Every year, hundreds of retained executive search firms make technology purchasing decisions. Many of them go on to implement systems which will provide years of value and benefit – but, sadly, others make expensive decisions that they will go on to regret. There is no one system which is best for every firm. However, there are five key questions that every buyer should ask themselves – and the vendors – prior to selecting an executive search software solution.
Question 1: From where do I need to access my business information?
Think about your users and where they work. Your office may well be PC-based, but do you wish to facilitate home working? If so, what is your view on installing your software on home machines – is browser-based access a better solution in these scenarios, even if Windows software is acceptable on office machines? What about mobile access? What devices do you and your users have? What devices might your future users have? Can your chosen platform support these tools? Don’t select a system that will constrain your ability to work!
Question 2: What are my sources of business information?
Your supplier will provide a database. You’ll need to provide much of the data. The systems need to make that as easy as possible. Think about how you source. LinkedIn? Xing? Google News? Telephone sourcing? Spreadsheets from researchers? Ask the vendor to demonstrate how this information can be quickly found and subsequently imported. What about softer business intelligence and updates? Can the database source business information “live” and use this to support your internal information? This can be particularly valuable for firms without extensive and dedicated research support. As a case study – “I receive a business development call from a Company that is not in the database. What happens next?”
Question 3: Reporting is one of the most time-consuming tasks for many firms. How can the system help?
This is a key question. During your presentations, you will see lots of beautiful charts, and many gorgeous reports. The reality, of course, is that those reports and charts have been designed to look good in demonstrations. The dirty secret of recruitment software reporting is that the reality rarely lives up to the sales pitch. That’s because most tools produce reports in a format that cannot be easily edited in Word. For some reports, that’s fine – metrics and the like don’t need to go to Word. But if you need to produce client reports you will almost certainly need to edit them on the fly. Ask, in a demonstration, to see exactly that – ask your sales consultant to open a report in Word and make changes to it. You may be surprised by what you see! Which brings us on to…
Question 4: Can the system enhance my relationships with clients?
Reports are a pain. For many firms though, they are becoming less and less important because of the rise of the Client Portal. Client Portal allow you to provide “report type” information via a secure website, 24×7. The best ones are slick, secure and fully under your control. Your clients may not be interested in this service – yet – but it’s worth ensuring that your vendor is able to provide this functionality in case circumstances change!
Question 5: What level of service and support can I expect?
If you are starting from scratch with an empty database, your “implementation” may take a matter of hours. If you are working with legacy data, your project may take several months. Either way, you need to be comfortable that the vendor will support you throughout the process and beyond. It’s always worth asking for references but, in reality, references are not always typical of the client experience – the sales consultant is unlikely to introduce you to an unhappy client! A good tip is to seek out the testimonials page on the vendor website – ours is here – and see if you can find a company you know. Testimonials show that the primary contact is happy with the vendor, but if you know other people in the firm – the users – you can often get a better understanding of how the users feel about a product. Also take a look at the commercial strength of the vendors – the recruitment software market is turbulent at the best of times, and political changes in the US and Europe will have an impact.
Your selection of an executive search management system is a key decision for your firm. It’s worth taking the time to ensure that the product meets your needs – don’t be afraid to challenge your sales consultant and ensure that they are able to validate any claims they might make!
Dillistone Systems provides FileFinder Anywhere Executive Search Software to hundreds of search firms and in-house teams, worldwide. Now available directly in your browser with no installation necessary, it offers a combination of search assignment management, CRM, report writing and research tools. FileFinder Anywhere is hosted in the Cloud, in a secure environment and backed up daily for you. All you need is internet access to be able to work anywhere, on any device – which can lead to increased collaboration, productivity and efficiency.