It’s Always A Good Time to Invest in Talent Acquisition Systems

April 10, 2014

HRct Gold Bricks

People often ask HRchitect, why would my company want to invest in a new talent acquisition system during debatable economic times and when we have few open requisitions to fill, low turnover and plenty of active candidates?

The simple answer is that leading companies invest in strategic initiatives during both good and bad economic cycles. During challenging economic times, while their competitors are busy freezing budgets and putting projects on hold, industry leaders continue to selectively invest in strategic new systems. During robust times, the need is more apparent.

Strategic C-Level executives understand that in order to successfully execute the company’s business plan, they need the right people, in the right positions, at the right time, independent of the current economic environment. Qualified talent must also be available at the right cost. Savvy staffing and human resource executives understand that they are responsible for delivering a continuous supply of qualified talent at the right cost. This future global talent pool will include qualified external candidates, internal candidates (i.e., employees) and a flexible contingent workforce.

In order to be recognized as a strategic member of the executive team, staffing and human resource executives also need to communicate in business terms and analyze their results using strategic metrics. These visionary executives are sponsoring projects to evaluate, select and implement new generation talent acquisition systems (or finding ways to get more out of existing systems) as the technology foundation for future success. In addition to traditional metrics like time-to-fill, cost-per-hire and revenue-per employee, metrics are evolving to become more actionable and predictive.

Many organizations now focus on quality not on quantity. For example, your sourcing analysis may tell you that most of your new hires for a certain position are coming from social talent sourcing. However, after a year on the job, the top performers with the highest performance ratings were almost all employee referrals.   This type of actionable information helps recruiters implement the most cost effective sourcing strategy. In addition, identification of your top performers and the screening and interview processes that they went through will help you to refine, as necessary, those processes to help increase your quality hires.

Companies are also looking at metrics like new hire turnover, failure rates and employee longevity as strategic measures of quality. Predictive analysis is driven by prior trending results that can be used to reduce risk in making future human capital management expenditures. For example, if turnover of employees with 5 years experience continues as expected, the company will experience succession issues within 3 years.

During a down economy, most companies focus on streamlining business processes and reducing costs.Also, from the employee’s standpoint, this economic environment tends to not only discourage job changes, but also create more pressure to perform. Employees are being asked to deliver more with fewer resources. Many employees, including top performers, will opt to stay in their current jobs until the economy shows a clear sign of recovery. If their employer has not treated them well, they will actively seek new opportunities as soon as the economic expansion is clearly underway. Leading companies invest in new systems that allow them to establish relationships with these passive candidates and build a global talent database. As the economy recovers, these companies will leverage the database to recruit the top talent and gain an advantage over their competitors.

Leading companies also recognize that internal mobility, the movement of employees from one position to another within a corporation, is an efficient and cost-effective method of talent deployment and can be a significant component of a company’s staffing and employee-retention strategy. Making job opportunities available to existing employees (i.e., internal candidates) leads to greater employee satisfaction and retention, while at the same time lowering staffing costs and filling positions more quickly.Retaining your top performers requires more than just posting jobs on the internal career site. Today’s next generation talent acquisition systems provide employees with the capability to create electronic profiles that include their skills, competencies and career aspirations. Employees can set up personal search agents and be automatically notified when their “dream job” becomes available.

We believe, whatever the current economic cycle, but especially during times of economic growth, that there will be a major shifting of talent. Leading companies that have implemented new generation talent acquisition systems will leverage the relationships they have fostered with the best candidates to gain a competitive advantage. They will also be in a better position to retain their top talent because they have identified their top performers and put in place career development initiatives to retain them. Having a talent acquisition system that meets your organizations needs and requirementscould be your first step towarddelivering a continuous supply of qualified talent at the right cost and being recognized as a strategic member of the executive team.

So now that we have you thinking about either automating your current manual processes, replacing the system you have, or simply optimizing your current system, turn to HRchitect before you do anything. HRchitect has assisted hundreds of leading companies in the evaluation, selection and implementation of talent acquisition systems (and actually human capital management systems of all types), and we stand at the ready to help you.

Matt Lafata2Matt Lafata

HRchitect president

10 Tips to Help You Avoid an Awkward Initial Client Site Visit

April 3, 2014


Walking into the unknown of an initial client site visit can be nerve-wracking for both the client and the consultants. The sales process has probably gone on for months and normally the client is anxiously wondering…..what now? It is the consultant’s job to arrive onsite and bring positivity to the next phases of the project and follow through with what sales has sold the client.
If these steps are taken in the next phases of the project, it should move smoothly (well at least we would hope).
5 things consultants need to consider/review before going onsite for Kickoff meetings and requirements gathering:

  •  Review all documents related to the project; including SOW, Timelines, Client Org Chart (if available) and Sales Notes. Make sure to read the SOW the night before you are on client site to make sure it is fresh in your brain. Also keep a copy in your briefcase for reference.
  • Provide the client with a thorough agenda so that they are able to bring the key decision makers in. Make sure to add adequate breaks and time for lunch.
  • Make sure that a demo environment is setup so that you can reference it in the requirements meetings. If it is another client; make sure their name is kept out of the screens and screenshots. Provide an initial training (core concepts) to the client if available; this is where you would discuss the basic terminology.
  • Create a list of questions that seem unclear from the SOW or sales handoff meetings.
  • Have a logistical understanding of the area where the client is located. Make sure the hotel is close to the client; and anticipate traffic on your first day.

