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My Business Head in the Cloud

I’ve focused my 15 year career on and around recruiting technology.  I was around when the first scanners were brought in house.The scanners took up an entire desk and you were excited to scan one resume at a time and hopeful the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) would work well enough to at least get the basic contact information correct.  In the dark ages we didn’t have email, and the internet was only for the true technology insane.

My Business Head in the Clouds

A lot has changed in that 15 years, and as President and Co-Founder of my own business (for the first time I might add), I have been thrust into the broader market of new innovative, SaaS, Cloud, Web 2.0, ‘point and click’ solutions. The induction of researching, testing, (trial and error) with these solutions has produced an entirely new perspective on the baseline standard for innovation I expect to see in the recruiting products over the next 6 – 12 months.  Outlined below is  a sampling of the business applications my business partner and I  have experimented with over the last 6 months. The irony is, each and every one of these could add value to the recruiting process in various ways. Personally, I’m just delighted to be using them to organize and manage my business.

First application we signed up for was an accounting product. We opted to try Freshbooks for the 30 day free trial. We found very quickly that it was perfect for our needs. The user interface is simple enough that without any training – you can create your company account, build your client lists, determine your payment structure, and even configure the colors/branding to use your company design pallet, all in about 30 minutes. We have evolved our use of the application to integrate with our team’s individual accounts and manage our accounts payable and accounts receivable all from the same single user interface.  Once we realized we were set to pay resources and manage client billing we moved to identify a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool.

The product we selected was JavelinCRM – now called CapsuleCRM. They offered everything we needed and had the same user experience model of Freshbooks – free registration for 30 days, and quick and easy set up. Our favorite features in this application were the ability to upload all of our contacts in three steps, the assignment of a direct email box that filed content sent to the site based on the email attributes, and attachments to the person/company, opportunity/case. We can easily calculate the time and money saved, just by having the basic functionality enabled. The bonus: CapsuleCRM also integrates to Freshbooks for us. Once an opportunity is closed/won, with a click we send all of the information over to Freshbooks to start a client account – including the billing expectations, contacts etc. No data re-entry.

The next application we invested in was TripIt. As a consultant and market analyst, I’m on the road 3 out of 4 weeks a month. Maintaining a full travel agenda, changes, multiple clients, events etc is impossible to do on email, outlook or Google calendar.Tripit consolidates it all for me. They also leverage the “forward to” capability and travel plans are updated automatically. Tripit is now the hub for all of our travel plans, and anyone that needs to know where we are, can find the details easily.

The newest application for us is an expense management tool. We chose ExpenseCloud and are really getting comfortable with their capabilities. Not only do they manage the corporate credit card expenses items (permission based) but they integrate with Tripit -which feeds our trip details and creates a natural grouping of expenses based on dates and event. They also integrate with FreshBooks – allowing us to assign specific client account names/fields and quickly pushing my expense statements back to freshbooks (including receipt images) for payments.  This application, much like CapsuleCRM, had an immediate ROI for us. There is nothing I procrastinate more about than filing and submitting my expense reports.  In the past, the time to scan the receipt, organize them, separate them and file, created a real drain on my time and energy. The features ExpenseCloud offers with email receipt submission, photo capture from your phone, and inserting cash expense line items via text or email… not to mention the intuitive nature of associating receipts with the expense item.  It’s a tool I can no longer live without!

We are continuing to experiment with calendaring/scheduling products like Timebridge and Tungle. We’re narrowing in on a mind mapping product and new project management solution. We’ll share our decisions as we make them.

If you’re a recruiting staffing professional you might be to the point of wondering what on earth any of this has to do with recruiting technology… and that’s a fair question.

All of these solutions are innovative in their broad business category, and yet each is critical to recruiting as well:

A. Account Management (invoicing/cost/revenue) – Every recruiting organization manages multiple vendor relationships everything from agencies, assessment providers, background providers, contractors, and so on… Asking several dozen heads of recruiting to catalog the vendors they have contracts with, the terms of the contracts and the terms of those agreements, left 90% of them frustrated with where to find and manage this kind of information.

B. CRM – Customer/Candidate Relationship Management – Almost every organization has either implemented or is considering a CRM (candidate relationship management) based solution for recruiting. If you don’t know what you want or need, what better way to experiment than a free trial of a CRM based product. Just don’t get so hooked that you change their business model.

C. Travel Coordination and Management – Most of the larger organizations have travel teams that manage the candidate travel efforts, but some don’t, and the recruiting coordinator is left to book travel, confirm hotel, and all of those pieces. Tripit is free for the basic service and allows one person to create the trip for someone else traveling. How valuable would it be for your applicants to get the link to their itinerary in one web window, including office map (easy to load) agenda for the interview (also easy) and all of their confirmation codes. Again typically corporate travel tools have this – but I’ve also found that most corporate travel notifications get extracted in TripIt perfectly.

D. Expense reimbursement – I can’t stop thinking of the time spent working with applicants after the interview to reconcile the expenses. Hotel charges, airfare, meals etc.all require receipts for reimbursement. How much time would you save in coordinator/administrative time in managing the applicant expense reimbursement if you were to just have them take a picture and upload the receipt to the trip file?

My longer term vision for the recruiting technology space is to see these types of easy to use (real ROI and time saving solutions) integrated into the core talent acquisition systems.  We’ve missed the mark on expense tracking for all recruiting expenses, we’ve never tackled the interview full logistics, and we’re still testing CRM capabilities… I’m delighted to say that with the innovation out there in the market today… we have a lot to expect and look forward too from our recruiting technology providers in the near future.