The Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D. C., was filled with animated hubbub and palpable excitement as over 250 attendees of #AvatureUpfront 2023 gathered to share the insights, challenges and success stories of their Avature journeys, as well as be the first to hear about what’s coming down the line for our platform.
A diverse pool of HR leaders, business analysts and technical professionals engaged in meaningful conversations, exchanged experiences and made the most of a packed agenda that included a dozen customer presentations, multiple Avature-led workshops and numerous sessions showcasing the latest and greatest capabilities to hit the Avature platform.
Let’s dive into the key moments that defined #AvatureUpfront 2023.
Embracing Entrepreneurship in HR
#AvatureUpfront 2023 kicked off with CEO Dimitri Boylan’s opening remarks, who encouraged attendees to embrace their inner entrepreneurs and be catalysts for change to realize their organization’s talent vision.
Like nature, Avature is created with intention, is ever-evolving and forms an interconnected ecosystem that is stronger than the sum of the parts. Boylan encouraged clients to reflect on their unique business needs, both current and future, develop a deep understanding of technology tools, and carefully consider how they can leverage these systems for a strategic, sustainable and symbiotic HR tech solution.
The Power of Strategic Planning
Successful implementations rely first on comprehensive planning. Bain and LinkedIn took the stage at #AvatureUpfront 2023 to showcase the strategies they deployed when faced with data migration, the merger of instances and tight timelines.
Erica Rutherford, Director of Technology at Bain, returned to the stage this year to showcase the results of the consulting management firm’s “One Team, One System” initiative, a journey that started in 2020 when they decided to streamline their recruitment strategy with Avature by merging their two instances.
Bain’s consolidation initiative was deployed in four stages and culminated in expanded relationship management capabilities: more than twelve TA teams using one instance, zero disruption during implementation and on-time go-live. The reasons behind this success: accurately documenting everything at the start, validating assumptions with key stakeholders and maintaining communication throughout the process.
Having the data flowing seamlessly across all processes in real-time was a game changer for TA teams that allowed for better data-driven decisions. Now, the company leverages Avature’s AI capabilities to source talent more effectively and deliver robust diversity and inclusion initiatives.
LinkedIn’s presentation on their Avature journey made another strong case for strategic decision-making and meticulous planning. LinkedIn is where organizations go to find the best talent, but to ensure they have the right people in their pipelines, they came to Avature. Their super-fast CRM implementation resulted from essential considerations that set the stage for their success.
Cristina Leonard, Senior Enterprise Technical Systems Engineer at LinkedIn, spoke about the three-phase approach that allowed them to deploy Avature CRM within a tight timeline and highlighted the importance of asking the right questions for anyone embarking on an implementation journey.
Knowing what problems need solving and what the business necessities are, apart from being able to gather requirements, is extremely important in this process. This preparation, she pointed out, surpasses TA teams and involves everyone, from legal, governance and finance to engineering and security.
She closed the keynote by emphasizing that every implementation is an opportunity to dream big, be in the driver’s seat and leave room for future expansions.
“When using a SaaS product like Avature, the possibilities are endless. There are so many directions you can go. Keep the end user and the project’s goals in mind, and you can avoid building yourself into a corner.”
Senior Enterprise Technical Systems Engineer at LinkedIn
The Case for Powerful Automation
At #AvatureUpfront 2023, one of the hot topics was automation, with many customers looking to drive increased efficiency and free up their teams to focus on more strategic tasks. The conference showcased how leading companies harness this capability to revolutionize their talent strategies and drive business success.
In 2020, Xerox, the pioneer for office tech, implemented Avature ATS, CRM, Onboarding, Events and Hiring Manager solutions. However, they still needed help with one pain point regarding their Job Evaluation and Global Job Library, which depended on an outdated HR system.
A sudden 30 percent increase in the cost of this legacy technology sparked Xerox to rethink how they could manage this process. The manual creation of job records, limited data fed into their ATS, lack of visibility for hiring managers and a heavy burden on HR teams with administrative tasks resulted in less time to focus on sourcing and attracting talent.
They saw the opportunity to consolidate their tech stack and knew Avature could adapt to their specific process. By automating these heavily manual processes with Avature, Xerox has significantly reduced administrative burden, driving impressive ROI. Beginning in 2024, Xerox will see an 83 percent reduction in costs and an 80 percent reduction in total job evaluation hours for HRBPs.
Make It Scalable
Manual offer letter writing was starting to become a significant pain point for a company with the wingspan of New Relic. The procedure required revision, which involved systematizing up to 90 pathways across 17 nations. That is until they automated the offer letter writing process in Avature, which the talent acquisition team describes as one of the platform’s most outstanding capabilities.
