United States Department of Agriculture Case Study


A Talent Management Success Story – How the USDA Saved Millions of Dollars and Drastically Cut Time-To-Hire

Impact

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) launches a groundbreaking human resources (HR) enterprise solutions project – saving millions of dollars in operating costs while dramatically cutting time-to-hire cycles.

The Challenge

As a result of a rapidly changing and cost-constrained environment, the USDA was experiencing increased difficulty maintaining and managing the disparate HR technology systems needed to fulfill its mission. There was a lack of focused stakeholder engagement and no cohesive HR strategy, resulting in excessively lengthy time-to-hire cycles, among other consequences. With 29 USDA agencies and offices — each with their own mission and business requirements — fragmented technology systems without a unified Human Resource Information Technology (HRIT) strategy presented formidable obstacles for effective HR service delivery.

The failure to implement a broad, impactful solution resulted in the lack of integration between the agencies. Each went their own way and operated as a silo. Due to this lack of enterprise visibility, free-flowing exchange and standardized workflow, supervisors couldn’t share valuable information about available candidates, staffing needs, training programs and any additional information. This further hinders the ability to place the very best talent in the most appropriate roles in an efficient manner. In other words, there was no comprehensive strategy, which conflicted with the department’s commitment to timely, optimal HR service excellence and stakeholder engagement.

The structure was also costly. “Whether it was staffing, onboarding, HR duties/ tasks, training or any one of a number of tasks, every agency paid for its own set of tech vendors,” says Billy Milton Jr., Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), USDA. “We knew we were paying more than we would with a total, enterprise-level integration. With a single point of IT procurement, you’ll benefit from economies of scale on discounts and license fees.”

At an operational level, USDA sought to establish greater quality control.

“Due to the piecemeal nature of our IT framework, there was no single point of entry,” Milton says. “There was no single point of oversight. No one could honestly address this fundamental inquiry: ‘What is standard operating procedure for the department?’ This made it difficult to properly maintain our IT assets, much less improve them.”

“Whether it was staffing, onboarding, HR duties/tasks, training or any one of a number of tasks, every agency paid for its own set of tech vendors.”

–Billy Milton Jr., Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) at USDA

THE GOALS

  • Consolidate human capital IT systems for 29 agencies and offices while streamlining procedures and eliminating overlapping, costly purchases.
  • Build an automated suite that would ultimately deliver total visibility to the USDA via a standardized, cloud-based Shared Service Center (SSC) that would be intuitive and user-friendly.
  • Incorporate enough flexibility within the solution to align with the
    different requirements of individual agencies, while addressing a
    geographically dispersed workforce.
  • Save the USDA money and reduce time to hire.
  • Launch a high-quality service-delivery enterprise model, leading to better hiring, onboarding and training to foster a more productive and engaged workforce.
  • Create new, repeatable solutions in response to a single set of federal requirements, specifically the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM’s) Human Resources Line of Business (HRLOB), and the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Plan to Reform Federal Information
  • Technology Management’s Shared Services Strategy.
  • Provide USDA with an adaptable “customer-focused” workforce system which enhances the ability to attract, hire, train, and retain a diverse and ever changing workforce.
  • Leverage existing processes and technologies where it makes
    business sense.
  • Support the transition of the HR professionals to strategic advisors.
  • Transform HR from a transaction oriented function to a strategic one that contributes tangible value to business-decision support.

One USDA HRIT Architecture

Critical First Steps

The department chartered “One USDA” as its central HR enterprise solutions project. One USDA is a modern, cost-effective, standardized and interoperable HR solution that unifies functions as common-core roles, supporting human-capital management as a strategic mission, as opposed to a fragmented collection of disparate processes. It filled the need for a fully automated, cloud-based SSC to which all human capital IT operations would migrate.

In order to get One USDA started, the core team discussed and evaluated initial steps with frontline HR managers and 150 subject-matter experts from all 29 USDA agencies. Collectively, the team researched and compiled the first-ever listing of 20,000 HR business requirements, which served as the solution’s foundation. This effort imparted a sense of both empowerment and project ownership throughout the department.

“No one can say they were left out,” Milton says. “Directors and contributors now take pride in knowing they played an important role in shaping the result, and that helps make for a nearly seamless transition.”

After the requirements-gathering results were inputted, the designing, building, testing and training of One USDA followed. One USDA needed to be adaptable enough to accommodate a wealth of individual, compliance-driven agency requirements, as well as unique preferences, while at the same time, maintain a centralized, consolidated foundation, allowing all data to flow into a single USDA repository. This ensures total integration and unprecedented visibility into every recruitment/talent management phase.

To accomplish this, the U.S. National Technical Information Service (NTIS), a central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information, stepped in as a lead partner with a team that included Acendre and HRworx. Each organization brought something unique and valuable to the mix. Acendre implemented its Acendre Recruitment, an award-winning, best-of-breed talent acquisition solution suite, and HRWorx provided EODonline, which enables one-time data entry for onboarding processes.

