The digital transformation of HR departments is well underway, with many organizations choosing HR Information Systems (HRIS) and other best-in-breed solutions to streamline processes such as onboarding and self-service options. While digital records are certainly an improvement over paper ones, these systems do little to tame the proliferation of documents scattered in disparate locations, whether physical or virtual. Legacy paper files lurk in file cabinets, while digital versions might reside on applications such as SharePoint and Dropbox, siloed within various systems that don’t share data, or even stuck on local hard drives or mobile devices.

At the same time, HR departments are challenged to comply with government regulations and internal governance policies. You must meet compliance deadlines, follow retention schedules, share documents securely with the right people and assure that employee files are complete and up-to-date.

When documents aren’t centralized, HR departments waste time and money hunting down documents, updating them as needed and trying to keep up with employees onboarding, terminating or moving from one business unit to another.

A robust document management system can solve all these issues, taming the chaos and freeing your team up to focus on strategic goals, such as recruitment and retention. The solution you choose should benefit your organization in three distinct ways: integration with your current systems, compliance assistance and secure sharing and control of documents, even when you must share them both within and outside the organization.

1. Seamless Integration

Ideally, your document management solution will serve as an aggregation point between disparate HR systems, network drives and paper files. This central repository, accessible from anywhere, will facilitate search, and assure that HR files are secure and retained in accordance with federal, state and local regulations.

To achieve this goal, your document management system must integrate with HRIS/HCM and other systems, accessing and indexing documents no matter where they reside. Further automation can ensure that records are complete, accessible, protected and not duplicated. The system should also be capable of recognizing document types so that you can respond to requests by searching across multiple employee files.

2. Compliance Automation

One of the greatest challenges HR organizations face is making sure they comply with government regulations and corporate policies around document governance. They not only must assure that each employee’s files are complete in the first place, but also that certain documents, such as certifications, remain up-to-date. Automation can make these processes more transparent and efficient. Through automation, you can guarantee that all the right documents exist in each employee’s file. As a document nears expiration, the system can be programmed to request a new document from the employee without action required by HR staff.

3. Secure Sharing

A further concern is sharing data securely with those who need it, such as the payroll department, internal and external auditors and those responding to unemployment claims. Rather than emailing or printing out documents in response to these requests, you should be able to grant limited access to a discrete set of documents without them ever leaving the system. HR administrators can set up secure virtual “file rooms” containing the requested documents, and grant access only to those who require it. The access can limit printing, downloading or copying, and it can also expire after a preset amount of time to prevent potential breaches down the road. In addition, the solution should provide a complete audit trail that records every access and every action taken on a document.

The digital transformation of HR has come a long way, but it isn’t truly complete without a robust centralized document management solution. When your department spends less time on routine administrative tasks, it can begin to take its place as the strategic, culture-developing backbone of an organization. To learn more about how to best prepare your department for digital transformation, download our free eBook, “A Blueprint for HR Document Transformation.”


Andrea Palumbo has over 20 years of experience in the HR and Payroll industry as both an HRIS client and vendor. Her teams are responsible for implementing and maintaining critical HR technology, data and timely processing of payroll for over 1300 employees globally. Andrea’s in-depth knowledge of HR Technology and sensitive employee data allow her to convey the benefits of having a robust HRIS and data management systems working together side by side .