Thursday Dec 26, 2013

No Lump of Coal for Me

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

The kids are growing up so now we seem to buy fewer presents for each with higher price tags. And it's all about electronics. As of December 23rd, headphones and speakers accounted for 13% of the $8B consumer electronics purchases this season. I did my part, purchasing some decent over the ear headphones for each of my sons. Oh, and a tablet for my wife. My daughter prefers clothing and her annual gift of Ugg boots from Santa. Like I said, the price tags are higher but at least I can be sure that there won't be another box of discarded toys sitting in my garage waiting for the spring trip to Goodwill.

My big present from the whole family was a Blu Ray Home Theater Surround Sound System. I'd been saving up my rock 'n roll band earnings to replace the last blown out system but at the rate I was going, I wouldn't have a new one until May of 2016. All my other gifts were from REI including an intriguing BioLite Campstove for my planned Colorado Trail llama trekking experience. All Christmas Day, I had to suppress the desire to abandon our guests and sneak out to my patch of forest to tinker with my it.

We spent the whole day being amazed at and discussing the innovative features of our gifts. The campstove burns twigs for cooking and stores electricity as a byproduct to charge you phone and GPS. The headphones have interchangeable parts so that you can customize them to your preferences. Completely wireless surround systems are still priced way out of my reach but my new system does feature wireless connectivity to the two back speakers, eliminating those two wires that used to travel along the wall and snake up over the mantle and front door to establish a  complete surround sound experience. The tablet has stylus that intuitively helps convert notes to text.

Oracle has been a technology innovator for decades. This year I was privileged to learn more about how Oracle customers in all life stages leverage our solutions to continually innovate. Young and emerging companies like Kind Snacks (the dark chocolate/cherry cashew bar is my favorite), Yelp (my first iPhone app purchase), and Twitter (my first tweet was in 2013). Established midsize companies like MedicAlert, Trex (I just bought some of their Elevations products to shore up a section of old deck). Be the Match (I'm registered), and Radio Flyer (a prized childhood Christmas gift). And larger companies that first implemented when they were small like LinkedIn (my profile is All Star level), Treasury Wine Estates (I prefer bourbon but always a great gift for my wife), and Garmin (Santa slipped a nüvi® in my wife's stocking this year).

Increasingly, conversations with customers like these are focusing less on individual applications and more on establishing a comprehensive platform for growth and innovation. I'm sure I'll be writing a lot about that concept in 2014.

Monday Dec 23, 2013

Working Over the Holidays...Thinking About RFPs and Llamas

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

I'm working over the holidays to save up vacation days so that I can hike all 28 segments of the 486 mile Colorado Trail in 2014. And, I ‘m going to pack my gear on the strong backs of a couple llamas. I just happen to have a friend who is llama trekking expert. He says I need to start spending some quality time now with Buddy and Casper so that I learn how to handle them on his ranch rather than risk disaster on the trail. Yes, llamas spit, but I’m told they usually do so only at other llamas and only when annoyed, mistreated, or settling some herd hierarchy issue such as who gets to eat first.

Over the next two weeks, when I'm not spending my evenings with family, friends, and llamas, I'll be learning more about best practices for Request for Proposals (RFPs). As I mentioned in my first two posts on how software selection processes are evolving ("Is Software Selection Now Like Online Dating?" Part 1; Part 2), social media and the internet in general have radically changed how decision makers choose solutions.This includes how and when they choose to employ RFPs.

Should you collaborate with potential respondents when crafting an RFP?

I recall one experience when I was working for the leading manufacturer of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). A large city issued an RFP for installing and operating ATMs in their new airport. Not one company, including my own, submitted a response because the city’s transaction and revenue expectations were absurd and generally showed no understanding of how the ATM business worked. You might say that we, the intended respondents, felt we were being mistreated and chose to spit on their annoying RFP.

The city was treating potential respondents as vendors of a commodity, not potential partners who could each bring unique and valuable experience to the project planning process. After a few, sometimes acrimonious discussions between individual vendors and city project leaders, the city called the potential suppliers into a meeting for input. The result was a second version of the RFP that was reasonable and attracted the desired number and quality of responses. But they could have saved everyone a lot of time, money, and bad blood by getting it right in the first place.