5 things clients need to consider and review before consultants come onsite for Kickoff meetings and Requirements gathering:

  • Determine the correct resources needed for the initial meetings. (HR, Payroll, Operations, Mgmt team). Make sure all of the key decision makers are able to attend the meetings.
  • Ask the consultant for the items that are needed for a successful requirements session. The items usually consist of: Comfortable conference room, enough chairs, snacks, laptops, paper, projector, and dry erase boards with pens.
  • Setup a shared drive for the project; Set up an implementation folder that includes the SOW, notes from the meetings, and project documents.
  • Determine the concerns that you are presently facing with your current system (or lack of system). Make a list of items that you intend to get out of the new system. Bring these to the Requirements gathering sessions.
  • Attend all meetings, including project kick off, course training (core concepts). Keep an open mind. The implementation consultant will help guide you towards the best practices for your company to have a successful implementation; keep that in mind before you say no to their ideas.

While some of these steps may seem obvious, remember, your client is getting to know you and your team for the first time. A missed step early on can start off a client/ consultant relationship on the wrong foot. It is often the obvious steps that get overlooked but should be the easiest steps to remember. You can never plan for every contingency but by taking care of the basics right off the bat, you can gain the confidence of your client and establish a positive working relationship which will foster positive results for both parties.

Erica Thorn
Assistant Director, Senior Consultant Services


An Insider’s Guide to Implementation Clichés : Avoiding the Pitfalls

March 28, 2014

Pitfall HRchitect

I’m often asked what areas other companies have struggled with and what pitfalls they should avoid when implementing a talent acquisition system.  Answering these questions, I realize, with some annoyance, the bevy of clichés coming out of my mouth.  While I’m not a big fan of buzzwords and catch phrases, there are many that come to mind for things that can make or break a project.

1.  Begin with the end in mind.  By the time your implementation project kicks off, your team should have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the project.  What you are expecting to accomplish by deploying your selected system?  Invest the time identifying what a successful implementation will look like for your organization.

2.  Do your homework.  Review any implementation guides and product details you can get your hands on.  If you don’t have this, ask for it.  Be proactive and learn as much as you can.  By educating yourself, you will be better prepared for what to expect, understand system capabilities, and zero in on functionality that will have the most impact for your organization.

3.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Work with your implementation partner to ensure your project plan is realistic.  If you are trying to reduce the duration without removing things from scope, it begs the question:  do you want to do it fast or do you want to do it right?  Ideally, you land somewhere in the middle.  Most plans assume you have the right resources who can make solid decisions and hit every deliverable on time.  Let’s be honest, that’s usually not the way it works in the real world.  Build in some wiggle room for when difficult decisions, surprises, emergencies, or conflicts arise because they will.

4.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Consider competing projects that may take place during the course of your implementation.  This is especially important with shared resources.  While it is tempting to deploy several things at once, recognize the burden this can place on your teams and adjust the timeline accordingly.  Also keep in mind that unless you have the luxury of dedicated project resources, these folks still have other responsibilities.  Clear some things from their plates if possible.

5.  Find the right person for the job.  The answer to how many and which people are needed on your implementation team is:  It depends.   An approach that works best is to establish sub-teams for the functional and technical work, with a lead or point person for each team and an overall project manager.

  • The functional team is responsible for decisions around requisitions, workflows, candidate experience, communications, etc.  Your target end users must be represented here.  You may also need help from your Legal and Marketing teams.  The number of people needed depends on their workload, your internal structure, and company size.
  • The technical team focuses on things like integrations, single sign-on, and data migration that may be in scope.  Depending on your company’s internal systems and complexity, this may mean one or more resources for each technical area.

6.  The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.  Have regular discussions with your stakeholders, leadership, project team, and implementation partner.  Confirm decisions and address concerns or risks along the way.  It is a basic concept but you’d be surprised how often (and quickly) a project comes unhinged due to poor communication.  Don’t risk getting half-way through only to find your stakeholders, legal, IT, or other decision owners are not on board with the direction you are going.

7.  You have to know what you need to be sure that you get it.  Know your requirements.  By this I mean the key functionality the system must support for your deployment to be successful.  For example:

  • If you conduct third party background screens, know which type of candidates this applies to and at what stage the screening should take place.  Have you confirmed whether integration is possible with your new system along with what that entails?
  • If you will have an integration to bring data back into your HRIS to hire someone, know what data is required to create the new employee record (or to transfer or rehire them).
  • What are your reporting needs?  Don’t neglect this area only to go live and be asked by your leadership for data that is not being captured.  In other words, if you need to report on open requisitions by cost center, having a place to record the cost center for each req should be a requirement.

The list of goes on, but you get the idea.  Take the time up front to identify these requirements and ensure everyone agrees with them.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you don’t know your requirements, they will creep up later and can completely derail your timeline.

8.  If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.  Don’t simply replicate your existing processes in the new system.  Take this opportunity to eliminate bottlenecks and gain efficiencies.  What are you doing today that works well?  What doesn’t?  Are there unnecessary steps in your current process?  Now’s your chance to make things better.  Make sure you do.

