HRIS vs. HRMS: Is There Any Difference? 3 Experts Weigh In

The labels we give to all the latest tech are often confusing.

Software vendors sometimes just don’t know what to call what they’ve come up with.



Prior to recent developments, differentiating each type of HR solution was much more important. Vendors were hyper-focused on developing products to meet very specific needs, laying the groundwork for optimizing HR’s multiple responsibilities. Solutions categorized as HRIS or HRMS were very different from what they are now.

Now, within the past few years,  vendors have begun offering solutions grouped together as complete packages, combining HRIS and HRMS. This is the result of acquisitions and partnerships, technological developments for integrating solutions, and the market’s desire to buy from one vendor as opposed to several for a complete solution.

HR software users would rather have one integrated solution, from one vendor – and vendors are developing their products around this need.


As the technology develops, many software vendors are simply changing the names of products to match what people are commonly calling them.

For some insight into how vendors define their products, we’ve asked OrangeHRM, BambooHR, and ADP to explain the reasoning behind these terms.


Basically, the actual meanings [of HRMS and HRIS] have become obsolete. They are both the same for our prospects and clients. They use other terms like HCMS too. Regardless of how they opt to call it they all want all the features possible to be available.

The real concern for these two terms is among vendors fighting for search engine optimization (SEO). Trying to get your product on top of the search lists is becoming harder by the day. OrangeHRM has been topping many of these keywords – “Free HRIS” is one such word.

Bottom line: HRIS aka HRMS or the reverse.

mafaz mazeen, orangehrm
Mafaz Mazeen
Implementation Services Manager


A main goal of any HR software vendor is making sure the product (whether you call it an HRIS, HRMS or any other HR software acronym) lines up with the needs of the client. Honestly, we’ve come to use HRIS and HRMS interchangeably—it’s classic potayto, potahto, tomayto, tomahto. In reality, whether clients are looking for a system that calls itself a “management” or an “information” system for HR doesn’t matter. What matters is that the software has the features which fit the client’s needs and company.

Clients know what they need from a system—and it’s not a specific acronym. They’re looking for a system to make certain aspects of their job easier and help them do more meaningful work. So we are an HRMS, HRIS, HCM tool focused on what makes our clients successful.

ben peterson, bamboohr
Ben Peterson
CEO & Co-Founder

In today’s workforce management environment, HRIS, HRMS and HCM are somewhat similar terms. The expectation from companies for their HR software platforms has moved beyond the transactional functions of records, benefits and payroll to an expectation that these platforms will cover the whole span of an employee’s relationship with the employer as an integrated business process.  At ADP, our software is becoming much more consumer-like and self-service in its operation, both for managers and employees.

Human Capital Management, or HCM, is the term that we feel most fully captures this new paradigm as it describes software platforms that deliver well beyond core HR functions and moves into areas such as compensation and rewards, talent management, learning and development and much more.

tony marzulli, adp
Tony Marzulli
VP of Marketing

Whether the vendor calls their product HRIS or HRMS, or tags HR or HCM in their name, it’s essentially all the same. The only way to understand the difference between each product is by zoning in on the product’s features – and that’s why we’re here to help.

Check out our HRMS Resource Guide for top benefits, key features, market trends, and a buyer’s checklist to discover the best solution for your needs.


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  1. After reading the recent article, I agree and disagree with the participants and their categorization of the differences between HRIS and HRMS and HCM.

    Yes, I believe many software providers like OrangeHRM and BambooHR use the acronyms above interchangeably, but I believe they have distinct functional differences and shouldn’t be used that way Mafaz and Ben describe.

    I wrote a blog titled TYPES OF HRIS SYSTEMS: HRIS VS. HCM VS. HRMS that explains and shows the visual difference between HRIS vs. HCM vs HCM. I would be interested in your feedback on my explanation.

    • Julia Scavicchio says

      Hi Mike,

      When we were starting out it was a bit of a headache, but we’ve found HRMS to be the dominant term for an all-in-one solution. If you compare search volume for “HRMS” to “HRIS”, HRMS is much more frequently searched. That means buyers are more often starting out knowing the HRMS acronym, and that was enough for us to make it the dominant market. Then we specify how each individual vendor includes modules, or “features,” of our narrower markets. Take BambooHR as an example, we call it HRMS then specify in the features what it does and doesn’t include, including ATS, LMS, etc.:

      It’s much easier to get to the point of what a product is all about when we can just use the most popular acronym, because people aren’t trying to buy an acronym. They’re buying a solution!

    • Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. It is really a helpful article!