I’ve interviewed several experts already and will be posting the first content on RFP recommendations after the first of the year.

Happy Holidays.

Monday Dec 16, 2013

Is Software Selection Now Like Online Dating? Part 2--Great Expectations

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

On Friday...I posted the first in this new series of thought leadership on software selection. This is Part 2. Moving forward, I'll be interviewing experts and sharing perspective from the Oracle community at large

One of my former Oracle colleague—a beautiful and busy, highly educated global traveler—actually met her future husband using an online dating service. He’s a surgeon and now, just before their second anniversary, she is a happy stay at home mom with a healthy new baby. But should all online daters dare to have such great expectations?

When making software choices, key decision makers at growing companies have high expectations too. And why not? We are experiencing an unprecedented time of technology innovation. Cloud solutions are proving that the sky is NOT the limit. A highly competitive market is forcing all solution providers to stay on their toes. And it seems like a new enterprise software provider comes out of the woodwork every day, touting some innovation—a previously undiscovered secret sauce—they believe will turn the software world on its ear. Yet, we don’t have to look too far back in time to recall just how hard it is to build a sustainable technology company that can meet its customers’ needs not just now but into the future as well.

Finding that perfect match is never easy. That’s why we’re embarking on this series: to help decision makers at growing companies leverage the experiences of others in finding that special…software provider.

Feel free to share your thoughts and send me a message if you’d like to discuss this timely subject.

Friday Dec 13, 2013

Is Software Selection Now Like Online Dating?

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

First in a series: How to choose the right software solutions to solve your real business challenges.

Many, many of my single friends have tried online dating because, in some ways, it seems like a modern and easy approach to solving an age old and complex problem—finding that perfect spouse/soul mate/significant other. That perfect match all humans crave.

Likewise there is no shortage of online advice and tools for choosing business software solutions. Google “software vendor selection” and you’ll get 6,570,000 results. It would be foolish to ignore such free access to that gluttony of information yet how do you sort it all out? Separate the wheat from the chaff? The pretenders from the real thing?

When looking for that perfect match between problem and solution, decision makers at growing companies can’t just reach out and pluck the first bright shiny object that catches their eye. Neither can they get bogged down in a drawn out solution review process that ends up addressing a problem that is no longer relevant.

So…how are decision makers today choosing the right software that both satisfies urgent cravings and stands the test of time?

We’ll explore that burning question over the coming months, gathering and sharing the advice of pundits, implementation partners, customers, and Oracle experts. We’ll seek out fresh and contemporary ideas—from overarching strategies to line of business tactics—for choosing the right modern technology solutions that solve the real world business challenges of growing companies.

Here are some of the topics we’re eager to dig into:

  1. Are RFP/RFI’s obsolete?

  2. When does hiring a selection partner make sense?

  3. How long does it take to make the right decision?

  4. Can a software provider be a “partner” not a “vendor”?

    Feel free to share your thoughts and send me a message if you’d like to discuss this timely subject.

Wednesday Dec 11, 2013

Outside-In: The Customer Experience of Things

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

CX (Customer Experience) is a relatively new term used to describe a category of applications solutions that address how customers interact with companies. For decades, most companies didn’t rely much on software to manage CX. That made sense because, for thousands of year, a positive customer experience was the result of human interaction. And feedback—good or bad—could only travel so far by word of mouth.

Consumer and B2B decision maker behavior has changed radically with the explosive growth in online commerce and social media usage, prompting companies to rethink their CX strategies. CRM—the first generation of CX applications—was built to do two things. Sales Force Automation sold things to more new customers. Call Center sold more things to existing customers. An “inside-out” view.

Today, companies need to not just build efficient sales machines but also understand in real time how customers are shopping, buying, and talking about their experiences. That requires an “outside-in” view of exactly what customers and prospects are seeing. Modern CX solutions must go far beyond CRM to address cross channel commerce, customer loyalty, web experience, social media monitoring, and buyer insight.