The team addressed deadline, scope and budget demands in a forward-thinking, proactive manner, especially with respect to a modular approach to project phasing.

Solution

One USDA enables HR information-system operations to migrate and align USDA talent acquisition/onboarding HR functions within a cloud-based IT solution. Rather than agencies ‘recreating the wheel’ for HR data management, USDA has a unified solution based on best federal hiring practices and onboarding requirements. The implementation with Acendre Recruitment software and HRWorx’s EODonline software consolidates USDA’s multiple mix of hiring software solutions into a single, standardized end-to-end hiring solution which saves USDA millions of dollars annually and drastically cutting time-to-hire.

Data errors are disappearing due to the end-to-end integration in which position and new hire data are shared between the recruitment and onboarding systems – transforming manual input processes to an automatic and paperless workflow. Errors are easy to track and correct. For the first time, HR managers now have a single view and greater control into all tasks in the recruitment and onboarding process and are able to report and manage their data in a cohesive manner.

With a fully integrated HR solution, data is integrated and shared between technologies such as Acendre Recruitment and EODonline, USDA-wide has augmented service delivery; bringing new personnel on board into the system on “day one,” as opposed to the prior, three-week wait. In addition, the fully integrated solution maintains integration with USAjobs and Electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF), providing greater efficiencies, improved data integrity and time savings.

One USDA Today and Beyond

Today, USDA has accomplished a major goal using Acendre’s Recruitment talent acquisition solution: saving millions of dollars while drastically reducing time-to-hire. It has improved mission delivery through the deployment of an integrated workforce solution which facilitates strategic and advisory HR service delivery and streamlined HR transaction execution.

HR strategic services can aid managers in forecasting future attrition trends and collaborating to allocate future staff to best serve the agency mission. Strategic services are vital for successful workforce management.

Never before has the department reaped so many rewards from a fully integrated system that eliminates so many pain points at once. With the solution firmly in place, users are constantly discovering new ways to exceed business-delivery goals. One USDA will advance organizational strategies well into the 21st Century, setting new standards of human-capital accomplishment for generations to come.

One USDA – A Federal Talent Management Success Story

By working closely with Acendre, USDA was able to develop a modern, cost-effective standardized and interoperable HR solution that supports strategic management of human capital within the USDA’s 29 agencies. This solution saved the USDA millions of dollars and drastically cut its time-to-hire, while consolidating over 100 disparate systems and databases.

The USDA was able to implement Acendre’s innovative and flexible talent management solutions to:

  • Improve hiring quality and speed
  • Enhance onboarding to ensure new employee productivity
  • Align new employees with organization goals
  • Boost employee retention though enhanced engagement
  • Deploy an analytics-driven talent acquisition system that provides automation and efficiency

A “Groundbreaking” Accomplishment

The success achieved by Acendre and One USDA is recognized throughout the industry, highlighted by award recognitions from ACT-IAC and HCMG. Leading publications have declared the system as “groundbreaking.” The achievements of USDA and Acendre show other government agencies that many critical initiatives do not need to wait. Real improvements that make an impact can be made in the short term, and thoughtful CHCOs are making moves now to implement important changes.

The strategies and tactics implemented by USDA leaders to improve its talent management infrastructure serve as an example of the potential federal agencies have to optimize workforce management processes. With One USDA initiative, these leaders lay the groundwork for talent management success that other agencies can not only emulate, but build upon as well.

Making the Leap to Innovative Talent Management

By leveraging Acendre’s talent management solution, government agencies can implement a system driven by analytics, with automation and increased efficiencies that lead to improved hiring quality and speed. Acendre provides government HR managers with the complete visibility necessary to quickly make critical workforcerelated decisions that enable agencies to achieve their missions.

A longstanding goal of integrated talent management has been to quickly find the best possible talent and ensure it develops and remains with the organization. A frequent winner of federal talent management awards and recognized industry leader, Acendre’s Natural Talent solution suite addresses these needs.

Acendre’s award-winning talent management system has been designed specifically to address federal challenges and requirements. Numerous agencies use the system to streamline their hiring practices, ensuring the best candidates are selected faster, hit the ground running and perform productively from the start of their employment through the end – with maximum engagement and retention.

About Acendre

Acendre is a worldwide leader in secure cloud-based talent management software. The company’s solutions address the unique needs of organizations that require a high level of configurability to manage complex workflows and interoperability challenges. Acendre serves both public and private sectors, including Government, Education, Healthcare & Community Services, Utilities and Mining. With offices in three continents, the company’s solutions are deployed in over 200 organizations around the globe, including almost 100 federal agencies, helping these organizations recruit, engage, retain and develop their employees to improve workforce performance. A recipient of numerous awards and with almost 400,000 users, Acendre processes over two million resumes a year and over two million transactions every week.

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