By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech
A whopping 60 percent of recruiters say that their greatest frustration with technology is “poor integration.” It’s not the capabilities of the product that’s bothering them, but the way in which the product has been implemented by their organization. What’s behind their disappointment? Inadequate implementation has many causes, but more often than not, it’s the selection of the wrong person to lead the implementation effort.
NOTE: Don’t miss the TAtech Leadership Summit on Recruitment Marketing, to be held in Boston on April 25-26. It offers innovative ideas and proven practices for tailoring recruitment marketing to meet the challenges of a tight talent market.
The successful implementation of a new talent technology product – whether it’s an ATS, a CRM platform, a conversational AI feature or something else – often involves change management, but always requires effective leadership. Here's how that issue is addressed in the TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management:
No project can achieve its mission without an effective director, but selecting an Implementation Project Leader (IPL) for a technology-based talent acquisition product can present a number of challenges.
• First, the solution provider whose product is being implemented almost always has more technical expertise and certainly more specific knowledge of the product than anyone on the staff of the organization acquiring the product. Given that advantage, there’s often the temptation to defer to the solution provider and not appoint an internal leader for the project or to appoint one who lacks the background, authority and/or resources to do the job so will simply follow the lead of the solution provider.
• Second, even when an organization wants to appoint its own internal leader, the requirement that they have the requisite authority and technical expertise to do the job can mean that it must accept someone on the HR/TA staff who will be at a technical disadvantage during the product’s installation in the organization’s tech stack or someone from another internal unit – usually the IT Department – who lacks an understanding of how recruiters will use the product on-the-job and the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will determine its value to the organization.
These concerns, while often raised during the selection of an IPL, are actually based on a faulty assumption. It is correct that the IPL must be comfortable with technology, but they need not be a technologist. They don’t need to know how to write source code or develop algorithms, but they do need to have experience using talent technology on-the-job. They should understand how technology has been deployed to date by their employer – what specific functions have been assigned to technology – and both the benefits and the issues or shortcomings, if any, associated with doing so. For example, if an organization has previously implemented an applicant tracking system (ATS), the IPL should be familiar with recruiters’ perceptions of how that product has helped and/or hindered their performance and the reasons behind their opinions.
That background is critical for one all important reason: it is the only preparation that is appropriate and sufficient for the implementation project’s mission. Ironically, it was a politician – Bill Owens, the former governor of Colorado – who wrote most accurately about this requirement. He put it this way: "True leadership lies in guiding others to success--in ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well." In essence, it is the IPL’s experience with and expertise in talent acquisition that enables them to lead their coworkers in accomplishing the mission of meeting the goal the organization set for acquiring a new technology-based talent acquisition product. Only that background can deliver the desired improvement in recruiting performance.
An IPL’s role, therefore, is to manage the project to that end. They must know how to identify individuals within the organization that have the competencies required for project success – including those with expertise in specific areas that exceeds their own – and be able to recruit and work with them. In the area of technology, for example, the increased mobility of recruiters in recent years may mean that a person now on the organization’s recruiting team has had experience with the implementation and/or use of the specific kind of technology and even the specific product being acquired. Such an individual would, of course, be more knowledgeable about the technical aspects of implementation than the IPL, and someone who should serve on the project for that very reason.
The IPL should also be able to assign tasks to a range of the organization’s employees – including those on the recruiting team as well as those working in HR, IT and potentially even Finance. They should know how to identify the person with the right expertise, to communicate the actions they want that person to complete as well as the outcomes that should be achieved, and to assess the quality of the person’s work and direct any corrective actions that may be necessary. They should also have the interpersonal skills to resolve any issues or disputes that may arise within the implementation team and between the team and the solution provider. In other words, the IPL is an orchestra conductor and a diplomat, a strategist and a tactician, a nuts and bolts fanatic and a visionary, all rolled into one.
CHECK IT OUT: The TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management is specifically designed for HR and TA leaders and professionals. It is a self-paced instructional program which also provides the option of sitting for the Certified Technology Implementation Professional (CTIP) certification.