How important is social media to CX? Here’s what the Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report 2012 tells us about social media users in the US:

  • 47% engage in social care
  • 33% prefer social care over phone support
  • 50% complain or express concerns about service at least once a month
  • 65% learn about brands products and services manager is visiting customers in Australia this week, here are some fun facts about Aussies:

  • More than 50% shop online
  • 46% of online users rely on social media for making purchase decisions
  • 12 million use Facebook
  • 85% of fans of brands on Facebook recommend brands to others

It’s easy to see that CRM and a good web site are not good enough because they provide a very limited outside in view. Yet, some of Oracle’s key competitors are still pushing their customers hard to buy CRM—those inside-out tools that help sell more stuff to customers whether they want it or not. Drive efficient sales engines. Create higher conversion rates from pipeline.

Yes, those processes are important. However, Oracle’s approach to CX today is to offer a comprehensive portfolio of solutions that our customers can employ to enable their potential customers to make better decisions. Who they want to deal with. How much data they want to share. And to monitor those activities to gain the outside-in view that is essential to understanding their customers’ and prospects’ behavior.

Tuesday Dec 10, 2013

How To...Accelerate Time to Value When Deploying Clinical Trial Management

Guest Post by Param Singh, VP of Clinical Trial Management Solutions, BioPharm Systems

BioPharm Systems, a Gold level partner in Oracle PartnerNetwork, joined the Oracle Accelerate Program in 2011 with an Oracle Accelerate Solution Based on Oracle’s Siebel Clinical Trial Management System.

Accelerating a Multi-Faceted Clinical Trial Management System Implementation Project

There are several ways to speed up a clinical trial management system (CTMS) implementation, including choosing an accelerator and having it hosted in the cloud. Both of these concepts have existed for a few years and have gained a lot of traction. Organizations that opt for accelerators in the cloud have learned that it gives them a big leg up on the competition.

Now, there is another way to speed things up. It is a project management approach called “Rolling Releases.” MannKind Corporation (MannKind) completed an implementation in July of Siebel Clinical, Oracle’s CTMS that involved an accelerator, the cloud, and rolling releases. Read on to learn more about their thought process and experience with employing all three accelerator methods together.

Given the anticipated success of MannKind’s innovative insulin therapy called AFREZZA and plans for research into additional applications of their therapeutic approach, the company recognized the need to replace their existing CTMS with a more comprehensive, user-friendly CTMS, particularly one with advanced site payment functionality and the ability to integrate with their clinical data management and electronic data capture (EDC) systems, Oracle Clinical / Remote Data Capture (OC/RDC). Based on their planned clinical trial schedule, they knew they needed a solution in place quickly, despite knowing that implementations involving integrations generally take a long time. The organization also knew they did not have the necessary information technology resources to implement and maintain a system in-house, so they needed a CTMS in the cloud.

Planning With a Tight Timeline

MannKind selected BioPharm Systems’ pre-configured version of Oracle’s Siebel Clinical solution, ASCEND, part of the Oracle Accelerate program. Although the CTMS accelerator met most of their requirements out-of-the-box, the remaining requirements revolved around a collection of intelligent site payment enhancements and the integration with OC/RDC. Due to MannKind’s tight timeline, BioPharm proposed an innovative approach to the project that involved “rolling releases,” meaning that the work would be divided into separate, logical work streams that could be executed largely in parallel, thus significantly shortening the overall project timeline. In addition, BioPharm proposed that one of those work streams be the implementation and release of the base version of ASCEND, so that MannKind could begin benefiting from their new system while the other work streams were still in progress. MannKind’s custom and integrated system would also be hosted and managed by BioPharm in a private cloud.

A Three Pronged Parallel Approach

The project was divided into three work streams:

  1. Implementation of the base version of ASCEND
  2. Application changes
  3. EDC integration
The project began with the parallel installation of the development (Dev) and production (Prod) environments of the base version of ASCEND. While the computer systems validation activities were being conducted for Prod, the application changes and integration coding began in Dev. Once Prod was validated, BioPharm cloned the environment to create the validation (Val) environment to be used for testing the additional work streams. When Prod and Val were fully validated, BioPharm trained MannKind and Prod was released for use. MannKind began using the system right away, entering clinical administration data, as well as building their investigator database.

Ahead of Schedule

Just six weeks later, the application changes were validated and released to Prod for use. This work stream was released nearly three weeks ahead of schedule, allowing MannKind to expand their data entry to include study, country, and site-specific information even sooner than planned.

