If you’re involved in the assessment profession or function within your organization, you’re no doubt familiar with the challenges inherent in assessing for selection and development.

In our experience of more than 15 years in the South African assessment industry, we’ve encountered many of them: the difficulty of matching assessment tool to competency, explaining often-obscure psychometric data to laypeople, knowing what to recommend in borderline cases. All of these problems call for steady judgments and solid experience.

Assessments are tricky.

But they become especially difficult to manage if the processes that deliver them (i.e. booking candidates, writing reports, compiling financial data) are also complicated, slow, or inefficient.

In this paper, we’d like to share some of our experiences and learning that we’ve gained in helping our clients to automate their assessment functions. We believe that going the automated route liberates and empowers assessment professionals — ensuring that an already challenging task does not become nearly-impossible!

Why Automating is Better

Reports: Manual vs Automatic

A busy assessment function’s key output is the report. In assessments, reports range from individual assessment reports about candidates to reports for organizational data management and administrative needs, like financial reporting.

Currently, many assessment professionals construct some or all of the above reports manually, using popular office software packages such as Microsoft Excel or Word.

The manual method of reporting has many pitfalls, however:

• For one, it is time-consuming and labour-intensive. Often, hours of expensive professional time goes into constructing a spreadsheet or report document, only to repeat the process whenever a new assessment is done.

• Uniformity is not guaranteed as each assessment specialist has their preferred

method of compiling reports. Recommendations may not be the same across different report writers. This undermines the credibility of assessments for end-users.

• Errors creep into manually written reports. Syntax, grammar, and he/she problems are common (and dismaying features of manually produced reports, which in turn further affects user confidence in the assessment results. At best, this makes the assessment function within an organization seem unprofessional. At worst, it may erode organizational confidence in assessments as a valid endeavor.

• Manual reporting is costly. Expensive, additional resources are often required to conduct quality control of reports. When assessment volumes are high, it may even require hiring expensive contract assessment specialists to augment the existing team.

• Manual reporting requires human intervention to collate assessment data and scores. This is usually done through using a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, formulas in spreadsheets can easily be edited by various users, thus leaving questions around validity.

Automated reporting counters all of the above-mentioned problems:

• With automation, assessment reports can be generated with very little human interaction, thus virtually eliminating typical human errors. Turn-around times for reporting are drastically reduced — in our experience, with as much as 60–70%.

• Less resources are required for quality checking, freeing up the current team to spend their valuable time consulting with business and developing relationships.

• Algorithms can be built into the recommendation and decision system that reduce the risk of errors and ensures greater consistency of decision making.

Candidate Booking: Manual vs Automatic

The process of booking and inviting a candidate for assessments can be long and cumbersome when done manually.

Various interested parties, such as managers, HR professionals, and others have to be alerted. A log needs to be kept of attendance and the number of people that can be accommodated in a given venue. This manual process requires a skilled administrator to keep track of all the moving parts. A difficult and costly challenge!

Automation allows for seamless communication to stakeholders. Everyone is kept up to speed with bookings in real-time and the automatic process serves as communication channel. Communications are professional and branded — this builds a professional image for the assessment team.

Assessment Frameworks & Role Profiles: Manual vs Automatic

Automation enables assessment specialists to apply the competency framework of the organization or the role profile against the results of the candidates.

A good, automated system will allow the specialist to store profiles and test batteries against roles — this enables the continual re-use of the profile for new candidates. Such a feature will also prevent discontinuation of assessments when new assessment team-members join (or old ones leave).

One powerful feature of automating this component of assessments is the ability to compare candidates across roles within the organisation without costly and time-consuming manual comparisons.

Ignoring the benefits of assessment automation could cost you in time money and staff engagement. Contact our business analyst who could take your assessment centre through an audit to identify any bottlenecks. Taryn@Omnicor.co.za

Author: Omnicor Admin