Civil Wars Over Recruiting Technology

By Samuel Greengard

Jun. 11, 2004

It’s not unusual for human resources and IT to draw battle lines before coming to understand the key issues involved in choosing, implementing and operating a recruiting system. Ed Newman, president and founder of the Newman Group, a consulting firm in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, says that organizations that think through the process up front are far more likely to avoid future casualties and carnage. His recommendations include:

    Analyzing business needs. According to Newman, company size and industry aren’t the primary factors. “There’s no single system that is right for everyone. Two Fortune 500 companies can have entirely different needs.” Typically, fast-growing organizations require more dynamic systems, such as best of breed offerings. Companies with fewer hiring spikes and more static processes generally benefit from an ERP approach.

    Understanding the alternatives. ERP systems plug directly into foundation data and require little or no integration. However, ERP platform upgrades are expensive and time-consuming. Best of breed systems, on the other hand, are more flexible and nimble, but demand considerable IT resources to connect to back-end foundation data. Only through careful analysis and an understanding of the pros and cons is it possible to develop a strategy.

    Assessing IT capabilities. The best recruiting application in the world is useless if IT cannot support it. “Most ERP packages allow some customization. A few best-of-breed vendors allow changes, but many do not support significant customization,” Newman says. Likewise, an 18-month implementation for an ERP application isn’t unusual and can put so much pressure on some IT departments that they come apart at the seams.

    Developing an upgrade path. It’s essential to understand where the recruiting application takes your company and what strategic and IT resources will be required in the future. If your company decides to go with a hosted-services model in the future, is this possible? If greater customization is required in the future, is this an option?

    Knowing the vendor and structuring a solid service-level agreement. Newman believes that it’s essential to examine the vendor’s customer-service record, its financial viability and the type of service-level agreement it offers. “There’s nothing worse than coping with unanticipated problems,” he explains. “If you analyze your organization, understand the marketplace and structure the right deal, you’re far more likely to succeed.”

Workforce Management, June 2004, p. 64Subscribe Now!

Samuel Greengard is a writer based in Portland, Oregon.

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