Just four weeks after the application changes went live, the EDC integration work stream was validated and released to Prod for use. This work stream was also completed nearly three weeks early, providing MannKind with all three work streams in just three months; all validated, all integrated with Active Directory, and all hosted and managed by BioPharm in a private cloud.

Time = Money

BioPharm’s approach to the CTMS implementation and integration at MannKind resulted in:

  1. An estimated time savings of 3-4 months per work stream
  2. Quicker return on investment (ROI)
  3. Increased user adoption, due to receiving the system sooner and learning to use it in smaller chunks
  4. Long-term cost savings due to private cloud hosting services

In this fast-paced industry in which so much depends on being first-to-market, we expect to see more time-saving innovations around CTMS and other system implementations. Accelerators, hosting and, now, rolling releases. We are excited to see what comes next.

Thursday Dec 05, 2013

Pssst...Channel Partners: Want to Grow Your Business? IBM Says Help Your Customers Deploy Comprehensive, Integrated Solutions

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

We asked our friends at IBM to provide their perspective on what issues are important to their midsize customers.

Chako Thomas, IBM's Go To Market Leader-Transformational Programs for Oracle JD Edwards in North america, sums it up for us in this blog post, "Emerging Mid Market Growth Trends for Business Partners". I've known Chacko for years and--funny thing--the conversation I remember best was at an Oracle sales kickoff years ago at which his company sponsored the escalator handrail decals in the conference center. I was overly impressed because I hadn't seen that before. Kind of a "President George H.W. Bush being amazed by the supermarket checkout scanners" moment. 

But I digress...

In his post, Chacko provides his perspective on opportunities for technology partners catering to midsize clients based on his many years of experience. Of note, he points out that the biggest opportunities for partners is in delivering services (73% of the market and growing at 4.1%). No big surprise, yet that statistic does beg the question, "What type of services?"

From Chacko's perspective, the opportunity for Oracle partners exists in guiding the delivery of a comprehensive integrated industry specific solution to their customers.This aligns tightly with what we learned from a recent independent report, commissioned by Oracle, and published by Dynamic Markets, "Cloud for Business Managers in Midsize Organisations: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly". This report documents that, although many midsize organizations are moving some activities to the cloud, they are failing to realize the optimal level of benefits due to integration issues with other solutions.

More on that report in my next post.

Wednesday Nov 27, 2013

Get a Number…Give A Number. I give Oracle “7”.

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

There’s a game currently making the social media rounds in which one friend assigns a random number –let’s say, “twelve”—to another friend. The assigned friend then shares twelve little known facts about themselves.

The “Get a Number…Give A Number” game reminds me that I might not know some of my friends as well as I think I do. It’s a rare occasion when I meet someone who doesn’t have opinions about Oracle. Ask yourself—what do you really know about the second largest software company on the planet? To that end, I have randomly assigned the number “seven” to Oracle (seven is a lucky number and every writer knows list-based posts must have an odd number of items just like all landscaping projects must have an add number of shrubs).

Here are seven facts you might not know about my company:

  1. My home state of Colorado ranks third in the nation for concentration of tech workers in the public sector (8.7%). Oracle is a major contributor to that statistic, having inherited multiple Colorado campuses via acquisition including JD Edwards (Denver Tech Center), Sun Microsystems (Broomfield), and BEA Systems (Boulder).
  2. More than two thirds of Oracle’s customers are midsize companies .
  3. Oracle headquarters in Redwood City occupy reclaimed tidelands and the 66 acre site was originally Marine World/Africa USA.
  4. My first boss at Oracle was a guy who I had met years before when we worked on the same floor at JD Edwards. I didn’t know what his job was back then but we had pleasant conversations at the copier (remember those things?). But I digress…
  5. Oracle wins numerous awards for philanthropy including being ranked #7 in the Silicon Valley Business Journal Corporate Philanthropy Awards.
  6. Oracle OpenWorld ‘96 (the first) featured 420 sessions and 17,200 visitors at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Many superstar acts have performed over the years at the Oracle OpenWorld Customer Appreciation Events including Elton John, Sting, Billy Joel, and (my favorite) Counting Crows but the farthest back anyone could remember was Oracle OpenWorld ’98 at which KC and the Sunshine Band, Dave Wakeling (of The English Beat fame), Asleep at the Wheel, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies performed.
  7. Oracle’s smallest customers run the same applications as our largest customers. For example, Land o’ Lakes (14B USD, USA) runs Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and so does Felsineo (<100M USD, Italy). And Ingersoll Rand (14B USD, Ireland) runs Oracle E-Business Suite and so does PressureJet Systems (<100M USD, India). And Skanska AB (60,000 employees, Sweden) runs Oracle Taleo Talent Management and so does Be The Match (875 employees, USA). You get the picture.

