By Tom Sarach, Jr – Vice President COATS

Avoid Costly – Often Hidden – Pitfalls

In good times and bad…all of us in the staffing resources industry are working harder and faster, leveraging the steady momentum of our industry. But, as we rocket through each day, we need to remind ourselves that with our growing investments in technology solutions designed to help make us ever more efficient, we need to understand certain rules of the road and avoid common pitfalls. Bottom line: We need to avoid purchasing systems that may not have the features and benefits business leaders expect.

Every day we need to find the right candidate for open positions quickly and confidently. Unfortunately, there is still a preponderance of failures in many applicant management systems that interfere with recruiters’ abilities to search candidate databases properly. Those same systems also don’t always reconcile accounts accurately or in a turn-key fashion that would streamline operations and accountability.

Increasingly, we are seeing staffing professionals apply more “strategic” approaches so that they can be sure an organization’s staffing needs are aligned with the short-term and long-term business goals and strategies, and to ensure that everyone with recruiting responsibilities can make the fastest, smartest decisions.

With myriad vendors in the market, including ourselves, we have seen too many cases where well-educated, well-intentioned staffing company leaders or business owners have bought what they were certain was a “perfect” solution, only to find they committed to something very different.

As a way to help business leaders make the right technology choices, we offer a few of the more critical dimensions in the purchasing process. Following are “5 Tips for the Technology Platform” to consider when you are considering changes or upgrades to your technology.

1. Easy to Use

Obvious, sure, but many of us have been unwitting victims of the “over sell.” When considering technology enhancements to managing staffing needs we want to be sure the people using the systems can do so easily. Make sure the software runs the programs that will make ordering, reporting and accountability as streamlined as possible. Before committing to a purchase make sure that the key personnel have a chance to road test the system in as close to a live environment as possible. You will want to be sure you can execute some of the basic search functions for resume search and retrieve, for example. You will want to be able to search by skill, experience, longevity and other features, so advance planning will help to determine the business requirements of the system will be invaluable in weeding out vendor options.

2. Stick with Windows-based Apps

Often purveyors of proprietary systems want you to feel the “custom sales vibe” that says, “you are special and I have exactly what you need…” That may be true for certain cases, but for the majority of employers and staffing services, you will want a broadly based platform that interfaces naturally with Microsoft products, which are the dominant business IT tools. The benefits include cost-effectiveness, ease of management, universal access and familiarity. The learning curve and training costs will not be as prohibitive as with customized systems.

3. Demand Scalability

Because the macro-economic and staffing market dynamics are volatile, subject to fast change, businesses will want to be able to scale staffing resource applications according to use and demand. Again, don’t over-purchase and over spec just because it feels good. Make sure you will have the versatility you will need to manage the front-end and back-end of the staffing equation. Can you generate the staff requisitions and the productivity reports you need, when you need? Will your system be able to support Multi-State, Multi-Region, Multi-Branch needs and volume of activity. Will it be able to process Workers Compensation reconciliations? Responsible and thorough road testing will be very useful in determining the real effectiveness of the applications.

4. Insist on CRM – Customer Relationship Management

It may sound like an overused phrase, but without reliable dialogue, metrics and responsiveness, super-system or not, you will suffer downtime and see your businesses productivity suffer. Make sure that you will be walking down the road with a partner in every sense of the word. You will want to know that they are capable of anticipating your needs. Will they be able to create customized reporting to meet your specifications? Will they “invest” some of their time and resources to help you meet your objectives?

5. Verify Niche Specialty Experience

Ask your technology partner for references that speak to their insights into your industry’s dynamics. Will you be able to tap customizable skill sets for niche industries? You will save costs and downtime if your staffing technology partner is someone you know understands the intricacies of your business.

While not exhaustive, if business leaders follow at least some of these fundamental guidelines, they will save themselves a great deal of money and frustration down the road. Best policy…eyes wide open!

Tom Sarach, Jr. is the Vice President of Operations for COATS, Inc., based in Virginia Beach, VA. He can be reached at 757-490-1700, and by email at

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