Australia’s Top 5 HRIS (2020)

Written by Lee Kennedy

Lee, Navigo's Head of Marketing, is passionate about solving operational and strategic HR issues. She is actively exploring the most efficient ways for organisations to visualise and model their workforce.

May 22, 2020

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It’s a good question. Investing in a human resources information system (HRIS) to be the source of truth for all HR data, could run into millions of dollars depending on the system and specific requirements. It’d really pay, up front, to know what solutions you should be looking at, and how well they compare.

The great news is that with the results from the latest Australian HR Tech Survey, we can shed some light. Since previous surveys, research revealed that 50% of respondents are using less than half of the functionality in their core HRIS. Clearly the quality of system implementation is something to keep in mind.

44% of participants selected either self-service usability or employee engagement as their top priority for HR tech strategy. We have incorporated results from the vendor HRIS self-service and satisfaction charts to determine the top HRIS.

Based on data from the 7th HR Tech Survey, the top 5 Australian core HRIS are:

Who are the top 5?

5th Place SAP
4th Place Fusion5
3rd Place Ascender
2nd Place ELMO
1st Place ichris/Chris21

Top 5 HRIS

5th place – SAP


SAP HCM is one of the most prominent vendors in the Australian HRIS space. SAP has maintained its market stronghold through an extensive range of modules available within its ecosystem.

We’ve seen a steady improvement in overall vendor satisfaction with 50% of users being content with the platform. Though many organisations have selected SAP as their core HRIS, of the top 5 HRIS systems – SAP was the only vendor that didn’t achieve an ‘excellent’ rating in self-service usability.

4th place – Fusion5


New to the top 5, EmpowerHR (Fusion5) has made quite an impression on our respondents over the past 12 months. Focusing on the delivery of integrated people solutions and services, EmpowerHR handles Payroll and HR requirements for medium to large employee organisations in Australia.

Empower scored only positive results for self-service usability, with 100% being ‘acceptable’ and ‘excellent’. Maintaining positive results in overall customer satisfaction, this people management system is holding its own competing with other larger players.

3rd place – Ascender


Well established Payroll and Human Capital Management system, Ascender has maintained a strong position in the top three year after year. Ascender has continued to improve on customer satisfaction, with an 11% increase on ‘neutral’ or ‘satisfied’ responses since 2018. This vendor was also one of only two providers that had zero ‘very dissatisfied’ responses.

Other than EmpowerHR, Ascender was the only vendor that had no negative feedback relating to the self-service functionality of its platform. Since the rebrand in late 2015, their data trends have consistently improved.

2nd place – ELMO


Offering a comprehensive suite of cloud HR software solutions, ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll has jumped up the ranks to take out 2nd position. ELMO has recorded the 2nd highest amount of ‘very satisfied’ responses in overall vendor satisfaction. In terms of self-service usability, 72% of respondents reported their platform as ‘acceptable’ or ‘excellent’.
Top 5 HRIS

And a drum roll for the winner…

1st place – ichris/Chris21


For the third time in a row, Frontier Software’s ichris/Chris21 has taken first place as the top HRIS in Australia. The ichris/Chris21 ecosystem is an all-in-one, easy to use human capital management system. Though ichris/Chris21 has seen an 8% drop in positive satisfaction levels since last year’s survey, overall they’ve achieved the least amount of ‘dissatisfied’ and ‘very dissatisfied’ responses out of every vendor.

Their HRIS self-service recorded positive results, with 95% reporting ‘acceptable’ or ‘excellent’ usability. As the overall NPS (net promoter score) of HRIS in Australia slowly increases, Frontier software maintains its position as one of the most dominant players in the country.
Top 5 HRIS

Runners up (alphabetical order)

Flare HR
Oracle HCM
Payforce (ADP)
Payglobal (MYOB)
Pays Online
PeopleSoft (Oracle)
Technology One

Recently we have seen a focus on selling the dream of the all-in-one solution. With nearly 30 different HRIS systems listed by respondents, it’s clear that the HRIS market remains significantly fragmented. The tug-a-war between core HRIS and Best of Breed platforms continues in 2020.

The data

In the below chart (sourced from the 7th HR Tech Survey), we asked our survey participants to rate the self-service usability for their core HRIS on a scale of ‘poor’ to ‘excellent’.


The standout winners in usability are ichris/chris21 and EmpowerHR, with SAP HCM still having work to do in this area.

Even more interesting is how users of these systems review HRIS performance. We asked users to rate their satisfaction with HRIS on a scale from ‘very dissatisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’. Here’s how they compared.




We’ve also found it useful to combine the vendor satisfaction results for customer service and system features. The results can be seen in the charts below:




We’ve seen some positive shifts for some of our top HRIS vendors – but be wary! There has been an increase of dissatisfied responses for overall vendor customer service and system feature satisfaction across the board. 

How do I know what’s best for me?

Make sure you do your due diligence when selecting your HRIS, ensuring you choose the right solution based on your organisation’s needs. One thing we have found helpful is to look at the extremes of the results – who’s capable of achieving ‘very satisfied’ customers or has negative responses? When investigating prospective vendors, ask “what do you do to get a very satisfied rating from your customers?”.


About the HR Tech Survey

The HR Tech Survey includes a widespread study, taking the pulse of Australian HR tech and trends. The 7th edition has seen a focus on Cloud adoption, strategies, spending and preferences relating to all-in-one vs. best of breed solutions.

For more information, download the 7th HR Tech Survey. If you would like to read any of the previous tech surveys, click here.

Top 5 HRIS


  1. Jake Thompson

    Great read, Peter. After we started using HR tools to automate a lot of this stuff, not only did it get easier for our company to scale, but it also helped our team focus on doing what they do best without having to worry about compliance issues and paper files.

    We’re using Xero for payroll and HR Partner for employee onboarding and leave requests.

    About to go download your annual HR tech report now!

  2. Aaron Jacobson

    Great read! It’s refreshing that you covered both big and smaller systems (much appreciated). The list is very comprehensive.

    We’re a smaller company with ~55 employees (and a few contractors) and have been using Xero ( for payroll, combined with HR Partner ( to manage employee records. It’s been working well for us so far.

    Definitely going to be sharing this article with others.



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