How Can HR Pros and Technology Vendors Work Better Together?

By Roy Maurer Apr 18, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla.—Successful vendor selection and management is a process that requires trust, engagement and clear objectives, according to a panel of talent acquisition professionals and technology service providers speaking April 17 at the TAtech Industry Congress.

“The talent acquisition industry is symbiotic,” said Jessica Miller-Merrell, HR technology blogger and moderator of the panel. “We all need each other, because working together well allows us to do our best work.”

As the recruitment process has become digital, and HR collaborates more with vendors, both sides have observed areas in need of improvement.

From the employer’s viewpoint, “Having a vendor that is proactive and authentic is really important,” said Jim Collins, senior director of talent acquisition for Ultimate Software, an HR technology company based in Weston, Fla. Collins said that there have been times when he’s gotten the aggressive upfront sell, then lost touch with the vendor. “It really comes down to trust and doing what you said you were going to do.”

2016 Talent Management Conference & Exposition
2016 SHRM Talent Management Conference

“Results and engagement, that’s what we’re looking for,” agreed Colleen Hughes, senior director of recruitment for Orlando, Fla.-based Miller’s Ale House, a chain of 72 restaurants in 10 states.

Hughes related an experience that speaks to the personal connection that develops between HR practitioners and service providers: “During implementation, we had calls, breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings. We had eight-hour days. It lasted for weeks, [the vendor rep] was my best friend during the implementation and it went great. Then she dumped me when we went live. I honestly felt like she broke up with me. I couldn’t even get her on the phone anymore.”

Hughes said that ultimately, she needs vendors to put the same level of engagement into the implementation of the tool after the deal is signed as they did before.

That desire for engagement goes both ways. “We can’t help clients succeed with our product if they won’t provide the necessary feedback,” said Mandy Schaniel, vice president of enterprise account management and support at ZipRecruiter, an online job distribution and job board service headquartered in Los Angeles. “There’s nothing worse than a customer who isn’t engaged. I’ve had the experience where it has taken three months to get the lists of markets they’d like to advertise in.”

Another problem, according to vendors, is clients that don’t listen. “We identified a bunch of problems with a new client’s plan before implementation, and told them our concerns, but they took none of our advice and did it exactly the way they wanted to,” said Ane Ohm, CEO of HarQen, a digital interviewing platform based in Milwaukee. “After a year, they came back to us and said it wasn’t working as well as they expected. We literally told them the things we said back at the beginning and [now] they’re thrilled about making those changes.”

Setting clear expectations, Schaniel said, requires attention to detail and advance preparation. “From our side, that’s knowing exactly what steps we are going to take, what the expected turnaround time is and who’s responsible for what, and then we let the client know about each step and what is required of them.”

Ohm added that during the collaboration, “we set up routine meetings and check-in points to make sure that all of those things we said were going to happen actually do happen.” Routine meetings are a great way to ask for feedback without assigning blame, she said. “It’s really important for us to know what the client’s goals and objectives are with our partnership and product.”

The thing that excites Schaniel the most about working with HR clients is when they know exactly what they want and can state it clearly. “That gives me clear metrics for success that I can prove. Flip-floppers upset me the most. I’m not a fan of goals suddenly changing midway through the project.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy


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