Companies tap hosted tools for total recruitment makeover

While Web-based apps for human resource management have been available in North America for quite a while, there’s a surge of interest in these tools today.

One reason, industry observers say, is the economic downturn that’s forcing firms to do more with limited resources.

In such an environment, using effective and affordtable tools to hire the right folk, and manage them, is a great way to boost efficiency, while cutting costs, they note.

Web talent management works wonders for  ‘Great West’

And that’s something Great-West Life & Annuity was to discover from its own experience.

The Greenwood, Col.-based firm confronted several recruiting challenges, including lack of continuity in recruiting processes, inexperienced job candidates, and (on the IT side), a legacy system that was technically sound, but not user-friendly.

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To address these issues, in 2004, the firm turned to a hosted offering from iCIMS, a provider of Web-based talent management software to the mid-market headquartered in Hazlit, N.J.

Specifically, the company adopted iCIMS’ Talent Platform, a suite of hiring and employee management tools for recruiters and HR managers.

Today the company uses several components of the Web-based iCIMS product, specifically those for workforce planning, requisition management, applicant tracking, onboarding and employee management.

The application supports Great-West Life’s corporate headquarters in Greenwood, Col. as well as its offices in other U.S. states.

The impact was dramatic, recalls Suzanne Sanchez, talent acquisition manager at Great-West. She said the company was able to boost efficiencies, and realize huge cost savings.

Specific benefits from the iCIMS Talent Platform at Great-West included:

  • A whopping 71 per cent decrease in the overall cost-per-hire. Across its 1,700 filled positions, the savings from this was $6.6 million.
  • By harnessing the iCIMS suite’s capabilities, recruiters at the company have been able to increase hires 82 per cent. This has strengthened internal staff resources, and sharply reduced the need to farm positions out to agencies.
  • No longer burdened with tedious administrative tasks, recruiters say they can focus on tasks more strategic to their role, and to the their business.The firm has reported saving approximately $275,000 in gained productivity since it automated the on-boarding of new hires with iCIMS.

Since the rollout, Sanchez said, Great-West Life has never hesitated about its decision to go with the iCIMS tool.

But she said to draw the greatest benefit certain tasks are crucial. These include mapping out of current processes and designing strategies to increase corporate efficiency.

Compelling cost savings

For many businesses, the cost savings that smart recruitment/employee management tools can bring in a down economy is their biggest draw.

These savings, said iCIMS spokesperson Caitrin O’Sullivan, are being experienced by organizations of every size and in various sectors.

She cited the example of Northwest Airlines that used to spend $450 on every job offer made. “Once they came on board, this was cut down to just $50.”

Wave of the future

Canadian industry analysts point to steady growth in the adoption of hosted HR apps among small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

“There’s obviously a huge cost advantage per user here,” said Jim Westcott, research manager, applications at IDC Canada in Toronto.

He said efficient, highly-trained IT professionals are scarce today, and hiring them can be costly for SMBs.

In this environment, HR automation tools can play a vital role, Westcott said. Little wonder then that “more companies are seizing the day.”

The number of players in this resurgent market is also growing.

Westcott noted that companies that previously focused mainly on payroll – such as Ceridian and ADP – have also jumped on the bandwagon, offering such services to existing clients and attempting to attract new ones.

For instance, he said, Ceridian now offers customers “time-and-workforce” apps, emphasizing that theses tools have helped several companies realize huge cost savings.

ADP has made similar claims about its own proprietary program.

When it comes to such hosted talent management apps, he said Canadian firms are still in the discovery phase.

But user growth is steady, he said. “It is only a matter of time before much of the country catches on.”

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