Erica McGill, Sr. Manager of TA Systems and Operations, explained that the organization needed “automated everything,” from type of offer, approval routing, letter generation and notifications to e-signatures and background checks.
Through standardizing and simplifying, TA teams could define criteria to identify each type of offer. They decided on a minimalist approach that allowed the company to lead with their own data model, scale the process and plan for the future. With an average of 300 offers extended per quarter, the People team spent up to 60 minutes per letter, resulting in 300 hours. After Avature implementation, the same number of letters take 12 hours per quarter, an outstanding time and cost reduction per headcount.
The Skills Factor
Returning to the #AvatureUpfront stage this year, the University of Phoenix shared their struggle to find suitable candidates for their positions. In their words, the task was comparable to “finding a needle in a haystack,” and they only had two staffers appointed to carry it out. At the same time, the job landscape is constantly changing. For recruiters, the leg work has exponentially increased as they try to source and vet candidates rapidly or face being outpaced by a competitor.
Annie Varghese, Director of HR Information Systems & Analytics, and Joshua Seagle, Sr. HRIS SaaS Analyst, delivered a presentation that highlighted the importance of AI-driven automation to get ahead in recruiting processes. Implementing our platform aims to reduce bias in their high-volume hiring with a forward-thinking approach based on skills matching and candidate recommendations.
Streamlining High-Volume Hiring Efforts
Almost no other recruiting scenario relies so heavily on automation than high-volume hiring. And at #AvatureUpfront, two organizations shared their insights on this topic.
lululemon, the Canadian activewear multinational, faced an unprecedented recruiting challenge for their 670+ stores in 24 countries. The TA team pondered their need to recruit for many positions and asked how the process could become friendlier and more engaging for managers with minimal capacity to spend on the task.
Brandon Patillo, Senior Systems Analyst of Tech Talent Enablement, and Madeline McParland, Senior Functional Analyst of People & Culture Digital Solutions, walked the audience through the strategy that allowed the company to decentralize end-to-end store hiring while empowering 5,000 store managers to navigate the system.
With Avature as a partner, they implemented customized portals that automated administrative tasks with a friendly UI designed for managers who aren’t recruiting full-time.
At the same time, they upskilled analysts with Avature certifications, which enabled the opportunity to self-sustain. Overall, the optimization efforts reduced the time to hire from weeks and months to a few days, leading to a 25 percent increase in hires during peak seasons.
Shifting the Role of Recruiters
Winner of the Best Presentation Award at #AvatureUpfront, Wayfair, the billion-dollar e-commerce company, shared another powerful high-volume hiring success story. Receiving nearly a million applications annually, Wayfair recruiters conduct almost 30,000 interviews, hiring over 15,000 candidates.
Their legacy system was holding them back. In 2021, the team had already seen a 400 percent increase in hiring demand for high-volume roles, with projections for headcount to increase by 50 percent for at least the next three years. Having exhausted all opportunities to gain recruiter efficiency, Wayfair faced the unsustainable solution of hiring an additional 95 recruiters over the next three years to keep up. So, they turned to Avature to find a solution to help them scale with the existing headcount.
Hannah Rebecchi, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition Technology, walked the audience through their 12-month implementation beginning in early 2022, as well as the headline results. Avature’s high-volume hiring automation not only streamlined the recruitment process but also fundamentally shifted the role of recruiters.
- By automating 70 percent of administrative tasks, recruiters could devote more time to strategic tasks like sourcing and engaging top-tier talent.
- Automation has also helped with screening, enabling recruiters to focus their efforts on qualified talent and reducing days in application review by 88 percent, from 17 to just two days.
- Finally, it has enabled a candidate-driven approach whereby candidates drive progress rather than waiting on recruiters, for example, through self-scheduling interviews. This has prompted a 72 percent reduction in time to process.
A Continuous Improvement Mindset
Facing challenges stemming from an outdated Avature CRM implementation in 2019, JLL embarked on a transformative reimplementation effort. The initial system lacked support for the evolved talent acquisition operating model, leading to user reliance on individual methods, complex tagging criteria and manual, time-consuming reporting.
Charles Lilly, Product Management Lead of Global HR Technology, and Amanda Pleasant, Director of Global Talent Sourcing, explained how JLL carried out workshops and collaborative sessions to actively involve users in the redesign process, ensuring their insights and needs were incorporated into the new Avature framework.
