Technology in the staffing industry sure has evolved over the last few years. Right now, there are over 400 hundred technologies that are currently supporting the staffing industry. That’s right, 400+ technologies! How do you know which ones are new? How do you know where to start? How do you know which ones are the best ones for your staffing firm?
What I frequently hear from my clients and members is this: “I’m a business owner of a staffing firm, someone with a sales background. How can I possibly know how to make the right decision on technology?” It’s a valid question and one that has a variety of answers. The first step is to really analyze where you currently are on the technology spectrum ranging from low-technology firms, a smaller firm or one that doesn’t use too many products, to an enlightened staffing firm, one that has built out their tech stack and understands how to leverage their IT department for greater efficiency. The reality is that many are on the former side.
The good news is that we are in a unique position, through our Presidents RoundTable, to get exposure to all the IT challenges that staffing firms of all sizes face on a weekly basis. Through all of these stories and consulting moments, we’ve identified five critical areas that staffing firms need to address within their IT strategy:
Align your technology stack to your business model.
What is your business model? Define it. Know it. Map it out. And then determine what is the best technology to help you implement that business model in the marketplace. The number one error we see staffing business owners make is that they get enamored with shiny new technology. Or, they hear from their Sales Reps & Recruiters, “We have to have this new technology! This new technology will be a game changer for us!”
The worst mistake you can make (as it relates to IT) is fitting the technology to your process. The replicable business model is the anchor (the key criteria) in which all decisions on technologies are judged against. It is that simple. A simple decision-making tree will help any staffing firm make far better IT decisions. And knowing what specific business model is being implemented.
Decide who will manage your technology.
The makeup of your IT department can have an enormous effect on how fast or slow you are to new technologies. There are essentially two structures – in-house IT or Outsourced.
Outsourcing: If you are a small Owner/Operator staffing business you really have no choice, but to outsource as your payroll is best served for recruiters and salespeople. In this model, you will be paying for work done, some monitoring, but you may not see the dedication this company may have to building an IT roadmap as they will be in maintenance mode for you. The key here is to find an IT Support firm that aligns with the size of your firm and has your firm’s best interest at heart.
In-house: If your firm is midsize to enterprise, then you will most likely have IT personnel on your staff. The biggest challenge here is having the right person in the right seat. When you do, they are truly your IT QB owning the roadmap, procuring powerful vendor relationships, and getting themselves involved in your business to help make your processes better through automation. On the other hand, we have seen staffing firms held hostage by in-house IT personnel that “had all the magic passwords” or were unwilling to think critically. There are a lot of fantastic IT professionals working in companies. You just want to make sure you have someone that does not put job security over the company’s best interest.
Think about your integration strategy.
Let’s be honest, there is no staffing firm 100% happy with the ATS they are currently utilizing. Every ATS has challenges, wonky processes, or lack of wish list items. Also, every ATS has challenges customizing to an individual staffing firm’s specific business model. Your business could be part of the problem. How? Let’s think about three things. (1) Not fully vetting the capabilities of the ATS to the business need. We know of several staffing firms that implemented an ATS and in less than 18 months later switched to another ATS. Why? Because they didn’t stick to their business model. Define it, know it, then go out and find the best ATS that helps you implement that business model in the marketplace. (2) No ATS will be perfect. Just accept this fact. There is a front office, middle office, and back office. The reality is that most of the ATS’ in the market are for front office needs – recruiting and sales. It is no surprise that the middleware and back office can be suspect in many ATS platforms due to their focus on candidates and placements. (3) Integrated System Versus Separate Systems: this is a very big decision. Do I have one system where my entire process is integrated or do I find a fantastic front office and then find a separate middleware technology and back-office technology that becomes semi-integrated into that fantastic front office technology? There are pros and cons to both strategies and it just matters how this works with your business model. Also, a final consideration here is identifying your subject matter experts or those super-users who will help ensure the technology is running and all are abiding by the process.
Acquire a true technology leader.
As many of you know, we sponsor peer RoundTables through the Visus Group. Over the last several years, we have been asked to start a CIO RoundTable on many occasions, but we failed to get traction from this type of RoundTable. This RoundTable was meant to provide an outlet and community for IT leaders to discuss tech stack, current trends, and product roadmaps. Why did this fail to attract a following and what information did we gather from this? Outside of a lack of demand, it told us that many staffing firms really do not have a “true” technology leader on their staff. Rather, these staffing firms had “director-level” personnel on staff focused less on strategy and more on infrastructure and tech support. Instead, the technology strategy and roadmap responsibilities fell under the COO. In my opinion, this is not the right approach for larger staffing firms. Regional and national staffing firms need a true CIO on staff because technology is transforming the staffing industry at a record pace. Having an experienced technology leader on your leadership team ensures you have someone who understands how to evaluate new technology and translate it into current processes and overall roadmap.
Secure your technology budget.
The most important part of the equation – a technology budget. When you add up your tech stack costs between servers, ATS, phone, hardware and software to run your business, it all adds up quickly! Yes, this is all part of your IT budget, but is this a true representation of your entire IT spend? And can you calculate any cost savings or ROI? Many of our clients don’t know where to start or end with budgeting and determining the true ROI (return on investment) on technology investments. Our rule of thumb is this, if you invest in innovative technology and it does not increase the average gross profit production per internal production personnel, then it must not be the right technology for your business.
Technology has become an enormous area for staffing firms to conquer with the onset of new players and the pandemic increasing the need for digital transformation. As mentioned, these are the five areas I would circulate to my leadership team if I were in your shoes at your staffing firm. How can you correctly identify the technology that will work best for your firm without sacrificing wasted investment, additional processes or underutilized platforms? This is where the Visus Group comes in. We assist staffing firms by assessing their existing tech stack and make prudent decisions which align with your business model. Don’t get caught making the wrong decision – let’s chat!