How scalable systems can be used to find the right people, bring a new product idea to life, and help it grow quickly and profitably.
Starting a new company that disrupts the status quo in a conservative industry is challenging at best, but developing it in such a way that it can grow quickly while maintaining its entrepreneurial, “can do” culture requires systems and procedures that are smart, effective, efficient, and, most importantly, scalable. This is how Mitrex tripled employee headcount to more than 100 people in fewer than 18 months while maintaining a methodical, systematic approach to growth to capitalize on the sales momentum generated by the company’s innovative and affordable solar cladding and glass products.
Building a new $120 million manufacturing plant, launching new building-integrated photovoltaic products, and keeping up with rapid sales growth is not for the faint of heart. At Mitrex, we knew that the only way to maintain control under such dynamic growth conditions was to systematically and simultaneously grow headcounts in almost all departments – marketing, sales, design, R&D, estimating, production, and project management. The key to supporting this multi-faceted expansion was to develop customized systems and processes that would help the company maintain order and effectiveness while achieving immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals. These are the steps we followed to create a customized system for talent acquisition and management that met all of our needs:
- Start with the end in mind. Mitrex Inc. was a start-up that was incubated within GCAT Group. With that incubation came some of GCAT’s inherited systems and procedures – not ideal for Mitrex, but workable. The goal for talent acquisition and management was to infuse the company with an entrepreneurial and can-do mindset, one that would carry it through its growth to 1,500 employees by 2026. The end goal was to create a workable system that was effective, efficient, and could easily expand as the company grew around the world.
- Creating a workable manual process. The challenge with a start-up is that you don’t know what you don’t know. We opted to develop workable procedures and combine them into a comprehensive system that worked. As we started hiring people and flushing out potential limitations, we were able to quickly modify our system until we reached a point where the system’s functionality met all of our needs. We used Easypay for payroll, an existing time-clock for clocking work hours, Indeed for finding candidates, Zoom for remote interviews, HRprimed for onboard training, and Dropbox for storing candidate/new hire files, resumes, and video interviews. We administered our benefits program manually. At this point, the demands of this system were fairly low, at about two hires a month.
- Improve system effectiveness. As the demand for hiring people grew, we decided to take the best-of-breed route and improve the effectiveness of the most critical part of our system – namely the talent acquisition. We looked at various systems and decided on Talent Pool Builder software, an innovative applicant tracking system. With automated video interviews, and being able to pull candidates from additional sources such as LinkedIn, Monster, and ZipRecruiter, we greatly improved our effectiveness in acquiring highly talented candidates and in greater numbers. At this point we brought on two more staff in the talent acquisition and management department to handle the increased workload. However, it was the ATS system that supported the fivefold productivity growth. Even with the additional HR staff, there was no way we could have attained that growth without the ATS system.
- Integrate for improved efficiency. Our system was working well, but problems began to surface. We had islands of functionality that needed to work better together. We decided that it was time to integrate the components into a comprehensive system that was highly efficient, and was also more accessible to all employees. After much consideration, we decided on ADP Workforce to integrate all the outstanding components. Workforce would also serve as a platform were we could add employees in other countries, as ADP software is used in more than 100 countries worldwide.
- Automate for scalability. Transitioning our system to ADP Workforce would allow us to infinitely scale our talent acquisition and management system to achieve our goal of hiring 1,500 employees by 2026. We migrated all of our components into Workforce, other than Talent Pool Builder. Instead we opted to create links to ADP Workforce so we could continue to use our best-of-breed applicant tracking system. The resulting system was stable and ideally suited to our needs. Best of all, the system was scalable to support our continued growth.
Why didn’t we just use ADP Workforce from the start? As a start-up, we needed to better understand our needs before we jumped into a system that may not have been best suited for us, or one that was not customizable enough for our needs. We needed to educate ourselves on our homegrown system before we could determine what would be best for us later on. In other words, we had to walk before we could run.
Jim Pappas is head of talent acquisition and management at Mitrex Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Click here for this week's issue of The Zweig Letter!