Is IT From Mars and Staffing From Venus?

IT and staffing can often seem to be on either side of many issues. They appear to talk different languages: a cold, hard language of logic and facts on the one hand and a holistic language of relationships and emotions on the other. The two departments have different values, different ways of making decisions, and even different ways of thinking: black-and-white versus fluid; rigid versus exception-driven. Or do they? Is the Mars-Venus dichotomy between IT and staffing truly the case, or are these just stereotypes? The two groups have a common goal: to fulfill the business plans of the organization. Once one appreciates that they both act in the best interests of the company, the two do not appear so incompatible. HR and IT have to be able to work together to equip recruiters with the best staffing management tools. The psychologists that orbit between our two closest planetary neighbors counsel men and women to learn how to communicate with each other. So how do you communicate with your IT colleagues when it comes time to equip the staffing department with recruitment automation tools? “It’s Just Data” Sometimes it seems not to matter to IT what kind of project it is. All projects are at bottom the same to them, since they all involve capturing, storing, and manipulating pieces of data. Your project might just as well be a project to manage cafeteria inventory. Communicate what is unique about recruiting and its business rules, and your need for a system that documents steps and milestones as a relationship develops and progresses towards a hire, and you’ll set the foundation for a good relationship. “This is a lot like our HRIS.” Perhaps your project won’t be compared to a cafeteria inventory system. But it will be compared to an HRIS, with which IT may have some familiarity. How is staffing different than other core transactional HR functions such as payroll? Staffing is transactional insofar as resumes are “processed.” However, these transactions occur continuously, not in batches every two weeks. Developing relationships occurs over time, and is not strictly speaking transactional. The fundamental difference between an HRIS and a staffing management solution becomes apparent when you compare the two on volumes of both transactions and profiles:

  • The architecture of an HRIS is designed for a small, controlled group of profiles (employees) with a high number of transactions per profile (payroll, benefits, pension, and other HRIS functions).
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  • A staffing management system, on the other hand, has the opposite requirement. It has a high number of unstable profiles (candidates) with a relatively low number of transactions per profile (email notifications, workflow triggers, and other functions).

The two systems are designed for fundamentally different populations, (employees as opposed to candidates), with fundamentally different needs, run-times and business rules. “Couldn’t you just do Boolean searches?” Staffing technology has progressed dramatically in the past three years. Make sure your IT colleagues have advanced in their understanding of the technology and how it has moved beyond electronic filing cabinets for resumes. When they suggest, “You could do Boolean phrase searches to get the skill sets from resumes,” explain to them why Boolean searches on keywords no longer cut it. Educate them about the changes that e-recruiting has gone through in the past five years. Technology in the staffing function has moved beyond electronic filing cabinets for resumes. As technology becomes more integrated into the staffing process, the focus is on building relationships ó not only with external and internal candidates, but external suppliers and internal customers as well. Recruiters must articulate the ways technology transforms their role from distributors of information to true business partners. Efficiency and Quality When discussing a significant enterprise application project with members of the IT team, it is important to think the way they do. IT considers an increase in efficiency through the automation of low-value tasks to be among the chief virtues of enterprise software. Reduction in cycle-time is equally applicable to staffing, and so is one piece of common ground you will have with IT. Explain the pressures of high-volume positions, and the disappointment of losing a candidate by ten minutes. But there is more to a staffing application than merely automating low-value tasks. It is equally important to communicate how a proposed staffing management system ought to make a positive impact on the quality of the staffing process. Explain the entire organization’s hiring processes, for all business units and job classifications. Map out the multi-threaded approval paths. Demonstrate the need for an end-to-end solution and tell them what that really means to you. Common Goals HR has long been viewed as a service to the company, contributing to overhead and not much else. The recent attention paid to human capital management and its impact on the financial performance of a corporation has proven that HR performs an essential business function. It is important to communicate the true nature of staffing and the role it has in the success of business plans. Barriers to communication need to be overcome and common ground needs to be identified, particularly when the fundamental common goal is the success of the enterprise.

Yves Lermusi (aka Lermusiaux) is CEO & co-founder of Checkster. Mr. Lermusi is a well known public speaker and a Career and Talent industry commentator. He is often quoted in the leading business media worldwide, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, and Time Magazine. His articles and commentary are published regularly in online publications and business magazines. Mr. Lermusi was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry” and his blog has been recognized as the best third party blog.



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