All aspects of the staffing process are supported and influenced by technology, and recent developments such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain are presenting staffing firms with an increasingly complex environment to understand. Not only is technology transforming existing products, it is creating a bewildering array of new products to consider.

Talent Acquisition Technology Categories

  • Applicant tracking systems
  • Background check verification
  • Community sites
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Employee referrals
  • Engagement platforms
  • Intelligent sourcing management systems
  • Interviewing platforms
  • Job aggregators
  • Job post optimizers
  • Online classifieds
  • Online staffing
  • People aggregators
  • Programmatic job ads/job distributors
  • Psychometric assessments
  • Recruitment chatbots
  • Recruitment marketplace
  • Resumé Parsing/Search-Match Tools
  • Skills tests
  • Social media job sites
  • Social media screening
  • Software integrators
  • Sourcing process automation platforms
  • Texting/email technology
  • Vendor management systems
  • Workforce analytics
Change is being driven by a number of factors: new discoveries, developments, advances and improvements in engineering; economic demand for solutions that can increase value and lower costs; and evolving generational expectations about what could and should be available for customers, candidates and internal staff.

New technologies are providing alternative ways for staffing firms to overcome structural flaws, making this a very important area to focus on given the efficiencies and cost-savings they will, increasingly, be able to provide. Staffing executives not only need to keep up-to-date with the implications presented by these new technologies, but they also need to cope with broader technology challenges such as integration, data security and even issues relating to disaster recovery/business process continuity. Making the right choices in these matters will be instrumental in determining which staffing firms will be successful over the next decade.

Business processes unique to the staffing industry are commonly organized into three main categories: front, middle and back office supported by enabling processes.

  • The front office comprises three interdependent parts: a customer relations management application; an applicant tracking system; and a requisition, order, assignment application.
  • The middle office is where timesheet and other work data are uploaded, processed and routed.
  • The back office creates and distributes invoices and also ensures that regulatory obligations are met — which can range from payment of taxes to submission of gender balance statistics. The back office will need to be underpinned with a sound financial system and an HR module.

These three core components are often referred to as the “applications” or “tech stack.” Any modern staffing firm, however, will tap into a broader tech stack that will additionally comprise:

  • A reporting solution
  • An office automation, messaging and communication suite
  • An e-interface for web-based transactional and information Services
  • Security services

All parts of the tech stack are important and need to be well-integrated so that the staffing firm can operate in the most efficient manner. The choices for front/middle/back-office systems alone can be overwhelming, especially for those firms operating large office networks across different staffing sectors and across different international markets.

The ideal system will have been custom designed and built for the staffing industry, fully supported in the country of its deployment, and will be an end-to-end product, of integrated front-, middle- and back-office modules, supported by a contemporary financials and reporting system. The ideal vendor will deliver this end-to-end solution as software-as-a-service and enable you to access and download your own data, as you require, for additional reporting and if necessary, migration to another platform of your choice.

However, the ideal system described above is by no means the only option, nor even the most common solution. And, in some cases, it might not make immediate financial sense to transition to this ideal. For example, you may have a front office being delivered by one SaaS vendor, the middle office being delivered by another, and you may maintain your back office as an on-premise installation. Such hybrid combinations are practical providing the applications are well integrated. The push to change occurs when existing on-premise licensed software becomes a problem, which may include:

  • The cost of maintaining on-premise applications is no longer sustainable.
  • The vendor is moving its products into the cloud, and support for the on-premise application(s) will be terminated on a certain date.
  • Your business has grown and you are seeking back-office applications that can manage increased processing.

An area that requires particular attention at the moment is the e-interface, which is the controlled gateway to and from the internet, enabling front-, middle- and back-office applications to connect to external services. It is here where staffing firms can use API integration to access thousands of different talent acquisition technologies that can extend and differentiate their businesses.

There is much innovation among talent acquisition technology vendors providing staffing companies with many opportunities to enhance their interactions throughout the candidate lifecycle. Artificial intelligence is acting as a catalyst making established products more effective while, at the same time, facilitating the creation of whole new categories of software.

The diversity of products and suppliers, as well as the speed of innovation currently occurring, underlines the highly complex environment the modern staffing CIO operates in.

There is another important reason why staffing firms need to master these numerous technologies. Each one of them is also directly available for clients to use in support of their talent acquisition programs. And, if clients become better at using these technologies than their staffing suppliers, then the role of staffing intermediaries is seriously undermined. The tech stack is not only the heart of your business but is also the battleground where the future of the staffing industry itself will be fought.

The “Staffing Company Tech Stack” report was published in January.