IT solutions for temporary work agencies

Working with temporary employment agencies has allowed us to take stock of how they use technology. This text is an analysis of our interviews with agency owners and their employees: managers, coordinators and recruiters. Digitising processes is an obvious step in such a business, but it is difficult to find an agency where everyone is happy with the solutions used.

Situation in APT

The day-to-day tasks of coordinators and recruiters in a temporary work agency are much more varied and complex than in other HR services companies. To ensure continuity of employment in projects, they have to process a lot more employee data, legalise their stay and work, provide accommodation, transport, work attire and sometimes even tools.

What came as a huge surprise was the vastly different levels of digitisation of agency operations. There were cases where the primary tool of the coordinators was a notepad (and I don't mean the Windows 'notepad' application), and the physical files of the workers were regularly reviewed to determine if any of the documents had expired. We have only encountered one case where a large and complex ERP system was successfully implemented and regularly used by all employees.

Spreadsheets are everywhere!

Most often, however, we encounter spreadsheets used for all aspects of the agency's operations. Each coordinator usually uses several of their own spreadsheets to handle selected processes. Separately for recruitment, separately for employment and legalisation, plus accommodation and management of other resources - up to a dozen independent files in total. Plus archive versions - they copy the sheets into separate folders each month - although this is not the rule. How do they share data with colleagues? They send another copy - e.g. by email.

praca zespołowa w agencji
Collaboration between employees is most often done by sending sheets by email.

Unfortunately, the extremely useful functions in the sheets are quite rarely used: shared documents in the cloud, data access control, automatic change tracking, data filtering, conditional formatting, combining data from different sheets. This is because they are not at all trivial to set up, and it is quite often the agency employee himself who is responsible for creating his own sheets.

Business software in agencies

Temporary workers are employed by the agency itself, so if HR and payroll are not subcontracted, then the implementation of a specialised payroll/accounting software is necessary. The problem arises when it is to be used by more than just qualified HR. It is simply cumbersome and difficult, and usually ends up with no one using it. The same is true of ERP systems, which offer great possibilities but cause a lot of worry for 'less technical' users.

Increasingly, we are seeing the adaptation of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems - sales management software for recruitment and employment coordination. They offer many interesting functions, but the transfer of many processes, typical of temporary work, is sometimes inaccurate and sometimes impossible. The CRM systems most commonly used by agencies, however, originate from Russia, which means that many agencies are now changing software.

What about software for the HR industry?

Many recruiters use so-called ATSs, or recruitment systems. There are many very convenient tools of this type, but then they work independently of the coordinators, who still have to provide their own tools for their daily work. There is then no easy collaboration between coordinators and recruiters. Despite good recruitment programmes, there are more worksheets, more unnecessary emails and a mass of extra files that get lost somewhere on disks or memory sticks.

rekrutacja z notatnikiem zamiast komputera
We were able to find an agency where recruitment was conducted without the use of a computer. A paper notebook was the primary source of information for selecting candidates.

We also encountered the use of HRM (Human Resources Management) type systems, sometimes even including a module for recruitment and organisation of documents in employee files. Two systems even had basic functions for HR and accounting programmes and for managing resources, such as housing. However, neither owners nor employees were satisfied with any of the systems. Despite time-consuming and careful implementation - the programmes were difficult to use and did not save users valuable time.

What are the main problems associated with the use of technology in temporary employment agencies?

We have identified dozens of problems, but for the purposes of this text we will only present the most important ones:

