New Year, New Decade, New Staffing Software: Part 1

The start of a brand-new year is an exciting time for people to reflect on the year behind them and think about goals for the year ahead. Many people look at it as a fresh start! Perhaps there are new best practices you want to try, or pick up a new hobby, or end a bad habit. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, now is a great time as we not only begin a new year, but begin a new decade! So, what’s in store for you as we begin the “roaring 20s”?As you think about the year ahead, what are your goals for your staffing company? Is a new staffing software on your to do list? Perhaps it’s an idea you have been toying with for a while, but haven’t had the chance to begin the research. The idea of implementing a whole new software can sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually quite exciting! It can mean new opportunities, more successes, growth in your business, and more! The possibilities are endless! If new software crossed your mind, there must be something you aren’t satisfied with in your current solution. So how do you even begin your search? What questions should you be asking? What should you be looking for in a solution? All of these questions will be answered to help you in your journey for new staffing software.Where do you even begin?The first step is deciding whether you are going to put together an internal team or hire an outside consultant. You might hire a consultant if you won’t be able to complete a thorough search and analysis on your own. If you go this route, it is very important that you do your research and check the consultant’s credibility. Ask about his industry experience and check references. You want to make sure the consultant is finding the right solution for YOU and isn’t loyal to one software.Whether you hire a consultant or put together an internal team, the next step is discussing what you like about your current solution, what you don’t like, what you are looking for in a new solution, and ultimately WHY you are searching for a new software. Record these questions and answers in a document, as you will need to be thinking about them as you are evaluating software options.You will also need to make a list of your “must have” and your “nice to have” items. Drill down to needs that will help you resolve critical business issues. Once you have your requirements, it will make it easier for you to assess which solutions align with your needs.How do you find a staffing software provider?Once you have your requirements set, the next step is actually finding software solutions. One of the best ways to find a trusted partner is through your local and national staffing associations. Go to the websites of these associations and look at the partners. For some associations, you need to be a member in order to see members and industry partners. I highly recommend becoming a member of your local and national associations, whether you are looking for software or not, as you will gain access to valuable staffing resources. Another valuable resource is through industry events and conferences. These conferences have exhibitor halls that allow you to walk around and talk with vendors face to face.There are of course other ways to find staffing software companies, but the staffing industry itself is the most credible way to find a partner. Staffing software companies that partner with staffing associations keep up with the latest trends, are provided with the same resources that staffing companies receive, and tend to be more involved in the industry.Once you find software companies you are interested in, what are the next steps?The next step would be to setup a time to speak with the software company. Typically, in the initial phone call, you will provide information about your company and learn a little bit about the software product to see if it could be a good fit. It’s also a good time to see if the product has all of your “must have” items and ask what companies they typically work with-what industries, size of companies, etc. This is important to see if the company has experience working with companies similar to yours. If all or most of the points check off, you can setup a demo.The demo should be designed specifically for your industry and needs so you can get a feel for what it would be like to work in the software. If the demo is not designed for you, it may be a red flag. When demoing you want to make sure all of your essential needs are addressed when using the software. Never settle for a software that will not service your essential needs.As you are going through demo’s with different software companies, you will see some solutions have special features that others don’t have. Some software’s you may automatically love, others you may not. It is highly recommended you make an evaluation check list after each demo. Does the software have all of your “must have” items? Does it have your “nice to have” items? What did you like about the software? What didn’t you like? Did it have any special features you haven’t seen in another solution? As you begin going through demos with different software companies, this evaluation will be really helpful, as all of the software’s may eventually blur together. Make it easy on yourself right away, before needing to do unnecessary demos because you forgot what you liked about a software.Stay tuned for Part 2 of “New Year, New Decade, New Staffing Software.” You have your team to find you a new software, you found software solutions you are interested in, and you’ve begun demoing. Part 2 will discuss questions to not overlook, what to avoid as you narrow down your search, and how to plan for a smooth implementation.