9.  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  Your consultant can provide insight on ways to streamline your processes and offer creative solutions to meet your needs.  It also helps to understand what other companies are doing, but keep in mind that a “best practice” doesn’t always mean it’s best for your organization.  Ultimately, you must make those decisions.

10.  You can’t see the forest for the trees.  Today’s applicant tracking systems have hundreds of nuances and options and are constantly evolving.  With endless possibilities, it is doubtful you will touch on all of them during the course of your project.  It is not unheard of for a client to later say, “You never told us we could do that!”  To which your consultant may reply, “You never told us you needed to.”  While you should certainly take advantage of a few that make the most sense for your organization, try not to get too distracted by all the bells and whistles.

11.  Crawl before you walk and walk before you run.  Avoid creating an over-complicated system with complex workflows simply because you can.  Start with the basics and work your way up.  If you design your system with your core requirements as the backbone, it will be easier to build upon in the future.  The feedback your users provide once they are working in the system will guide you in prioritizing future enhancements.

12.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Far too often, user acceptance testing does not get the attention it deserves.  This is your dress rehearsal for the big show.  Utilize it to its fullest.  Work with your implementation partner to develop a detailed test plan based on your configurations to ensure the system is tested fully before you move into production.  The majority of issues clients encounter during deployment are things they did not test well (or at all!).

13.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Sure you can.  You just need to provide the proper methods and motivation.  Change management should be a big part of your project, but it is another often overlooked area that teams throw together as an after-thought.  The most successful implementations include a strategy for managing change.  In addition to training and education, be prepared to answer the age-old question, “what’s in it for me?”

14.  The devil is in the details.  Don’t forget about other areas that may be impacted by the move to your new talent acquisition system.   Are there legacy systems that need to be shut down?  Do you have links on your company webpages, career sites, or job boards that need to be updated?  What kind of support model will you need?  Start a checklist of things that will need to happen when you deploy your new system.  Figure out who you need to work with to accomplish them and how much lead time will be required.

15.  A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  It’s amazing how much more productive and focused your team will be when their efforts are recognized and rewarded.   Celebrate completions of key tasks and milestones.  Congratulate each other and have some fun every now and then.  Bring in lunch for the team.  Go to happy hour.  Just do something…in the most delightful way.

So there you have it.  Some pitfalls to avoid like the plague, ideas to knock your implementation out of the park, and more clichés than you can shake a stick at.


Julia Hatton
Senior Implementation Consultant at HRchitect

The Critical Case of HR Technology in Healthcare

March 26, 2014


Healthcare and robust Human Resource software does not always go hand in hand, why? Because healthcare spends multiple millions of dollars on technology for the latest in patient care, which they should, but this in turn puts all technology for Human Resources at the bottom of the financial list of priorities. Some might say that this is okay in itself because patient care comes first and it does. However, we are not just talking about an applicant tracking system or tracking W-4 and I-9 forms. We are also talking about performance reviews, competencies, and succession management. Let’s discuss how this impacts the healthcare system.

Performance reviews, as with most companies, are done 90 days after hire and then annually. A healthcare system that is still using a paper method can and does spend multiple weeks trying to complete the annual performance review; and this would be for just one nursing unit. There are nursing units in hospitals that have 120 plus nurses in one unit (remember you need 24 hour 365 day coverage). It is the nursing director and supervisors responsibilities to complete a performance review with an average review taking approximately one hour to complete in a paper world. Now we have 120 hours spent just doing reviews by a nursing director and supervisors. That is time spent away from patients and 120 hours of soft dollars being wasted were the average salary for a nursing director is $115,000 annually. Now we have just discussed that a typical nursing unit of 120 nurses for a large hospital in the ER or med/surg unit takes 3 weeks for the performance review to be completed, so we see that 17%!!, let’s look at that number again, 17% of the year is utilized for doing the annual performance reviews.

There exists HR technology that can significantly reduce this task to a fraction of that time. The reason it is not being utilized is hard dollars. Leadership at a hospital is not being convinced that there is a need for this type of software. I lived this for 10 years at one of the largest healthcare organizations in the country. We tried year after year to change from (the still used paper method) to the technology that is available. Leaders in this organization simply stated that there is no money for HR Solutions. This is commonly the case across many healthcare organizations.

So, what is the impact of holding on to an outdated system? Let’s review. An average salary for a nursing director is $115,000 annually. 17% equals $19,550 for ONE unit. One large nursing unit cost the system 17 percent of the leaders salary for a once a year activity. That doesn’t seem like a smart use of time or money. Situations like this need to be recognized and addressed in order for leadership to recognize that implementing a robust human resources software package would be a huge benefit. This not only saves human capital cost (soft dollars) but allows more time for the supervisors and directors to be out on the nursing floors where they should be instead of in an office.


Competencies also need to be tracked and reviewed throughout the life cycle of patient care givers. Currently, this process is also handled via the paper method but could be completed electronically with a human resource software solution which would offer increased accuracy and efficiency.

