How long does it take to implement an HRIS System

There is a short answer to this, most resources show that implementing an HRIS system or Online HR System, takes about 6 to 8 weeks… But let’s unpack that a bit. Every HR manager ever has always worried about “How long does it take to implement an HRIS?”. There is the initial setup to get everything installed and then the import of all the Employee data into the system. Then starts the Change Management process where the Employees are allowed access to the system, and you start to worry about adoption rates… Will they use it?

There is so much involved in setting up and starting to use a new HRIS or online HR system, but this blog will guide you through that process.

Let’s look at a quick guide to get your HRIS up and running:

  1. Get a list of all your HR data (that should include Employee data and any other data related to HR)
  2. Get all your data in an electronic format and create a list somewhere, since you will be going back to it a lot. Add as much information to this list as possible.
  3. Contact the HRIS providers Support team and ask then what data they can import for you, also check if there is a possible integration with your current provider (if you have one)
  4. Setup an HR Project plan to list what is needed, step by step. Nothing is too small to list, even if its going to take a few minutes to completed.
  5. Get a Project Team that will execute the HR Project plan for HRIS implementation. This will include HR team members, Executive Members (Stakeholders), IT staff to ensure security and access, and Managers to help with change management and adoption, and so on.
  6. Start with your data manipulation to get everything ready for import (based on the Providers Support teams input)
  7. Check the data you are about to import, at least do a few spot checks to make sure everything looks “ok”. This could include Date of Birth for a few Employees, their departments, the branches they are in and some of their benefits. (Sanity check)
  8. Supply the data to the Provider to start the import. Get a timeline form them for the setup and importing of the data.
  9. Once data has been imported don’t allow access to all Employees at once, the adoption rates are extremely low, and some change management is needed to condition the Employees to the new way of working with HR. Read our blog on Change Management as a guide.
  10. Check the data in the system, with the same checks you did to confirm the data is accurate.
  11. Ask the Provider for an Import sign off certificate to sign off that the import has been completed (This is needed for a Milestone in your Project plan)
  12. Decide on team that will test the system first, this could be a single manager with a few employees that can trial the system for a few days to check that all their data is correct and that the workflows that send approvals are working as expected.
  13. Get feedback from the Team that tested the HR platform and report back to the Executive team (Stake holders) with the progress and feedback. Remember this is a large investment of resources, both money and time for the business.
  14. Based on the Feedback received from your testing team, list the issues, and create a Change management/onboarding session that focus on the issues and clarifies how to use the system based on these items.
  15. Take a department or team through the Onboarding session while focusing on the user feedback received. Take further feedback and note the questions, this would be useful to update the next session content.
  16. Setup General company communications to inform all Employees what is about to happen, and why. Nothing sells a new system to Employees like stories about how it will make their lives easier, for instance “You can now apply for leave online rather than filling in paperwork”, or “You can now submit overtime claims from home when working remotely”, etc. Sell it to the Employees and let them see your enthusiasm and be infected by it.
  17. Keep track of the usage and setup some kind of communication channel, maybe a HR email address for any issues so it can be logged to the provider to address them, or for the HR Team to assist the Employees. This will also be useful for future new Employees to know what you need to update in the onboarding pack.

So how long does it take to implement an HRIS?

We have now unpacked the basic process of making sure how to implement the HRIS System and make a success of the implementation for your HRIS or HR System.

How long does it take to implement an HRIS? That depends on the team size, the complexity of the data, the onboarding ability of the system and the help received from the HRIS Providers Support team.

It also depends a lot on your data readiness. If you already have a system that could possibly integrate it would be simple and quick, but if you don’t, and data is in multiple systems (or on paper in some cases) the planning of your project should include the digitization of the paper records as soon as possible.

If we take the average onboarding for HRSimplified the process can be timed as follows, this is based on client onboarding of 50- 200 Employees:

  • Select the HRIS tool first (It is assumed this is already done)
  • Data Readiness audit – 1 week
  • Setup the HR Onboarding Project plan – 2 days
  • Setup meetings with internal stakeholders and managers to inform of plan – 3 days
  • Meet with Provider to understand needs – 1 day
  • Get data ready for import based on Provider feedback – 1 week
  • Import of data and checks to confirm all in order – 4 days (Depending on Data)
  • Testing with Test team – 1 week
  • Create Onboarding session content – 1 week
  • Onboarding sessions and departmental roll outs – 2 weeks.

The above list is a guide and can be done in much less time if the data is prepared or already available in another system.

NOTE: In real world cases it has been possible to onboard and entire company of 200 employees in 3 days.


The timelines are very much in your control, and preparation is key. If your data is ready and in good condition, the importing and preparation can be done in much less time.

Make sure your Provider has a good understanding of their own system, and not depending on a team located in another country that complicates communication and understanding, that will slow down implementation.

If you are planning on implementing a HRIS system later in the year, start getting your data ready now, even before you make the decision what HRIS is going to be implemented. It will assist you in more than one way. Remember the answer to “How long does it take to implement an HRIS” is up to you, manage it correctly and you will reap the rewards.

The key is planning – as Benjamin Franklin said “If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail”

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