How to build an integrated TA tech strategy that works

In recruitment and talent acquisition, it is a must to have the technology in place to build strategies. With 13 years of experience, Soeren Winter, director of Wayfair’s TA in Europe, has seen a lot happen over the past decade. But how do you go about building an integrated TA tech strategy that actually works?

Jasper Spanjaart on June 08, 2020 Average reading time: 3 min
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How to build an integrated TA tech strategy that works

Formerly the Head of TA at Zalando, Soeren Winter is currently the director of TA Europe at Wayfair, one of the largest online-only home goods retailers in the world. Wayfair currently has $10 billion + in annual revenue, with 16.000 employees and a strong continued growth. As part of Bas van de Haterd’s webinar series, he shared his knowledge about the integration of tech in talent acquisition.

Horizontal vs. Vertical

Winter starts with what he calls ‘the basics’: a horizontal and vertically integrated tech stack. “Horizontal means I have one system. Usually an HRIS (Human Resource Information System), including an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). All in one horizontal system. It has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. In the past, companies needed to install different solutions, which required a lot of admin work and service support. Which means integrating new systems was super hard.”

Accordingly to Winter, this is now slowly shifting toward a vertical system. “One where the ATS is integrated above the HRIS. So you take one of the horizontal system, and stack them on top of each other. Vacancies push from HRIS to ATS, and ATS pushes hires to HRIS. That isn’t innovative per se, but what makes it different is that organisations then stack other elements above the ATS.” Think of CRM, assessments, interviews, travel experience, posting tools and personality tests. 

“If you have an ATS, and an CRM – they need to be talking to one another and integrated properly.”

The advantage is that you don’t have to buy an ATS for everything, but you’re buying an ATS that has open API that allows you to build your own, customised system. It revolves around the true knowledge you need, rather than a horizontal system where all parts are in one system. “What is important when you go for a vertical system, is that it is really integrated. If you have an ATS, and an CRM – they need to be talking to one another and integrated properly.”

What do you need?

With that knowledge, on a regular basis, what do you need? According to Winter, both have their pros and cons. For start-ups, he advices to start with a simple ATS, and then add some more tools and aim for integration in the long-run. “The advantage for vertical systems, is that you can build it as a LEGO for yourself”, he says. “It may be as colourful as you want it to be, with which you can exchange all the building blocks as you go.”

“Horizontal tech stacks work when you have “simple” target group structures.”

“There are many point-of-views. Vertically integrated tech stacks have huge advantages, but require technical support (API and process development) and flexibility. Horizontal tech stacks work when you have “simple” target group structures.”

Focus on the candidate experience

According to Winter, the process should be designed backwards, and thus starting with the user. “One of my fundamental beliefs is that you can not package old processes in new systems. You have to learn from the “user” (interviews, design thinking, cxNPS). How does the candidate go through the process, what do we need in the different phases, which applications do we need? What would an ideal process look like – both from a candidate, interviewer, hiring manager and recruiter point-of-view?”

The automation conundrum

With regards to automation, all comes down to one question, Winter says. ‘How much do you want to automate?’. “The question for me is to always look at processes at two different ways. Mapping out the process from the candidate point-of-view, and finding the moments that matter. As an organisation, where can we add values? We need to implement excellence in this. Moments that matter. Particularly with real-life interviews, they need to be invested in heavily. But everything where we cannot add value, needs to be automated.”

Buying or building?

So say you are convinced. You want your own system. Where to next? According to Winter, you have three options. A highly customised and unique system, an integrated system and a standard system. Then the remaining question is two-fold. A: buy it. B: build it. “My recommendation here is to not just start building technologies, when there are companies who know all the ins and outs already. Instead, think about how you can build your own system and integration.”

“My recommendation here is to not just start building technologies, when there are companies who know all the ins and outs already.”

Watch Soeren Winter’s full webinar ‘How to build an integrated TA tech strategy that works’ here. Sign up for Bas van der Haterd’s future webinars here. The next one, ‘Onboarding during COVID-19’ will take place on June 11th. The webinars are free to attend. 

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Writer and editor at ToTalent

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