Business challenge

Most applicant tracking systems focus on candidates’ qualifications and experience—but soft skills such as empathy and leadership are equally important in hiring and retaining the right employees.

Transformation

softfactors’ digital recruitment platform helps clients bring soft skills into focus. IBM Cloudant enables rapid development, helping softfactors evolve the platform to meet client needs and regulatory requirements.

Results

70%

reduction in the number of interviews required to match suitable candidates to jobs

33%

faster development by eliminating the need to manage databases and infrastructure

6 weeks

to re-engineer the platform to achieve GDPR compliance

Business challenge story

Transforming recruitment processes with analytics

In a traditional hiring process, candidate assessment is often overwhelmingly weighted towards factors such as qualifications, previous experience, and the first impressions that applicants make during interviews. Meanwhile, the candidate’s “soft skills”—such as their emotional intelligence, communication skills, and ability to build relationships—can often be discounted or ignored.

softfactors offers its clients an alternative perspective—providing a digital recruitment outsourcing platform that places soft skills at the heart of the hiring process. Martin Müller, the company’s CEO, explains: “Organizations routinely overlook soft skills when they are hiring, and yet we’ve seen that 89 percent of employees ultimately leave their jobs because of soft skills-related issues.”

The softfactors platform is built around a set of unique tests that evaluate candidates’ personalities and assess whether they are the right fit for a particular role. By automatically matching candidates to jobs, it helps to reduce the amount of time and effort that companies need to put into the hiring process.

The platform also enables a shift in the balance of power. By automating many of the manual aspects of recruitment, it reduces the need for companies to use external recruitment agencies or rely on their HR department to control the process. Instead, the line managers who actually need to hire a new team member can be much more involved in candidate selection—which often produces a better result.

softfactors has designed its platform as a web-based service that clients can easily integrate with their existing recruitment systems and processes, such as SAP SuccessFactors.

Martin Müller comments: “Our business has matured rapidly over the past few years, but we still want to keep the agility we had when we were a startup. It has always been important to us to build on technologies that help us accelerate development, so that when a new opportunity arises, we can get to market much faster than our competitors.”

For example, the company has recently worked on major projects to enhance its solution to achieve GDPR compliance—which is critical for any company that processes personal data—and to scale up to support a new generation of enterprise clients in the banking and energy sectors.

Cloudant gives us a reliable platform to deliver a new generation of smarter recruitment services that genuinely add value for our clients.

—Martin Müller, CEO and co-founder, softfactors

Transformation story

Document databases support domain-driven design

To develop and enhance its digital recruitment outsourcing platform, softfactors uses a domain-driven design (DDD) philosophy—an approach that focuses on designing solutions by modeling the business problem that needs to be solved, instead of letting technical considerations guide the design process.

Dani Michel, CTO of softfactors, explains: “DDD naturally lends itself to object-oriented programming, where you code a set of objects that model the problem domain that you are addressing. However, this can make life difficult if you are using a traditional database, because mapping these objects to tables in a relational schema can quickly become quite complex.

“By contrast, a NoSQL or document database can store objects very easily, with no need for complex mappings. The ability to serialize objects as JSON documents, for example, simplifies life for developers considerably—and makes development much faster. That’s why we knew that a NoSQL approach was the right choice for our project.”

From its earliest beginnings, softfactors has relied on IBM Cloudant to act as the NoSQL database platform at the core of its solution.

Dani Michel comments: “We had some previous experience with CouchDB, which is the open source engine behind Cloudant, and we were comfortable that it was the best choice for our use case – it has a slightly simpler data architecture than some other NoSQL options, and it is flexible enough to run on anything from a developer’s laptop up to a huge enterprise-scale cluster.”

Martin Müller adds: “The real advantage of Cloudant is that it is a managed service, so IBM handles all the provisioning, management, patching and upgrades in the IBM Cloud™. This is absolutely vital for us, because our clients expect uninterrupted service 24/7, but we don’t have the time or resources to devote to managing platforms and infrastructure. Leaving those matters in the hands of the experts at IBM means that we can focus on delivering an excellent user experience for our clients.”

Initially, the company used IBM Cloudant Standard, leveraging the cost-effective multi-tenanted platform to start small and scale up quickly. As its business grew, it moved to IBM Cloudant Dedicated Hardware, which provides a dedicated infrastructure that delivers reliably excellent performance for the company’s database nodes, without needing to contend for resources with other systems.

The dedicated Cloudant instance also gives softfactors’ clients confidence that their data will be held securely—and in the HR sector, where much of the data is sensitive or subject to data privacy regulations, this is an important consideration.

Martin Müller adds: “When we needed to update our platform to comply with GDPR, Cloudant made it easy and smooth to implement. We were able to add extensive logging capabilities and keep them very performant—so we could meet all the requirements without any impact on the responsiveness of the system for our users.”

The Cloudant database is also highly scalable, helping softfactors onboard even the largest new clients without worrying about whether the infrastructure will cope. This has helped softfactors expand its client list beyond the small and medium business sector, and the company is now working successfully with large enterprise clients in the banking and energy industries.

Cloudant made a big difference to our development cycle: in total, we estimate that it reduced development time by at least a third.

—Dani Michel, CTO, softfactors

Results story

Reducing time-to-market delivers competitive advantage

From the launch of the very first version of its digital recruitment outsourcing platform up to the present day, softfactors credits IBM Cloudant with making a significant contribution to its speed of development. For example, the company was able to complete the technical enhancements required for its GDPR compliance project within just six weeks.

“Cloudant makes a big difference to our development cycles,” says Dani Michel. “In total, we estimate that it reduces development time by at least a third.”

Martin Müller comments: “We are leading the market in digital recruitment outsourcing, and our focus on soft skills is a differentiator that competitors struggle to match. By focusing on a simple, flexible design, we make it easy for our clients to plug our services into their existing HR systems, so there is almost no barrier to entry—we’re not asking clients to completely replace their whole recruiting platform.”

The speed and reliability of Cloudant help softfactors provide a seamless online experience for users. Since the online recruitment process is often the first point of contact between an applicant and a new employer, this is critical to help softfactors’ clients create a favorable impression and attract the best candidates.

“Cloudant gives us a reliable platform to deliver a new generation of smarter recruitment services that genuinely add value for our clients,” says Martin Müller. “On average, companies that use softfactors only need to interview three candidates to find a match for each job opening—compared to an industry average of 15 interviews per opening.”

Finally, in the longer term, hiring candidates with the right soft skills can reduce the risk of turnover and the overall burden that recruitment places on the organization—a win-win for businesses, employees and applicants alike.

Martin Müller concludes: “We’re excited to be working with some of Europe’s most forward-thinking companies to transform the way recruitment is managed and help people find jobs that they really love.”

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About softfactors

softfactors is a recruitment services and software development company based in Zürich, Switzerland. Its cloud-based softfactors.com solution analyzes applicants’ resumes and soft skills, and matches them with the requirements of each job opening. By matching candidates to roles more effectively, the solution aims to reduce the cost and complexity of hiring processes and mitigate the risk of employee turnover.

Solution components

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