Additionally, JLL tackled adoption challenges head-on through a comprehensive change management strategy. They successfully navigated the reimplementation process by addressing user concerns, providing tailored training, and offering ongoing support. The result was a remarkable increase in usage, with a year-over-year rise from averaging less than 500 activities to nearly 14,000 at peak times.
This significant uptick underscored the effectiveness of their approach and Avature’s adaptability in transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and efficiency.
Like JLL, KellyOCG realized that a key element of their Avature implementation could be updated: their hiring manager portal. With a focus on user experience, they made it more intuitive, automated and less dependent on the input of recruiters. At the same time, they embedded a new approval hierarchy for different types of hires, such as contractors and FTEs.
True to their innovative spirit, they also identified several other opportunities to evolve their Avature ecosystem beyond the Hiring Manager Portal. In this sense, they implemented Avature’s Performance Management solution to replace a rigid legacy system that hindered adoption. With Avature Performance Management, they have created a user-friendly experience that fosters meaningful conversations between managers and team members – key to driving retention in today’s competitive market.
Lastly, as part of a revenue-generating initiative that delivers a competitive advantage in the direct sourcing market, the staffing firm showcased its new Avature-powered Custom Portal Solution. A talent-centric portal that Kelly can customize to reflect the individual brand identities of their own customers, this bespoke solution allows candidates to explore opportunities across their portfolio of clients while interacting with recruiters in one place, making communication easier and more impactful.
Digital technology acts as a catalyst for Kelly’s transformation and superior performance in today’s dynamic labor market. Avature, with its advanced automation, AI and analytics capabilities and signature flexibility, is the core of Kelly’s evolving talent technology stack.
Hope Bradford, Senior Director of Digital Transformation at Kelly Services, says, “Consolidating all core HR tasks into one platform ensured consistent interactions for candidates and employees while giving managers a unified view for efficient decision-making. This unity enhanced engagement, communication, and overall organizational success.”
Reimagining Internal Mobility
With a long history of commitment to a mobility culture, McCann Worldgroup realized that the reality fell short of their statement of intent since they needed a global platform to support their internal mobility policy and promote awareness. With Avature, the international marketing services company was able to bring to life a mobility strategy built on efficient workflow-driven processes, branded portals and customized communications that delivered an enhanced employee experience.
Skills became a critical aspect of this transformation. Partnership with Avature enables McCann Worldgroup employees to provide interests, passions and skills and indicate their interests in opportunities for mobility in their comprehensive talent profiles. The company now plans on leveraging the internal mobility network to match new business pitch needs and short-term assignments to interested employees with AI for their journey ahead.
The Power of Community
Conference attendees consistently highlight the benefits of getting together with the collaborative and engaged Avature community at #AvatureUpfront. But beyond networking opportunities, this year’s conference offered a masterclass in getting the most from the Avature community.
Megan DeVille, Senior HRIS Analyst at Laitram, delivered an exceptional demonstration (and a couple of Lord of the Rings memes!) on leveraging Avature’s User Community to brainstorm solutions for a problem, offer recommendations or double-checks on system changes, help find other Avature customers with a similar situation and leverage a one-time knowledge exchange, or search for short or long-term creative partners.
She even invited two of hers on stage, Epic’s Jeff Sonntag and National Veterinary Associate’s Kristin Golec, to speak about how they were able to collaborate and influence each other in their respective implementations.
The presentation finished with an invitation to begin building a fellowship between companies at the annual System Admin Meetup conducted during #AvatureUpfront.
Road to the Future
Avature also had lots of exciting new developments to share with attendees. The first day concluded with our highly anticipated roadmap, and we also announced our hot-out-of-the-press integration with LinkedIn that will allow recruiting teams to hire qualified candidates faster by helping them collaborate better and optimize their talent attraction efforts.
Boylan introduced HR Case Management, our latest solution designed in collaboration with leading HR practitioners to help teams resolve workforce issues through engagement and cooperation, ultimately improving the health of organizations. After last year’s first peek at Avature Learning, attendees saw it in action during this year’s conference.
Across the Power User Academy and Tech Tracks, our experts shared the latest and greatest of Avature, including the platform’s outstanding AI capabilities, a more dynamic UI and the functionalities and updates that will increase configurability, autonomy and agility, empowering users to execute their innovative ideas digitally.
Every year, #AvatureUpfront provides a stimulating forum for the members of our community to exchange views, foster collaboration and spark creativity. Attendees left D.C. inspired, equipped with the knowledge and tools to transform their HR strategies, setting a new standard for excellence in the ever-evolving world of human resources.
See you next year!