Aspire Global Network

New Aspire Logo and Group CompaniesOverhauling the business’ CRM system is no easy feat, yet many recruitment organisations continue to underestimate the scale of such a task. Indeed, many are under the impression that they can simply unplug one CRM system and seamlessly move to the next. A dangerous move, some may argue, when the potential risks to the recruitment business can be catastrophic.

For instance, if decisions are rushed on which CRM system to implement, or configurations are made without an appreciation of exactly how the specific business requirements will be met, the system will not meet the recruitment consultants’ needs, will not be used and productivity will not increase, or may even be reduced.

Quite a dilemma for recruiters who are constantly trying to keep ahead of the curve in such a rapidly changing marketplace.

One recruitment consultancy network, Aspire Global Network – comprising of six key recruitment brands – PFJ, The Graduate Recruitment Company, RPCushing, Periscope, Singapore based Aspire Global Network Asia and Sydney-based ICUR – has implemented a new CRM system, Bond Adapt v11, from stock market-listed recruitment & HCM specialist, Bond International Software.

Chris Chandler, CEO of Aspire Global Network, shares the advice he wished he’d had himself prior to starting the process of co-ordinating and replacing the five previously independent CRM systems and configuring the newly integrated Bond Adapt v11 to meet precise business specifications.

From distinct to integrated

The Aspire Global Network is made up of specialist UK-based creative media, marketing, market research and communications recruitment agencies PFJ Recruitment, RPCushing, and Periscope, one of the UK’s leading graduate recruiter’s, the Graduate Recruitment System, also ICUR, the Sydney-based specialist for media, advertising, creative and digital jobs and Aspire Global Network Asia with a focus on Digital, Advertising & Market Research. All six of these businesses, employing over 80 recruitment consultants, successfully went live with Bond Adapt v11 in August 2011.

The Aspire Global Network achieved a turnover of over £13 million in the financial year just finished and PFJ Recruitment has been a customer of various versions of Bond Adapt over the last ten years. Keen to expand upon the competitive edge that Bond Adapt provided throughout the business, Aspire made the decision to bring the five businesses, who had previously been using a variety of CRM systems, together onto a single database.

Chandler explains, “The past 24 months have been turbulent for recruiters and as a result, we have been left with an industry that is virtually unrecognisable from what we were faced with two years ago. We therefore knew that in order to take advantage of the instability, we needed to show a greater adeptness, speed of delivery and overall performance than our competitors. We quickly realised that this was a matter of the tools we were using.”

To help make the decision over which supplier to use, Aspire conducted a thorough market review of currently available recruitment solutions, taking close advice from a third party recruitment database specialist, Kamanchi. Chandler continues, “Any major investment needs careful consideration, so we asked Kamanchi to help us map out what we needed from our new CRM system, and importantly how to ensure we were meeting current and future requirements.”

After this period of consultancy and evaluation, Aspire was able to identify a number of key differentiators that set Bond Adapt apart from its competitors. Chandler continues, “We felt that Bond Adapt was superior to its rival solutions in its approach to configuration. Indeed, we were already aware of Bond’s excellent support and account management, and Bond Adapt proved itself to be the ideal latest technology as it can be configured in any area of the software or workflow immediately according to our precise business needs, which helps us maintain our competitive edge and retain our corporate personality.”

As with any large-scale IT implementation, the process required course corrections along the way. Chandler therefore outlines five top tips he has learned during the process of selecting and implementing a new CRM system.

1. Outline the business case early

Recruitment businesses need to identify exactly what it is they want to achieve, before they even decide the solution is implementing a new CRM system. If business objectives are not spelt out from the beginning, it is likely that the end product will be entirely different to what was envisaged – and needed – at the outset. This will prove hugely costly for the investors, and frustrating for the consultants on the front line.

2. Don’t be afraid to seek advice

Whether project managing in-house, through the supplier themselves or via a third party such as Kamanchi, seeking technical advice from someone who can translate the key business requirements into a technical specification will make it easier for the system provider to customise the right areas of the software in the right fashion first time.

Chandler comments, “We are by no means IT experts, but we wanted to ensure that the tools we were equipping ourselves with were sure to deliver upon our requirements. By ensuring that we took advantage of Bond’s experience and technical consultancy combined with business focus, whilst also using Kamanchi to provide project management support and guidance, we were giving ourselves the greatest chance of meeting our needs and therefore improving our processes and ongoing performance. In identifying the business requirements, organisations need to understand just how technical it can get, and so relying upon experienced heads to translate those needs into meaningful technology deliverables is often a job for the experts.”

3. Don’t shy away from dedicating time and resource to the project

Recruitment agencies must be prepared to dedicate sufficient time and resource to changing the CRM system, and before the project is even started, they must consider whether they can indeed afford to spend such time away from the main business.

Chandler adds “People often underestimate the cost to the business and the amount of time that they will have to dedicate to ensuring the project is a success. The best place to invest the time is in the defining of objectives, the initial selection process and the configuration process. Collaboration with an outsourced technology partner, such as Kamanchi, of course makes this easier, but putting the hours in is essential.”

4. Flexibility is key

In such a volatile and fast-moving market, recruiters must take a flexible approach to their processes and therefore their CRM systems. Configurations therefore have to tend to current and predicted needs.
Chandler comments, “What attracted us to Bond Adapt in the first place was the level of configurability in any area of the software or workflow that was possible, and the speed at which this configuration could be completed. Having to wait until a new version was put on general release would have delayed us hugely, but more importantly, the ideas and innovations that we devised with our supplier would suddenly have been made available to everyone, which would have put us at considerable risk of losing our competitive edge.”

5. Guarantee satisfaction

Recruitment businesses can get bogged down by always aiming to have the latest technology and software updates, but unless such investment delivers true value to the consultants using the product, there is little point in purchasing so frivolously. Instead, have open conversations with your teams and investigate what would make their lives easier and more productive – their involvement in the process helps deliver a useful end result, and ensures their buy-in from the outset.

Chandler concludes, “I am a firm believer in not just investing in systems for the sake of it – the turbulent economy we are today faced with determines that “nice-to-haves” are no longer an option. Instead, identify the solutions that are guaranteed to directly benefit the individual consultant, and make this intention the motto of the entire project.”

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