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ATS Hides The Flow (Lean V)

(November 27, 2006) We were talking to Scott Dow, the CEO of the Empower Network about what he's learning as he fleshes out the realities of Lean Staffing.

Scott believes that the staffing/recruiting process has embedded indicators that can instantaneously tell you how you are doing at any point in the flow. For example, if your search produces two resumes when you try to source from online job boards, you can be sure that the cycle time will be longer than normal. On the other hand, if a search of your inhouse database produces 20 the moment you start searching, it's a a slam dunk.

Managing to these micro-milestones is an essential part of truly making a staffing workflow as productive as it can be. By making procedures highly repeatable and narrowly specified, enormous productivity gains are possible.

As we talked with Scott, He said:

"The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) hides the real workflow. The analytics built into the standard ATS are not intended to provide improvement capacity, they're designed to assign blame. While Recruiting Departments depend on ATS Analytics for a vision of the health of their processes, they are being led down the garden path. It's a shame that so much of what is improvable is hidden directly under the noses of ATS users."

"Every staffing manager uses an aging req report to manage the process. It lists requisitions in order of the date they were supposed to be completed. That's a lagging indicator. It shows you the consequences of what went wrong rather than helping you see systemic failure as it happens. An aging report is a litany of failure. Effective managers want to know what's happening before the deadline is passed."

"To proactively manage the workflow, you need to pull different reports to see where the hang-ups are, what the candidate flow is and so on. Systemic answers are not part of the ongoing horizon lines represented in an aging report. Real process improvement is only possible when there are specs and milestones for the sub processes that make up the recruiting flow."

"Sourcing methods are hidden in all of the ATS reporting we've evaluated. Sourcing strategy is instinctive and the process isn't managed for improvement and troubleshooting of the system. This leaves the hiring manager and the upstream department managers in the lurch until long after the failure has occurred."

There's no easy way to see the real problems and know whether you're on top of it

We've built a set of visual controls. We capture the req development process, the hiring manager calibration. The way that we manage the outsourcing process leads to improved analytics focused on system throughput. Our staffing velocity report is designed to continuously assess and drive cycle time and quality. One of the great things about TQM is it builds full accountability into the system including end of the relationship stuff."

As we've mentioned before, Scott and his Lean Staffing Managers are the first folks who we've seen rigorously apply TQM principles to recruiting. It's exciting to watch. It's even more exciting to see the vast levels of improvement that are really possible.

See the rest of the series:

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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