The VMS Derby: Is Your Staffing Firm Falling Behind?

By: Tim Arnold |
May 3, 2016

Like the iconic Kentucky Derby, where champions are made in just 2.5 minutes or less, an advantage of mere seconds can make all the difference in staffing today. Is your staffing firm racing to win? It all depends on how you are keeping your ATS up to date and whether you are depending on recruiters, account managers, admins, offshore resources or automation to get you across the finish line. Let’s examine the complete field of competitors—just as though we were profiling contenders at this season’s Kentucky Derby—and consider which ATS support solution is the one your staffing business should bet on.

Renegade, the Recruiter
If recruiters are who you rely on for ATS accuracy and updates, you have chosen a competitor with some strong advantages. First, recruiters are instinctive racers and talent placers. They know what they are looking for in job orders and which ones they can place the fastest. Recruiters are also motivated: they want the ATS data to be accurate and up to date because their success hinges on the number and quality of candidates they place.

Now let’s consider the downside. Recruiters often focus only on the jobs they know they can easily place. That means they will not be thorough in getting all the VMS jobs into the system. It’s hard to expand your partnership with clients if you are only recruiting and placing the same narrow set of positions. It’s also hard for recruiters to do the critical work of developing relationships with candidates and key talent populations if they have large data entry responsibilities and need to keep VMS and ATS data aligned. And the final consideration has to be accuracy. Like any hardworking professional, recruiters are susceptible to human error in the data entry process—duplications, oversights and lost data.

Admiral, the Account Manager
Perhaps your staffing firm is betting on the profile and strength of Account Managers to win the race to keep VMS job orders and your ATS aligned? After all, Account Managers oversee client relationships and have high standards for service. Though they are often strapped for time, they are also committed to keeping recruiters informed of every potential job requisition and placement opportunity. That ambition to do the most for every client is what you want from your chosen contender; however, it can also be the reason many Account Managers work around VMS and ATS systems to get clients what they need. They want to make the client happy no matter what, but rogue job orders are impossible to track and hard to bill.

Another challenge that comes when Account Managers take responsibility for VMS data is slowdowns. Overburdened Account Managers lose essential time they need to focus on new business development and other leadership and strategy work. It can slow business progress while derailing solid client relationship management and maintenance efforts. And while human errors occur whenever people are put in charge of moving data between systems, Account Managers often have even less time than recruiters to focus on the work, which increases the rate of errors and inaccuracies.

Abracadabra, the Admin
If data entry errors are a major problem, many firms look for a sure bet and choose admins to oversee the VMS to ATS data transfer. After all, admins are often the most skilled data entry pros in an office environment. While it doesn’t mean they are perfect (human error is a constant you have to account for), admins are trained and accustomed to data entry work.

On the downside, other operational support lags behind when administrative resources are dedicated to managing the VMS to ATS data management process. In addition, there is a lack of incentive for admins. While recruiters are hustling to place talent and Account Managers are eager to see their clients happy, admins do not have additional incentives for keeping the ATS up to date. Because it’s not a high priority, the work can take longer and human errors still play a role.

Mirage, the Offshore Solution
One of the newest entrants to the VMS to ATS Derby is offshore providers who manage the data entry at an affordable price for staffing firms. It’s an effective way to take the data entry pressure off of internal talent (recruiters, account managers and admins) and many staffing firms are attracted to the low price and focus on high speed.

The key here is to remember that it can’t solve one of the constant challenges we are seeing among all competitors in this horse race: human error. Offshore providers are people. They too will make mistakes and there are limitations to their speed. For example, offshore data entry can take anywhere from two to 24 hours. While it’s far faster than relying on busy recruiters and managers, it’s slower than automation technology and gives competing firms a solid window of opportunity.

Some staffing firms also miss the oversight that comes when VMS to ATS updates happen inside their organization. One final consideration is the increased risk that comes when job order data is subject to the challenges and limitations of another location (weather, political climate, technology issues, etc.), which can affect performance and deliverables.

Victorious Ride, the VMS Automation Technology
The final competitor in this race to ATS excellence is technology—the VMS automation tools that are taking people (recruiters, admins, account managers and offshore resources) out of the VMS Derby altogether. One of the primary advantages here is of course speed. VMS job orders can be instantly updated to the ATS, using just seconds to do what can be hours of work for a staffing team. Fyre Sync, for example, updates VMS data to the ATS in an average of 10 seconds, whether there is 1 or 1,000 new jobs to move over from the VMS.

Embracing automation technology is also the way to eliminate human errors, ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data and allow for performance reporting related to placements and activity. These reports can be used to boost SLAs and scorecard results, which is also a gateway to greater opportunities. Leading MSPs, like Guidant and ZeroChaos, tend to expand a staffing firm’s access to lists when scorecard results are strong.

The time and investment costs that come with implementing a new tool are the challenges facing businesses as they consider automation. Whether it’s worth it, depends on the time and resources a staffing firm puts into manual ATS and job order updates. Many will find that the hours saved, errors eliminated and reporting tools make VMS automation today’s Triple Crown winner in ATS management. However, as with any technology solution, you have to fix underlying problems (duplicate company records in your ATS or nonsensical categorization systems) for VMS automation to work.

The Race Is On: Pick Well
As the race for talent and opportunities continues to intensify for staffing firms, every advantage is worth consideration. When it comes to VMS automation, will you stay on the sidelines, will you race from behind or will you lead the pack? Make your pick. The race has already begun.

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