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Most terms used in HR and HR Technology are ill defined and used to grind the axe of the speaker. “Talent Management”, for example means everything from ‘succession planning’ to ‘the full complement of tools and organizational processes required to harvest the maximum value from Human Capital’. One extreme is tiny and precise while the other is overwhelmingly comprehensive.
Vendor Management is another one of those terms.
The Training and Learning silo usually coordinates a slew of different vendors and consultants. Here, the idea of a VMS applies to course, content, billing and scheduling coordination. Some of the functionality appears in Learning Management Systems.
In the Compensation world, vendor management systems (and there are only a few) are used to meet the needs of compensation analysts for building services that reference three distinct data points for each decision.
In Benefits-land, a VMS integrates data across providers to give a single point of information for the company regarding the status of benefits, benefits plans and so on.
Applicant Tracking and Recruiting tool providers think of a Vendor Management System (VMS) as a tool for coordinating the acquisition and expenses for various labor market services. When you hear an ATS provider or a staffing company talk about VMS, they are referring to tools used to coordinate data in the staffing function.
Less attention has been paid to the coordination of Background checking and screening information. But, in that arena as well, Vendor Management is an essential component of getting things done.
At the point that HR meets the outside world, there is a flood of data in a variety of formats. Vendor Management Systems (of each stripe) try to sift the material for apples to apples comparisons and seamless data integration. Few, if any VMS tool sets offer a full range of management capabilities. Somehow, HR doesn’t have the muscle of the purchasing department.
There have been any number of initiatives to deal with the explosion of data. Most try to force standards into places where standards don’t work. Funneling data through any sort of middleman always impinges competition. Savvy vendors don’t stand still for this.
The HR-XML initiative (now rapidly receding and nearly dead) is a great example of the problem. Without participation by the industry’s leaders, so called ‘voluntary’ standards become a game with no conclusion. Without adoption and endorsement from all of the industry, the standards initiative chokes on its own irrelevance. Industry standards that define specific data structures stifle innovation.
In the HR-XML case, two hurdles suggest the difficulty of the task. With over 40,000 discrete background checking vendors delivering data in a variety of forms to regional customers, voluntary standards are unworkable unless enforced by the purchasing company. No Purchasing companies (employers) belong to the HR-XML consortium. In the staffing world, the same dynamic applies. 50,000 job boards and an ant pile of small staffing firms make an initiative that is not led by employers unlikely to succeed.
The HR-XML imitative tried to solve the problem with a Rodney King (can’t we all just get along) approach. The assembled group represents members who compete for dollars, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Key to the imitative are companies that represent job boards and their enormous data flows.
The problem that everyone wants to fix is the temporary nature of data integration without standards. Without binding agreements for the management of data interfaces, the chore at middleman companies is enormous. Workloads are unpredictable and service levels are hard to maintain.
I’ve been taking a look at HR-Integrations, an emerging company that solves this problem through the development of a universal interface. Their approach is to overcome the problem of employer involvement by limiting their scope to the vendor management problems of the large scale software providers. Focus (and a commitment to never boil the ocean) gives them a shot at success.
The brainchild of two background checking data industry veterans, their initial efforts focus on familiar turf. Rather than solving all problems for all people at once (the operating problem with an ill defined voluntary membership organization), they focus on delivering specific value in specific cases. Their goal isn’t to standardize anything. Rather, they want to eliminate repetitive integrations for their customers.
That probably bears a deeper explanation.
Let’s say you are one of the many companies that ships data between job boards and applicant tracking systems. Each job board offers competitive differentiation by adding or subtracting data from what you might think of as a standard bucketful. Matching job systems add matching data. Their outputs are distinct and different from, say, Craigslist. Every value proposition in job board land implies differences in the data. Even worse (from a logistics perspective), every new feature means that the output is once again varied.
On the other side of the transaction, the ATS providers modify their data in two ways. At the level where job boards input data, the ATS providers are rarely contracted to keep their input reception buckets stable. A change implemented to solve a problem for a favored provider often turns out to impact the littler players. To further complicate the process, ATS output, which often includes posting jobs to their client’s employment site, is likely to change for what seems whimsical reasons. The middleman is forced to change the data interfaces on the flay in order to fulfill their mission.
