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Simplicity Consulting

Staying Operationally Efficient in a Rapidly Changing Marketplace

A Conversation with Lisa Hufford, CEO at Simplicity Consulting

 

Operational efficiency is a major struggle facing the staffing industry. Without it, a firm is unable to stay competitive in an ever changing and competitive landscape.

Lisa Hufford, CEO and Founder of Simplicity Consulting

Lisa Hufford, CEO and founder of Simplicity Consulting, has found a way to stay both competitive and efficient over the long term by leveraging the powerful database tools in Bullhorn and tailoring workflows with Sense.

Simplicity Consulting is a medium-sized, marketing communications consulting services company based in Seattle. They focus on placing consultants with major firms within marketing, project management, and communication/content strategy roles. Simplicity was named on Inc. Magazine’s “Inc 5000 list” of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for the fifth consecutive year.

After 12 years running Simplicity Consulting, Lisa finds that one of the biggest challenges for her company is to stay relevant. When Lisa founded Simplicity Consulting in August 2006, the focus was 1099 work—targeting marketing professionals who wanted to take their corporate experience and pivot to project-based work. Lisa used this foundation to build a successful organization.

Then, five years in, everything shifted. Contractors started asking about benefits. They wanted 401k contributions. The market shifted to a place where contractors were looking for the best of both worlds: to do project-based work, but also have the back office, the health benefits, the retirement accounts, etc. Lisa adapted and pivoted her entire business model to cater to these new needs.

“That's a big piece of our unique magic and our differentiator. And that's also the primary driver for us having moved from our previous ATS to Bullhorn

Now Simplicity employs close to 200 consultants while offering them full health benefits, 401k match, PTO, and community, and at the same time enabling them to do the work they love.

Software Is Key

Quickly pinpointing the best people is one of the most important aspects when placing talent. “That’s a big piece of our unique magic and our differentiator. And that’s also the primary driver for us having moved from our previous ATS to Bullhorn,” Lisa explained. When placing candidates, Lisa has found that Simplicity’s unique database means that most qualified cadidates are already in her ATS, so she can stay lean by not having to focus on recruiting. However, this also means that she has a massive database. Having software that can run a search, at that scale, is paramount. “I [want] to make sure that when we get an opportunity request we can immediately track the right people that are already in our system.”

Lisa’s goal was to have a team of on-demand talent at her fingertips, but their existing ATS just couldn’t compete. Searching for the right candidate requires specialized knowledge of the staffing industry, but their ATS’ generalized approach made it difficult to focus on exactly what mattered. Consequently, Lisa shifted to Bullhorn.

“I'm always looking at better ways to be more efficient and add more value. "

As Lisa puts it, “I’m always looking at better ways to be more efficient and add more value. That’s part of the reason I started Simplicity 12 years ago. I was new to the Consulting world, and I really wanted to make sure that we were operationally efficient adding the most value we possibly could. Because as you know, it’s a very competitive landscape.”

With their ATS solved, Simplicity took the next few years to build out their candidate engagement process. They found a workflow that lead to high redeployment, but they ran into another roadblock: time. Their process was great, but too time consuming. So Lisa took the next leap for her organization; she incorporated Sense into her workflows.

In Lisa’s own words, “I think by our last estimate [Sense] saved us a full head count on our team. Which is a lot, considering, it usually takes 15 people per assignment. That’s a big resource gain that we saw pretty dramatically,” Lisa said.

“And not only that, but we actually just had our annual consultant survey. One of our consultants actually called out how they [felt] we really cared about them.

And it was really simple, because these were all automated messages. Which at first I thought candidates would feel that they were impersonal. But instead they showed me that people really care about consistency in messaging, and to know that they’re being included. That’s the benefits we’ve seen [with Sense].”

Industry Trends - Sense

People Are Your Greatest Resource

Having an engagement platform like Sense enables Simplicity Consulting to have a hybrid approach to communication: human touch and software. Sense makes it easy to execute highly engaging workflows at scale.

Simplicity Consulting sets itself apart by not only using cutting edge software like Bullhorn and Sense to find placements at scale, but also by their community. They’ve built a 35 million dollar company, with close to 200 employees. These “strategic do-er” professionals thrive on delivering results and making an impact.

“Clients love access to our expansive community of professionals and trust us to understand their business needs and help them deliver on their goals now,” Lisa remarked. Over the years, companies have begun to break through the tipping point and see the benefit of building people-first staffing firms. As more and more of the workforce moves to contracting, the staffing industry is also going to have to change as the industry faces challenges of personalization at scale.

A New Type of Worker - Sense Graphic

One of the biggest challenges to staffing firms these days is that many companies need staffing firms that are not only able to work at scale, but also with a sense of urgency. There’s often an issue with economies of scale—especially when you use complex workflows to create a personal relationship with your contractors.

Lisa speculates that she’s able to keep her staff lean because she has one system, one source of truth, and that’s the Bullhorn ATS. Bring Sense into the mix and the efficiency doubles. “I think if I didn’t have [Sense & Bullhorn], I probably would need another two or three staff, at least, in order to manage all of that manually. So that’s where the ROI is.”

“I think if I didn't have [Sense & Bullhorn], I probably would need another two or three staff, at least, in order to manage all of that manually. So that's where the ROI is.”

Move Faster by Leveraging Your Greatest Assets

Simplicity Consulting strives to use software and tech to augment their biggest asset—people.

The long-term trend of independent and flexible workers continues to accelerate. This type of shift will radically change the way enterprises communicate, manage, and engage with their talent.

So how can companies compete at this scale? Transform your business with digital speed, scale, and value, while still leveraging what makes you unique—your people.

Sense is helping Simplicity Consulting and many other staffing firms improve their speed and efficiency every day through consultant engagement. To learn more request a demo.

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