My final point is succession management. What is the best way for an organization to select in house talent to promote? In an ideal world you would be able to compare employee records of education, competency reports, and performance reviews side by side. You would also see what types of leadership classes have been taken and what the career goals of each individual are. Currently this is handled through multiple methods. Some are paper, some are from interviews, and others are from the applicant tracking system. In today’s world of “work smarter not harder” this information can be simplified and reviewed through a single technology solution.

These types of human resource systems are out there and are capable of saving an organization time and money as well as putting the caregivers back where they belong, on the floor taking care of our loved ones. Healthcare providers should be focused on how they can provide the best care possible in the safest environment and not worrying about how they are going to schedule 120 plus hours of time for reviews and maintain coverage.

The challenge is to produce a behavior change in hospital organizational leadership so that money budgeted for improvements goes not only to patient care, but also to the ever growing technology of the personal touch, Human Resources.


Michael Sischo2 Michael Sischo
Senior Implementation Consultant


The War for Talent Continues

March 17, 2014

Talent war“We love the smell of HCM in the Morning.”

Not too long ago, I served on a panel and was asked what I thought were some of the top areas in Talent Management that companies are focusing on right now, given our current economic and business conditions.

While I think there are many areas that companies should focus their efforts on, namely around figuring out their long-term Human Capital Management (HCM) systems strategy, I decided to focus the answer around the so-called “war on talent”.

Today, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is anywhere between approximately 7%-16% depending on many factors – what expert you talk with, politics, geography, race, and a host of other ways to measure. However, when you focus specifically on “skilled labor”, that number hovers around 4% and since many economists believe that anything under 5% basically amounts to full employment, you can quickly see the problem, and it is only getting worse.

A few years ago, we published a groundbreaking report entitled “The Suite Life of Integrated Talent Management”, and in that report we stated:

“Organizations across the globe are concerned with finding enough skilled labor to accomplish their business objectives, given the potential of continuing talent shortages in critical skilled positions. Upcoming retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, changing demographics, and skills gaps due to education shortfalls all have the potential to dramatically impact an organization’s ability to attract, develop, and retain the right talent.

Over the past few years the world has gone through a significant period of economic turmoil that again, depending on who you talk with, is either continuing, getting worse, or getting better. So what is an organization to do? Arm your company with know-how and face the war on talent head-on!

Here are four “talent” areas to think about, in no particular order…

1)      Understanding your talent. Seems simple enough but many organizations simple don’t know what they currently have, and where those “rock stars” are within their own organization. Start by getting all data in one place (the talent profile), before any analysis can take place. Information such as internal & external work experience, aspirations, goals, motivations, preferences, assessment results, etc. Think about a person’s LinkedIn profile and a Facebook profile brought together in a talent record that is available to you. The Talent Profile has been a major trend of HCM vendors and something that needs critical attention paid to it.

2)      Reviewing your talent.  This can take many forms but start with the traditional and formal talent reviews. Many firms still do this once a year but organizations are increasingly looking at this differently (and should be). Start rating the performance of your employees, including the potential for flight risk and what that impact would have on the organization. Develop clear action lists for those employees you want to keep and manage out those you don’t.

3)      Reaching talent. This applies to both inside and outside your organization, and goes back to the Talent Profile in number 1 above. If you don’t know who and what you have, you will have a difficult time reaching that internal talent. In addition, leverage alumni networks as an example and cultivate talent ‘gardens’, i.e. tracking college & even pre-college potential talent. Remember, it’s a war out there so you need to cast a wide net and prepare to capture more than your competitors do!

4)      Assimilating talent. So you’ve found the “rock stars” you have been searching for. Now what. You need to ensure that your onboarding programs don’t wreck your carefully cultivated employment brand, but instead ‘lock in’ the new talent you have found. It’s vitally important to remember that the recruitment process is just the beginning of a new employee’s experience with your company. The initial excitement that new hires experience over starting a new job can quickly develop into frustration as they run into challenges in their desire to become acclimated with a new company and their desire to be productive in their new job and environment (something I would expect you want as well!) A very common frustration includes a lack of connection to their new company and its culture. Another challenge is in completing paperwork with poor instructions and yet another is simply the fact that most companies prepare poorly for a new employee’s first day. The list actually goes on and on…

Good luck and we hope this helps you better prepare for the ongoing war for talent!

Matt Lafata2Matt has over 18 years in the HR industry and has been with HRchitect since 2004. As President, he oversees all aspects of HRchitect’s operations including worldwide sales of HRchitect services, marketing, customer success, partnerships, consulting, finance and corporate development.

Ask not what your ATS can do for you, ask what you can do for your ATS.

March 13, 2014


This title may come as a surprise to a recruiter reading this post.  After all an Applicant Tracking System is designed to do all of the heavy lifting for us, and to the casual user, the system appears to be completely configured when they log in. While all this is very true, I live in the world behind the curtain. A magical world of client settings, user privileges, automation management, form creation, communication templates and my favorite….integrations.

I am a technical consultant whose wizard-like powers are contained within my Admin tools.  So I ask again, what can you do for your ATS?  My answer to this question when I am asked is a simple one… I can do anything.

