How to maximise value in your recruitment operations and HR

The recruitment industry has responded to significant changes in recent years:

  • A changing job market in an increasingly globalised world, with a flexible workforce more prone to switching jobs
  • The industry has become increasingly professionalised and competitive
  • Recruiters typically need to move at pace, searching for talent from all the right places
  • Recruiters act like agents, mediating between employer and potential employee
  • Growth of the temporary or contract market
  • Challenges and opportunities in the post-Brexit recruitment industry.

Attracting candidates

Most recruiters expect strong competition for talent. The majority say that their biggest challenge in hiring quality talent is the lack of skilled or qualified workers. The consensus appears to be that today’s job market is increasingly facing a professional deficit when it comes to specialised professions like healthcare, construction, or even IT.

The majority of recruitment agencies are reporting an increase in demand for temporary or contract roles. One by-product of this is a market increasingly saturated with candidates possessing a similar level of skills and experience, making it increasingly hard to differentiate to find the best candidates.

The sheer number and variety of recruitment agencies make it harder for each to stand out, so a clear understanding of the USPs of each becomes increasingly important when selecting a recruitment partner or partners.

In response to this agencies need to focus on creating a good customer experience throughout the process, from website to interview, to help attract high-quality candidates – whether specialists with a more recognised value, or casual workers with a better sense of service.

Candidate preparation

With the choice of both roles and agencies on offer today, candidates can be less committed to single jobs or careers, and as such to a single agency. As a result, they can be less prepared for a specific role which in turn can prove both ineffective for both recruiters and agencies alike.

Most agencies provide coaching prior to the interview to improve candidate success rates. Recruiters also promote awareness of the client brand as part of any screening process to maximise the fit during the interview process.

Such support can reassure candidates throughout the employment search process and increase their engagement with the agency.

Candidate retention

While the interview is an important part of the process, it is really the mid-point for the recruiter. Once successful, the focus needs to turn to the induction period and retention. So ideally candidates need to be supported through the first few weeks of the job, adapting to the brand and culture of the new workplace. Recruiters should keep a watchful eye on how candidates settle into a role, continuing to coach and support.

Many organisations already operate in a high turnover environment. So with falling candidate commitment and a higher rate of job-hopping, retention has become a key issue for recruiters, and a potential USP when engaging with agencies.

This type of support should equally apply to the flexible, contract market as improving retention rates will have a likely knock-on effect on improved client relationships, and in turn helping the recruitment process.

Recruitment Process

In 2017 recruiters are under increased pressure to find candidates quicker. Two aspects can help with this challenge; improved agency/recruiter understanding of requirements driving faster candidate filtering and feedback, and better use of technology in areas such as candidate tracking.

Finding skilled candidates that match the recruiter’s criteria can be a challenge in itself, so it’s important not to delay feedback or drag out the process such that they go elsewhere. Good agency account management can help, alongside candidate coaching and effective recruitment processes in a competitive market.

Equally effective administration and a good recruitment management system can help. Such systems can not only help to speed up the recruitment process, but also improve the candidate experience and thus engagement.

For more advice on staff costs, please contact us.

Article by Steve Stiles – from our latest Market Intelligence newsletter. Click here to view the whole edition.

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Confidential waste – are you compliant?

Almost 20 years ago in the United Kingdom, The Data Protection Act 1998 (The Act) became law. This brought the UK in line with the EU Directive on data protection. One of the key principles of the Act is to ensure that confidential waste is securely destroyed.

Confidential waste can include any method of storage (including USB sticks, CD’s, computer hard drives and paper documents) that contain any personal information that can be used to identify individuals, including their name, address, contact numbers or any financial data. Examples of confidential waste might include invoices and quotes, records of employment or payslips, bank details, education or medical records and other documents such as memos, notes, emails or letters.

Failing to follow the instructions laid out in The Act may result in serious consequences – it requires organisations to ensure that they abide by proper data protection principles, including (but not limited to):

  • Information is to be used fairly and lawfully
  • Information is kept no longer than is necessary
  • Information is to be kept safe and secure.
  • In the confidential waste market, we often see an array of collection methodologies – examples might include:
  • On-site shredding (shredding is carried out at your site in front of you)
  • Off-site shredding (waste is taken securely to a processing site)
  • Containers may include sacks, bins or consoles – each one having disadvantages or advantages specific to an organisation.

