Monday, September 07, 2009

R&A Software Failures Hurt Taxpayers, Too

We tend to think of successes and failures of applicant tracking systems and other recruitment- and assessment-related technologies as impacting businesses--much of what's written is about large organizations such as Microsoft and Google and what software they decide to adopt.

But public sector organizations are using these technologies as well. And when they fail, it hurts not only the organization but taxpayers as well.

Case in point: the state of Washington recently decided to abandon their efforts to implement SAP E-Recruiting after nearly three years and millions of dollars. The state will now go with a hosted solution which is estimated to be $700-800,000 a year cheaper (and hopefully much easier) to maintain.

Having been ringside for some of this, I can tell you the problem was not with motivation or energy, or even IT knowledge. I suspect that a lion's share of the problem was related to the complexity of the program. This would match reports I've read that a significant number of organizations are moving away from single-vendor HR solutions and going with simpler, targeted products. It's also possible that businesses find it easier to implement these programs because resources (particularly internal experts) are easier to move around and buy-off is easier to obtain.

I wish them luck on their next purchase, and hope they do due diligence in their research (you can often find others who have had problems). Some type of audit may help them determine exactly what went wrong and how to prevent it the next time around. It's not just a matter of time, energy, and expense on the part of the organization, these failures impact applicants, hiring supervisors, HR staff, and ultimately taxpayers.

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