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This is part 4 of a series of blogs devoted to the glib abbreviation: PIBKAC (often used to describe "user error" - problem is between the keyboard and the chair.  The other parts of this series can be found here.)

Today I'm going to outline how many recruitment technology projects can stumble, fall, trip or #fail due to the misconception that humans will just use the tech once it’s turned on. 

The concept of PIBKAC is a term that us geeks sometimes use to describe mere mortals (the end user) who use the technology we support. Humans can really cause a recruitment technology project stress.  This is normally because assumptions have been made (see previous blog) about how humans will use the kit.

Perhaps the recruitment tech you’re implementing is an obvious improvement to workflows.  Surely it’s bound to improve stress levels as the system you have is down all of the time?  Perhaps it the latest shiny thing in rectec – your recruiters are begging for it!  Believe me, even when you feel that the technology could give them the winner lottery numbers, you’ll still have humans stalling the project.

People get stressed, systems don’t

I often see recruitment technology projects which are causing stress.  The stress is often caused by one thing: change.

You’re dealing with humans.  They have brains, thoughts, feelings, routines and comfort levels.  They get easily distracted, or caught up in the detail. They may not want to shift from their ever-so-cumbersome-process – at least it works…?  Or worse, they have their own processes and systems and you’ve allowed them to work independently as they make money for you.

How have you factored this in to your recruitment technology project?  How important is it that your users actually use your systems?  Have you added this as a goal?  Or are you focussed on the goal as “going live”?  Are the IT department and project managers booking holidays the day after going live (even if only mentally?)

Have you put all of your focus on the one element that does as it’s told – the kit?  Have a think about what you may need to add to the project workflow to ensure that all-important buy-in and stress-free input/output.

Everything before Go Live is Phase 0

Consider the concept that all of the work leading up to the go live date is simply preparation and you’ll do well.  Once the end user gets their paws on the systems day to day is when the fun can to start for the business.  When we work on projects work with the idea that go live is the beginning of the project, not the end.

Consider what you can build for post launch that’ll help you manager your users, their expectations and their adoption of the system.  Trust me, you’ve got to make them want to use your system.  Encouraging “30 second placements” – avid backdating of admin to get the invoice out – will not help you pipeline or grow.

User Groups

(note USER, not non-user-whinger-groups)

What environment could you create to get buy-in and consensus without creating too much of a democracy, over-configuration and ultimately an over-engineered system?  (Remember you're a recruitment company, not a CRM development business.)  How can you engage with the end user without distracting them from their current workflows?  Also think about when is good in the life cycle of the project to do this.  Constant “yippee” comms about a project which may take a couple of years to go live, and which is set to rescue workforce will distract and demotivate, even though your intention is to excite.


Yes (obvious), you’ll need to factor in “big bang” go-live training, but people will be ill, getting married, on holiday, stuck on trains, so be realistic about what you can achieve before go-live.  Then think about the “gone-live” training and get this planned to hit the workforce when they get back from their outings.  Then rinse and repeat.

If your systems are so complex that people need days of training, you really need to think about what you’re trying to achieve.  Recruitment is not a complex process.  Yes, it’s skilled, but most of the skill is around personality, people-management, relationships.  The tech should support this, not disrupt or make it more complicated.

Other things to think about

Intranets / regular tips / comms / wikis / videos / “hack days” – all of these are great ways of keeping people engaged in their use of the system.  But real life success stories told by the people who gained a result are by far the best way to get people engaged and keep them that way.  Get your training department out of the training room and talking to users / management about how they are using the system and get them to report on that!

Recruiters and Rabbits Love Carrots

Don’t forget to reward great systems use.  “If it’s not online it doesn’t exist” is not hard to implement as a concept in an organisation.  I’ve seen it done – it takes a little while but the outcome is worthwhile.

What do you think about humans and how they can affect tech projects?

Thanks to The REC and the RecTecHub for publishing this.

Read the other parts of the PIBKAC series here.

(Thanks www.spreadshirt.co.uk for the perfect image!)


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