To make things (perhaps purposefully) confusing, is that the numerous collection methods and suppliers available influences the prices paid for destruction, and collections are charged in a variety of ways. Examples include; by unit, by time on site, by minimum charge, by frequency of collection… the list goes on. Such is the nature of this specialist market that ERA’s waste team often see large variations in price paid from one client to another and one site
to another.

When faced with this level of complication, it is difficult for organisations to understand which option is best. Without specialist advice, this market can be a minefield of options, determining which supplier will keep data safe, which collection method is most efficient and which option is most cost-effective.

Most organisations have an obligation to put in place a collection system of one sort or another, some organisations do so to ensure they are following their own compliance objectives. However, Suppliers have responsibilities too; ensuring that the security of the data that they collect or deal with on site is not compromised and importantly providing certificates of destruction – a legal requirement that will negate risk of non-compliance for the producers of the waste.

Current data protection regulations are changing in 2018. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into force. These regulations will replace the Data Protection Act 1998. GDPR will give people the right to know how their data is handled, what their data is used for and how and when it is destroyed.

GDPR may potentially impact some firms that weren’t previously affected by the Data Protection Act. Additionally, a big incentive to ensure compliance is the substantial increase in the level of fine for non-compliance (up to 4% of company turnover or €20m).

With these stronger repercussions for non-compliance, organisations need to consider whether the cost saving of segregating non-confidential waste from confidential waste is worthwhile vs the risk of non-compliance. If most paperwork is confidential, then probably not. Knowing you have a system for secure destruction and a complete paperwork chain of waste transfer notes and certificates of destruction will be very important.

For more information on waste disposal management, please contact us.

Article by Pete Bramhall & Dan Howells – from our latest Market Intelligence newsletter. Click here to view the whole edition.

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Helping Bob in IT Procurement

Bob was struggling with his self-esteem.  So, Dilbert suggested that he get a job in IT Procurement…

Dilbert cartoon- Bob gets a job in IT procurement.DILBERT © 1995 Scott Adams. Used By permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights

At Expense Reduction Analysts, we get involved in a lot of IT procurement on behalf of our clients.  Often this is because they don’t have any actual procurement expertise in their organisation – they have lots of techies who love buying stuff, but they don’t treat it in the same way as they would a high core spend like raw materials.  So they look to procurement companies for invaluable guidance; at ERA, we fill the gap by providing a great blend of technical, market and commercial knowledge.

Sometimes they have procurement expertise but it’s a bit light on IT.  Other times, they might not necessarily want us to do all of the procurement for them, but they need a hand with parts of it.  That’s great for us too, because we are very good at understanding the missing pieces of their jigsaw and helping them to fill the gaps.

Occasionally, Finance and IT don’t really see eye to eye, because Finance worries about the increased spending in the IT department and they can’t figure out if it’s valid or not.  IT like to spend more because their principal concern is delivering service to the business and the quality of that service is affected by not only how much is spent but also how wisely.  This is where the experts at ERA can help because we can be trusted advisors to both the Finance and IT departments, therefore improving the situation for all.

In all of these scenarios, we have a lot of interaction with IT suppliers and one of the biggest value-adds to our clients is our ability to work well with the IT supply chain. Bob struggles a bit with that – he’s kind of old-world procurement:

Dilbert cartoon- Bob works in IT procurement.DILBERT © 1995 Scott Adams. Used By permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights

We know cost savings are important.  But we also know that the operational obligations of key stakeholders are equally, if not more important to the organisation.  That’s why we make sure we have a good relationship with the IT stakeholder(s) in projects and why they usually ask us to take on further projects later.  We also ensure we fully understand the client’s motivation, because it isn’t always about saving money.  Some of this years’ projects have included:

  • Helping a not-for-profit client to select and purchase the right replacement for their ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EPOS (electronic point of sale) combined system.
  • Running a selection and procurement process for an insurer who had previously outsourced their IT support division to another company and wished to find a new, better support provider – transferring employees over.
  • Guiding a national retailer through the selection and evaluation of their next generation ERP/EPOS journey and educating them on what that journey will entail.
  • Successfully implementing a hardware replacement programme for an insurance broker, ensuring that they will make savings by changing the way they buy and refresh their hardware estate.
  • Running a selection and procurement process for a large national charity to find a suitable partner for their new content management system and website development.
  • Leading the negotiation team for the same charity in their acquisition of new CRM/Fundraising and HR systems.