I can create custom workflows, unique org groups, user types of endless shapes and sizes all behind a complex matrix of privileges which make data viewable to some and locked down and impossible to retrieve for others.  I have the ability to create libraries of questions and only present specific targeted questions to the select few that apply to a relevant job.  I can develop logic to rate and stack candidates based on previous experience, education or responses to job specific questions.  I can trigger communications to candidates, managers, stakeholders, third parties, even the recruiter that may be sleeping on the job while highly sought after talent anxiously waits to be viewed within an applicant folder. Better yet, I can send a highly qualified candidate directly to the recruiter’s inbox, or even the manager for that matter, there by bypassing the vast sea of applicants.

The fun doesn’t stop here.  When we identify candidates we wish to move forward with, the real fun begins.  Using the cloud and the speed of light I can auto-communicate to a pool of candidates, have candidates schedule their own interviews, simultaneously communicate to coordinators who handle logistics, notify the evaluation team and insure everyone is ready for the big day of interviews.  After the interviews take place evaluation forms can be automated in the system, filled out in the cloud, attached to candidate profiles, and used to further rank the talent.

Now we have finalists for the job.  We need more candidate information. This is no problem.  Auto-communication takes place once again and reaches out to the candidate. The system generates forms and has the candidate fill out a more robust application.  I want the good stuff now, EEO data, prior managers, GPA, salaries, bonuses and evaluations all of which can be automatically gathered at this stage.

Now comes the part I really love….INTEGRATIONS.

With a simple left click all the data is magically sent.  A background authorization goes out to the candidate, and most of their information is somehow already on the form, the candidate has a Big Brother feeling and then recalls that they likely offered that information during their application.  “Ok I will verify and consent to the Background”, they say quietly but excitedly in their head.

That is all my ATS needs, now with the same magic, all the information is sent to the Background check vendor and for good measure a communication is sent to the manager letting them know that all is going well with the new prospect.

In short order the background report is completed and clear.

Control Tower:

  • Notify manager, recruiter, HR, payroll, and security.
  • Automation- create offer, post to the candidate portal.
  • Integrations-Send candidate data to Onboarding and build the new hire in the HRIS system.

I think you get the idea. With enough experience, patience and knowledge the possibilities with today’s Applicant Tracking Systems are endless.  The only limitation thus far is we have yet to get the ATS to hand the new hire their business cards on the first day of work, but anything is possible.

Serge Shishik (3)Serge Shishik
Sr. Implementation Consultant

Avoiding the Seven Failures That Cause Your Human Capital Management (HCM) System to be Replaced

March 3, 2014


I have found that vendors sometimes get an unwarranted bad rap and that people throw out their HCM system without looking at their own role in using the system. I certainly don’t want to say that you won’t ever potentially replace a system, or that the vendor may not be taking the product where you want to go. Sometimes you simply need to switch out a system because of vendor viability issues, no clearly defined roadmap and poor support.

After performing hundreds of HCM evaluation and selection projects for leading organizations of all industries across the globe, our research shows us that the majority of HCM systems are replaced due to customer “failure” – NOT due to vendor viability factors, vendor product roadmap, or poor vendor support. Through this research, we have identified seven of the most common failures and by being aware of what they are, you can create a risk mitigation plan to avoid them.

Lack of Support and Staffing – Technology is not a panacea into itself, it is an enabler and an HCM system is an enabling application. You have to step up on client side and ensure you have an internal support system to get value as you basically will get out what you put in. This starts at the implementation stage as you can take a great product and if you don’t implement it correctly, you won’t get any value out of it.

Do you have a system administrator? You should have some type of system administrator internally to properly support your HCM system. Somebody needs to be the person communicating back to the vendor to find out about new releases and other important information – basically provide internal support, revise reports, and tailor the system in other ways. With most of the HCM systems out there today, this is usually a part-time position and could be part of somebody’s job. It could be the same person who is the admin for more than one system.  A perfect background is somebody who understands HCM technology but also somebody who has implemented some kind of system. And once that person is in place, make sure you have a backup in case that person is hit by the proverbial bus.

Do you have a formalized and communicated training plan? The HCM vendor can certainly give you recommendations on which training classes to take. Be sure to train your system admin person and backup. If you don’t have either, hire a contract system admin through a third party consulting firm.

You also need a post implementation budget. Some companies put money in for first phase but keep money for further stuff that you didn’t do in phase 1. Ask for budget before you even start phase 1 and make sure you have budget every year for support and enhancement of the system.

Change Management – we all know that your users have changing needs. If you are the system admin or the champion, how are you meeting those needs? Are you fully aware of business requirements? When we look at that, and understand the needs, how do we prioritize the queue of the needs? Our suggestion is some type of governance model for the system. There should be a steering committee, who may meet once a month to discuss priorities in making changes, but you can’t do everything at once and you can’t modify the system for every user request. Sometimes there are simply constraints in the system and by keeping up with the vendor, you will know if it is coming in the product later on. The governance model could include the VP of HR, IT, etc. It’s important to know who needs to be informed of what the company is doing and who you get approval from if you own one module from your HCM vendor and want to buy another. How do you interact or communicate back to IT on your hardware and system needs?