  1. It's not easy to summarise the current status of activities in the agency. A holistic picture of activity is difficult to access and requires the work of many employees to gather information from many sources and create clear reports. For this reason, such summaries are not created very often and show only the most basic indicators. We even encountered a case where several specialists were employed exclusively for this task!
  2. It is difficult to determine which data are up to date and which are not. Data on candidates, temporary employees and other information is stored in different formats, in many versions, by many agency staff. It can take a surprisingly long time to get to even such trivial information about whether a person is working on a particular project. We have seen hundreds of such examples. In each case, the simple act of checking the information could take hours and involve several employees.
  3. Collaboration between agency staff is very difficult. Most often, they have their own set of data - as if they were running independent agencies. The reality, however, is that the exchange of information between them is still needed, and the technology most often used makes it more difficult - rather than easier. Moving an employee to another project, to another accommodation or even seamlessly transferring information about a hired candidate to HR requires too much time and attention from too many employees.
  4. Errors are difficult to detect. Agencies can face quite serious consequences for trivial and common mistakes. Typos, a lost document, an out-of-date permit expiry date or even missing an important date risk incurring painful financial penalties.
  5. The software implemented in the agency is used sporadically and reluctantly. In those agencies that provide advanced systems to their staff, we almost always encounter user reluctance. Functionalities that seem useful are a nuisance and another worry instead of making work easier. Employees feel they are wasting their time typing in unnecessary data and often prefer to do the same in spreadsheets! After interviews with these employees, we noticed that the programmes were not very clear, required a lot of steps for basic processes, and were very slow to run.
  6. Implementation of new software cost a lot and took a long time. The implementation time for a complex CRM or ERP can exceed up to six months. Implementation companies can hardly be expected to have the experience of working with staffing agencies, so many specific requirements and processes will require analysts and sometimes programmers. Each hour of specialists comes at a high price, and a lot of agency staff need to be involved. The dream of a new system that takes care of everything quite quickly becomes a nightmare.
  7. The development of the scale of the agency's operations has come at a huge cost. In the traditional model of operating on sheets, the number of employees looked after by one coordinator has to be significantly reduced, usually ranging from 20-50 people. It can exceed 100 for experienced coordinators, provided that they are all employed on the same project. In fact, this is the most common way of optimising work - dividing coordinators by project. How many people can a coordinator effectively manage if he or she has several projects under him or her? A lot less.

Is it worth investing in a dedicated - bespoke system?

Ordering an IT system exclusively for your own needs seems to solve most problems. We can freely define processes, automate the most important activities and adapt data fields to specific requirements.

The business analysis and initial software design, created by experienced specialists from the best 'software-houses', is several months of intensive work, involving a large part of the agency's team. And this is only the beginning. The creation of the software, testing of subsequent versions, data entry, testing, training are not only valuable time, but also a large cost of remuneration for the developers.

There is also no guarantee that the outcome of such a project will meet expectations. Among the agencies that have implemented a bespoke system - more than half have not started using software they have been working on for more than 12 months. In most of the remaining cases, the created system was implemented, but met a small part of the agency's needs. It is important to remember that with such a digitisation model, there is no opportunity to test the solution before a large financial time commitment.

Konsultacje przy tworzeniu oprogramowania dedykowanego
The purchase of software involves a lot of agency staff.

How can the LightApply system solve the agency's problems?

We based our idea for the system on our many years of experience in the IT industry and the studied needs of temporary work agencies. We create software comparable to dedicated solutions, but instead of analysing the needs of one company, we study the processes in many very similar ones, namely temporary employment agencies.

We have launched a system that is an essential tool for the daily work of recruiters and coordinators. We digitise recruitment processes, support communication with candidates, ensure electronic versions of employee documents are kept and reminders of expiry dates. We streamline internal communication within the agency and help manage housing resources more efficiently and quickly. You can read more about the capabilities of the LightApply system on the 'Platform' page.

Panel analityczny systemu LightApply na ekranie laptopa
In addition to many features for recruiters and coordinators, we provide a handy analytics dashboard for agency managers.

The LightApply system is available in the cloud for all agency staff, on a 'SaaS' (Software as a Service) subscription model. This means a small monthly subscription payment, depending on the number of temporary employees. We regularly introduce new features and enhancements that automatically appear in the system without the need to involve anyone from the agency. We offer a 7-day trial of the application to all interested parties.

    Share your opinion

    Which problems have occurred in your agency?
    It's not easy to summarise the current status of activities in the agency.It is difficult to determine which data are up to date and which are not.Collaboration between agency staff is very difficult.Errors are difficult to detect.The software implemented in the agency is used sporadically and reluctantly.Implementation of new software cost a lot and took a long time.The development of the scale of the agency's operations has come at a huge cost.