There have also been other projects, linked to IT through the core project, for example:

  • Undertaking a study in invoice routing through the ERP system for an institutional publishing client which revealed that by changing their invoice approval process and approval levels they could save considerable sums.
  • Working as part of a team to select a Tier 1 law firm, to lead negotiations on a large, multi-million pound client IT outsourcing contract (where we are also engaged as the IT procurement experts).

All of these projects have been successful or are yet to conclude but give every appearance of a successful outcome.

We’ve also tried to stop Bob from giving our clients Dymo labellers instead of laptops and letting suppliers tie him up on long-term unfavourable contracts…

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our IT procurement services.

Article by: Simon Atkinson


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Helping with GDPR in Professional Services

Professional Services organisations should already be preparing for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which takes effect on 25th May 2018.

This is particularly crucial for firms who hold quantities of sensitive personal information, often for even the simplest matters.

With potential fines of up to €20m or 4 per cent of a firm’s global turnover – whichever is the greater – new breach notification obligations and increased accountability, GDPR compliance is critical. Furthermore, the reputational damage to a firm could be irrecoverable.

The current rights of individuals to request copies of their personal dataleare expanded under the GDPR to include the right to be forgotten and a right of rectification, which could place substantial technological challenges and administrative burdens on firms without an Information Asset Register (what information is held, where information is held and in what format).

The length of time in which firms will have to respond to Data Subject Access Requests (or DSARs) is reduced from 40 days to 30 days under the GDPR. Firms will no longer be able to charge for the DSAR.

Under new breach notification provisions, firms will be under an obligation to report a breach of security that leads to the destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to personal data.

Any breach will need to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours of the firm becoming aware of the breach.

With the recent trend towards outsourcing back office services ERA typically tackles some of the implications of the GDPR when dealing with Records Management Projects; our work has helped firms to identify where they may be unprepared or underprepared for the introduction of the GDPR.

Fortunately, ERA can assist in addressing typical issues such as:

  • Mitigating the risk of breach by securing hard copy files in compliant third party storage. In 2017 alone, ERA has migrated law firm files from self-storage lock ups, terraced houses and agricultural barns
  • Creating an audit trail for documents
  • Enhancing firms’ ability to respond to DSARs by better cataloguing of closed files, wills & deeds, and by systems integration with document storage companies
  • Helping firms’ develop a robust Data Retention Policy and monitoring compliance via regular audits
  • Helping firms to discover ‘known unknowns’ within existing archives enabling pro-active risk management.

And, as is often the case, the challenge to firms posed by new regulation also presents opportunities; with the focus on the GDPR, ERA has engaged with many firms who’ve not reviewed their Records Management arrangements recently, occasionally not for a decade or more.

In these cases, the GDPR can be the catalyst to consolidate files with a single provider, undertake a rigorous destruction exercise or sign up to a much more advantageous tariff.

Some of our clients are moving files out of their offices to provide additional desk space for revenue generating staff.

Where clients have moved files into compliant storage for the first time, ERA has ensured the process is as close to being cost neutral as possible. Where we have tested the market for our clients, tariff savings of up to 55% have been achieved – in some cases without the need to change supplier.

Hence, the compliance measures and processes that firms may need to put into place in advance of GDPR could be partially offset by the financial and practical benefits accrued.   

For more information on business cost management, please contact us.

Article by Jason Adderley – from our latest Market Intelligence newsletter. Click here to view the whole edition.

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What happens when you don’t read the IT support contract?

Recently I have seen a few situations where clients have been placed in disadvantageous situations in terms of their costs and tie-ins with suppliers. Why? Because they entered into a contract without fully appreciating the terms contained within it. This is usually brought to a head when the client is unhappy with the supplier and/or their costs and wishes to make a change.

At this point, they are confronted with the brutal reality: they can’t terminate because they signed up for an extended period of time and have to give notice. In particularly extreme cases, that contract can have a five-year term and an automatic roll-over, if termination is not given at the appropriate time.

Termination is usually 90 days, prior to the end of the relevant contract period. Unfortunately, people move jobs and contracts get filed – so nobody is managing this nasty little problem and clients can then find they are committed for another three to five years.

The net outcome of that is that the client is saddled with a supplier with whom they don’t wish to work, where the service may not be satisfactory and/or the costs are uncompetitive. But they can’t do much about it. If the costs are just 15% above what might be deemed reasonable (bearing in mind certain costs have reduced in the last few years), the client is going to pay 75% over the odds over the course of a five-year contract term, plus any rises allowed in the contract – so it could be approaching 100% – in other words, a whole year’s charges!

