With over 500 live clients, we have seen our fair share of successes and challenges in bringing staffing companies live on Avionté. In 2017 alone, over 145 firms chose to convert from a legacy platform to Avionté and our learnings are extensive. While there are obvious factors that will contribute to a project’s success (setting proper expectations, providing adequate resources, consistent communications, etc.), there are potentially some less obvious areas that are equally as important.
Get your terminology straight
There are thousands of staffing firms and hundreds of vendors providing services to them and we would suggest to you that everyone seems to have a unique description for everything. Common words like ATS, Front Office, Back Office, CRM, Employee, Candidate, Order, and Customer have different meanings and connotations in every staffing firm. It is critical to start any engagement with level-setting on what each term means, so we recommend creating a Glossary of Terms so that everyone involved knows what words mean in the context of how the firm operates and the vendor configures the final solution.
Software won’t cure every ill
Many of our customers come from software platforms that are 10-20 years old. Frankly, the newer platforms like Avionté and others have the capability to handle the needs of today’s growing firms. That said, too many firms spend all their time evaluating the latest and greatest features and functions and not enough time on assessing organizational process change. Clients that look at new software solely with the vision to re-create their existing processes using modern technology usually fall short of truly gaining the maximum return on their investment.
One of the learnings we have had is that new clients often lack the skill sets and experienced resources to facilitate organizational change. To that end, for 2018 we have partnered with an Organizational Change consulting firm called Strategic Value Partners (SVP) that helps our new clients with their own internal change management. The added level of resource will help our clients set themselves up to maximize the ROI from the advanced functionality they are purchasing through their investment.
Underestimating the time and effort involved
No one likes to change software and ideally, there would be a magic wand to move from platform A to platform B. It is true that with the project management tools available today and data conversion technique, it is easier than ever to convert. But don’t confuse that with “easy”.
The best analogy we provide to clients when thinking through the work involved in a software conversion is to compare it to moving into a brand new modern house after living in the same old house for 20 years. In that scenario, like software, even if you have hired a moving company you still have critical work to do! What do you want to keep or throw away? How do you want things arranged in the new house? How do you plan to fill the empty rooms in your new place? Do you need to paint before you move in? All of these considerations and effort are analogous to moving to a new software platform. Yes, vendors such as Avionte are “moving companies” that will certainly make things easier, but to truly get set up properly you need to be an active participant in the process.
The reality of the staffing business
Every client goes into the implementation process with the best intentions. No busy firm spends time defining requirements, evaluating multiple software providers, or negotiating contracts with the intent to elongate implementation unnecessarily. That said, staffing firms are filled with very busy people that are focused on “their day jobs” and can easily get sidetracked for extended periods of time working in the business.
Firms consistently ask us to “implement as fast as possible” only to get sidetracked by everyday issues throughout the process. Most staffing firms do not have procurement departments or a PMO office so there is inevitably a start/stop nature to any conversion. This is natural, and nothing to panic about. Rather, it is a reality of business and one both parties should take into consideration when planning the key dates in the project.
The trappings of customization
The longer our clients were on a previous platform, the more likely it is they have “customizations” built into their software. It is very tempting to believe that those customizations are mission critical to the success of your business just because “that’s the way it has always been”. Most modern software platforms, especially those delivered over the web, are built to be configured but not customized. Understanding the distinction between the two will go a long way in helping your firm create the very best end user environment. The temptation in asking for the software to be modified exclusively for you makes sense, but Clients often don’t think through the problems that arise down the road when it comes to customer support.
Configuration options represent the ability of your new software to be set up to accommodate unique aspects of your operations, yet maintain the ability to be supported by a centralized team of experts. You absolutely want to create the most effective end-user environment for your people that will optimize their productivity. Experience shows that the more you can work within the capabilities of the software, the higher likelihood of long-term success.
In the end, it’s a people business
Lastly, the ultimate success of the implementation will come when the organization and the individuals fully embrace the change and take ownership of the outcomes. At Avionté, we have built an entire online library of content for new clients as well as Avionté University which guides new people through key aspects of the software. We provide both online and in person training for our new clients in the beginning as well as on-going.
While all of these tools and resources are great, nothing matters if our Client’s people aren’t involved. Executive support and project leadership are critical, but working closely with the everyday end users and engaging them for cooperation and input to the end solution is imperative. The decision to implement a new solution for an organization that is needed to support a firm’s long-term goals may need to come from above. However, careful attention needs to be paid to engaging everyone in the company to galvanize around the new offering. Just like staffing in general is a people business, it is ultimately the people that will make the project a success or not.
For over a decade, Avionté has been providing innovative, fully-integrated front and back office staffing software solutions throughout the U.S. and Canada. With a strong focus on building great partnerships along with leading solutions, Avionté services over 550 customers and nearly 15,000 users.