HR gets a dose of science

High-tech solutions for recruitment

Imagine placing an electronic order to hire an employee the same way a factory manager uses ERP software to order more parts for the assembly line. That's roughly what's happening at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

And the payoff is significant: The university is filling job openings two weeks faster than it once did and saving at least US$1,500 per job now that it's using Oracle's iRecruitment software.

The iRecruitment application, part of Oracle's E-Business Human Resources Management System (HRMS) suite, enables managers to electronically request a new employee and process applications. The software handles most of the time-consuming administrative work, including routing requisition forms to the appropriate managers and posting the job on the Web site. "We wanted to be able to open a job requisition in the morning and have qualified candidates in the afternoon," says Joe Tonn, director of HR information services at the university.

In fact, OHSU now has access to applicants within minutes of a job opening being posted to the university's Web site, and it fills those jobs in just four weeks instead of six or more. The university also recently added Oracle's Manager Self Service module for logging changes to employee status -- such as promotions or use of family leave -- and uses the Oracle Employee Self Service application for benefits management. Tonn expects to add software for performance reviews, succession planning and learning management over the next couple of years.

Large and midsize organizations such as OHSU are increasingly turning to these new types of employee management applications -- commonly called human capital management (HCM) or workforce optimization software -- to automate HR processes that used to be done manually, on paper or by e-mail. HCM applications can be purchased either as individual, niche products or as integrated suites containing most or all of the various HCM functions. Companies such as Oracle, Kronos, Kenexa and Lawson Software have been buying or building technologies to create broad HCM suites.

"Human capital management covers the whole discipline of managing the workforce, bringing them in and tracking them over time," says Christa Degnan Manning, an analyst at AMR Research in Boston. AMR forecasts a 10 percent compound annual growth rate through 2010 for the $6 billion HCM market.

Much of the market growth can be attributed to the upcoming retirement of baby boomers, which will shrink the pool of available workers, says IDC analyst Albert Pang. "Companies need to better automate their systems in order to identify employees they want to retain and then provide a career path for them," he says.

HCM tools automate time-consuming administrative tasks and provide analysis for strategic decision-making. Specifically, HCM applications can handle the following tasks:

Hiring

Sony Computer Entertainment America uses recruitment software from WorkforceLogic to automate its process for hiring contract workers.

Sally Buchanan, director of human resources at Sony Computer Entertainment, says the software is particularly useful for ensuring that hiring managers understand and comply with the legal distinctions between contract and salaried employees.

"When they requisition a contractor, they must answer a series of questions through the WorkforceLogic interface, and the application renders a recommendation on whether the position is best filled by a contractor or by someone on the payroll," says Buchanan.

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