If you haven’t yet guessed, this post is a thinly veiled attempt to get you interested in learning more about the kind of company Oracle is today. This is not your father’s Oracle. Today Oracle has 120,000 employees and many of us honed our skills and gained experience prior to joining Oracle at such great companies as JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Primavera, Siebel, Taleo, Eloqua, and Hyperion . That’s where we’ve been but now our heads are in the cloud. So get to know us better. If you’re not an Oracle customer now, odds are—you may soon be one.

Friday Nov 22, 2013

3 ERP Implementations or 1?

by Larry Simcox | Sr. Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @LSimcox3

Skip Mid-tier ERP and Go Straight to the Cloud with a Modern Business Platform

I remember living in upstate New York in my early 20s and it was cloudy from mid-October to late April. Everyone was so happy when the clouds cleared, the weather warmed and the days got longer. Whenever I hear the word cloud I think of those times – transitioning from cloudy and cold to sunny and warm.

I hear from our customers how ERP cloud is also helping them transition to a modern business and at the same time skip the old, traditional and costly three stage ERP/Financial Accounting migration lifecycle: from stage one (spreadsheets/QuickBooks), to a mid-tier solution, and then finally implementing a top-tier solution like Oracle ERP. With Oracle ERP Cloud we are seeing many organizations skip the costly mid-tier solution stage and leap-frog to an enterprise-class ERP solution. Skipping stage two allows our customers to manage growth opportunities and take advantage of industry best practices in a modern ERP system without the risk and costs associated with going through three implementation lifecycles. After all, who really wants to go through three implementations?

Curse VP of Finance, Brandon Byrne, describes how Oracle ERP Cloud helped them skip implementing a second tier accounting system and go directly to an enterprise-class ERP Cloud solution to support its disruptive business model and to scale globally. 

Click HERE to watch the video:

A recent survey from IDC confirms an increasing interest in choosing to operate ERP in the cloud. What potential benefits, challenges, and risks should you consider? Do you have a need for greater versatility to grow your business and move to an ERP cloud application? What are the advantages and disadvantages of skipping the second stage in a traditional ERP/Financial Accounting implementation life cycle?

I would like to personally invite you to join Mike Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC, for a live Webcast on Wednesday, December 4, 2013, as he reviews survey findings and provides expert insight into the challenges and opportunities the cloud presents.

Find out how a cloud-based ERP solution can help you:

  • Manage growth objectives with a system that grows with you – safely and securely
  • Reduce costs with a subscription-based, flexible, SaaS deployment model
  • Ensure consistent processes to standardize, automate, and simplify your enterprise with industry best practices
  • Modernize your ERP system and provide command and control of your organization with the latest in analytic, mobile, and social technologies

Don’t miss this opportunity to discover how a cloud-based ERP solution can help you modernize your enterprise applications and maximize business value.

Register now for the live Webcast here

Tuesday Nov 05, 2013

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: Industry Best Practices + Flexibility

By Richard Garraputa, VP of Sales & Marketing, brij

Richard joined brij in 1996 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with degrees in Information Systems and Accounting. He directs brij’s overall strategies of both the business development and marketing departments.

Companies looking for new ERP systems spend so much time comparing features and functions of software products but too often short change the value of their own processes.  Company managers I meet often claim that they are implementing a new ERP system so they can perform better and faster.  When asked how, the answer is often “by implementing best practices”.  But the term ‘best practices’ is frequently used to mean ‘doing things the way everyone else does them’ rather than a starting point or benchmark to build upon by adding your own value.

Of course, implementing standardized processes across an enterprise is an important step in improving operational efficiencies.  But not all companies are alike.  Do you ever tell your customers “We are just like our competition and have no competitive differentiation”?  Probably not.  So why should the implementation of your business processes be just like your competitor’s?  Even within the same industry, companies differentiate themselves by leveraging their unique expertise and approach to business.  These unique aspects—the competitive differentiators that companies use to thrive in a crowded marketplace—can and should be supported by the implementation of business systems like ERP.

