Human Resources Software Report Writing Defined

Jul 22


Clay C. Scroggin

Clay C. Scroggin

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Much of the benefit from using a Human resources Software application will be derived from data you can pull from the system. In determining needs with prospects, I have seen statements related to report writing more often than any other. The purpose of this article is to define how you should view the human resources software you will evaluate as it relates to report writing capabilities.


Standard Reports – Any Human resources Software system you evaluate will offer some type of standard reports. You will hear that one company offers one hundred and fifty reports and another offers three hundred but this does not matter. All that matters is that the reports that you are most likely to need are included in the sample reports. Here is a list of a few standard reports you should expect to be included with any HRIS application:

• Turnover statistics
• Turnover Log
• New Hire Log
• Birthday Report
• Anniversary Reports
• Benefits Reports
• Reviews Due
• Training Due
• Employee Training
• Attendance balances
• Attendance history
• Salary Grade Range Exceptions
• Government compliance reporting for OSHA

With standard reports,Human Resources Software Report Writing Defined Articles you will have the ability to customize how you want the reports sorted or grouped. You will likely also have the ability to export data to Excel or Word. This is helpful in that it may be the only way you can customize these reports. This is also the biggest issue with standard reports. They are not typically customizable. You get what you get. With some systems, these reports may also be included within a report writer where you can alter the reports but this is not typically the case from my experience. 

Custom Report Writing – As you evaluate various Human resources Software systems, you will find that they have many similar capabilities, features and options. Where you will see some major differences, however, is within the report writing capabilities. Thus, you want to evaluate in detail the report writing options you are presented.

Everyone wants a human resources software report writer that is easy to use and comprehensive in its functionality. From my experience, however, I have seen that these two needs have an inverse relationship. The easier the report writer is to us, the less comprehensive the functionality and, of course, the inverse would be true as well. The important thing when evaluating report writers is to determine how significant your report writing needs are. I have seen many companies, for example, never create a custom report. The standard reports meet their needs. I have seen other companies with high comprehensive report writing needs not have a report writer that can meet those needs.

The important thing when determining your needs before beginning your evaluation of systems is to write out exactly which reports you will need and make certain that the system you select meets this need. Make sure if custom report writing is necessary, that it is included in the scope of the engagement.

Learning to use an HRIS Report Writer – I have seen that many people who are trained on using a report writer are apprehensive to do so. Report Writing programs, such as Crystal, which many of the systems use, have a reputation of being difficult to work with and to learn. I actually don’t think this is the case.

If you have not done report writing in another system, the first thing you need to understand is the logic of report writing and how database files and fields react with each other. When performing report writing training, I always tried to make sure the students understood the logic first. I would not allow them to take notes during this part of the discussion. More than a few students were not happy about this but I am confident in my methods. Once you get the logic, writing reports is pretty easy and I actually think fun. Here’s my report writing logic. Report writers are stupid. You have to tell them everything they need to do. They assume nothing and they don’t think.

The first thing you need to do is determine which database contains the fields you will need within your report. Most systems will come with a database dictionary that will provide this detail. Then you will select the fields you want in your report. From here, you determine grouping, sorting and totals. This is all pretty simple stuff.

Here’s the tricky part. At this point the report query is pulling all information from the database. If you are running a turnover log, for example, you have not told the stupid report writer that you only want terminated employees in your report. The same thing is true if you only want to run a report for active employees; you must tell the report writer to do so. If you only want employees with a birthday in June, you will have to filter your database to only include these options.

The biggest problem I have seen after people receive training on a report writer is that they don’t jump in and use the new knowledge and two months down the road, when they need a report, they forgot what they learned. If you find this article helpful, you may also want to read our article on HRIS System Software Training Options.

Extra Tip on Report Writer Training

When implementing a new human resources software application, you are going to have your hands full. I recommend waiting two to three months after you have implemented the software to receive training on the report writing software. At this point, you will understand far more about the fields your system contains and the pros and cons of the standard reports offered.

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