SAP SuccessFactors tools up CRM for the talent acquisition war

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright June 19, 2018
SAP SuccessFactors adds candidate relationship management - CRM - to recruitment to arm customers for the talent acquisition war

SuccessConnect Berlin 2018 Greg Tomb SAP SuccessFactors 370px
Greg Tomb, SAP SuccessFactors

The battle for talent shows no sign of getting any easier. SAP SuccessFactors therefore marked the opening of its annual SuccessConnect EMEA conference in Berlin this week with the addition of new candidate recruitment management capabilities to its Recruiting solution. As SuccessFactors president Greg Tomb told attendees in the opening keynote:

There is a scarcity of talent that's hitting us, and it's growing every year ... Talent can be the roadblock for you — or, if you attack it, it can be the catalyst for your success.

Candidate recruitment management shares the CRM acronym with the more firmly established discipline of customer relationship management, from which it borrows many of its techniques for keeping prospects engaged, such as email marketing, website landing pages and profiling.

Like its namesake acronym, it tends to focus more on management of candidates than it does on building relationships with them, although in the case of SuccessFactors that's more because the new functionality extends the existing Career Site Builder, introduced two years ago to provide a web portal where would-be applicants can interact with an employer.

Candidate relationship management functions

The new embedded functionality introduced with the latest release of SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite adds four main capabilities:

  • Recruiters can set up dedicated campaign landing pages and dynamic data capture forms for candidates to interact with.
  • Easily build targeted e-mail marketing templates and campaigns with the ability to track interactions.
  • Segment potential candidates into targeted talent pools to nurture high-value talent.
  • View candidate engagement, activity and history data in a single consolidated profile.

The new functionality has been developed in response to customer demand and early adopter feedback, says Jeff Mills, Solution Management, Talent Acquisition at SuccessFactors:

Part of the reason we took on the CRM initiative is because there's a very strong need among the customer base to have this functionality.

The intention is to further develop the functionality in areas such as web visitor analytics and social media tracking. At the moment best-of-breed offerings from specialist vendors offer more sophisticated capabilities, but SAP is emphasizing the benefits of embedding CRM within an end-to-end recruitment platform that's already connected into other talent management and onboarding processes. It will also become possible to analyze recruitment data and ultimately engagement metrics in SAP Analytics Cloud.

New features will be added incrementally to build up a complete CRM offering based on customer feedback. The goal is to have feature parity with best-of-breed competitors by the end of next year, say product managers.

Nurturing contacts who've already shown an interest in the company gives recruiters an important edge in the talent acquisition wars, says Mills. In the customer acquisition field, acquiring a new prospect is several times more costly than selling to an existing contact. The same calculation applies when it comes to prospective candidates, he argues:

It makes a whole lot more sense to put your dollars into contacting known individuals as opposed to sourcing all brand new all the time.

My take

Candidate engagement has been an area of significant innovation in recent years and, like most HCM suite providers, SuccessFactors has found itself behind the curve. So it's no surprise customers have been asking for more. The functionality being released will make it a lot easier for recruiters to manage campaigns that keep potential recruits engaged. But there's a lot of catching up the vendor still has to do before it can claim feature parity, and the goal of doing so by the end of next year sounds optimistic to me — especially as it's a constantly moving target.

What SuccessFactors will argue though is that what matters to its customers is the ability to craft end-to-end processes that allow them to nurture internal prospects as well as outsiders, and to onboard directly into the HCM suite once a position is filled. Add in the ability to run analytics across that end-to-end data and you can see that the argument has some merit. In any case, attracting and keeping talent is not just about the technology tools you use. Without the right organizational culture to back it up, no amount of automation and analytics will make much of a dent in the end result.

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