor that can greatly slow down the adoption of an information system. Indeed, a tool that does not meet the needs of the user, whose interface seems off-putting, all the
more so if the path to access the functionalities is complicated, will hinder the effective use of the tool.

The tool must therefore be user-friendly, intuitive, and improve the «user experience», which is now at the heart of companies’ concerns.

Caroline Rousié-Villemin, HR Applications Director at Sodexo, says: « The first operational
challenge of HRIS is to put yourself in the shoes of the users».

Indeed, Understanding the needs of users will allow us to develop better ergonomics, favoring the experience, and thus a more optimal use of the tools.

In addition, employees who feel better about their use of the tool will be more inclined to adopt it because they will more easily see the benefits.

The user experience has another virtue : that of improving the employer image, the attractiveness and the reputation of a company.

The adoption of HRIS is hindered by their lack of functionality and technical limitations which limit the ability to create as many specificities as needed.

5) International deployment not sufficiently specified

The lack of specificity of an international deployment is also a problem that can be felt when the expression of needs is insufficient. It is fundamental to provide a common tool/system that each country can adapt and customize the system at a certain level to promote adoption and meet real legal and regulatory expectations. Participation thus becomes a driver of development to facilitate adoption, despite the investment in time, budget, energy and risk of errors that this represents. 


It is not always possible to adapt digital tools to a mobile format favoured by employees, so they need to be provided with computers and trained in order to include them in the digitalisation of the company.

Population sans identité numérique

6) A project that underestimated the importance of change management

Assuming that the ergonomics of the new tool are well thought out and that it is
sufficiently specified according to the needs of the end users, the deployment phase still needs to receive all the attention it deserves. Supporting users in learning how to use the new tool and, more generally, managing change is one of the dimensions of any HRIS project However, employees do not want to invest time in a tool that is not their work tool. One cause of resistance to change is located upstream of the deployment, during the collection of requirements.

The project must be taken in hand by the user teams from the very beginning of the project, even before the specifications. If this is the case, the obstacles to adoption are rooted in a failure to anticipate the extent of the changes at the time of the project’s launch.

For Alban Bureau, VP Total Reward of the Saint-Gobain group: «You have to think about usage from the very first studies, and put a lot of effort into convincing and discussing, to take into account the opinions of each user and to engage them in the project».

Compartmentalized operation and complex governance


7) A compartmentalized HRIS operation

Some HRIS juxtapose applications and databases, at the risk of limiting their interoperability and making interface management more cumbersome. Many of our stakeholders have expressed the need to harmonize their HR tools, to benefit from a global HR data center, or to rationalize the mapping of the company’s tools.

 «The challenge is to harmonize, or at least to offer a single solution for all our HR processes.» Cédric Lefrançois, Director of Comp&Ben, Payroll and HRIS at Vinci Construction.

Fonctionnement en silo

The compartmentalized operation of the HRIS is not without impact on the quality of HR data (data quality and accuracy), which are critical issue in IT governance. When the various applications and databases are not well connected, there is a risk of duplicate entries, in different formats, or missing entries in a database, not to mention the ever-present possibility of entry errors.

8) Complex governance, between HR and IT departments

Gouvernance DRH et DSI

Beyond the technical questions, there are questions of responsibility: who can and should be
the end user’s contact, the HR department or the IT department?

In the face of power plays, the hierarchy or management must act. Sponsorship is a key element because that is to say, if the hierarchy does not support the project, at the slightest problem the tools can be abandoned very quickly.

What solutions can be put in place to overcome these obstacles and secure the adoption of HRIS and processes?


To go further in your project and your HRIS adoption process, we have produced a complete White Paper on the subject, which you can download free of charge by clicking on this link.


You will discover the testimonies of 20 HR and HRIS professionals on the obstacles mentioned in this article, as well as the key success factors that have emerged from the White Paper: involving all the players at all stages of the project, developing a feedback culture, and managing the change well in advance and adopting it continuously, because the project does not stop at the deployment stage.