Aligning Technology to Business Outcomes in Staffing (Part 2)

ThinkstockPhotos-461037245When I was asked to share more about nemawashi (as featured in part 1 of this series), I did not hesitate as I know firsthand the benefits that I’ve seen in my life and while serving as the CIO at Apex Systems. Technology has significantly shifted the way that we operate in this industry, and created both challenges and opportunities to further differentiate and deliver value to our stakeholders.

I’ve used this concept of consensus building to ensure that we’re investing our resources into projects and initiatives that will deliver long-term success as this evolution continues. However, there are no shortcuts. Below, I share some of the milestones achieved and lessons I’ve learned along this path of aligning technology to business outcomes in hopes they will help you as you continue down your own journey.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Staffing Company Survey 2016: Time-to-fill rates and methods of calculation

Create a Solid Foundation

First, I don’t think I’d be as good at my job if I didn’t do what I do outside of work. The paradigm I’ve followed for most of my career has been to keep my personal passions (in this case, running) in parallel with my work objectives so they complement each other.

When I first started at Apex as a consultant, I identified a need to solidify the infrastructure to make sure it was stable and running well. This is one of the first orders of business for most organizations. For example, we had inconsistencies with PeopleSoft and I brought in a team to address this to ensure our consultants were being paid and clients were invoiced, both accurately and swiftly. We then moved to stabilizing internal infrastructure with virtualized desktops. We were working on one step at a time before developing the roadmap for the next six months. After these infrastructure updates were complete and stability resulted, the internal team was ready to up their game and brought me on as CIO on a full-time basis. In 2008 and 2009,the COO and I co-led an initiative to reimagine how we translated business requests into requirements. This revised operational approach was then used to find and implement a new ATS/CRM.  These were all necessary first steps down the path which really got us moving in the right direction in 2010.

You Have to Let the Race Come to You

Drawing on my passion for running marathons, I believe that you often need to be patient and let the race come to you. Where I saw the “race coming to me” — as it relates to building alignment between technology and the business — was more with our digital strategy and the growing need to do more with our candidate and jobs databases (including mobile access to them). This was impacting many aspects of our business, from updating resumes in our database to providing flexibility for internal team members to work how and where they wanted to. For instance, giving our growing workforce the ability to sit wherever they wanted in our own offices and connect to wireless on their own devices with their own phone extension at that desk via Citrix was a huge benefit (in addition accessing your full desktop in the comforts of your own home via Citrix).

Mobilizing our workers was the tipping point as which my business partners started coming back to me for help in changing the mindset on how this technology was differentiating for our business and culture. We started implementing even more processes to support this mobile mindset and accelerate our workforce with faster access to our systems. Our technology team aims to give the right tools to our users, with them leading us to what they need. We are also out proactively having conversations, but the feedback from getting these tools in users’ hands provides a really good starting point.

Building Stronger Teams, Both Internally and Externally

After the foundation was set and we had launched several initiatives based on the demonstrated needs of the business, we looked towards continued improvement. Part of our roadmap and growth involved setting up SLAs for our apps, for our infrastructure, network, help desk, etc., and measuring these consistently. Some of our partners asked us to educate them on our metrics-based approach, so we were fortunate to share this model and then reap the benefits provided by our suppliers. This ensured that as Apex grew, our partners could also support us at the level we needed.

I’m not going to tell you I have it all figured it out. It’s been a journey because we’ve built a lot and evolved over time. From a technology team standpoint, we’ve let some of it come to us – and when we did have this patience, the business did come to us. We made it indelible by putting a process together to embrace and support growth. Although my IT shop executes well at an industry best-in-class “spend as a percentage of revenue” number, I know it’s also about your accountability to the bottom line for the business and I watch our impact on EBITDA very closely.

MORE: Lead by giving your workforce options

Rob Waddell

Rob Waddell
Rob Waddell is SVP and CIO of Apex Systems. He can be reached at rwaddell (at) apexsystemsinc (dot) com.

Rob Waddell

Share This Post


Related Articles

Powered by ·