Modern ERP systems like Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne have a broad and deep functional footprint designed to integrate a company’s core operations.  But how can a company take advantage of this footprint without blowing up their implementation budget?  Some ERP vendors claim to solve this challenge by stating that their systems come pre-configured with ‘best practices’.  Too often what they are really saying is that you will have to abandon your key operational differentiators to fit a vendor’s template for your business—or extend your implementation and postpone the realization of any benefits.

Thankfully for midsize companies, there is an alternative to the undesirable options of extended implementation projects or abandoning their competitive differentiators.  Oracle Accelerate Solutions speed the time it takes to implement JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution based on your unique business characteristics, getting your new ERP system up and running faster without forcing your business to fit a cookie-cutter solution. We’ve been a JD Edwards implementation partner since 1986 and we now leverage Oracle Business Accelerators—cloud based rapid implementation tools built and maintained by Oracle. Oracle Business Accelerators deliver the benefits of embedded industry best practices without forcing every customer in to one set of processes like many template or “clone and go” approaches do. You retain the ability to reconfigure your applications—without customization—as your business changes.

Wielded by Oracle partners with industry-specific domain expertise, Oracle Accelerate Solution implementations powered by Oracle Business Accelerators help automate the application configuration to fit your business better, faster. For example, on a recent project at a manufacturing company, the project manager told me that Oracle Business Accelerators helped get them to Conference Room Pilot 20% faster than with a traditional approach. Time savings equal cost savings.

And if ‘better and faster’ is your goal for your business performance, shouldn’t it be the goal for your ERP implementation as well?

Established in 1986, brij has been dedicated solely to helping its customers implement Oracle’s JD Edwards solutions and to maximize the value of those customers’ IT investments. They are a Gold level member in Oracle PartnerNetwork and an Oracle Accelerate Solution provider.

Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

5 Things I Learned About the IT Labor Shortage

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

5 Things I Learned About the IT Labor Shortage

A gentle autumn breeze is nudging the last golden leaves off the aspen trees. It’s time to wrap up the series that I started back in April, “The Growing IT Labor Shortage: Are You Feeling It?”

Even in a time of relatively high unemployment, labor shortages exist depending on many factors, including location, industry, IT requirements, and company size. According to Manpower Groups 2013 Talent Shortage Survey, 35% of hiring managers globally are having difficulty filling jobs. Their top three challenges in filling jobs are:

1. lack of technical competencies (hard skills)

2. Lack of available applicants

3. Lack of experience

The same report listed Technicians as the most difficult position to fill in the United States

For most companies, Human Capital and Talent Management have never been more strategic and they are striving for ways streamline processes, reduce turnover, and lower costs (see this Oracle whitepaper, “ Simplify Workforce Management and Increase Global Agility”).

Everyone I spoke to—partner, customer, and Oracle experts—agreed that it can be extremely challenging to hire and retain IT talent in today’s labor market. And they generally agreed on the causes:

a. IT is so pervasive that there are myriad moving parts requiring support and expertise,

b. thus, it’s hard for university graduates to step in and contribute immediately without experience and specialization,

c. big IT companies generally aren’t the talent incubators that they were in the freewheeling 90’s due to bottom line pressures that require hiring talent that can hit the ground running, and

d. it’s often too expensive for resource-strapped midsize companies to invest the time and money required to get graduates up to speed.

Here are my top lessons learned from my conversations with the experts.

1. A Better Title Would Have Been, “The Challenges of Finding and Retaining IT Talent That Matches Your Requirements”

There are more applicants than jobs but it’s getting tougher and tougher to find individuals that perfectly fit each and every role. Top performing companies are increasingly looking to hire the “almost ready”, striving to keep their existing talent more engaged, and leveraging their employee’s social and professional networks to quickly narrow down candidate searches (here’s another whitepaper, “A Strategic Approach to Talent Management”).

2. Size Matters—But So Does Location

Midsize companies must strive to build cultures that compete favorably with what large enterprises can offer, especially when they aren’t within commuting distance of IT talent strongholds. They can’t always match the compensation and benefits offered by large enterprises so it's paramount to offer candidates high quality of life and opportunities to build their resumes in alignment with their long term career aspirations.

3. Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends

It doesn’t always make sense to invest time and money in training an employee on a task they will not perform frequently. Or get in a bidding war for talent with skills that are rare and in high demand. Many midsize companies are finding that it makes good economic sense to contract with partners for remote support rather than trying to divvy up each and every role amongst their lean staff. Internal staff can be assigned to roles that will have the highest positive impact on achieving organizational goals.

4. It’s Actually Both “What You Know” AND “Who You Know”

If I was hiring someone today I would absolutely leverage the social and professional networks of my co-workers. Period. Most research shows that hiring in this manner is less expensive and time consuming AND produces better results. There is also some evidence that suggests new hires from employees’ networks have higher job performance and retention rates.

5. I Have New Respect for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

My hats off to them—it’s not easy hiring and retaining top talent with today’s challenges. Check out the infographic, “A New Day: Taking HR from Chaos to Control”, on Oracle’s Human Capital Management solutions home page. You can also explore all of Oracle’s HCM solutions from that page based on your role.

You can read all the posts in this series by clicking on the links in the right sidebar.

Stay tuned…we’ll continue to post thought leadership on HCM and Talent Management topics.

Wednesday Oct 23, 2013

7 Steps To Cut Recruiting Costs & Drive Exceptional Business Results

By Steve Viarengo, Vice President Product Management, Oracle Taleo Cloud Services 

In good times, trimming operational costs is an ongoing goal. In tough times, it’s a necessity. In both good times and bad, however, recruiting occurs. Growth increases headcount in good times, and opportunistic or replacement hiring occurs in slow business cycles. By employing creative recruiting strategies in tandem with the latest technology developments, you can reduce recruiting costs while driving exceptional business results.

Here are some critical areas to focus on.

1.  Target Direct Cost Savings

Total recruiting process expenses are the sum of external costs plus internal labor costs. Most organizations can reduce recruiting expenses with direct cost savings. While additional savings on indirect costs can be realized from process improvement and efficiency gains, there are direct cost savings and benefits readily available in three broad areas: sourcing, assessments, and green recruiting.

2. Sourcing: Reduce Agency Costs

Agency search firm fees can amount to 35 percent of a new employee’s annual base salary. Typically taken from the hiring department budget, these fees may not be visible to HR. By relying on internal mobility programs, referrals, candidate pipelines, and corporate career Websites, organizations can reduce or eliminate this agency spend.

And when you do have to pay third-party agency fees, you can optimize the value you receive by collaborating with agencies to identify referred candidates, ensure access to candidate data and history, and receive automatic notifications and correspondence.

3. Sourcing: Reduce Advertising Costs

You can realize significant cost reductions by placing all job positions on your corporate career Website. This will allow you to reap a substantial number of candidates at minimal cost compared to job boards and other sourcing options.

4.  Sourcing: Internal Talent Pool

Internal talent pools provide a way to reduce sourcing and advertising costs while delivering improved productivity and retention. Internal redeployment reduces costs and ramp-up time while increasing retention and employee satisfaction.

5.  Sourcing: External Talent Pool

Strategic recruiting requires identifying and matching people with a given set of skills to a particular job while efficiently allocating sourcing expenditures. By using an e-recruiting system (which drives external talent pool management) with a candidate relationship database, you can automate prescreening and candidate matching while communicating with targeted candidates.

Candidate relationship management can lower sourcing costs by marketing new job opportunities to candidates sourced in the past. By mining the talent pool in this fashion, you eliminate the need to source a new pool of candidates for each new requisition. Managing and mining the corporate candidate database can reduce the sourcing cost per candidate by as much as 50 percent.

6.  Assessments: Reduce Turnover Costs

By taking advantage of assessments during the recruitment process, you can achieve a range of benefits, including better productivity, superior candidate performance, and lower turnover (providing considerable savings). Assessments also save recruiter and hiring manager time by focusing on a short list of qualified candidates. Hired for fit, such candidates tend to stay with the organization and produce quality work—ultimately driving revenue.

