By Bobby Bartlett

The Problem

When I talk to staffing organizations, the most common pain I hear is that their technology stack is not able to deliver real-time insights into critical aspects of their business. The results of this are obvious: executives can’t make fully informed decisions about their business. I commonly hear that staffing leaders struggle to find true activity metrics for what their recruiters are up to in a given time period, actuals for gross margin on a deal, profitability for a certain time period, or strong forecasting insights. 

Some of the main reasons why this issue is so pervasive are as follows:

Data Silos

They have their CRM/ATS, onboarding, scheduling, time capture, invoicing, core accounting and financial systems, and payroll/HRIS basically all living in silos. This requires them to either integrate all these systems into a BI (Business Intelligence) tool to aggregate their data into one place but this is very difficult because in most cases, the majority of these systems won’t have a pre-existing integration with a BI tool. If this is your reality though, I would recommend trying to find a tool like Power BI or Tableau to get your data into for insights.

Lack of Integration

Building on the previous point, if you have a true “System of Record” with strong reporting capabilities, then your best bet would be to tightly integrate the systems around it. Bi-directional integrations with ERP solutions like Peoplesoft, Netsuite, Oracle, Dynamics, or even Quickbooks, are not common or easy to build. When evaluating solutions, make sure you ask vendors if they have referenceable customers using a bi-directional integration with your current or future general ledger/core accounting solution.

‘Out-of-the-Box’ Reporting

Most systems have reports that come standard with their offering, and some can even be tweaked on some level. These reports tend to be quite generic and limiting though. Even if the reporting suits your needs from a recruiting standpoint, you will also most likely need to be reporting on information from your GL, onboarding, timekeeping and invoicing solutions for true metrics. Don’t settle for a tool that cannot report on all facets of your business without having a BI tool as a backup solution or you will be in Excel hell.

The Solution

Begin with the End in Mind – When constructing a technology stack, staffing organizations often take a reactive approach instead of a proactive approach. It is most common to try to solve the problem directly in front of you rather than looking at the bigger picture. This creates something we call ’technical debt,’ and with too much debt, one can get themself in a lot of trouble. You need a big picture plan. Whether it is having a really powerful ‘system’ or ‘platform’ of record, like Salesforce, that has strong ad hoc reporting capabilities as a standard feature, or landing on a BI tool or data warehouse that you plan on being the final resting place for all your data, make sure you pick one or the other. Just recognize that you will always need new reports, dashboards, and ways to look at data, so having a strategy around how to do that will be critical in being able to make agile decisions in your business, and not driving your team insane with trying to figure out how to get 10 excel reports into one that makes sense.

Buy an Ecosystem

People get so caught up in the minutiae when evaluating systems that they easily lose sight of the bigger picture. If an ATS or system of record has all the gadgets you’d ever want and a solid API to integrate with, none of this will matter if there’s not a solid ecosystem of options for you to take advantage of. It will be near impossible to get that data on your own from those systems into a centralized place. If you’re interested in seeing what some of the categories are that a system of record should integrate with, then take a look at the categories drop-down on our partners page. It should give a strong idea as to what categories your vendor should be offering options for so you can keep your systems integrated and your data centralized.

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