Strategic use of low-code in the staffing industry
In the highly competitive staffing industry, a leader must continuously improve to provide the best services to its clients. As an innovative provider of workforce solutions, Manpower Norway depends on great technology and software to support their core processes and ensure client satisfaction.
Since year 2000, Manpower Norway has used Genus as a strategic low-code application development platform to enable core modernization, innovation and automation across their business processes.
Based on our experience with the platform, we knew how quickly changes could be made with Genus and low-code development. This stands in contrast to our experiences with traditional programming.Sissel Nyegaard-Larsen, Business Analyst at Manpower Norway
ManpowerGroup is a world leader in innovative workforce solutions, connecting human potential to the power of business. ManpowerGroup serves both small and large organizations, across industry sectors, through their brands and offerings: ManpowerGroup Solutions, Experis, Manpower, and Right Management.
Manpower Norway is the largest staffing agency serving the Norwegian market. They employ more than 16 000 people each year through their 25 offices and 200 staffing consultants.
Software in a changing staffing industry
The key to success in the staffing industry lies in matching the right candidate with the right position. Every day, Manpower Norway facilitates that more than 6 000 employees go to work across industries in the Norwegian labor market.
To ensure a staffing process of both high quality and high efficiency, Manpower depends on technology and software to support their core processes. At the same time, they need systems that allow them to be flexible and innovative.
As a company with more than 50 years of history, Manpower has been in the center of an industry in evolution. Significant industry changes in both business practices, business processes and technology have forced the company to continuously evolve, scale and adapt – putting strains on their application infrastructure.
Innovate to automate
In several industries, running your business depends on having a certain number of qualified employees on-site. Especially within HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants and Catering) and healthcare, filling up ad-hoc vacant positions as a result of short-term sickness or other uncontrollable circumstances is vital.
From Manpower’s perspective, this presented an opportunity for innovation and to establish themselves as a market leader. Using their expertise within staffing, they aimed to significantly improve the process of staffing ad-hoc vacant positions.
Previously, when an employee called in sick or otherwise could not come to work, Manpower would primarily use phone lists to manually call qualified candidates. The process of finding the right candidates was both highly manual and inefficient.
As a starting point, an off-the-shelf planner software was evaluated in cooperation with their largest customer. However, by subjecting it to real-life scenarios and everyday challenges, Manpower experienced that there were still too many manual processes not supported, as well as realizing it did not have all the functionality Manpower was seeking.
Based on their experiences, Manpower decided to make a brief specification of their business goals and of what they wished to accomplish with the new solution. Lessons learned from the preliminary off-the-shelf project were combined with ambitions on how to make a revolutionary new service for both customers and employees.
To implement this service, Manpower chose to go with Genus and low-code – as it allowed for an agile and highly iterative approach to build and test the software in a short period of time. The innovation project was a joint effort between business experts, low-code developers and customers, where each iteration added new functionality and adjusted previously implemented functionality according to feedback from test users.
“Based on our experience with the platform, we knew how quickly changes could be made with Genus and low-code development. This stands in contrast to our experiences with traditional programming. The ability to easily make changes was especially important, as we were sure decisions would be made and reverted during the project,” said Sissel Nyegaard-Larssen, Business Analyst at Manpower Norway.
The result was a solution tailored to Manpower’s work processes. In the new web-based solution, each customer has a calendar with all its assignments connected to the specific employee that will be working that shift. If an employee calls in sick, the solution allows the customer to announce a vacant spot – and the application will automatically send out a notification to a pool of qualified candidates.
For the candidates, available opportunities can quickly be accepted through a mobile app. From the same app, they can also view their planned shifts and declare their availability for the coming days and weeks – feeding important information into the system. As a result, Manpower has become an orchestrator of the process – automating almost all manual steps.
“When using the new solution, I can be on location at a customer and within five minutes have the software up and running for that client. The employees make themselves available in the app which makes it easy for the customer to staff assignments. To this day, I have not seen a better solution in the market,” said Lars Morten Windelstad, Business Service Center Manager at ManpowerGroup.
In 2019, there were approximately 78 000 assignments fulfilled through the solution. It has contributed to reduced workloads and costs for both Manpower and their customers, as well as improved the experience, work routines and terms for their employees.
Modernizing the core
At the core of a staffing operations is the ability to generate accurate billing and payroll transactions based on contracts and reported time. In 2017, Manpower was facing a situation where their software for transaction generation was technologically outdated to the degree that there was a risk it would stop functioning. The legacy software was running on outdated infrastructure that could not be upgraded due to incompatibility, creating a conflict with security regulations in the company. Furthermore, the software itself was developed in-house, and the knowledge of how to maintain it was limited.
The challenge was daunting. Replacing a central piece of the IT architecture is always associated with high risks. The search for a solution started by evaluating off-the-shelf software, based on a global, strategic list of accepted vendors provided by ManpowerGroup central IT. A project to implement the then-chosen preferred solution was started but later aborted due to the costly and time-consuming customization of the software necessary in order to meet Manpower Norway’s requirements.
Seeking an alternative solution to the complex challenge, Manpower decided to go low-code with Genus. The platform promised the ability to quickly implement advanced rules engines, as well as its flexibility to integrate with other applications in the existing IT architecture.
“We chose Genus as we needed a platform that could implement the unique set of rules we have in our company due to the diversity of contracts and conditions for our customers and employee unions. Our experience showed us that our requirements were too detailed and complicated for off-the-shelf software,” said Lars Morten Windelstad.
Due to the flexibility of low-code, Manpower was able to use an incremental and agile development process. Each iteration broke the complexity of the system into manageable deliverables that were implemented and tested. The ease of making changes along the way also allowed Manpower to move fast forward and adjust or revert previous decisions when needed.
“One goal for the new transaction software was to reduce manual labor through process automation,“ said Windelstad. “After implementing the new solution with Genus, the number of automatically transactions requiring manual review was reduced from 51% to 25%. With 13 000 employee timesheets per month, this amounts to significant time savings.”
Since introducing the new transaction software, the goal for Manpower is to reach 21% manual reviews; a lower percentage is not feasible due to specialty contracts. This goal will be achieved by learning from daily use of the system and adapting the software through incremental changes that have positive effects on the automation process.
A low-code platform for the future
Manpower started using Genus in 2000 and have since built a variety of solutions for their staffing operations with the platform.
The core operational solution built with Genus is the operations management system. This system is primarily used for managing staffing and recruitment orders, as well as keeping track of employees. It is also used for analysis and reporting purposes.
Manpower’s low-code portfolio is further expanded to include a time capture system, the transaction generating pre-pay/pre-bill system, and the staffing planner, as described in this case study.
With Genus, Manpower has also established one common, company-specific data model across their low-code applications – allowing for even more rapid implementation of new functionality and new solutions.