Friday, 31 July 2015

Recruitment workflow and the CRM: Where the lines blur

By Tim Parker, Managing Director, Yu Talent

Within any modern recruitment business the CRM now plays a pivotal role in your day to day workflow. However, The workflow of your business and the workflow of your CRM are in fact still separate entities.  It's just that the lines between them are now so blurred that it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.

This in itself is not a bad thing. The better the CRM fit for your business, the greater the blurring of these lines. It demonstrates a higher level of flow and business integration.

There is a subtle problem that can arise here though.

The danger is that you can be lulled into a false sense of security that the CRM will now enforce work flow discipline and make everything run like clockwork.

Everyone is still responsible for following the your business process and workflow.  Assuming you have the right CRM in place it will oil the wheels of your business. It cannot, however, enforce the discipline to make you use it effectively, no more than your car can stop you driving into a ditch.

Your car requires you to apply the brakes. Your CRM requires you to put the right information in, and get the right efficiencies out.

Mandatory fields
It can be tempting therefore, to turn to mandatory fields in your CRM as the solution, but there are problems with this.  We've kept mandatory fields to an absolute minimum but some mandatory fields are of course still essential e.g. defining a contact as a candidate or client, to ensure the correct system architecture is maintained. Thereafter though, they become less necessary for the CRM architecture and more about personal preference.

Here is where problems can arise with your work flow. One price is agility, but a greater price is data integrity.

Why important doesn't need to be 'mandatory'
One of the problems with relying on an excess of mandatory fields is that it slows people down when they haven't got the relevant information to hand. Even worse, in itself it can create bad data.

If you have too many mandatory fields on a contact record then your consultants will do one of two things if they don't have all the information needed.  They either won't create the record, or will input irrelevant information (e.g. an '*') to get the incomplete record to save. This creates the 'rubbish in' data scenario you wanted to avoid in the first place.  Even worse, it creates a false sense of security regarding data integrity.

However, the biggest problem of relying upon your CRM for enforcing everything, is the absolution of responsibility.

Think of it this way - should a consultant obtain and attach signed terms & conditions because the CRM says so, or because they realise the ramifications of not having signed terms?

If they don't fully appreciate this and the system is relied upon for enforcement, then the risk doesn't go away. It actually increases.
Here's a brief example; when it comes to adding a placement, the consultant who is guided by the CRM may still tick a box to say they have signed terms when they actually don't, to ensure a placement goes through. They genuinely believe this will be ok because they will chase it up the following week, but then they forget.  Meanwhile, another consultant who understands the ramifications flags the issue to their manager, is guided how to approach the conversation with the client and signed terms are returned.

So how do you make 'important' become 'self mandatory'?
I certainly don't want to stray into the area of preaching here but speaking as a former recruitment manager, a little positive encouragement goes a long way. Like any other management technique positive re-enforcement is your best friend, and the stick is best left in the cupboard. It is best to work with your team to help them understand the benefits to them of following both your business work flow, and the value of adding the correct data into your CRM. 

If they raise objections, it's very much worth listening to their reasons. Through listening to your team you may find some of your business processes are unnecessarily elongated. As a result, your entire work flow will can become faster and smoother.

Rely on mandatory fields alone and you increase the risk, not lessen it.  But critically, you miss the opportunity to engage the team and initiate a feedback loop that makes you all work leaner and smarter.

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