Agustin D. Bianchi is the Senior Director of HR Tech and Operations at Activision Blizzard King EMEA & APAC, and his mission is to transform the way his team does HR. In his experience, HR teams spend too much time doing the repetitive, ‘hand-hold’ admin tasks required in hiring and other employee’s life-cycle activities.
In this article, Agustin shares how tools like CRM and ATS help automate and streamline his team’s hiring process, in order to speed up their time-to-hire, and enable HR and hiring teams to actively contribute their expertise to hiring the best talent out there.
Activision Blizzard acquired King in 2016 for 5.9 billion dollars, creating one of the largest gaming companies in the world. The former is a console gaming and PC company, and the latter specialises in mobile games, most famous for creating Candy Crush Saga.
One of the challenges Agustin faces at King, with having thousands of employees around the world, and multiple teams working across multiple parts of the organisation supporting them, is that those teams tend to work in silos. This has led to scenarios such as different teams competing for the same tech talent. He says: “There were situations where we were competing with each other for talent. We were looking for similar experiences, but we didn’t have shared pools or shared pipelines.”
In addition, Agustin says that hiring at this kind of scale — without consolidating your process, or where teams are working in silos — can easily turn hiring into a lengthy, painful process for both HR and hiring teams. As a result, this slows hiring down dramatically and makes it harder to find the right talent for the right role.
This is hard to solve in traditional HR, because a lot of its processes are still rooted in manual, low-tech practices. “For the longest time”, Agustin says, “HR has been seen as just an administrative role — and one of the reasons why is because it doesn’t often leverage technology. But,” he adds, “if you apply technology, then why do you need a person to do admin tasks at all?”
To transform HR, Agustin is using tech and tooling at King to turn HR into a more hands-on supportive function for hiring teams — and enable them to do their job better — and not just an administrative one.
This is how his team is doing that, and the impacts it’s had on their hiring so far:
Introducing the tools: Using CRM and ATS to enable teams more
Two problems needed to be solved:
- Visibility on hiring pipelines so that different teams weren’t competing for the same talent
- HR teams spending all their time doing administrative work instead of using their expertise to assist hiring managers hire faster
This led Agustin to introduce two specific tools into the early stages of their process – a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool and an brand new Applicant Tracking System (ATS):
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
This system is one of many different approaches that allows companies to manage and analyse interactions with past, current, and potential customers. For Agustin’s, this helps streamline their talent pipeline and keep track of past applicants, internal talent (ie. people switching teams) and current or potential talent.
“It allows us to not just use applied technology to recruit someone”, he explains, “but also to find the right candidates to fill our pipeline and our pools of talent with. This lets managers decide which talent they like the most, and then we can tell them about the role and hopefully hire them later.”
Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Simply, ATS is a software application enabling teams to electronically handle recruitment and hiring needs. This could be anything from receiving CVs, all the way through the hiring process to hiring employees — and this is especially useful for a company like King, which has hiring needs that scale across the entire organisation.
What makes CRM and ATS so powerful, though, is how they interact, and what using them in conjunction allows HR and hiring teams to do — and this is something Agustin says not enough companies are leveraging: “Most companies have one or the other recruitment system, but very few have a CRM, or are leveraging the CRM they have, and that is critical.”
Agustin says that using CRM and ATS to their full potential beats hiring an agency of tech sourcers:
“It’s important because otherwise you’re fishing from a very small pool. You can have an army of sourcers scrubbing LinkedIn, searching for all the job boards out there, trying to find the right talent. But, in the end, you’re limited by your costs and still won’t be looking in all the possible places to find the right candidates. There are tools out there right now that apply artificial intelligence. They match the roles and skills that you are looking for in that role, and they scrub the network for all possible candidates, giving you ratings and places where you can go — and that is just with the click of a button.”
Pro-tip: In order to know which tooling your teams need, Agustin suggests start by making sure you understand what different teammates that are focused on hiring – HR team members as well as hiring managers – struggle with the most, and then work backwards from there: “I start by asking about their daily jobs and challenges, things like: ‘What do you complain about every day?’, ‘What is it about this process that usually sucks?’ or ‘What is it about this process that usually creates delays?’ I take that back to my team, and we try to find solutions that streamline all of those problems through one or two tools.”
Note: There’s no one-size-fits-all tool, so it’s important to spend the time doing the research with your teams to figure out which tool will solve the most problems for your specific set of constraints and requirements!
But the tools are not enough; it’s people that make the difference
Even though the tools are important, Agustin says that technology and tooling are just accessories to the real change you can affect. By leveraging technology, you’re enabling HR and hiring to use their expertise more than before. The tools enable the people to do better.
In other words, letting CRM and ATS handle the quantitative, repetitive tasks dramatically improves the support that HR can give to hiring teams around the qualitative hiring decisions they need to make about talent — for example, whether or not someone is a good cultural fit. “One thing tools and technology cannot do is to know whether or not candidates are the right cultural fit for your company”, he explains. HR team members, on the other hand, have been trained to recognise which people would fit in well, and this is the superpower they need the opportunity to contribute.
“Technology can give you a ‘good match’, but an HR team member knows the history of the company, knows your challenges and business objectives, and can give you valuable insights that you can’t find in any system.”
And more enabled teams reduces your time-to-hire
Not only do tools let HR teams support and enable their hiring teams better, but using them also reduces time to hire by letting hiring managers focus on the things they actually care about: “What hiring managers value most”, Agustin explains, “is getting the talent they want, and getting the positions they have open filled as soon as they can. This transformation means they no longer have to wait that long to get their teams fully staffed.”
Instead of scraping job boards and sifting through applications manually, Agustin’s hiring and HR teams can — within a few clicks — have a short-list of candidates. These profiles have been sourced and sorted by CRM and ATS, match the open position, and give an overview of what other teams’ pipelines look like. “Before”, he explains, “it was a case of ‘Who do I talk to if I want to know whether this team has someone for this role?’”
“With this transformation, all of the information you need becomes immediately available. In a couple of clicks, you find who to talk to, and can close your role in a matter of days.”
The future of HR
Agustin says that HR and hiring is at a point where the HR technology suites hold so much opportunity and potential, and are moving so quickly, that it’s a choice between getting involved or getting left behind. “It’s moving a lot faster now, it’s becoming more creative, and it’s adapting to what the new, young workforce is looking for right now. I see a continuous transformation cycle that will not stop.”
In addition, Agustin says that — although it might still work for some companies — outsourcing HR and hiring operations to agencies is going to be far more expensive in the long-run than having those expertise in-house, and leveraging technology.
“It also creates a lot of mobility opportunities”, Agustin adds. By working with tech and tooling, he’s providing his HR team exposure to new processes and collaboration with more teams. “And this creates developmental opportunities for people that are part of your project.”
In other words, transforming his team’s approach to HR and hiring, and making it tech-driven, means that he’s not only saving time and money now, but he’s building a system that makes his team more adaptable to new challenges in the future.
To hear more from Agustin about how he’s approaching HR transformation, and how he’s adapting his team to a tech-driven HR industry, register for the up-coming Equalture webinar here! He’ll be unpacking some new developments in HR, and how he’s applying the above technologies to other areas of HR and People Operations.