Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Recruiter turns to real-time reporting

Syntax Consultancy is a leading independent IT and Technical Engineering Recruitment Consultancy. With offices in Derby and London, we specialise in providing exceptional IT and Technical Engineering professionals on a contract, permanent and interim basis to clients both in the UK and globally.


Syntax Consultancy is a leading independent IT and Technical Engineering Recruitment Consultancy. With offices in Derby and London, they specialise in providing exceptional IT and Technical Engineering professionals on a contract, permanent and interim basis to clients both in the UK and globally. In 2012 it reviewed its customer relationship management (CRM) and business reporting solutions and decided both needed to be upgraded.

Key challenges

Committed to a major overhaul of the agency’s operations, Syntax engaged in a company-wide evaluation named ‘Jobs to Cash’. A dedicated project manager was hired, who worked with Frost and other senior managers to consult with every team member on how the business could be improved, and understand what was required from a new CRM and business intelligence solution.

Syntax had always based its business on key performance indicators (KPIs) but traditionally used data that was, in some cases, up to six weeks old, as its legacy CRM system was unable to extract data in real time. The system had been built by the Syntax IT team in 2004, but the agency had outgrown it and needed one with scalable reporting and analysis functionality.     

“Our legacy CRM system made it difficult to analyse KPIs. Data entry was manual and reporting required the correlation of multiple spreadsheets from each recruiter,” commented Roger Frost, Syntax’s managing director. “Managers spent a significant proportion of their time collating this information into reports to present at board meetings. This vertical reporting structure left too much room for inaccuracy and human error, so it was clear that an overhaul was required.

“Without a good data management and analysis system in place, we made crucial decisions based on assumptions about our business, rather than according to the numbers. We knew that this would ultimately negatively affect revenue, and therefore needed a business intelligence solution that could be rolled out across the agency that would provide automated real time KPI reporting.”

The new solution also needed to be remotely accessible to enable recruiters to remain productive while on the move. This prohibited Syntax from commissioning another in-house system. There was a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) demand to consider as recruiters wanted to be able to use their own mobile devices within their jobs.

The solution

The procurement team decided that cloud computing, specifically Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), was the way forward. Leading online CRM software, accessed from desktops and devices via a browser and an internet connection would allow Syntax to easily compile accurate data and work on the move. The Jobs to Cash team, including Roger Frost, considered 12 different SaaS offerings before selecting Bullhorn’s CRM/ATS solution.

Frost explained that the deciding factor was the additional reporting functionality Bullhorn offered through the Bullhorn Marketplace.

The Bullhorn Marketplace is home to more than 30 solutions from a range of leading recruitment software developers. Syntax implemented two third-party software solutions through the Bullhorn Marketplace in order to evaluate KPIs: InsightSquared, a business intelligence solution that gives organisations real-time information about their operation and Jobmate, a multi-posting vacancy tool.

“InsightSquared and the real-time business intelligence it offered was what swayed our decision,” said Frost.

“Real-time intelligence that would inform our strategy was the solution to our core problem: inefficiency due to lack of KPI-led management,” he continued.

The deal was signed in March 2012 and the agency’s historical data was merged and mapped in the new system.

Business benefits

The Syntax team is already on track to achieve its goal of return on investment within 12 months of implementation. Having spent the time identifying problems in the organisation, Frost and his team successfully leveraged Bullhorn and its Marketplace partners to resolve each inefficiency and the result was instant access to information, increased process visibility, and huge time savings on daily activity and management.

Frost noted: “The implementation was time-consuming due to the data mapping, but absolutely necessary. We introduced a completely different set of KPIs so we had an accurate starting point from which to measure our success over time. The new system enables constant tracking and amendment of inefficient processes. We’ve revised how candidates and consultants interact with one another and how candidates are measured in their placements.”

The agency immediately saw radical improvement in visibility across all aspects of the business. KPIs are now held in a central database, rather than in spreadsheets, and are easily accessible by managers at every level of the business. The same KPIs are used to measure success within the business; information on fill ratios, close rates, and man hours can be viewed and evaluated instantly. As Syntax’s recruiters used Bullhorn, the new data-driven environment enabled managers to weed out problems and quickly identify and address data inaccuracies.

Communication within the company, which had been impeded by the disjointed legacy system, improved overnight as the new SaaS solution enabled teams to easily share resources and expertise from wherever they were working. Within the first few days of implementation, a junior recruiter, charged with a very high-level job vacancy, was able to quickly dig down into the system to discover that the team knew another client which had required the same skill set. The contact at this client was able to provide invaluable information on the specifics of the job description which enabled the junior recruiter to find a perfect candidate. The £7,000 the recruiter brought in for this particular placement would not have happened without Bullhorn.

Automated business intelligence means managers at Syntax now spend less time poring over historic data and more time driving strategy and productivity within their teams. Time spent reporting to the board has been cut and Syntax expects this to be reduced further as quality, comprehensive KPIs and reports, which once took hours to compile, become easier to generate in just a few clicks.

Bullhorn has also positively impacted the IT services side of the business. The IT team, no longer tasked with maintaining the old system, can take on additional contracts with external clients, increasing overall agency revenue.

The Bullhorn implementation has also created healthy competition within the agency. Frost explained: “The transparency of activity on an individual and team level has ignited a sense of competition within and between teams and our recruiters enjoy trying to outperform their colleagues. They are spurred on by the visibility of their real-time results.”

Future developments

Frost concluded: “Business intelligence is crucial to the future of Syntax and we are installing screens on the walls that will be dedicated to InsightSquared real-time activity and results.

“We’ll also be looking at ways to make the most of the mobility benefits of Bullhorn’s SaaS model. BYOD was a big talking point in 2012 and we will now ensure our recruiters can access as much functionality as possible while they are on the move or working remotely.”