Vendor Communication – how do you get your voices heard at the vendor? A good way is to attend user conferences so you can keep informed of the vendor’s roadmap. The vendor wants your input and ideas on how to improve system, how it works outside of ivory tower. If you can’t go to conferences, be sure to stay up with their newsletters about what is going on. You should have a primary contact with the vendor but you may want a relationship with the executive level as well. The vendor wants you to be happy and to be a reference for the sales group. You have an ally in the vendor – use that as leverage.

Springing into that thought – are you a good customer of the vendor? What is a model customer? It is somebody who takes some responsibility for success on the customer side and doesn’t expect that just because they bought something that they will be taken care of. A good customer takes responsibility and admits when they are wrong. They don’t inundate the vendor with needless requests and have reasonable expectations of when they will get back to you. Be a reference for the vendor and let them give out your name to prospects. It’s good for you if more money is going into the vendor as the more people supporting the vendor means they can put more money into development. Offer to write up a case study on your success. Whenever possible, go and speak about the HCM system as not only will you meet some interesting people but it is great PR for your company as well to talk about how successful you have been since implementing the system. Don’t give away all secrets but share, network and speak with the outside world.

Absence of Planning – Be proactive and plan – have a written plan of attack. Memorialize your plan as to how you support your HCM system. Set expectations, i.e. if putting in phase 1 and not going to do everything, let people know. Set expectations appropriately. Put in writing as memories are convenient and they change. Plan your work and work your plan.

What defines success? What works well in your industry? You need to have something to measure success of the system. If you survey your users, you may want to survey some candidates (if it is a recruiting system) – what is their satisfaction with system? Part of planning is to have a risk mitigation or contingency plan. What if the system is down? What if the vendor goes out of business? What if you have a merger? What is your preparedness plan to be ready for that? This is stuff that your steering committee should have in place.

Failure to Align with Enterprise Strategies – Unless you have every HCM functionality covered, which is unlikely, your HCM system is just a piece of an overall piece of an HCM systems strategic plan. If you are not aware of the HCM systems strategic plan, find out what it is all about. How does your CEO feel about the HCM systems plan? Are you aware of the company’s IT strategic plan? It should be a written document somewhere that covers things like SaaS vs. self-hosted (on-premise), database, network, etc. Be aware of it and how it changes and how it might affect the use of the HCM system.

Do you have a seat at the table with your management? One way is to show them success and metrics about what the system has done for your department and/or organization. Let them know the kind of information you have with the HCM system. Another critical thing is to keep informed with the software market and how your HCM system fits in and competes with others. Somebody could come to you and say they want to switch out with the HCM system module that your ERP vendor offers – you need to be aware of what the strengths of your HCM system vs. them. People have lost their HCM system when somebody fell into ERP politics and for the most part – those are not good stories.

You need to know how to defend your system. Why you use it and what you have gotten out of it. Be confident when addressing with others. Don’t give any excuses not to use it.

What are other projects are going on around the company that affect the HCM system? Watch what is going on with other products because somebody could buy another HCM system without you even knowing about it. Stay informed. When you see other projects going on, get on the steering committee or team so that software selections are not done in silos.

Resistance to Best Practices – Network with the customers of your HCM vendor. Compare notes, share tricks and techniques and other uses of the system. If you are wondering about your usage or best practices, benchmark with people in your industry. Every industry is a little different and uses a different set of metrics so if you want to see how you are doing, benchmark in your industry. Learn from what others have done rather than re-inventing the wheel. Borrow ideas. The Internet makes this easier as there is so much great information that you couldn’t find years ago – case studies, benchmarks, great organizations to go to – attend industry conferences. There are great seminars, webinars, and forums to learn and share ideas. If you see an idea, come back and use the HCM system as an enabler to implement the idea.

Poor Internal “Sales” of the System – selling your HCM system is important. I touched on some of these but toot your own horn as things are going well, and your HCM system is helping. Celebrate successes. Go to HR meetings with the rest of HR and keep everybody informed. Let people know about how well the HCM system is doing. If somebody is having trouble, have them come to you. Never assume that something can’t be done. If you don’t know the answers, call your HCM vendor or call a third party consultant to get some answers.

You should take charge where possible, and set the example for the rest of company. Don’t just react but lead. This is what will get you that seat at the management table. Jack Welch wrote about this in his books. Continue to survey people, measure, compare and always look for improvement. Be a speaker, write an article, share your metrics and analytics with others. Bottom line – keep selling, admit your failures, admit mistakes but don’t give the HCM vendor a bad rap. Some political faction within your company may be pushing you in a different direction when all they hear is you complaining about the system. You want people to perceive system as a positive.

As a final note on some of the things discussed in this blog, HRchitect can function as your system administrator, saving you on the cost of hiring and potentially replacing employees to perform this function. In addition, if you are looking for a new HCM system of any kind, please do yourself a favor and have a conversation with HRchitect before investing ANY time or money in your search. We can save you a lot of time, money and heartache.

Matt Lafata2Matt has over 18 years in the HR industry and has been with HRchitect since 2004. As President, he oversees all aspects of HRchitect’s operations including worldwide sales of HRchitect services, marketing, customer success, partnerships, consulting, finance and corporate development.

