Solving a human resources puzzle with Dynamics 365

Jan 18, 2018   |  

When the market doesn’t offer the tool you need, build it yourself.

That’s the way Jay Clem views the world. He leads the Microsoft Human Resources IT team, and his team just helped the Dynamics 365 product team build a new feature that Microsoft Human Resources needed and will soon use.

“We have a really capable team, and frankly, I felt having the opportunity to co-develop commercial software would be a great opportunity,” Clem says. “So, I said, ‘hey, what we need is an interview management system, so why don’t we partner with Dynamics 365 and build one together?’”

Clem went to James Phillips, corporate vice president in charge of Dynamics 365, PowerApps, and other Microsoft business applications, and asked him if his team could help build Dynamics 365 for the Talent: Attract and Talent: Onboard modular apps, which launched November 1.

“He said, ‘let’s give this a try,’” says Clem. “We basically gave them a couple of additional sprint teams that could hit the ground running—that ended up giving them a lot of valued capacity in a co-dev model.”

And now Clem’s team is helping to bring “Talent: Attract” and “Talent: Onboard” to Microsoft—Microsoft Human Resources will start using it in the spring.

Dynamics 365 for Talent: Attract weaves together LinkedIn knowledge, Office 365 integration capabilities, and Microsoft AI to help hiring managers find the best talent and streamline the hiring process. Dynamics 365 for Talent: Onboard picks up where Attract leaves off, using LinkedIn and Office 365 to help new employees engage with their new team before they even start.

“What we built first are capabilities where we thought there was a deficiency in the marketplace,” Clem says. “When you apply for a job, you can include your LinkedIn profile—a lot of systems do that. What they don’t do is set up interviews, manage the offer, and have a candidate portal that you can check into to see how your application is progressing. We used our new co-development model to build that into Attract.”

If a candidate is hired, a new employee can then use the same Dynamics 365 Attract portal to onboard, where, thanks to integration with LinkedIn, they will be able to get to know their new teammates before they meet them on their first day. The Onboard portal can also be used to provide the employee with other information they will need to get started and to feel welcome.

Bringing Dynamics 365 Attract back to Microsoft

Co-developing with Clem’s team is giving the Dynamics 365 product group more help than coding, it’s also providing crucial insight from an enterprise customer, says Lorrissa Horton, group product manager for Dynamics 365 for Talent.

“The real benefit is understanding what the needs are around the HR stack,” Horton says. “They definitely helped us shape the product by providing feedback.”

One of the reasons the team ended up building key components of the new Attract applications is the team wanted to help provide a better experience for new employees joining the company.

Horton says the Dynamics 365 product group wants to play at the enterprise size where it makes sense, and she agrees with Clem that the best way to get started is to tackle areas where there is weakness in the market. She said Clem’s team on the IT side and his partners in Human Resources are key allies because they know where the gaps are—they live with them every day.

“We took HR’s pain points, and turned those into product,” Horton says. “We are really leading from an HR mindset. We did our research, and we said, ‘look, here’s what we found. What do you guys think about this?’ They gave us feedback and helped reshape some of the ideas. What we launched was heavily influenced by their ideas.”

Winning Microsoft as a customer was an important step, Horton says.

“Landing Microsoft as a Dynamics customer is actually a pretty unique situation,” Horton says. “Microsoft is a very large, complex, international customer. It’s not easy to win its business, so the fact that—through this co-development—we are able to fulfill the needs of Microsoft is a real win for us. Our customers can look at what do we do for Microsoft and see how they can replicate it at their companies.”

Creating a Microsoft experience

Microsoft Human Resources is taking a modern, modular approach to how it digitally transforms its entire hire-to-retire system, says Chuck Edward, Human Resource’s corporate vice president of Global Talent Acquisition.

The work Human Resources does behind the scenes is built on SAP at the core—the modern and modular refers to surrounding that core with friendly, easy-to-use applications that feel like Microsoft when you use them. The work Clem’s team is doing to bring Talent: Attract to Microsoft is designed to make a job candidate or new hire feel like they are having an immersive experience that is very much Microsoft.

“It’s not the glitzy part of the process, but we do have to get it right,” Edward says. “To have Dynamics 365 provide a good look and feel, a user interface that says, ‘Welcome to Microsoft,’ that’s great. That’s music to my ears.”

For Clem, bringing Human Resources together with the Dynamics 365 product group is part of embracing the company’s new collaborative culture.

“Kathleen (Hogan) wants HR to be a first and best customer, and I took her literally,” says Clem, referring to the Microsoft executive vice president of Human Resources and Edward’s boss. “I said, ‘great, if we’re going to dogfood our own stuff, let’s put this into practice.’ Let’s help Dynamics build solutions that take advantage of our own Microsoft technology, and then let’s go use it ourselves. That was the challenge we threw down at the team.”

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