Conduct an assessment survey of existing HRH information systems, processes, data collection forms, and standards. Assess existing infrastructure available to support the system and document any gaps.
We recommend using the WHO Country Assessment Tool on the Uses and Sources of HRH Data as a guide for assessing HRH data sources and systems. You may choose to supplement this tool with the HRIS Assessment Questionnaire, which you can use as a guide when conducting assessment interviews.
HRH Data and Infrastructure Assessments: Concepts
This step involves an inventory of the existing ICT infrastructure for managing HRH data across the various ministries, councils, and organizations that will be using iHRIS. The assessment documents hardware, software, networks, Internet connectivity, databases, and technical support procedures. Consider not only any existing HR information systems, but also paper-based systems or simpler computerized systems such as spreadsheets. Be sure to include existing paper forms for collecting health worker information and document any processes in place for managing the information, as well as quality control processes.
A thorough assessment should reveal all existing sources of HRH information and all resources available to support iHRIS. You may uncover sources of HR data that you didn’t even know existed. For example, you may find that an existing system already tracks health worker trainings or certifications, and could be linked to iHRIS to supply missing data on health professionals’ qualifications. Or there may be an underused source of HR information managed by a different department, such as Finance, that can immediately improve data access for all. The survey should also reveal any gaps in health worker data that are present, such as if qualifications or deployments are not being tracked in any system.
The process entails interviewing key informants working with HRH information. Consult the most senior official available in the Ministry of Health to advise who should be interviewed. The following types of people usually work with HR information and should be prioritized for interviewing:
- Managers of health management information systems (HMIS)
- Statisticians, usually located in the health statistics unit
- Payroll staff
- HR senior managers, personnel officers, and records officers in the HR unit
- Undersecretaries, director generals, or principal secretaries
- Chief nursing officers
- Health planners
- Registrars from councils, such as the nursing council
- Any identified stakeholders (see the Governance step)
It is often useful to forward a questionnaire to the interviewee in advance. The results can then be used to prepare for a formal interview. In addition to evaluating existing HRIS capabilities and limitations, these interviews will help establish expectations regarding system functionality and priority requirements that the new HRIS needs to support. It will likely reveal additional key stakeholders to invite to join the governance group.
Areas where improvement is needed will probably emerge from the assessment responses. You may discover gaps in HR information, data quality, and ICT infrastructure. Each area should be documented separately so they can be addressed at the appropriate stages of the implementation plan.
Improvements to existing ICT infrastructure can generally be implemented rapidly and will ensure readiness for the iHRIS when deployment begins. Even small improvements often result in increased efficiency and productivity. The following are key ICT improvements that are often identified as gaps for supporting a mature HRIS such as iHRIS:
- Reliable electrical power
- Computer access for HRH and ICT staff
- Backup system
- Updated software
- Access to spare parts for computer repair
- Local area network access
- Internet connectivity or wide area network access
- Access to shared files or resources
- Staff training in computer use
- ICT technical support
- Technical support service-level agreements
- Antivirus protection
- Email access
- Skype or mobile phone access
In addition to improving the ICT infrastructure, recommendations for improving data collection, training procedures and technical support can be made at this point in the process. Data quality is of primary importance and should be emphasized at every step, from initial data collection to data analysis and interpretation.