business intelligence How to Create + Manage a Data-driven Firm

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1 business intelligence FOR Staffing Executives How to Create + Manage a Data-driven Firm

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Business intelligence (BI) tools give executives the ability to aggregate, view and analyze information within their organizations. BI is taking on an increasingly strategic role in the staffing industry as more firms look for ways to unlock key insights and gain a competitive advantage. In fact, businesses can earn an incremental return on investment (ROI) of 241% by using business intelligence, 1 but creating a BI environment is a long-term culture shift that has to be driven from the top down. Executive involvement is critical to ensuring the successful creation of a data-driven culture that operates smoothly and efficiently. This whitepaper explores the key considerations and action items for executives in the staffing industry looking to successfully create a BI environment within the organization. WHY FIRMS NEED BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Business intelligence is seen by nearly every industry and market vertical as the next big leap in business efficiency. In fact, 46% of staffing firms said they consider analytics to have a big impact on business operations, according to a 2012 Staffing Industry Analysts study. 2 As the owner or manager of a staffing firm, it s vitally important to understand and regularly monitor the key metrics that impact the financial and operational health of the business. In the past, gathering this data, analyzing and interpreting it, and then using it was quite a challenge. Measuring the impact was nearly impossible. With the technology available today, there is no longer an excuse not to leverage data to gain a competitive advantage. Your data is the foundation of your entire business, and it must be trustworthy. Many staffing firms find it challenging to ensure data is captured accurately, regularly and consistently; however, utilizing powerful recruiting tools can help you automate processes to improve productivity and data quality. According to the 2013 Bullhorn North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report, 87% of North American recruiting professionals agree that using ATS/CRM technology is important to the success of their business and 62% said they consider it extremely important. 3 The results of the survey suggest that ATS/CRM technology is playing a more and more critical role in staffing agency success and is no longer considered a luxury, but a necessity. It s well past time that the same level of business intelligence and analytics that sales, marketing, supply chain and product teams have been enjoying for over 5 years finally comes to recruiting and staffing. Data is the new ammunition in the war for talent. GLEN CATHEY VP, Global Sourcing and Talent Strategy Randstad Sourceright 1 The Big Returns from Big Data, Nucleus Research, Staffing Industry Analysts, 2012 Recruiting/Talent Acquisition (TA) Survey: Insights Into Organization, Personnel, Technology & Metrics 3 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report, Bullhorn, Inc.,

3 By harnessing the available data in your ATS/CRM, your sales and recruiting managers can make better decisions, faster shortening the time it takes to find and place talent, build strong client relationships, and even anticipate client needs. One major driver of high returns on leveraging business data is the ability to improve business processes and decisions by looking at different types of datasets. For example, you can use recruiter activity data to learn from and understand the value of your most efficient recruiter. For recruiting firms looking for an edge, the choice is clear embrace a data-driven culture, tap into the available knowledge base, and uncover ways to outpace the competition. UNDERSTANDING THE KEY METRICS There is an overwhelming tendency to try and eat the entire proverbial elephant at once when a company decides to move to a metrics-driven approach; however, it s important to take one bite at a time. Executives must understand the key metrics that impact progress towards achieving their business goals. As leaders, we often focus on results and less on the activities that produce the results. For example, we may know how many placements we need to make at a given time, but do we truly understand how many openings we need in order to make those placements? Or how many client meetings it takes to get those openings to make that one placement? Choose a few key metrics that create actionable/tactical results that individuals in the firm can use (e.g., number of placements) and focus on those. Understanding and consistently monitoring your key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you keep focus on what matters most to the firm. The single most important performance metric for staffing executives is total number of placements, according to the 2013 Bullhorn North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends report, 4 followed by fill rate. When Bullhorn looked at the 73% of survey respondents who reported meeting or exceeding their revenue goals in 2012, they reported the same two metrics ( number of placements and fill rate ) as their most important; however, they had them listed inversely with fill rate as their number one. 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Most Important Peformance Metric for Staffing Firms by Year (Execs Only) Total Number of Placements Fill Rate Hit Rate Average Gross Margin of Placement Fee Total Number of Job Orders Time-to-Fill If you manage to the right activities, the results will follow, but if you manage to your results, you ll only be managing your hopes and wishes. TODD SPRINGER Co-Founder and President FootBridge Energy Services 4 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report, Bullhorn, Inc.,

