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Getting Schooled in Buying Staffing and Recruiting Software

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It feels good to be a complete beginner again. By good, I mean scary, exciting, frustrating, and humbling. But overall, I love a challenge and learning new things, so it’s been a positive experience to move into a new role at Bullhorn and dig deeper into the technology side of this industry.

Let’s face it, if you’re not already embracing technology at multiple points of the recruiting and sales cycle to differentiate your business, you’re behind. But there are so many tools, systems, platforms, integrators, aggregators, yadda yadda yadda… that it’s hard to keep up or know where to start the conversation about buying and implementing a new SaaS-based staffing solution.

When buying new staffing or recruiting software, here are a few good reminders to consider that have resonated with me:

Demand Your Provider Knows Your Business Goals

I’m comforted in knowing the first step in buying staffing and recruiting software involves a lot of questions and discovery to uncover high-level business objectives on both sides of the buying equation. What are you ultimately trying to achieve?

I’m fortunate to have spent 10+ years in the staffing industry asking questions to uncover executives’ goals, which leads me to believe you’re working on two or three of the following right now:

  • increasing top-line revenue
  • improving margins
  • growing your footprint (organically or via acquisition)
  • hiring/training/retaining internal staff
  • improving operating efficiencies
  • delivering a better candidate experience

Tweet me at @LMcKelvey to let me know what I missed, and I’ll buy you a drink at SIA Executive Forum to make up for it!

But honestly, if you’re not willing to share your business challenges and objectives, how is any provider going to get creative at solving your problem? Do you want a long-term partner or a transactional vendor?

There’s No Box in the Enterprise SpaceRecruiting Software

As a large staffing or recruiting firm with a national or global presence with hundreds (or thousands) of people, there’s no off-the-shelf solution that is going to solve your needs, as is, on day one. That’d be great though, right?

Your business is complex, which makes the discovery process noted above that much more important. Innovative technology providers consistently identify new ways to enhance their current product suites based on customer requests and workflows, as well as identifying partners and system integrators to deliver a complete solution. This is true for growing mid-market companies as well.

Don’t limit your thinking or disqualify based on what you see right now on a SaaS provider’s website or think you know about a company based on past experiences. Also, be wary of assuming you know what’s possible from your current provider based on the version you’re running right now. Ask for recent examples of what other firms are doing to develop a robust solution.

Data Breach is the Scariest Phrase Ever

No one’s signing up for the CIO’s role when he or she gets the call that the company’s data has been compromised. Cybersecurity is top of mind with most executives – and world leaders considering the recent political environment – so both data and security should be big discussion points when you’re buying software.

But data and security span so many facets of what staffing or recruiting firms do, this is a far-reaching topic that is best left to experts. As a business leader, prompt this conversation early and consider everything from delivering data during the first phases of the implementation and confirming the data’s being secured to having access to your data if you are creating your own queries or dashboards.

This subject goes beyond my capability, but if your IT team isn’t talking to the security experts at the providers you’re considering, send a meeting invite ASAP.  

Scalability and Speed are Your Best Friends

While data and security are on frenemy terms, scalability and speed are your best friends. When buying an enterprise software solution, especially in a dynamic industry like staffing and recruiting, scalability is critical. What is your provider doing to confirm that they can handle the demands of your business now – and when you hopefully experience double-digit growth for the foreseeable future?

Scalability also relates to speed. Most people in this industry are impatient (me included) and watching search results load for 60 seconds can feel like an eternity. If you’re used to Google-like speed, even 10 seconds feels like torture. Speed-to-market has come up as a focus area in nearly every conversation I’ve had with executives lately and should make your list of decision criteria as well. Think about how critical this is in the VMS world—if your recruiters don’t have immediate access to the job orders or are working on systems that are painfully slow with limited automation, you’re inevitably going to lose.

Get Legal Involved Early

I’ll play my novice card in this section, too, but I know enough to get the legal experts involved early in the process. Buying SaaS is new to many executives in this industry (and other industries) and the complexities of the business terms, including limitation of liability, coterminous subscription, and provision start dates, will understandably require some discussion between you and the partner you’re selecting. You don’t need to ask someone their ring size on the first date, but if you’re serious about pursuing a partnership, it’s worth having candid discussions about some of the contentious points that usually delay the start of a beautiful, long-lasting relationship early in the courting process.

Recruiting Software Lessons

A colleague once shared this meme with me to highlight how he initially felt when taking on a new role. And I can relate. But, I’m open to asking questions, learning from smart people around me and ultimately getting schooled in this space (recognizing that means there may be some bumps along the way, but I’m ready to embrace the humility and fun of learning something new).

Hopefully, this provides you with some points to consider early in your buying process, and I’m here to help if you have questions, too!