No one wants to spend time on talent tech integrations or data management when there are sexy new features to talk about.
And yet, in a recent research report by Aptitude Research on the success factors of transformation projects in talent teams, we find out that it’s not about the technology you chose or the features you prioritize. Some talent teams will make the same strategic plans, implement similar pieces of technologies, but obtain very different results 6 months from now.
How did talent teams transform during the pandemic?
2020 was a year for transformation, with many companies moving quickly to deliver changes to their talent organization to adapt to the new working environment. In fact, 44% of companies have implemented new recruitment technology during this pandemic. The issue is, some of them have moved too fast, and skipped some essential steps in the process.
You can read the full Foundations of Talent Acquisition report here for free.
Unfortunately, not all these initiatives will get the same results after rollout. This past year wasn’t only about implementing talent acquisition technology, it was also about demonstrating to the rest of the business that the talent team is adapting to change quickly.
As a result, some of these transformation projects have sped through the basics of good talent technology strategy. They have made decisions about what CRM or ATS to renew or implement by focusing on the futuristic aspects of the new tech at the expense of its foundational aspects.
They’ve prioritized new features over solid integrations, complex automation over quality data. And those choices will impact the value they can get out of their investments.
Where transformation did not deliver on its promises
According to Aptitude Research, only 3% of companies are using all the functionalities of their ATS, and only 2% are using all the functionalities of their recruitment marketing platforms. The providers have a role to play here, of course, but many of the challenges in ramping up a new technology and getting full use out of it come from within.
To implement new talent technology in the context of transformation is not only about the technology itself. It’s about the change in TA strategy that is assumed with that implementation: recruiters will need to use information differently, leverage new talent attraction tactics, acquire new skills, and in some cases, specialize. Talent leaders will need to ask for future-facing data and get comfortable making decisions based on it. Even hiring managers might have to interface with recruitrs differently.
This requires change on two levels: how the talent organization will interact with the new technology, and how the new technology will interact with the rest of the tool stack.
What happens on the organizational front is that many technology implementations do not go deep enough in their transformation agenda. They change technology but not KPIs, or human processes, or team structures, or any one of the numerous other elements that go into a fully comprehensive talent strategy. So it is not surprising that they would get only minimal adoption of these new technologies that seem to not fit with anything else around them. This organizational aspect of the required change is hard to accomplish, but can still be pulled off after the fact.
What cannot be easily corrected after the fact, however, is the foundation for that transformation: the kind of integrations needed to make all the pieces work nicely together, the ease with which data is shared between systems, maintained or enriched, and the scope and capabilities of any automation that will come in place.
Many talent teams only look at these technical foundations after they’ve started the evaluation process. They underestimate how important it is to think about data management and integrations between system even before starting to evaluate new technology.
By addressing talent tech integrations and data management early, the team responsible for implementing this transformative technology has a good reason to put a stake in the ground as to who owns these aspects of the project. Clear ownership will, in turn, ensure that this implementation delivers the full value of your new systems.
Often, talent teams assume that they will resolve those questions when they arise during vendor evaluation, but the truth is, vendors are motivated to present their solutions in the best light. They will not ask the questions that need to be asked early in the selection process, about who is contractually obligated to maintain integrations, or how often and with what amount of detail data points are copied from one system to another.
Aptitude Research found that when data is transparent, it increases the trust in talent acquisition leaders, hiring managers, and senior leaders. To be able to offer data transparency, however, talent teams need a data management system that prioritizes data quality. Systems that have tight integrations, that leverage different data formats, and that allow for easy maintenance, enrichment, and cleaning. This lack of trust would only add up to the overall cost of bad recruiting data.
These considerations are also not usually discussed early in the process, but they can fundamentally change what a talent organization can deliver in terms of usable data, reporting, etc.
Change is scary, especially when it happens in unexpected ways—due, for instance, to a global health event that markets do not know how to react to. Talent teams are right to look into ways to transform and be ready to roll with unexpected changes. However, these transformations need to be from the ground up.
If information cannot flow in a usable format from one system to another, if recruiters have to keep jumping between systems to accomplish daily tasks, and if their fancy automation software can only execute rigidly narrow tasks because of limitation in data quality or user adoption, then talent transformation has already failed. It is tempting to want to prioritize speed over everything else in the face of accelerating change. But in the case of transforming your talent organization with new technology and new processes, the long and short of it is, no amount of speed can make up for failed delivery.