4 To start, decide which metrics are most import to your firm, and then measure those systematically. Another good starting place is to enforce that all jobs be added to the ATS as soon as they come in. This way you ll know if your recruiters are working on new jobs or old purple squirrel jobs that will not benefit the business. This can also help you determine your average time-to-fill. Once your salespeople and recruiters are doing this consistently and accurately (and you should be auditing), then you can add the next layer, including interviews, internal submissions, and sendouts. These metrics help you understand how hard you work for each placement and the effort that is required. Does it take you 3 or 12 interviews to get a placement? How many internal submissions happen for each job? You should also require that all placements be put in the ATS with the right client, candidate, bill rate, pay rate, start and end date or the placement fee and salary information. Then you can measure current and future bookings. These basics are the foundation for more important business questions such as which clients generate the most revenue, and involve the least amount of effort. Do we have a disconnect between a salesperson and recruiter because it takes 30 internal submissions between these two, but five for the rest of the team? Adding the filters of clients and employees helps you make better data-driven decisions. LEVERAGING THE RESULTS After choosing the right metrics to monitor, you will find that business intelligence helps executives transform data into actionable information that will help improve operational efficiency and business productivity. Developing a metrics-driven staffing strategy enables executives to extract existing information from unstructured data and leverage it to make business decisions. The trick is oftentimes related to how the results are interpreted. Tactical results, along with other pertinent findings, should be at the core of your BI initiatives, and may include a number of things, such as: Clients that require a lot of activity, whose demands might actually outweigh the value of the jobs that you close for them Identifying older (or low value) jobs that are being worked High value jobs that are getting dropped in favor of newer, but lower-value jobs New salespeople or recruiters who aren t ramping up appropriately for long-term success in a staffing environment A salesperson who fails to get quality information on jobs that they are asking recruiters to work A recruiter who doesn t listen to the client requirements or fails to properly prep his or her candidates Making adjustments based off of your findings can immediately impact your revenue. For example, if you reduce the number of internal submissions for each job, that immediately saves time for each recruiter. If you can present two candidates to a client (instead of six, seven or eight) and get a placement, then that impacts both your recruiter s time and the relationship with the client. Tracking lost jobs is just as important do you always lose the IT jobs with Client Y? If so, perhaps you should change the recruiter or walk away from that part of the account altogether. That would free up your time for more successful ventures. The adjustments you make based on the data you gather and interpret, as well as the measurements you take afterwards to see how your changes have impacted your business, represent the true power of business intelligence. Ultimately, business intelligence should help you make strategic decisions with each client, employee and job that comes into your business. You should see the results over time as you improve client engagement and employee coaching. By having metrics-driven conversations you will focus your efforts on the jobs, clients and employees that are most likely going to drive revenue faster for your business. 4

5 IMPLEMENTING EXECUTIVE INVOLVEMENT The long-term viability of your BI culture is questionable without the support of an executive sponsor. The executive sponsor is responsible for effectively managing the BI program and overseeing the BI initiatives within the organization. The ideal executive sponsor will exhibit a number of specific traits. The executive should be: An analytical thinker who understands that data can help the company reach its goals Committed to managing data as a business asset An authoritative figure who can enforce decisions concerning the data and rally other executives Respected within the firm and able to set the quality expectations of the BI initiatives Able to quickly ascertain if certain metrics are not producing actionable intelligence and quickly move away from them The executive sponsor is also in charge of funding BI initiatives, which typically involves purchasing BI tools. There are a number of BI tools available that will help you capture and maintain strategic reports that can not only measure performance, but also forecast your sales pipeline for the next week, month and year. Building a data-driven organization is not easy without investing in BI technology. In fact, it s almost impossible. Finally, executives should be actively involved in enlisting resources and providing support when needed. While implementing BI techniques within the organization, issues are sure to arise and it s important to have the proper resources in place to support the BI initiatives. Depending on the size of the staffing firm, the executive sponsor may want to create and direct a cross-functional BI team. This is not to suggest that you need a BI technology expert, although they can be helpful, but rather a team of people committed to operational excellence within the organization. This team would be in charge of allocating resources, implementing BI tools and developing the overall BI strategy. In this case, the executive sponsor will oversee the BI team, but should Business intelligence underpins all of Peoplebank s business activities to assess historical performance and make predictions about likely future performance. Our improved use of business intelligence has allowed us to continue to deliver high performance recruitment outcomes for our clients, contractors and our people. still be actively involved in providing the following components: LEADERSHIP The executive sponsor is responsible for setting the direction of the BI program, and the direction may change over time. A direction that is set today may not be appropriate two years down the road. The executive sponsor should be strategic and influential as failure to launch is the single biggest reason companies fail to maintain a BI strategy. While most companies will cite bad data, bad data is a result of employees failing to add the data accurately and consistently into the CRM or ATS. This is easy to overcome if the BI program has the right leader. INFRASTRUCTURE PETER ACHESON CEO Peoplebank Australia Ltd. The executive sponsor is also responsible for managing the people, processes and technologies that support the BI infrastructure. This can be challenging because it may also involve managing the security of the company data so it cannot be accessed in its raw form. Executives should address what happens to the information and who can access it regularly as long as it is stored in electronic form. 5

