By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech
Employers are buying a ton of recruiting technology to help them deal with the multiple challenges they face in today’s talent market. They’re investing in everything from new applicant tracking systems and CRM platforms to AI enabled interviewing solutions and programmatic ad buying. It’s hard enough to get that right – to find the right product and provider – but then you’ve got to get the stuff to work in the hands of recruiters. But, what does that mean exactly? How do you define the successful implementation of a recruiting technology product? And no less important, how do you actually achieve it?
Let’s begin with a truism. The key to effective talent tech implementation is not the product you buy. It isn’t the solution provider either. The success of such an implementation begins with an organization’s recruiters and leadership team. They must have a clearly defined goal for the acquisition – a quantitatively expressed outcome that is understood and accepted by both of those groups. Said another way, the secret to installing a talent tech product that actually works as intended is knowing why you’re buying the product in the first place.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of what happens when there isn’t a clearly defined goal. According to a survey of 1,000 employers conducted earlier this year by Unleash, better than eight-out-of-ten (84 percent) of those organizations had recently experienced an HR technology failure. Add to that the research findings of industry analyst Madeline Laurano, and the picture gets even more depressing. She determined that implementation was being so poorly executed, just 3 percent of companies were using all of their ATS functionality and just 2 percent were making full use of their CRM product.
So, what is the appropriate goal for an organization when it invests in a talent technology product? That question, itself, reveals the trap into which many organizations fall. You see, there is no single goal. Instead, every organization has two goals when it purchases talent technology. Whether they are explicitly stated or implied, there are always two separate and distinct results expected from such an acquisition.
A Tale of Two Goals
One of these goals is set by the recruiting team and/or its leader. It is almost always the metric that is used to justify a product’s acquisition. It might, for example, be shorter time to fill or a lower cost per hire; it could also be a better candidate experience or greater diversity among applicants. However it’s measured, the goal is a desired improvement in the recruiting team’s performance. Although there are, unfortunately, some exceptions to the rule, the goal is never to buy technology for technology’s sake, but instead to help recruiters do their job better.
The other goal is the one set by the approval authority, the executive who gave the green light for a product’s acquisition. While that individual undoubtedly expects it to provide a tangible improvement in recruiting performance, their concern is almost always for the business. Their goal is to optimize the organization’s return on its investment. They not only want the organization to get what it paid for – an installed product or a delivered service – they want that purchase to provide it with a clear bottom-line benefit. It might be improved productivity or more rapid market growth, but whatever the measure, it is almost derived from having more openings filled with quality hires.
Recognizing and addressing both of these goals is the key to successfully implementing recruiting tech. Step one, of course, is for a product to be installed in a way that its full capabilities are effectively used by recruiters to achieve the quantified improvements in performance for which it was purchased. Achieving that goal – bringing recruiters to full competence with the product – enables them both to meet those original expectations for the product and to uncover unanticipated benefits that will help them do their job even better. Recruiters, of course, need to be given the time and training to achieve that level of expertise, but once they do, the resulting two-fold boost to their work will ensure they view the product’s implementation as a success.
That outcome, however, will not produce the same positive view among approval authorities. Those executives are unlikely to appreciate or even understand the significance of metrics that calibrate recruiting performance. What they consider important is the outcome produced by the investment – the contribution it is making to the advancement of the organization’s business performance. Step 2, therefore, involves communicating that benefit to them in terms they recognize – additional openings filled on time – so they too will view the implementation as a success. They must be shown the operational value of the product for them to see it as a justified expenditure of organizational funds.
Successfully implementing a new talent tech product is a tale of achieving two goals. For recruiters, it is a quest to deliver real improvements in their on-the-job performance, both today and potentially in the future. For approval authorities, it is the pursuit of the necessary resources for ever better operational excellence and bottom-line results. Both must see a positive outcome for the product to be considered money well spent.
Food for Thought,
P.S. If you’d like to sharpen your technology implementation skills and earn a new career-enhancing credential, check out the TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management.
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.