Assessing Your Current Human Capital Management (HCM) System(s)

February 18, 2014

HCM Doctor chart

If you are reading this, then chances are pretty good that you use some kind of HCM system (recruiting, talent management, compensation, workforce management, HRMS, payroll, etc.). In addition, since you are reading this, you are likely human and hopefully see a doctor for regular health, or wellness checkups. Well, when was the last time you performed a “check-up” on your HCM system?

Now that you have made it to the second paragraph, I’m here to tell you that it’s in your best interest to step back from time to time and assess how you are using that HCM system and how it is working for your organization.

Most HR departments do not have the kind of expertise and understanding of today’s complex world of HCM components and systems, or even which vendors are keeping up with changes in the industry or likely to even be around in the future. That’s where HRchitect and its 2000+ HCM consulting projects come into play.

So what do we do in helping your assess your systems and needs? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are some things we do in a system assessment, which should give you something to think about.

* Evaluate your current needs and whether they have changed since first implementing your system. Once these needs are validated, are there gaps in what the current solution can address?

* Validate why you automated this function in the first place and whether your goals and objectives are still legitimate. Have your requirements changed?

* Determine whether you are utilizing your current system to its full capacity and whether additional modules or functionality may be needed.

* Verify whether the system is technically efficient. Are the response times meeting the needs of the users?

* Assess the level of usability and adoption of the system. How are new users being trained?

* Review the integration of the system with other HCM applications within your organization.

* Realize the ROI (Return on Investment) and ROV (Return on Value) from the current system.

* Substantiate the viability of the vendor. Is the vendor still financially sound? What is the vendor’s current strategy and road map? Is this product still one of the leaders in the market?

* Review your organization’s HCM systems’ strategies. Does this system fit within those strategies?

* Review your organization’s system administration and help desk roles.

* Analyze the governance model for this system. Is there a steering committee in place? How are internal enhancements prioritized? What is the best approach to provide input to the vendor and maintain a positive customer relationship?

* Evaluate the legislative compliance of the system. How is your organization adhering to data privacy requirements (particularly in global environments?)

* Examine the configurability and customization levels of the current system. Do you still have a migration plan forward with the vendor?

* Reassess the current system reports. Do any reports need to be added or rewritten?

* Can we incorporate other best practices or optimize the current processes?

* Ascertain whether you should look at other systems before renewing your current contract and if so, who you should look at and why. (Do we have a substantiated business case to make a change?)

* Assist with contract renewal. Can the pricing and Service Level Agreement be improved?

Is your head spinning around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist? Or maybe it is just cocked to the side like my dog? Either way, there is likely at least some head scratching and concern at this point. Nobody needs that kind of concern or stress in their life! Think of us as your meditation, your deep breathing exercises, or your little stress-reducing-squeeze-ball.

We know the vendor marketplace better than anybody you could talk to and have helped organizations just like yours avoid the landmines inherent in HCM technology decisions and deployments. Give us a call before you invest another dime and we will help you navigate through it all.

Matt Lafata2Matt has over 18 years in the HR industry and has been with HRchitect since 2004. As President, he oversees all aspects of HRchitect’s operations including worldwide sales of HRchitect services, marketing, customer success, partnerships, consulting, finance and corporate development.

Setting the HR Table – The Strategic role of HR and How it Became That Way

February 6, 2014

Laid Table

Human Resources (HR) has played a critical role in companies since the birth of organized corporations.  The name has changed from “Personnel Department,” but the function of taking care of the employees has remained. With the onset of computerized application systems, the first adopters in Accounting and Finance jumped on the band wagon with the early General Ledger systems.  Large companies were willing to spend big money to develop in-house systems for ‘important and strategic’ functions.  The evolution continued with the ability to purchase applications or even outsource.  Today, large multi-national corporations and small proprietorships alike all have the benefit of technology for all business functions and by understanding their interaction they form the corporate strategy.

History shows that there were no funds for automated HR systems, especially if they required the use of expensive, internal Information Technology resources, resources which were typically hidden behind walls running large mainframe computers. Historically, it was acknowledged that the group that handled the finances was an important strategic member at the table; the ‘table’ where the big strategic company decisions were made.  Overlooked was the division that took care of the people of the organization.

Over the years, I have worked with financial institutions and other corporations supporting the internal financial and accounting departments.  It is interesting to remember how so many of these people were eager to be on the leading edge of technology.  Many years ago, I remember being assigned to support the HR department at the large corporation where I was working.  My first thoughts were, “How great to work with such nice people” and “They have almost no systems so this should be a breeze…..” and it was. Helping them with a few spreadsheets and trying to understand payroll reports with scarce amounts of HR data was much of the job.  It really did not occur to them to want more. It was easy, that is, until the entry of the ERP (Enterprise) systems. The decision to replace an in-house old General Ledger system for the corporation was exciting but the real excitement came with the inclusion of the systems to support HR functions.  Wow, that was exciting and in hindsight very forward thinking for this company!  This was the beginning of the movement to bring the human resources function to the big table. Many corporations now saw HR functions as being part of the strategy and began putting technology behind the management of the company’s biggest asset, the people.   It was a great time for HR departments and the excitement continues to grow.

