34% of them are planning for that to happen in the next year.
Such an acquisition, however, is a complex process. Buying any sort of technology in a large enterprise is a collaborative exercise–and can fall apart quickly if the different stakeholders are not properly informed and managed from start to finish.
Talent teams have to navigate this process too: Procurement, finance, IT, security, legal, compliance... different teams care about different aspects of the technology TA is trying to buy, and each one of them can seriously delay or even stop the buying process.
How to identify and manage stakeholders in the buying process
The checks and balances in place in a large organization make it harder to buy an expensive, sophisticated talent engagement platform or talent operating system. And it makes sense; any technology that might impact the company’s security, compliance, and overall ability to perform should be approved by more than one party.
Talent leaders or champions can find ways to make the process easier by aiming not only to manage stakeholders, but also to make allies out of them. From a TA leader’s perspective, selecting and buying a tool is about the impact it will have on the talent team, the return it will bring to the organization, but the perspective is a little different for other stakeholders.
There are generally 3 categories of stakeholders involved in this process:
- Procurement is the driving force pushing the buying process through. They are approached by a TA leader or champion once the Talent or HR organization has given an internal green light, and their goal is to help the talent team bring the acquisition to a successful end–assuming they don’t see any reason to veto the proposed technology
- Security and IT usually need to make sure that the new technology is not a security risk for company infrastructure, and that it’s up to the company’s technical requirements
- The legal team needs to approve and negotiate the terms of any buying contract before it is signed
There is a recent addition to this group: some companies have a Privacy team, whose role is to ensure that any new technology brought into the enterprise will manage data in a compliant manner.
The buying process goes a lot smoother if the talent leader or champion takes the time to proactively identify the person they need to engage in each of these organizations ahead of time. What is the scope of the technology? Who will it affect? This can change who needs to be involved in the process. These are examples of questions that can help narrow down the stakeholder list:
- What existing data needs to be connected in this new technology?
- Are there compliance considerations around different geographies?
- Is the technology affecting other areas in the business? For example, will candidate experience programs affect overall company branding, and should the Marketing team be informed of the selection process?
From managing expectations to making allies
For the talent leader promoting the acquisition, the ideal scenario is one where their stakeholders are not hurdles to be overcome, but allies that will promote the acquisition and help it proceed smoothly and successfully. We published last year a complete ebook on making the case for a talent operating system that details the considerations of each different stakeholder.
Some of those considerations might not be obvious to the talent champion, but they can help create a common ground that motivates colleagues from other teams to prioritize the acquisition process and push it forward.
The legal team, who is always inevitably involved in a large enough enterprise, is a good example. They will look at the usual legal risks: data protection, compliance, confidentiality, limitation of liability… and their goal is to reach a reasonable amount of certainty around each of these risks in as little time as possible before pushing the deal forward.
For example, they need to know what data will be processed by the platform, and by whom, so they can form an opinion on whether or not the technology is compliant with the company’s confidentiality policy. The best way to make allies out of them is to give them exactly the information they need, and enough context about the tool to understand it in as little time as possible.
“Your lawyers care about their time. Essentially, you’re another to-do item on their list. So how much time is it going to take to tick that item off? How much digging will they have to do to reach a certain amount of certainty around the risks associated with your new tool?” Amanda Dominick, Head of Legal at Beamery
Timing is everything
In Beamery’s experience, talent teams are likely to make one of two mistakes during the buying process. Many teams don’t involve these stakeholders early enough, and a rare few involve them too early. Ideally, you want to strike a balance. Consider this:
- An IT leader or Data officer might be keen for a data compliance solution, but they will also be liable for data safety and security, so they will need time to assess that the tool is up to the company’s safety standards. They need to be introduced to the technical aspects of the tool early.
- Security specialists might have preferences or requirements around aspects of the tool that the TA team has not considered, such as how data is stored or what levels of permissions are available. The talent leader unlikely to know in advance what these company-wide requirements might be, and yet, they could put a halt to the whole process.
- The considered technology has to deliver campaigns or experiences that are up to the company’s Brand standards or Marketing standards; it would not be a bad idea to share some information on the talent marketing capabilities of the tool as soon as the talent leader learns of them.
- The legal team is mostly interested in knowing how the new technology impacts the company’s exposure to risk. They don’t need to know what features or specifications made you chose a certain provider, but they need to have enough context to know what questions to ask, and where the risks are likely to be.
“When the legal team is introduced to the process, the “Why” should have been asked and answered, so that for the lawyers it’s not a question of why anymore, it’s a question of how do we make this happen.” Amanda Dominick, Head of Legal
A first time for everything
In many cases, the buying process in an enterprise is complex and lengthy, but can be navigated fairly easily once a few steps have been taken and a few boxes checked. However, it might seem a little trickier to someone who is leading it for the first time.
The easiest place to start is, again, to identify the right stakeholders before taking the matter outside of the TA team. An organizational chart of the company can come in handy at that time. The following questions can help clear the path as well:
- Is there a dedicated procurement process for TA tech, or is it centralized?
- Who can veto the buying decision?
- Who signs a buying contract for TA technology?
Different companies have different business priorities or appetite for risk, and no two processes look the same, but it’s still valuable to prepare. Setting up a 30 minute demo for non-TA team members, consulting with IT over the RFP before sending it out, documenting the due diligence process for Procurement..these are simple steps that can significantly facilitate the process.
Know your Talent Tech Stakeholders: The Webinar
You can learn more about how to identify and manage the different stakeholders of the talent tech buying process by listening to our recording of our recent panel on the subject.