Integrating Core HR Systems

The staffing process and performance appraisal system are two of the essential and critical “core” HR systems.  Others that tie in are the job evaluation, job description, and staff development systems.

Many employers are stymied with putting these systems in place because they often are stand-alone and unrelated to one another.  Even within any of these systems, there can be variations in style, method, and format because elements are done at different times by different players.


A viable solution to these frustrations is to integrate the five “core” systems.  The method involves using common factors – namely the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities together with Education/Training and Experience for each individual job – as the foundation for these systems.  The big advantages are the synergy of using common criteria, making the systems specific to individual jobs, and avoiding complaints of inconsistency in criteria from one system to another.  To be sure, it requires discipline and the will to do the foundational work in order to achieve the synergy this approach provides.


The LGMA Human Resources Toolkit for Local Government Organizations, 2nd Edition – of which I am the author – goes into considerable detail about integrating these key core HRM systems.  The basic approach is as follows:

The first step is preparing the job descriptions.  Typically this consists of three or more parts describing:

  1. Key Duties;
  2. Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities;
  3. Qualifications (Education/Training and Experience).

The KSAs and Qualifications must be consistent with Key Duties of the job.  And the language describing the KSAs must be carefully chosen to reflect different requirements among jobs.  See Toolkit, Section 3.1.  This section includes a KSA Dictionary which helps in describing the differences in skill levels.  There is also advice on preparing job descriptions and sample job descriptions.

The second step is to port the KSAs and Qualifications into the staffing documents as the selection factors.  These will form the rating guide for scoring the applicants and establish a template for developing job specific questions for the interviews.  See Toolkit, Section 1.2. This section provides sample rating guides and interview questionnaires.  There is also advice on conducting interviews and rating applicants, particularly in a unionized setting.

The third step is to port the KSAs into the performance appraisal document.  The KSAs are then used as the appraisal factors thereby maintaining consistency with the other systems. Additionally, the appraisal is specific to each individual job and avoids an unsuitable one-size-fits-all approach.  This works for both probationary and annual reviews.   See Toolkit, Sections 1.3 and 3.2.  Again, there are sample forms and advice on doing reviews.

Additionally, this approach links to the job evaluation and staff development processes.

Most unionized employers use a job evaluation method to establish relativity among jobs for pay rates.  Provided that job descriptions are properly written with appropriate KSAs that reflect difference is skill levels, the KSAs can be used as part of the evaluation process.  See Toolkit, Section 4.1.

Training and development is frequently a part of the performance appraisal activity.  The KSAs can serve as a checklist for identifying future training and development needs.  See Toolkit, Sections 3.2 and 3.3.

If desired, management jobs can be dealt with using a variation of this integrated approach.  Management jobs generally have very different expectations placed upon them compared to rank-and-file jobs.  The alternative approach is to identify five or six key “functions” from the Key Duties part of the job description and substitute them for the KSAs.  Incorporating work-related goals and objectives works easier with this model.  See Toolkit, Sections 9.2.4 and 9.3.3A and B.

The beauty of this approach is the flow from one system to the other without the need to re-invent.  The logic ensures internal consistency among these interdependent HRM systems.


Copyright Russell L Cape 2017