What’s Wrong With Using Free HR Software in the Enterprise?

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If you’re in the market for HR software, the first thing you’ll notice when you begin your online search is all the free stuff out there. Why pay extraordinary prices for proprietary HR software when all that open source stuff is just sitting there, waiting for your free download? While they promise the moon and all the stars above, these systems are almost all lacking in some way. Here are the most common problems with the enterprise using free HR software.

There is Usually a Limited Number of Users Allowed

If you read the fine print, most free software is only free up to a certain number of users. This number is usually quite low — about 10 to 12 users — meaning it’s simply not feasible for the enterprise. It would likely be just barely adequate for the startup or extremely small business.

Storage Space is Usually Extremely Limited

In addition to limitations on users, there is also usually a limit on the amount of storage space that comes with a free account. Again, limits are extremely low, usually in the 5GB or less range. In many cases, you have to use your own servers anyway, which means your free software costs you significantly in terms of server operation and maintenance. Even then, it may or may not be compatible with other BI tools, meaning you won’t get much additional benefit from those servers.

Many Free HR Software Systems Charge for Enterprise-Level Features & Functionality

The fine print also likely says that the free version comes with very limited functionality and features. This means that the enterprise, which needs an HR software system to handle everything from payroll to annual employee reviews to recruiting tools, won’t get anywhere near the functionality they require out of a free system. When you begin pricing their add-ons and additional features, you quickly find that you can get much more value out of one of the paid HR software solutions on the market. There are plenty of on-premises and cloud-based systems to choose from in the proprietary market.

Some HR Software Systems are Dependent on Other Software or Technologies

A few of the free systems require another software package in order to work, such as Microsoft Office. This is particularly problematic in an era when software is migrating from on-premises to cloud-based solutions. If your enterprise went to an SaaS version of Office (which is highly likely), your HR software system would no longer work. Then you’d be forced to integrate two primary work systems at once — never a good idea.

It’s Difficult or Impossible to Customize Free HR Software

Free, open source software comes as-is. There is no customization available from the developer. If you need customization, you would have to hire your own developers to do it, and then you’d be paying as much or more than you would to get a proprietary HR software system that comes with customization and support.

Upgrades Often Aren’t Available

Unlike software development companies, the open source stuff isn’t necessarily updated regularly. There may or may not be security patches offered, and any bugs or compatibility issues that exist may never be addressed. As regularly as your software vendors update their wares for security vulnerabilities and glitches, you can see that this would mean a much lower quality of software that probably never gets better.

Free HR Software Comes with No Guarantees of Reliability or Security

What if your HR software database gets hacked? What if it goes down and your tech team can’t figure out what’s wrong? There is no support. There is no getting your money back. You’re simply out of a system and faced with cleaning up the security and PR mess on your own.

Fortunately, there are lots of excellent proprietary HR software systems to choose from. In the long run, a reasonably priced, fully-featured software system can be cheaper for the enterprise because it doesn’t come with the worry and hassle that the free stuff tends to bring. Get a software pricing comparison now.

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