 7. Green Recruiting: Reduce Paper and Processing Costs

You can reduce recruiting costs by automating the process—and making it green. A paperless process informs candidates that you’re dedicated to green recruiting. It also leads to direct cost savings. E-recruiting reduces energy use and pollution associated with manufacturing, transporting, and recycling paper products. And process automation saves energy in mailing, storage, handling, filing, and reporting tasks. Direct cost savings come from reduced paperwork related to résumés, advertising, and onboarding.

Improving the recruiting process through sourcing, assessments, and green recruiting not only saves costs. It also positions the company to improve the talent base during the recession while retaining the ability to grow appropriately in recovery.

Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

Keeping Your Employees Engaged Requires More Than Bright Shiny Objects

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

If you are experiencing the challenges of hiring and retaining the best talent then you understand how important it is to keep employees engaged. An engaged employee is "one who understands his/her place in the organization and fully comprehends how they contribute to and participate in the firm's execution of its Mission and Vision".

It goes deeper than just what I call "bright shiny objects". During my ski bum days, all my boss at the ski shop had to do was say, "If you put all these boots away before noon you can make a few powder runs and come back for the afternoon rush". That's as bright and shiny as it gets.

Pamela Stroko heads up Oracle's HCM Sales Enablement and Development and is Talent Management and Expert and Evangelist. Our Oracle Accelerate quarterly newsletter features a Q&A with Stroko on the Current State of Employee Engagement.

Stroko provides perspective on how to keep employees engaged when hiring managers are challenged to find and retain top talent.

Read the entire Q&A here.

Click here to see the entire newsletter. Remember to subscribe.

Monday Oct 21, 2013

Changes to IT and culture bring new health to MedicAlert.

Karen Lamoree, COO at MedicAlert Foundation, is featured in this new article, "Changes to IT and Culture Bring New Health to MedicAlert", on Oracle Profit Online. Lamoree also provided perspective on the Growing IT Labor Shortage, posted last month, "The MedicAlert Story: Sustaining Modern IT & Overcoming the IT Labor Shortage in Small Town America." 

It's wonderful to see an organization like MedicAlert continue to grow and remain relevant. The company was founded on doing good locally in a small California farming community. It now provides services to 2.3 million members in the United States and another 1.7 million members through its affiliates worldwide.

Wednesday Oct 16, 2013

Talent Mobility: Drive Employee Satisfaction and Company Success

By Steve Viarengo, Vice President Product Management, Oracle Taleo Cloud Services

Does your organization have a formal program in place for Talent Mobility? If you’re like most midsized businesses the answer is “no,” and it’s more likely you are asking yourself “What does Talent Mobility mean?” Talent mobility is the movement of employees from one position to another within an organization and whether you are aware of it or not is a critical component to employee satisfaction and corporate success.

Over the years, studies have revealed a significant correlation between internal employee mobility and corporate performance. Seminal research conducted over the course of a decade found that the top 10 percent of companies with “high-performance work systems” had four times the amount of sales per employee. Remarkably, these companies filled more than 60 percent of jobs from within. In contrast, the bottom 10 percent of these companies filled just 35 percent of jobs internally. In addition, research has shown that many great leaders have emerged from within organizations’ ranks.

With a strong internal mobility program, companies can leverage their employee base to achieve corporate goals, shifting resources where they’re most suited. Best of all, they can do so without the costs and delays associated with a conventional external recruiting process. Without such a program in place, top talent will be more likely to disengage or depart. After all, if they can’t see a career path within the organization, or they realize that other employees are being promoted or recruited without the skills and competencies to do the job, your top talent will likely go elsewhere. And if leadership pipelines are clogged with employees lacking the appropriate mix of skills and experience to step into pivotal roles, business growth will suffer.

Benefits you can expect your organization to see from a strong talent mobility program include:

  • Shorter time to productivity
  • Greater employee engagement and retention
  • Lower talent acquisition costs
  • Streamlined information flow
  • Limited competitive-intelligence leakage
  • Stronger leadership teams
  • Better financial performance

To implement a successful talent mobility program you must make sure your employees are aware of open positions and opportunities, proactive match good candidates to open roles, and establish talent pools in your employee base to clearly understand where your star performers are in the organization. This may sound like a lot of work, but getting started is easier than you think and the rewards are very compelling.

To learn more about Talent Mobility read our complete whitepaper.   



Midsize Blogs


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