What Do Successful HR Departments & Technology Vendors Have in Common? A Good Onboarding Program

I attended a webinar last Thursday presented by HR Marketer and William Tincup, an expert in HR marketing and technology user adoption. The webinar, You Built It, They Bought It, But Do They Use It?, was designed to help HR technology marketers turn buyers into loyal users and advocates of their solutions. Throughout the presentation, Tincup advises marketers to treat customers the way good HR departments treat employees. At one point, he made the very true statement that many HR tech vendors are relentless when it comes to lead generation and gaining customers, but lose that vigor when it comes to getting their customers to actually use their product.

I think the same could be said for many HR departments: They are relentless when it comes to recruiting and signing Talent but do not approach ensuring their new hires are happy and productive with the same zeal. According to Tincup, one of the critical steps to successful user adoption of HR Technology is onboarding. He states that onboarding is not just about deployment and integration, it’s about creating excitement for a new process and making users feel special.

I believe the same is true for onboarding employees. How can HR departments take onboarding beyond just getting the necessary paperwork signed?

Successful onboarding requires many different tasks be accomplished by different parts of the organization, and it’s HR’s job to make sure these tasks are executed in a timely and efficient manner. Morgan Hoogvelt does a great job of explaining the basic elements of a successful onboarding program in his blog post Onboarding 101. With onboarding being such a critical part of the employee experience and the tasks being relatively simple, how do so many organizations get it wrong?

Oh yeah, they have about a million other mission-critical things happening at the same time. So what’s the key to completing these tasks successfully and making your new hires feel welcome, needed and special on Day 1?

As Hoogvelt points out in his follow-up post Onboarding 102, using technology to successfully automate these tasks and promote ownership and responsibility for specific assignments and duties is a step in the right direction.

Once you’ve defined your onboarding process, you can use a platform like Dovetail Support Suite for HR to automate onboarding tasks using a Rule Engine.  For example, whenever a new employee is brought on board, many things need to be done by different parts of the organization – assignment to a specific office space; provision of a desk, chair, book case, etc.; delivery and activation of a telephone; acquisition [or reassignment] of a computer; generation of a password and other credentials; and so forth.  These tasks are typically handled by people in different parts of an enterprise, such as Facilities, IT, HR, etc.  Sometimes there are dependencies – e.g., don’t deliver the computer until the new employee has a desk to put it on, etc. The Rule Engine can manage such a mélange of cross-organizational tasks easily.

It’s the details that shape your new hire’s overall experience and technology can help ensure you get ‘em right. As a HR technology vendor, I’m going to strive to follow Tincup’s recommendation to treat my customers the way good HR departments treat their employees. And hopefully, your HR department can be my example – starting with your onboarding process.


  • Steven Duque

    Emily, thanks for posting your reflections on William Tincup’s webinar. I had actually hoped to attend but, unfortunately, wasn’t able.

    We at Bullhorn Reach couldn’t agree more with this perspective–i.e., that the post-sale experience, especially with onboarding, makes all the difference, when it comes to building sustainable, long-term relationships with our partners in HR.

    My own career at Bullhorn has mirrored this shift in thinking, as we’ve moved out of the beta of our freemium version, have developed an enterprise edition and now are working with our first group of early adopting partners (from Marketing Manager, to Account Executive, to Recruiting Innovation & Optimization Evangelist).

    The moves have been made largely because of our leadership’s belief that it’s not enough to merely provide a set of tools; we have to guide our partners in how they can be successful with them. Especially in a category (social media recruiting) that is so new for everyone in the space, we have to be cognizant of the guidance that accompanies a complete solution.

    Thanks for the interesting read, Emily!

    • Emily Lewis

      Steve, thanks so much for the comment. Completely agree that our job as software vendors should not end with providing customers with a solution, part of our commitment should be enabling them to use that solution effectively. As Tincup pointed out in the webinar, vendors that do this will thrive. Sounds like you guys at Bullhorn have it figured out!


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