6 QUALITY Business rules must be defined for bringing data into the company s systems. Typically, it is the responsibility of the line of business (e.g., sales, recruiting) that owns that set of data to define its quality expectations. However, the executive sponsor should approve the business rules and ensure they are in line with the company s overall quality expectations. Regular data quality audits are your best option to ensure data is compliant with business needs. MANAGING A METRICS-DRIVEN CULTURE Creating and nurturing a metrics-driven culture is also critical to implementing a successful BI program within your organization. Without a metrics-driven culture, you won t get anywhere. First and foremost, executives must drive data compliance in order to successfully implement a BI program within the organization. You can t measure what you don t capture/record. There should be consequences for not keeping data in the ATS/CRM, which could include anything from manager intervention to public stack ranking of employees based on activity ONLY captured in the ATS/CRM (not what they told you they did). Some staffing firms have even become as strict as not paying full commission to employees who haven t entered in activities when they happen (e.g., reduction in commission for adding the job only once the placement closes). Making data quality an emphasis early on is critical to the success of your BI program. Allowing bad behavior, even from your long-term sales and recruiting employees who may be set in their ways, will only create exceptions in the environment. Tolerating an environment like this means you ll never fully know what is happening in the business, and therefore you ll never be able to change it. As you invest in recruiting software tools and set up dashboards to track performance, make sure you are sharing metrics with your entire team. It s important for employees to know exactly how their managers are measuring them so they can meet their expectations. Tell your recruiters and salespeople that you expect them to view these dashboards regularly, and send employees alerts when you see any issues with poor performance. Show your team that you are watching their activity and tying their performance to BI goals and successes. Ultimately, a metrics-driven culture has to be driven from the top down. Staffing executives must instill a BI-centric mindset and continue to nurture that new culture as the firm grows. Creating an atmosphere of transparency will intensify the competition among recruiters and sales personnel, which may cause a slight shift in company culture. This is why it s important for staffing executives to encourage metrics-driven behaviors and keep the BI program strategically aligned with the organizational goals. 6

7 conclusion Moving forward, it s important to stay focused on metrics that drive the right behaviors. Lean on management to enforce these behaviors; however, continue to be the leading advocate for your BI environment. Monitor your KPIs and implement appropriate response channels if the data deviates from your expected KPI. As you maintain your metrics-driven culture, make sure you continue to support that culture by hiring metrics-driven people who have perhaps worked in a BI environment in the past. This will help support your vision of running a data-driven organization. ABOUT BULLHORN Bullhorn creates software and services that help recruiters put the world to work. For over ten years our innovations have powered the recruiting and staffing operations of fast-growing start-ups up through the world s largest employment brands. Headquartered in Boston, with offices in St. Louis, Vancouver, London and Sydney, Bullhorn s applicant tracking system, recruiting CRM, and social recruiting products serve more than 10,000 clients representing nearly 200,000 users across 150 countries. Please visit our website at to learn more about Bullhorn s full suite of business intelligence tools. Have an immediate question? Speak with an expert: call GoLive8. 7

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