Each agreement between a job board and the middleman, between the middleman and the ATS and between the ATS and the job boards on the back end requires an ‘integration’ to get started. It requires a modification every time there is an iteration. If you are in charge of the integration process, you spend a lot of time pulling your hair out. The quality of every customer’s experience depends on your ability to manage the completely unpredictable.
- To make transactional HR services accessible over one trading exchange (hub), eliminating custom data and service integrations
- To simplify and facilitate expansion of services and commerce between HR solutions providers for employers
The idea is pretty simple. Rather than committing to a series of integrations with no ability to control ROI or ongoing maintenance costs, HRNX offers a sort of intermediary docking station. You integrate with HRNX, they integrate with everyone else. Instead of waging endless debate in a voluntary consortium, you sign on with HR-Integrations and they bear the brunt of the hassle.
Over 70% of employers require custom integrations from their ATS and HRIS vendors. The HRNX solution would amount to a shell game if HRNX didn’t include one powerful feature. The big players can use the HRNX widget to ensure maintenance free integrations at nearly zero cost. The widget provides a data interface for users and a data transport for internal system workings.
It’s hard to believe that any of the middleman will be unhappy to let go of their hair pulling legacies. From here, HR-Integrations looks like a solid play in a dense technical area. Old school notions of data standardization seem to be less important in the Google/Facebook era.
I’ve got more conversations scheduled with them and will fill you in on their progress. It’s a big idea and I’m sure to learn more quickly. Meanwhile, this seems like the right team at the right time.
In The Know v 2.14
Five Links About Organizational Change
- The Organization Is Alive
From the Booz-Allen magazine, Strategy + Business. The degree to which we don’t understand our organizations can not be undertated. This rich piece describes the operation of four discrete but related systems that influence organizational behavior: the hierarchy, the network, the market and the clan. Each system behaves like an analagous aspect of the human body: muscles, brain, cardiovascular and endocrine. Art Kleiner is one of the era’s great thinkers on the subject of organizational function.
- When Online Communities Go To Work
Dion Hinchcliffe looks at enterprise software for ZDNet.
“Organizations are increasingly making larger industry plays using the community model, as we can see with the increase in investment into community-based talent management by Taleo just today for example.“
Taleo is betting that their Talent Grid communities will gain momentum and move the playing field. The article is a strong introduction to the business use of community in large business. A key question (unasked in the article) is ‘who should manage th community, HR?’
- The Shirky Principle
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
- Good Beats Innovative Nearly Every Time
Many executives are obsessed with innovation whether or not it actually makes sense in their particular case. There are two possible approaches: to innovate or to practice continuous improvement. Innovation is disruptive, continual improvement produces sustained results. It’s hard to do both well under the same roof. The former requires the breaking of rules; the latter can be proceduralized. Scott Berkun, one of the fast rising new stars of management consulting suggests a third way… simply making good stuff. Less glamour, more margin
- A Fundamental Shift in Talent Management: Will “Active Job Security” Replace “Passive Job Security”?
Ann Bares is amazing. She keeps compensation issues fresh and up front. In this piece, she lays out the two kinds of job security that organizations need to think about: “Passive Job Security”(where we are coming from) and “Active Job Security”(where we are going to).
“The bottom line is that attracting and keeping an engaged and productive workforce in the new reality will demand moving down both roads in tandem. But even more than that, failure to do this will ultimately alienate your very best workers first. That’s right. As you push the most talented and highest performers to be increasingly self-reliant and accept a growing proportion of the risk in the relationship, they’re going to start asking themselves (and rightly so) why it is, exactly, that they even need you. If another, more supportive employer doesn’t lure them away, a n entrepreneurial opportunity where the risk is coupled with a bigger upside will. Count on it.“
- The Information Society and The Information Economy: Great piece for the “question all of your assumptions pile. From the 1990s
- Beware of Vanity Metrics: Make sure you measure something that actually matters
- The Power of the First Follower: You are not a leader until you have one
Before we get to the winners I want to mention that the regular weekly HRExaminer will publish next Tuesday, April 13, 2010.
