GTZ works with more than 10,000 employees on around 2,700 development initiatives and programs in over 130 countries. The main contractor is the German Federal Government. GTZ also works for international contractors such as the European Union or the World Bank, but also for other governments, for example the government of Saudi Arabia. The GTZ International Services division is responsible for these customers. This division is constantly on the lookout for experts from a wide variety of fields, most of whom will work on short-term contracts.
Norbert Ahlers, team coordinator for the personnel process in the GTZ IT office, describes the particular recruiting challenge: “GTZ’s recruiting strategy has two parts. First, we look for experts to fill vacant posts. Second, our International Services division must always have a pool of applicants, so that we can respond quickly to invitations to tenders. We cannot wait until a project is announced to start looking for suitable candidates – we have to do this in advance.”
Synchronization of SAP Human Resources and Microsoft Office
The most suitable process for this is the online application, because this is accessible to all prospective applicants any time, any place. However, in terms of information, two worlds need to be connected. “On the one hand, there are the recruiters, who process applications using Microsoft Outlook,” explains Elke Luitjens, responsible for office communication at GTZ. “This is their day-to-day tool. The addresses and other data that are available to them in Outlook need to be transferred to the usual office communication applications, for example for emails or circulars. On the other hand, there is the personnel department, which uses an SAP solution. It makes sense for the data from the application process to also be available in Human Resources.”
Synchronization between the SAP solution for human resources and Microsoft Outlook was therefore necessary. To solve this task, GTZ drew on its experiences with the DirX Meta Directory from Siemens Information and Communication Networks (ICN). The Meta Directory brings together various directories – for example, personal data, telephone, email, fax, or address lists – which run on different operating systems and non-compatible hardware. In 1999, GTZ decided to completely modernize its office communication systems.
GTZ uses a copy of the SAP standard module SAPMPW12 as the solution for online applications. This has been in operation since October 2002, and contains the program code for transaction PBW3, the standard SAP transaction for e-recruiting. However, GTZ wants to obtain more applicant information than the standard system allows. The transaction was thus moved to the customer namespace (SAPMYW12) and various info types were added.
These include key qualification and previous experience in the area of development aid, for example. The GTZ solution also allows up to 10 attachments to be sent with the application. This applicant data is transferred from the SAP solution to the recruiters’ familiar Microsoft Office environment with the help of the DirX MetaDirectory. The data from the SAP solution is provided in file format and with the help of a DirXmetahub agent is stored in an Exchange contacts folder with exclusive access rights set up for the personnel department. In this folder, the recruiters can now process the applications using all the options that MS Office provides as standard – for example a circulars function, file storage, or appointment management.
Win-win situation for applicants and recruiter
The process for online applications established by GTZ offers advantages for both sides. First, an Outlook contact is created via DirX Meta Directory from all the data that the applicant sent. Thus from the very start, the recruiter has the Outlook data in a more structured form than would be the case with a traditional application by post, because the applicant must arrange his/her documents – including resume, education certificates, and employer references – in the form required by GTZ for quick processing. The application data is therefore available where the recruiters expect to find it in the Outlook contact folder. At the same time, they can see at a glance what information is still missing, or whether errors were made during data input.
In turn, the prospective candidate soon knows whether his/her data has arrived thanks to a response email. In addition, an applicant can use his/her applicant number and password to change details at any time. This is particularly useful, for example, if an applicant is working in other development projects during the application procedure, and thus gains new qualifications or certificates, and wants to include this information in the application. This case is in fact typical for GTZ, because practically all projects have a time limit, and many applicants work for GTZ again and again. While they are still involved in one project, they can look around for the next one.
Germ of a cross-country solution?
In 2003, the first full year of operation, an average of 74 positions were vacant each month. Over the whole year, a total of around 900 prospective candidates applied online to GTZ International Services. This resulted in an average of 61 appointments per month.
GTZ will probably decide this year whether it will introduce the online application beyond its International Services division for all vacant positions. At the same time, the solution is being developed further. For example, the company plans to make the DirX interface between the SAP solution and Microsoft Outlook bi-directional, so that data transferred from Human Resources to Outlook can be written back into SAP after it has been processed.
In addition, the development aid company SNV, the Dutch counterpart to GTZ, is also interested in the online application process. The result of a demonstration in Eschborn was a GTZ workshop at the SNV location in The Hague. “It’s clear,” says Norbert Ahlers, “that our procedure could be germ for a cross-country solution, in order to reach the maximum number of potential applicants across national boundaries. It is still a dream of the future, but we have the expertise.”