New Year, New Decade, New Staffing Software: Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of “New Year, New Decade, New Staffing Software!” If you are reading this article, you may have caught Part 1 which discussed how to begin your search for new staffing software. Part 2 will dive into questions not to overlook, what to avoid as you narrow down your search, and how to plan for a smooth implementation.Questions Not to Overlook In the beginning stages of your search, you are demoing and checking off which software’s have your “must have” items. You are looking at the overall workflow, the layout, picturing yourself using the software, and more. There are two important factors though that are often overlooked when evaluating software solutions: Security and Support.SecurityOften times security is ignored when evaluating software solutions. It is an absolute MUST to ask the software provider how they will secure your data. The biggest mistake is to assume your data is safe. Never assume! Software providers invest in different tiers of security. You are putting your staffing company at risk of a breach if you don’t ask these key questions before signing on the dotted line:

Where is your data stored and what Tier Data Center is it stored in? Tier 3 and 4 data centers provide the highest security.

Is the data stored in multiple Data Centers?

Who manages the Data Center and how often is your data backed up?

Is the Data Center certified/audited?

What type of anti-virus/anti-malware software do they use?

If data security is a foreign language to you (as it is to most of us), I recommend doing research on Data Center’s and anti-virus/anti-malware software to help you as you are asking these questions.SupportAs with any technology solution, good customer support is critical whether you need to reach out a lot or just every once in a while. Staffing software complement’s your everyday tasks and is essential for your workflow. If you have an issue or a question, it’s important to be able to contact Support easily and hear back in a timely fashion. At the end of the day, you are looking for a partner that will be easy to work with and Support is a big component of that. Bad Support will make the whole user experience miserable. So how do you know if you are forming a good partnership?Below are key questions to ask:

Is Support included in your contract?

How quickly do you hear a response back?

Do you have to log a ticket before speaking with anyone?

Is Support available 24/7?

Do you get a person or a robot when you call?

Is training and other resources available to help you learn the software?

What to avoid as you narrow down your search Don’t Settle for Cheap and Avoid Hidden Costs While everyone likes to save money, don’t settle with a solution just because it is the cheapest option. New software is a big change so you want to make sure you go with a quality product that will help your business grow. The last thing you want to do is settle for an inexpensive option and then be going through the process all over again.The other circumstance you want to avoid is paying for hidden costs. The solution may be cheaper upfront, but are there costs you will need to pay throughout your subscription? If there are other fees you are paying during your subscription then it could all amount to the same price once all said and done. Also be cautious of any big offer promotions you are receiving. If they are giving their products and services away, while offering superior service, what’s the catch?Choosing a Solution that Isn’t Streamlined When choosing a new software, you want the solution to make your processes more efficient and help grow your business. Considering a solution that is both a CRM/ATS and integrates with your back office and web portals will help streamline your processes. There is no need to toggle between multiple programs. An all-in-one solution will eliminate multiple data entries, lower your risk of losing data, and help you gain access to “big picture” reports for critical business decisions. Avoid the headache and setbacks of having multiple solutions.How do you plan for a smooth implementation?You’ve asked all the right questions, you received references, you have been dreaming about the new software, and you signed the contract. What’s next? Planning for a smooth implementation! There are several things you want to make sure you do to allow for a smooth transition. While it may seem like the hard part is over, implementing the software is the last, but most critical step.First, you will need to decide what data you are bringing over to the new software. Chances are you might have old/bad data that doesn’t need to be brought over. Only bring the data that you need. Before the conversion, the software company will provide you with a detailed document of what will be converted and where it will go in the new system. They will also provide you with a quote and estimated number of hours it will take to convert the data. This is the time to ask any questions you may have. You want to make sure you know exactly what is being converted and the estimated cost so there is no confusion down the line.From an internal perspective, it is important for the entire team to embrace the new software. The software will most likely be very different then what you are used to using. The workflow, the way you fill job orders, the way you create new contacts, even the terminology may all be different. No matter how different it is though, it is important to fully commit to the new software. Don’t follow old workflows or former ways of doing tasks. After all, you switched software’s for a reason.During the transition, it is also essential that top management consults with the team to stay patient. Implementing a new system takes time and effort. It’s key that everyone takes the time to learn the software and receive training. A big mistake, is skipping out on training. You will be lost, confused, less efficient, and have a million questions. Being properly trained is key to a smooth transition, as you are acclimating your entire company to a new software.The last step before you officially transition over, is creating a Policy Manual for your employees. This is a short booklet that instructs your team how to use the software. The booklet should outline how to use the software for major tasks. Include what codes you want used, what data must be entered, best practices, etc. The entire team should be using the software the same way, otherwise there will not be a consistent workflow. A manual makes it crystal clear, how to do all major tasks.