These days, with the increase of cloud computing and remote support contracts, time-bound contracts with tight terms and very limited exit potential are much more common than they used to be. It’s much easier to deal with problems before they occur – by putting in place safeguards to prevent this happening.

Expense Reduction Analysts are experts in negotiating IT contracts and identifying areas likely to cause problems for clients further down the line. We can negotiate these out, or alleviate the risk. We also make clients aware and ask them to diarise the key dates, so they don’t fall into this trap.

For more information on our business to business consultancy, please contact us or visit the IT consultancy page. 

Article by Simon Atkinson – from our latest Market Intelligence newsletter, click here to view the whole edition.

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E-commerce payments, customer expectations and security

In the last edition, we gave you the lowdown on e-commerce and payment solutions.

Now as promised, we share some hints and tips for selecting the best value payment partners to support your e-commerce business growth.

The key elements which drive selection can be grouped as:

  • Customer expectations: Providing an easy to use checkout experience securely offering the payment options your target audiences want
  • Security: Both the consumer’s perception of the security of your site and managing the risks to your business inherent in each type of payment method
  • Cost: with the surcharging ban from January, transaction costs are now in focus, however, businesses must also factor in the considerable set-up costs. These include integration with other channel’s solutions and hidden resource costs such as reconciliation (especially where non-card alternatives are involved).

In this article, we’ll talk about customer expectations and security, then follow up with more on the cost next time.

Customer Expectations: Target territories

This is an international market; solutions and providers vary even across Europe. For example, many more Dutch consumers pay by iDeal, which transfers funds between banks without cards, than pay by credit card. Many other similar systems are growing fast across Europe.

In Africa, mobile banking has filled the void left by the absence of a developed banking infrastructure.

In Eastern Europe and in Russia; ‘cash on delivery’, which is almost unheard of in the UK, accounts for a surprisingly high proportion of transactions.

Just because the UK is currently still very card focussed, do not assume that a ‘cards only’ strategy will power your growth overseas.

Customer Expectations: Product

Is the product a service or physical goods? Digital goods are more likely to be bought via phone or tablet, where the benefit of not needing to key in card details leads to a rising proportion of successful payments via eWallets; 22% according to Worldpay as we reported last time.

At the moment these payment methods are most notable in the closed loop of an App Store or Google Play environment, but they are also expanding quickly – you can use Apple Pay in Tesco already.


Two of the major considerations are security and risk. Gateways need to be both secure and user-friendly, but the balancing act is a difficult one. Consumer expectations are often contradictory. On the one hand, customers want a seamless and simple experience at check-out; but woe betides the provider if user security is compromised.

Take the solutions of ‘Verified by Visa’ and ‘Mastercard SecureCode’ for example; both work to provide users and businesses with a failsafe methodology for making and taking payments from your credit and debit cards.

When they first appeared, the need to remember passwords for routine transactions led to high levels of abandoned baskets and lost revenue. Lately though, the way in which these options work has been modified, so ‘smart fraud tools’ now elect whether to remove the password entry step. The net result is that verification now happens automatically in the vast majority of cases. The systems now only flag rogue transactions outside of the norms of your usage, or outside of set financial limits.

Understanding which transactions complete and which do not, and more importantly why, is critical to optimising risk. One online retailer we helped recently had not appreciated the level of failed transactions, so by tweaking their risk criteria, we helped them to drive down these false-positive fraud blocks and complete more transactions – resulting in a10% uplift in revenue.

Alternative payment methods such as Paypal – and the bank based methods mentioned above – rarely have a resilient charge-back solution to protect merchants and consumers. It is vital to check the terms and conditions of each solution; for example, some providers allow consumers to pull back their payments for up to 90 days post-transaction without challenge, leaving the merchant in a position where going through the courts to reclaim lost monies or goods is the only recourse.

Next time, we’ll look at the role of planning and cost. We’ll also look at how the transaction cost is only part of the picture, and how your internal departments can work together to ensure you provide the optimal solutions for you and your customers. Regulatory changes are coming in January, which will generate further innovation in the market and make it even more vital to be aware of the whole cost and the options available.

And if you feel we may be able to help in the meantime; whether you are looking to sell online for the first time, exploring new international markets, or considering what the optimal payment methods might be for your particular enterprise, please get in touch with our team.

To find out more information on our business consultancy services, please contact us.

Article by The Banking & Payments Team – from our latest Market Intelligence newsletter. Click here to view the whole edition.

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