If there’s one thing you can count on from me, it’s that I’ll always give it to you straight.
Although this character trait has certainly gotten me into some trouble, I’ve found that most people appreciate an honest answer. The same goes when staffing firms ask me what they should be looking for when they buy staffing software. I never hesitate to refer them to fellow software vendors if I believe it will be a good fit for them.
But, in my experience, the staffing firm that makes its technology selection based on its confidence in the COMPANY will end up the happiest – today and in the long-run.
So, why do I believe the company is more important than the software product itself?
1) You’re not buying software for today; you’re buying it for five years from now. A provider that will be there for your business down the road is even more important than what they do today. Similarly, your staffing buyers hope to partner with you for their long-term procurement needs. In the example of software, the COMPANY is responsible for keeping up with:
- new market technologies
- industry and technology trends
- solutions for the demands of the marketplace
2) Conflict will inevitably occur. Even the most fine-tuned firms will experience issues with their clients from time to time. Your own staffing company may be service-oriented, but you’ve likely encountered difficult situations with clients. How you handled those situations impacted the quality of your relationships. The key is to align with a partner that you feel confident will respect your interests and that you can productively work through issues with.
3) Development Influence. The staffing market changes quickly, and your firm evolves just as fast. Even after you have implemented a software solution, your needs may change. You want to look for a firm that you trust will welcome your input and that will respond with product upgrades that match your needs. Likewise, your clients will experience business changes over time, and they depend on your firm to adapt quickly to these transformations.
4) Support. No product is self-sustaining. And it’s when an issue arises that you call the COMPANY for support. If there is an issue with your product (staffing talent) – such as an employee didn’t show up for an assignment – your clients look to you to effectively respond with a solution. The people that represent a company have a direct impact on the quality of the service delivered. If you’re not comfortable with its people, you’ll eventually become dissatisfied with a company’s product.
5) Look for Integrity. If the company and its people don’t exude integrity you can respect, they may not be the vendor you want to form a relationship with.
Although the company behind the product ultimately dictates what that product will become, it is of course important to evaluate the merits of the software product itself. The following are some additional guidelines for staffing software buyers to follow:
1) Know what is important to you before you begin the evaluations. Factors to rank might include:
- System price. Establish a budget and be informed of all potential expenses: What will the implementation cost? Does the firm charge support fees? Do they charge for upgrades?
- System scalability. If growth is in your business plan, be sure the software you select can accommodate it.
- System cohesion. Check for integration between the front office, back office, web portals and email applications.
- Business size. In my opinion, the size of your firm can dictate the evaluation factors:
- For smaller firms: price and ease of use.
- For high-growth, technology-driven firms: a vendor that will keep-up with new technologies, a flexible system architecture, software scalability and easy feature customization.
- For larger firms: consistent stability, breadth of functionality, and scalability.
2) Get to know the system – before you buy. First, ask the vendor for client references; hear what your staffing firm colleagues have to say. Then, test drive the system. Working in the application is the only way to fully discover what the software can do.
Still, the number one factor is the answer to the question in this article’s title: What’s more important, the company or its products? Reflect on your own business practices; your long-term customers stay loyal because of the service and partnership you provide them, not because you have better talent than your competitors.
So my answer to the question is this: the COMPANY behind the product is more important than the product itself.
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