HRExaminer’s Blank Slate Contest Winners
On January 27, the day that the revolutionary iPad was announced, the HRExaminer began its “Blank Slate” challenge. The first contest anywhere to offer an iPad as a prize, “Blank Slate” solicited essays from HR practitioners about their approach to changing the dominant paradigm. The semi-finalist entries were published on March 19.
The contest was picked up and discussed at five prominent business schools. Several HR Departments used the templates and entries as a part of their strategic planning process. We plan to make this an annual event.
This first year was an extraordinary success.
The HRExaminer’s Editorial Advisory Board considered each application from a number of perspectives. Each submission was evaluated and ranked. Today we are announcing the winners:
First Prize: Thaddeus Figlock wins an Apple iPad for his kiosk approach to the development of employee performance.
Note: Before we get to the winners I wanted to mention that the next weekly HRExaminer will publish next Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Second Place: Lorena Perry will receive an iPod Nano for her submission that described a program that trained job candidates as a part of community development;
Third Place (tie): Josh Letourneau and Jonathan Hilley will each receive $75 iTunes gift cards. Josh’s idea involved refocusing HR on networks. Jonathan proposed broadly distributed recruiting responsibilities through mentorship programs.
Congratulations to the winners. Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry and to everyone who helped promote the contest.
What is e-recruiting?
The automation of the Recruiting process began in the early 1990s with the release of Restrac’s initial product. That process, which automates the administrative component of contemporary recruiting (sourcing, resume management, performance measurement, interview scheduling) is nearly complete after little more than a decade. Today, all sophisticated firms use automated sourcing and administrative systems to give their recruiters more time to focus on the harder chores of relationship development and deal closing.
E-cruiting is a catchall phrase that describes the process of gradual automation. Someone is using e-cruiting if their organization has automated all or part of the process. Like many technology introductions, this process has its twists and turns. What looked like breakthroughs (gathering resumes with spiders, posting jobs on the internet, sophisticated assessment and matching systems) have all amounted to brief competitive advantages an not a long term solution. It may be the case that Recruiting has become an automated function that nearly craves continuous improvement.
While there may be a “holy grail”, we haven’t seen it yet. Therefore, vendors of e-recruiting systems are going to continue to introduce novelty and speed into their products while they await a compelling vision. There is some reason to believe that the end state involves a profound transformation in recruiting: from reactive to proactive, from data management to relationship development, from meeting requirements to anticipating them.
In other words, Recruiting could be entering a phase in which the principles of inventory and supply management are applied to human beings. In that scenario, recruiting becomes a life-cycle relationship between potential employer and employee. Demographics, which suggest major labor shortages in all of the industrialized countries, support the notion that recruiting must ultimately confront total quality and just in Time inventory management standards.. Currently, there is no coherent map of the process although some interesting theoretical work is being done (outside of academia, of course).
As e-recruiting matures, a surprising dynamic is becoming obvious. The elements of successful workforce management, currently the province of the Human Resources Department, are being pushed towards dramatic overhaul. In order to effectively utilize increasingly limited human resources, the entire process of enterprise design and execution is being reshaped. E-recruiting is rapidly, though painfully and erratically, becoming the foundation of workforce design and execution. At a very profound level, e-recruiting has become the foundation of the newly emerging HR paradigm that focuses on effectively utilizing the talents of all who enter the organization.
Our sponsor Pinstripe, Inc. designs, builds and delivers high-performance talent acquisition and management solutions. Pinstripe’s innovative approach to Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) integrates sourcing, recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, and engagement into a complete, end-to-end solution. Pinstripe on-demand hiring solutions are tailored for specific clients across a spectrum of industries including financial services, healthcare, technology, telecommunications and other major industries. For healthcare organizations, Pinstripe Healthcare works with clients to attract the best available talent so they can deliver high quality patient care and reduce overall labor costs.
Top 100 v1.63 RD Whitney
Grit, determination and a smile go a long way towards building sustained influence. The intellects all assume that influence and smarts are somehow correlated. The truth is that it’s hard to trust someone who is busy being smart.
