Monday, February 20, 2012

Interview with CEO Bryan Ericson about the various motivations that drive electronic onboarding, costs and some of the key challenges

Why did Affirm Software choose to develop an onboarding solution?
The onboarding process for many companies is still heavily paper based, slow and inefficient, prone to errors, and incredibly slow and frustrating for the new employee writing the same information over and over again. With very few secure electronic onboarding solutions in the marketplace, we were asked to build a solution for a major Australian Financial Institution.

Our development product Revolve specializes in building business solutions where there are many paper forms, requiring similar information to be written, and the forms needs to be passed between many different parties who are often based at different locations. 
What do you think is the most innovative feature of the onboarding solution?
I have to say the way our system allows a HR colleague to dynamically assemble a tailored employment contract/letter of offer based on business rules, easily and quickly, and then distribute it to various people within the company for approval before making it available to the candidate, is very powerful.

What have you found to be the major driving factors for why a business would introduce electronic onboarding?
Whilst many businesses have similar reasons for implementing an electronic onboarding product, the priority order of these issues is wide and varied.
For example, for Professional Services industries such as an Accounting firm, a major factor is speed. When the process is slow and cumbersome, often your best and first choice candidate will have multiple offers and if a letter of offer is delayed by days and often weeks, companies may be forced to offer second and third choice candidates. The cost of this delay is immeasurable, but significant for businesses striving for excellence.
With Technology companies the image and culture is important and first impressions last. When a savvy, young switched-on candidate is faced with a cumbersome paper based onboarding experience, they can often challenge whether they have made the correct choice to join the business. Yet when they are welcomed with a highly efficient, user friendly internet based experience, their decision to join this business is reinforced as the correct one.
In Health Services, with the current shortage of skilled resources, they often find candidates are interviewed one day and start the next. The administration process of onboarding is often lagging behind the actual start date by many weeks, exposing the business to unnecessary legal and compliance risks. So speed for them is critical, not just for the employment contract execution but for the delivery and acceptance of critical business policies.
In Community based organizations such as churches, having a new candidate understand and agree to policies such as social media policies at the same time that they are accepting the Employment Contract is important.
All companies want to reduce the cost of onboarding administration but this is particularly important for Governments.

What is the cost of paper based onboarding solutions?
The cost of paper based onboarding varies by organisation, due to varied current business practices, but the costs to consider include labour administration/time, mistakes and errors, printing, mailing and courier costs, and lost productivity if a new starter’s environment is not set up on day one. These costs alone definitely exceed $500 per new employee and more likely exceed $1,000 per employee.
Actual costs don’t factor in improved employee retention and job satisfaction and productivity based on the onboarding experience, in addition to the costs of rehiring/retraining new employees when people leave.

What is the greatest challenge an organisation will face in introducing a business solution like HROnboard?
Our solution is fully electronic and completely eliminates paper and the need for signing documents. What I have found is this is a cultural challenge, not a legal issue. Many organizations that don't embrace change readily, often struggle with this move away from the use of signatures. It's usually one of the first questions I ask, "How do you think your organization will accept electronic approvals". If they are not confident, I know it will be difficult for them to gain approval.

What are some of the problems your electronic onboarding solution addresses?
We address many issues such as reducing a business process from often taking days/weeks to minutes/hours, significantly reducing administration cost by more than 500% and ensuring all new employees have read and agreed to company policies before starting with a firm.
But I have to say, I think the most important factor is that our solution allows the business to be ready to welcome the new employee with all the logistical business requirements set up for them to start their new role on day one. I have heard many horror stories about new employees arriving on their first day and no-one knows who they are. They have nowhere to sit, no computer and none of the facilities like desk or chair, etc to do their job.
Statistics have proven they people who have a poor experience in their early stage of engagement often will not stay long. Our solution will electronically inform all relevant parties of the new employees start date and integrate with the various Departments to arrange all aspects of the new employee’s working requirements, including an induction checklist for the Hiring Manager.

Does your system integrate with other HRIS systems?
Yes, we have already successfully integrated with NGA.NET's eRecruit software and our system data output is available for straight through processing into systems such as Payroll, as long as they have Application Program Interfaces (API) available.

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