The evolution for Human Resources continues. In 2014 HR technology continues to move to greater specialization in the areas of:

  • Talent Management and Recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Performance Management
  • Compensation
  • Workforce Management
  • Specialty reporting

Hundreds of vendors are vying for your business, dazzling you with terms such as SAAS, Mobile and Big Data.   It is time to set the HR table and make sure all the specialties are working together and taking advantage of the technical solutions available. From the day you recruit and hire an employee you are making an investment in them. Your days are filled ensuring your ability to track their work time, their attendance and life changes. Complexity today is increasing exponentially as you try to keep up with compliance for Tax, Insurance and ACA reporting.  You must be able to analyze and ensure that the data gathered will enhance the ability to manage, tactically and strategically, across the entire organization.  Now, everyone wants to touch the HR system.

The good news is, the technology and application systems are out there and with more affordable options than ever before.  The ability to use the data on mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and phones is real. The bad news is, it’s a jungle out there with hundreds of companies vying for your business and the choices can have any HR Executive or Manager running back to their spreadsheets. Let HRchitect sit at your table as your partner. HRchitect brings your organization our experience in dealing with HR technology on a daily basis and our expertise in solving the challenges faced by today’s HR organizations. Our services give clients the knowledge and confidence to move in the right direction and achieve their strategic business goals.


Cheryl Tyson 2Post by Cheryl Tyson

Cheryl Tyson has more than 20 years of experience in the HR software industry as a Project Manager, Implementation Consultant, Product Manager and Management Consultant.  Her areas of expertise in the HCM market include HRIS, Payroll, Workforce Management, Benefits and Analytics.

Prior to joining HRchitect Cheryl worked for various consulting firms providing consulting services to large and small clients in the financial, medical, call center and government environments.

Cheryl has a degree in Computer Systems Technology and an MBA from Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario.

HRchitect Partners with Talemetry to Bring Clients Enhanced Recruiting System Capabilities and Seamless Integration.

February 5, 2014

New strategic relationship will bring clients seamless integrations and expand the usefulness and capability of existing HCM solutions 

HRchitect Partners with Talemetry (Talemetry)

Frisco, TX., Feb. 4th, 2014- HRchitect, a leading provider of HCM systems strategic consulting, has announced that they will be partnering with Talemetry to offer clients expanded talent generation features and assist with the integration of Talemetry’s Talent Generation suite with talent acquisition systems. HRchitect’s years of experience working with numerous HCM systems in an array of business environments helps ensure seamless integration of the Talemetry cloud-based software solution. In addition to helping streamline system integration, HRchitect  will be able to assist organizations with the implementation of Talemetry’s Talent Generation suite helping clients augment their existing talent acquisition systems in order to meet their organization’s talent generation needs.

“As the leading vendor neutral HCM consulting firm, it’s important that we are able to provide our current and future clients with help and advice around not only the core HCM applications but those applications that also provide complementary services.” said Matt Lafata, president of HRchitect.  “Talemetry is a great tool for recruiters to attract and engage talent and managers to gain insight into meaningful source analytics but like many applications, its real power comes out when integrated with one of the many talent acquisition systems available today. Our partnership with Talemetry really shows its benefit to organizations when they want to implement and integrate their Talemetry system with their recruiting system, and that’s where HRchitect’s HCM consulting experts can assist in achieving somewhat of a recruiting nirvana.

While many talent acquisition solutions offer some sourcing, job broadcasting and candidate relationship management (CRM) functionality, many of these systems offer only basic functionality which may not fully meet a client’s talent generation demands. Organizations facing a talent shortage or those that need candidates with specific technical skills will benefit from the expanded capabilities available with Talemetry’s Talent Generation suite.  The analytics and organizational benefit of having all of the capabilities in one suite is what sets Talemetry apart.

“We’re excited about this partnership with HRchitect. They have a great track record of full lifecycle HCM consulting with the leading HCM solutions such as Oracle Taleo, Infor Lawson and IBM Kenexa.. We believe that the combination of HRchitect’s expertise and our solution will allow clients to fully realize the benefits of their investment in their ATS and their sourcing efforts,” said Talemetry CEO Jade Bourelle.

The HRchitect team will in attendance at the upcoming Oracle HCM World conference February 4th through the 6th at the Venetian in Las Vegas, NV. Stop by exhibit booth 312 to learn more about how HRchitect’s consulting services can benefit your organization and help you achieve your business goals.

The Talemetry team will also be in attendance at Oracle HCM World conference. Stop by booth 407 to see Talemetry in action and how its talent generation capabilities help recruiters find, attract and engage top talent.


About HRchitect: HRchitect is the leader in HCM systems strategic consulting.  As the premier Human Capital Management  Systems consulting firm, we offer end-to-end HR technology consulting services focused around strategic planning, evaluation/selection, project management and implementation of HR systems, Talent Management Systems, Talent Acquisition Systems, and Workforce Management software. After more than 17 years in business working on over 2000 successful engagements for more than 900 clients across the globe, HRchitect is a name you can trust for all your organizations HR technology-related consulting services. For more information visit

About Talemetry: Talemetry delivers all the tools recruiters need to find, attract, and engage the talent they need today – and tomorrow – in a single, simple and social cloud-based solution. The Talemetry suite includes talent sourcing & CRM, job broadcasting, agency, career sites and candidate application solutions. For more information visit

Press contact: Rusty Hall | | 214.619.6613


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