Friday, March 16, 2007

R.I.M.S. Part 2

I can't give enough kudos to our Project Team for the work that they have done so far in our selection process. The research and preparation to date has been outstanding. Numerous resources were used to do the initial research. Interestingly enough, in my initial discussions with the Team, they thought that a internally-hosted client-server solution (as opposed to an externally-hosted ASP solution) would be ideal. They soon discovered however that most vendors were trending more towards the ASP model, if they hadn't abandoned client-server models all together. Pre-demo research also included office visits where Team members were able to learn the 'As-Is' and the desired situations from the key stakeholders of this technology (i.e. our recruiters).

The research was completed, we were fortunate to have sufficient funds budgeted to consider top tier vendors, and four of the best were selected to present proof-of-concept demos last week. To prepare for the demos, the vendors were provided 8 carefully-crafted scenarios that best represented the use of this technology by recruiters, candidates and hiring managers. A note on the scenarios: As carefully crafted as the scenarios were, we still underestimated what this technology could accomplish for us in a couple areas. The vendors for the most part helped us understand how automating certain processes that have been manual or Microsoft Office driven would be to our advantage.

BTW, earlier this week, Sarah listed her ATS demo pet peeves, here's a couple more:
- When you are asked to skip the 'sales pitch', please comply. A couple of our vendors insisted on giving a brief pitch anyway, and all I could think of was, "When are we getting to the product!" It's nice that you are profitable, but honestly, I care more about the demo. We will be basing our selection on the quality of your product, not how happy Wall Street is with you.

- When you are given scenarios to follow, prepare in advance and make sure you hit each item. That is what we are basing our evaluation upon. A couple vendors did quite well with this last week, where as for others, it seemed like this was the first time they had seen these scenarios. Not good.

The evaluation team for the demos consisted of the main Project Team, two additional IT staff, and four Recruiters from the field. We all assembled at our HQ in Bloomington, MN for the demos last Thursday morning. Over two days, each vendor was given three hours to run through the scenarios (research had already been done on the vendors and the technology piece was handled separately with our relevant IT staff). As the scenarios were played out, the evaluation team used a simple scoring scale to evaluate each step in each scenario, and provide an overall score at the end of each scenario. At the end of each demo, we had time to complete our scoring and answer qualitative questions. And at the end of each day, we had time to discuss the demos as a group.

Although each vendor was able to demonstrate most of our scenarios in similar fashion, there were also some clear differentiators. One of the key differentiators (and a huge issue for me) was the recruiter dashboard interface. We need our recruiters to feel completely comfortable using any system we choose, so a user-friendly dashboard will be a major factor in how we make our selection.

At the end of the second day, as a group, we listed out the positive and negative features of each system. At that point, we were all pretty much fried after two full days of presentations, but we were able to share our opinions and set a path for moving forward. That path moving forward included follow up actions with the vendors this week. We are very close now to narrowing down to a short-list of two. More on that next week.

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