HRIS vs. HCM vs. BenAdmin: Finding the Right HR Solution For You

Between HRIS, HCM, and BenAdmin, figuring out which solution fits the best for your business is a challenge. And it doesn’t help that there’s so many acronyms that blur the lines between the differences of each type of system.

This guide will break down HR software terms that you need to know, plus the utility of each kind of system.

Before getting into the guide, it’s important to note that there are many HR technology solutions out there. There are solutions for the broad spectrum of HR, and there are niche offerings that specialize in specific HR components like benefits, payroll, recruiting, etc. To avoid information overload, this guide will focus on HR solutions from a benefits perspective.

Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

HRIS systems are the most basic among the three types of software covered in this guide. These systems allow users to manage and automate the most basic necessities of HR. The following is a list of features typically included in HRIS platforms:

Employee information management

  • Centralized employee database
  • Personal information tracking
  • Employment history
  • Emergency contact details

Time and attendance

  • Time tracking
  • Attendance monitoring
  • Leave management
  • Overtime tracking

Recruitment and applicant tracking

  • Job posting and management
  • Applicant tracking system (ATS)
  • Resume parsing
  • Interview scheduling

Benefits administration

  • Benefits enrollment and management
  • Health insurance tracking
  • Retirement plan administration
  • Flexible spending accounts

It’s important to note that not all HRIS solutions will have every feature listed, and the level of sophistication can vary. HRIS solutions are a good option for small businesses (100 or fewer employees). Unfortunately, HRIS systems lack the configurability and features that are valuable when managing complex benefits requirements.

Human Capital Management (HCM)

HCM systems function similar to HRIS systems, however, HCM include the “human element.” This means that HCM systems can manage the entire employee lifecycle, including recruitment, hiring, management, engagement, and development. The feature set includes those that an HRIS system has, plus the following:

Talent Acquisition

  • Recruitment and applicant tracking.
  • Interview scheduling and candidate evaluation.


  • New employee orientation.
  • Electronic forms and document management.
  • Integration with other HR processes for seamless transitions.

Performance Management

  • Goal setting and tracking.
  • Continuous performance feedback.
  • Performance appraisals and reviews.
  • Competency assessments.

Learning and Development

  • Training program management.
  • Skill assessments and development plans.
  • Certification tracking.
  • Employee education and career development.

Employee Engagement

  • Surveys and feedback tools.
  • Recognition programs.
  • Employee satisfaction tracking.

HCM platforms house functionality for all core human resources functions. Usually, HCM systems are really competent in one HR component, while other functionality suffers. For example, the payroll functionality may work great, but the benefits functionality leaves a lot to be desired. Because of this, it’s common to see HCM systems integrate with third parties to provide better functionality in lacking areas.

BenAdmin (Benefits Administration)

Like mentioned before, there is various HR software that specializes in one component of HR. For benefits specifically, BenAdmin systems provide a robust benefits experience for employers and employees alike. BenAdmin systems provide managers with comprehensive and automated management functionality, while employees benefit from a wealth of features for enrollment.

BenAdmin systems include

  • Eligibility management
  • ACA and COBRA administration
  • Open enrollment and life events
  • Integration with carriers
  • Robust data reporting
  • Decision support tools
  • Educational content
  • Benefits shopping and enrollment
  • Analytical tools

A platform that is truly built for benefits not only enhances benefits administration and enrollment, but is essentially necessary for certain organizations. An organization with a complex benefits program needs a system that can flex to handle complicated situations. Without a BenAdmin system, organizations may find that their technology solution struggles to manage complex benefits rules and cost calculations. HRIS and HCM systems simply lack the configurability to handle an array of health care plans and voluntary benefits.

Many HRIS and HCM systems position themselves as best-of-breed benefits technology. In comparison to BenAdmin systems, HRIS and HCM systems do not measure up. Feature rich BenAdmin systems take benefits from a simple enrollment experience to a full-service shopping and support experience, which can’t be said for other systems.

BenAdmin systems are highly recommended for mid-size to large employer groups for their advanced configurability and employee experience.

How to pick a solution best fit for you

So, how do you know if an HRIS, HCM, or BenAdmin system is best for your organization? Here’s an overview:

Best fit for HRIS or HCM

  • Small businesses.
  • Businesses with simple benefits programs.
  • Businesses that operate in non-regulated industries.

Best fit for BenAdmin

  • Businesses with complex benefits.
  • Businesses who desire to increase engagement in enrollment (with a true benefits shopping experience and decision support tools).
  • Need for deep integration with carriers and other HR systems.
  • Need comprehensive reporting and analytics.

Keep in mind, organizations can connect their existing HRIS or HCM systems to a dedicated benefits administration system. You can still streamline benefits administration without making drastic changes to your current tech stack.


Navigating the landscape of HR technology solutions can be a complex endeavor, particularly when focusing on benefits administration. Basic HRIS or HCM systems are suitable for straightforward HR needs, but specialized BenAdmin platforms are needed for intricate benefits structures.

The key lies in aligning the chosen system with the unique requirements of the organization, considering factors such as size, benefits complexity, industry regulations, and integration needs. By making informed decisions based on these considerations, businesses can enhance their HR and benefits management processes effectively.

Get in touch

Give us a ring, send an email, or fill out the form below. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.