Influence has more to do with reliability and predictability than it has to do with transformative insight. Wisdom, like intelligence, is vastly over-rated by those who poses’s it. People are more likely to be moved and affected by certainty, a sense of purpose and regularity.
Think about the language that is so popular today. “Following your passion” or “finding your place” has everything to do with the way things feel. A large part of being able to influence taste and opinion boils down to the capacity to generate a feeling.
It’s easy to confuse focus on a goal that isn’t yours with irascibility or some other form of resistance. Truth is that sometimes what you’re doing isn’t very interesting or important. People who figure that out and more or less ignore you are simply working their own priorities.
A long time ago, when I was building a business near Macon Georgia, I learned about being ‘dumb as a fox‘. This is what my peers tried to explain to me about ‘that stupid guy who falls asleep in all of the meetings’. I assumed he was a bumpkin and wasn’t paying attention to the important stuff (namely, me).
Somehow, every time I made a move, there he was. I was young and trying to win by being smart. He was slow and un-busy which gave him enough time to be prepared. He just had no need to impress me. He loved to tell me that ‘old age and treachery will beat out youth and enthusiasm every time’.
I got to thinking about these experiences while I was talking with one of RD Whitney‘s business partners. “Let’s talk every Thursday until we figure out how to make money together, RD said. We did and ultimately came up with the current project.” Whitney is quiet, unassuming and just about ready to turn the marketplace on its head.
There are about a half dozen trade-show / media company executives in the HR/Recruiting industry. We’ve profiled a few of them in the Top 100 so far. Debbie McGrath, Bill Kutik and David Manaster (to name a few). On a personality level, they have so little in common that you may rest assured that the job doesn’t require a personality type.
You may have heard that OnRec purchased the corporate recruiting conference, website, content, and database media assets of Kennedy Information. The coup was engineered by Whitney who made nary a fuss as he scooped up the pieces of the empire of his former employer. Of all of the players in the game, Whitney looks most like a careerist.
Over the course of a two decade career, RD has mastered the art of building online community and making it possible. He ‘follows the money’ and has a unique capacity for identifying leverage and opportunity. He says of himself, “I connect the dots and find the opportunities”.
He’s worked with a number of B2B media companies: Thomson, IDG, Kennedy and, most recently, Tarsus. Tarsus, owners of the OnRec Brand and now Kennedy’s assets, are a massive global conference organization
Here’s the gist of RD’s empire, Tarsus Online Media(TOM):
Operating in the UK, USA, France and Germany, TOM comprises established online products in the events, merchandising, venues and online recruitment sectors. TOM continues to be an area of significant growth potential, with the launch of new online communities to connect buyers and sellers. The essential face-to-face business and networking taking place at trade shows and conferences is strengthened by online interaction.
The buyer/seller conversation increasingly takes place both off line and online. In addition, online media provides Tarsus with an ideal low-risk testing ground to penetrate new markets and geographies. The Tarsus Online Media division is responsible for generating profitable online media revenue streams and organic new development for game-changing online business models and new market exploration.
The division comprises a portfolio of online media products in key markets including the UK, USA, France and Germany. It operates established online products in the merchandising, events, venues, gifts, HR and online recruitment sectors. The growing Tarsus strength in online media is proving to open doors to new opportunities and uncover innovative media business models, whilst also supporting low-risk “bolt-on” growth of our various sectors. It enables us to turn our research and development efforts from a cost centre to a profit centre and to achieve our strategy of owning and managing the full spectrum of media in the sectors in which we operate.
Focus on Talent Management: With offices in Peterborough, New Hampshire, Tarsus Online Media supports a growing portfolio of educational and networking products in the talent management, HR and recruiting sector including Talent ManagementTech.com, Onrec.com, a web portal for the online recruitment industry, RetentionInstitute.com, TheRecruitingConference.com and now RecruitingTrends.com.
RD’s boyish charm and good looks are a powerful cover for the shrewd businessman below. Quietly, one piece at a time, Whitney is assembling a formal, global, recruiting, HR, talent management empire.