The more confidence we have in the data that we use to guide our business decisions, the faster we can make good, well-informed decisions. Managers may have a deep appreciation for performance data, but few are in a position where they have complete confidence in the numbers. For those plagued with data quality issues, the desire for data-driven management can sound like an unobtainable state of nirvana.
In the staffing industry, we want to track key activities throughout the sales and recruiting process so that we can understand how activities drive gross margin. We want to focus and motivate individual producers by setting activity and performance goals that will deliver the desired impacts. High quality, real-time data is the ante, but many firms are drowning in poor data and stuck in a “garbage in, garbage out” rut.
What recruiters need is recruiting software that doesn’t allow them to enter bad data, makes them more efficient in their day-to-day activities, and tells them how well they are doing relative to their activity and performance goals in real-time.
There are many things that your recruiting software can do – and should be doing – to ensure high quality data, and to enable effective and meaningful data-driven management:
- Establish a culture that values data quality. Establishing and enforcing an “if it didn’t happen in the system, it didn’t happen” policy can be extremely effective, especially in the commission-driven staffing environment. With this approach, recruiters will enter their activities into the system so that they count toward performance requirements. The catch is that recruiters may not enter their activities at the time they actually occur, which creates high-quality activity data but poor-quality timing information. Accurately capturing both the activities and the timing of those activities is vitally important so that staffing firms can measure and improve cycle times. A corporate culture that values timely and consistent data underpins every successful data quality effort.
- Real-time goal tracking. When performance tracking and reporting occurs weekly, for example, recruiters are often motivated to enter activity data into the system the moment before the report is run; data entry becomes an admin function and data quality goes down. Software that provides end users with access to real-time performance data, including where they stand relative to their manager’s goals and peers, motivates recruiters and sales staff to actively use the system.
- Clear record ownership. Clear record ownership places the responsibility for data quality to a specific individual or group. By having visibility and a vested interest into their book of business, recruiters and sales staff are more active and engaged data stewards.
- Auto renew and auto expire ownership. When users are required to enter activities in order to gain and retain ownership over prized candidates, companies, contacts and/or positions, they will do it. Your staffing software should be able to help by automatically reminding recruiters when ownership is about to expire and by automatically expiring ownership when the rules of engagement have not been met. Data quality is improved with a direct link between data entry of activity and the recruiter’s book of business.
- Workflow to automatically update data. Enterprise staffing software, like Erecruit, that can automatically change key data elements (e.g. candidate status) based on user activities has a tremendous impact on data quality. For example, the system can be set-up to change the candidate status to Screened once a Screening Note has been entered. This automated approach not only improves recruiter efficiency, it dramatically improves data quality accuracy.
- Progressive required fields. If recruiters have to have all of the data needed to pay candidates and bill clients when they simply want to create a position, it’s highly likely that they won’t create the position in the system until after they’ve filled it. Your software needs to minimize the mandatory fields needed to create new records and progressively add mandatory fields as that record advances toward the pay/bill process.
- Utilize trusted 3rd Party data sources. Trusted data sources can be utilized for a one-time data clean-up, or integrated with the recruiting solution to keep data up-to-date over the longer term.
- Establish strong keys to link data between systems. Defining strong data keys between integrated systems helps ensure data quality across linked applications. Selecting data keys that won’t change over time as new systems are introduced and retired strengthens data quality over the longer-term. If you continue to manually enter data into downstream systems, establish synching processes to keep the data in check.
- Streamline candidate data entry and updates. Parsing in the candidate resume, requesting or requiring that an online application be completed, and allowing candidates to update data via self-service web portals are obvious approaches to outsourcing candidate data entry to the candidate.
What’s even more important than the initial creation of the candidate record is keeping candidate data fresh and up-to-date. Up-to-date availability information is the most valuable data for temp staffing. Leveraging bulk texting, bulk voicemail and bulk email functionality eases the challenge of getting your hands on accurate availability data. Additionally, staffing software that automatically add skills and work history as candidates gain experience is also a plus.
- More custom fields. Many recruiting systems offer too few custom fields, which drives the misuse of existing fields and results in data quality issues. While some may still capture the antiquated FAX number (ahem…Healthcare Staffing), this is an example of a field ripe for misuse. I know one staffing firm that resorted to keeping Facebook URLs in the FAX field so they can use the data for searching and reporting. Modern recruiting systems offer an unlimited number of custom fields which enables sensible data entry, and supports searching and reporting using the correctly-named fieldname.
- Efficient editing. For commonly-updated data elements, your software should allow recruiters to quickly and easily edit data directly from search results screens, saving them from clicking into the record to update data. Making it easy for recruiters and sales staff to correct and update data improves data quality.
- Robust de-duping. One of the biggest data quality issues can be the number of duplicate records in a system. When creating records, leading recruiting solutions detect duplicates and present potential matches, making it easy for recruiters to avoid junking up the database.
- Controlled merging. When duplicate records have been created, your system should have fool-proof features for intelligently-merging records. The system should allow the power to merge to be put in the right hands, but merging should not be so difficult that a call to IT is required.
Once you have a recruiting system that is helping you to drive data quality, there are additional operational activities that your firm can undertake to ensure a high level of data quality such as:
- One-time manual or semi-automated data clean-up initiatives.
- Routinely purging data. Volumes of old and unused data creates clutter that reduces efficiency and lowers end user confidence in the database. A routine purge is beneficial for data quality.
We can all agree that leveraging automation to drive a quality data-in, quality data-out culture is the most effective and efficient approach. There are a wide variety of quick wins and more strategic opportunities to improve the quality of your staffing and recruiting data, we encourage you to get started on crafting and implementing your data quality improvement plan today.