Be Creative in a Crisis

In 2008 I was a bright-eyed bushy-tailed sales representative at an American IT reseller. It was a rather memorable year for most in North America as it presented a lot of hardships for both people and companies, it was the financial crisis. It was sad, worrying and disheartening to wake up daily and hear about the next company that filed for bankruptcy.

Although I resided in Canada and worked from the Toronto office, my territory was in the US and I was directly impacted by what was happening. What I found most interesting was how extremely different companies were in approaching this. Most of us anticipated, and in some cases were quite correct, that our clients would basically put their procurement teams on lock-down.

The PC’s would need to be kept for another year and no new servers. Alternatively, other companies did a 360 view at how they conducted business and decided to be pragmatic and think long term. Sometimes this means spending money in order to save money. For example, VMware had been piquing a lot of interest at the time. It offered cloud and virtualization software and services, reducing the money spent on hardware, the maintenance for the hardware and the real estate/electricity required to house the hardware. Some went one-step further, outside of the server room doors, and looked at all departments to see where a technology spend could eliminate a different expenditure. There was always one money-waster that kept surfacing; travel. Prior to ‘the crisis’, it was not uncommon to send someone across the country for a one-hour meeting, put them up in a hotel and fly them back the next morning. These were often internal meetings that did not physically require the presence of that person, just their input. We now saw the focus to IT solutions such as Microsoft Roundtable that allowed for team meetings from remote locations. Yes, it was an expense, but the company knew they were investing in a long-term savings solution that far exceeded their initial investment.

Naturally I decided to move to Europe in the middle of its own economic crisis. Again, I saw mixed views on how to deal with the situation. Some have opted not to spend, others spend wisely to not only benefit themselves, but also keep the economy moving. During a crisis, new technology often receives pushback because a. it’s new (read: I’ve gotten by without it) and b. because there is a cost associated with it. Technology often provides efficiency, and efficiency saves time. As much as I hate to be cliché (but not really): time is money, people. If you pay your employee to do a task that takes a month, you paid a months salary for that task to be completed. If you invest in a tool that can do that task for less than that month of salary and in a fraction of the time, you have saved money. We see this often in the recruitment process. Speak to any recruiter and they will tell you that they rarely have 9-5 days. They have heavy workloads and candidates that are not always available to speak within business hours because of their current jobs. Imagine you could ask all of the same questions to your candidates, to which they could then answer at a time of their convenience and you don’t need to be present? This isn’t wizardry… it’s automated video interviewing. One step further is live video interviews. Remember that pesky travel cost that many American companies did away with in 2008? Forgo spending candidate time and company money having them travel to an office for an interview and conduct it remotely.
It’s always best to take a look at what it actually costs you when you don’t consider technology in your workplace… even before a financial crisis occurs. Inefficiency ain’t cheap.


 

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